In a culture that extols achievement and equates being busy with being important, dialing down and prioritizing “life” as opposed to “work” is not always easy. When we find that our days are spent enduring a schedule of non-stop obligations, or, even worse, suffering from stress-related ailments and exhaustion, it is time to re-think our choices.
The Eleven Eleven Wellness Center is located in the heart of the achievement-oriented, “cult of busy” world of New York City. Almost daily we meet with patients who are struggling with stressful, over-committed lifestyles that leave them little room for replenishment or renewal, let alone sleep, exercise, and time with friends and family.
Learn to appreciate yourself minus your achievements and successes. Pay attention to how you feel when you have a bit of time on your hands: many of us keep ourselves constantly engaged in order to avoid feeling lonely, unfulfilled or unimportant.
Sometimes the tweaks and adjustments we make are simply not enough and our jobs demand more than we can give. When our bodies rebel through illness, stress symptoms, or just general exhaustion, it is usually a sign that something in our life must change. Start by modifying habits, re-thinking choices, and eliminating obligations and see how far you can go to reduce commitments. Here are 5 simple guidelines to help you decompress your days.
Create pockets of time in your schedule so you can take a few moments to journal, meditate or simply contemplate your day, your feelings, and your goals. Go for a 15-minute walk in the park; browse a bricks-and-mortar bookstore; sip a cappuccino at a café, and enjoy your own company and your own thoughts.
Build in Transition Time
Don’t assume that every task and every meeting will go exactly as planned and according to schedule – by padding your schedule with 10 – 20 minutes of extra time before and after important meetings or obligations, you have the breathing space to get to know your client a little better, or work extra on the task that you are enjoying, or deal with the inevitable unforeseen setback, when a 1 hour task ends up taking 90 minutes or the traffic is worse than expected.
Delete or Outsource
Take some time to analyze your schedule and responsibilities and pick one thing that you can delete entirely and one thing that you can outsource to a family member or paid helper. Services such as Task Rabbit allow you to pay freelancers to handle errands and tasks you don’t have time for. If you have children, start enlisting them in household tasks and see what you can hand over to them; from organizing school activities and social calendars, to emptying the trash and feeding the pets, children are usually capable of more than we ask of them.
Connect With Friends
Make a list of things in your area that you want to do but never find the time. Whether it is a yoga class at the new studio, or a trip to a museum or park, think of a friend or relative who would enjoy that outing as much as you and schedule a time for it.
Routinize Tasks to Free Up Time
Whether it is grocery shopping, bill-paying, or scheduling doctor visits, there are any number of repetitive tasks in our life that can be more efficiently handled. One solution is to have a time and a place and a regular habit. For example, Monday night is finance night in my house – we take a few minutes every Monday to pay bills, send out invoices, and check credit card statements, so the bills don’t pile up. Sunday morning is my weekly meal-planning time – I write out the dinner schedule for the coming week and make a shopping list or place an online order for grocery delivery. Automated shopping services, e-pay accounts, or online calendaring can help keep your family on track.
*Image of “young woman” via Shutterstock