A simple statement I’ve been reminded of recently is that we can’t do everything and expect to do everything well.
Our society prioritizes efficiency and productivity. Many work long days, fill every minute of their schedules, rush from one thing to the next, and create systems that allow for tasks to get finished faster.
I’ve been here as a full-time working parent, and have experienced for myself the demands of this pace of living.
However, there’s a paradox that comes from this fast-paced lifestyle.
This lifestyle can be inherently satisfying. Who doesn’t enjoy checking every item off their to-do list and having a calendar full of social events and meaningful commitments?
But we’re faced with an increased sense of time pressure and stress from the rigor created by that pace.
Pushing back against this fast-paced lifestyle is countercultural. When we take time to enjoy a hobby or allow our minds to relax, it can be seen as lazy or unproductive.
But living a slower pace of life shouldn’t carry this stigma when our intentions improve our health and bring greater purpose to our days.
Throughout the seasons of life, I’ve realized the importance of slowing down. I’m less stressed when I have fewer commitments and I can spend more time focusing on the relationships around me. I am also better rested when I prioritize sleep and good routines.
Make a Daily 3-Item to-Do ListDon’t try to accomplish everything that’s possible in one day. When you achieve a few meaningful things, this boosts your motivation and allows you to keep the wheel turning without the risk of burnout. Prioritize by choosing the three most important tasks. Write them down as you begin your day and let the momentum of accomplishing these important items carry you through the rest of the day.
Take Up a Hobby—Just for FunResearch shows that how you spend your leisure time matters to your health. Hobbies are beneficial in many ways—better physical health, greater longevity, increased sleep, a larger social network, and even improved performance at work. Even if you’re not great at it, find something you enjoy doing and stick with it.
Be Present With Those Around YouHaving healthy relationships contributes significantly to your emotional well-being. When you choose to focus on those around you by taking a break from a device or busy schedule, you’re able to listen and observe as you gain a deeper sense of connection with them. I’ve found that making better eye contact and asking engaging questions help me to be more present with those I’m spending time with.
Take In Your SurroundingsNot only is it important to be present with those around you, but also with your surroundings. My husband takes our two young sons for a long walk each morning. He’s also chosen to avoid playing music or podcasts and instead enjoy the sounds of nature, interactions with neighbors, and the stillness of the morning.
Learn to Say 'No'For a people-pleaser like myself, I enjoy being able to volunteer and serve those around me by giving my time. Saying no can be hard. But there’s a limit to what I can take on without being burdened or stressed.
Prioritize Quality Over QuantityAs earlier said, you can’t do everything and expect to do everything well. Prioritize what matters most and focus on those areas.
Take on fewer commitments and leave more margin in your week.
Read just a handful of blogs or news sites thoroughly, rather than saturating your mental capacity with an overabundance of ideas.
Own fewer items but choose those that add value—rather than clutter—to your life.
Create More Than You ConsumeIt can be challenging to create and resist being a mere consumer, but it offers us rewards beyond our purchase power. We rob ourselves of a valuable gift when the answer to all of life’s problems involves spending more. The pleasures we get from consuming can never satisfy us. There's an integral sense of competence and gratification from making, fixing, and improving things with our own skills and ingenuity.
I feel more appreciative for days when I make a home-cooked meal, light candles for the table, and invite my family to sit and linger over conversation.
I photograph my children to capture childhood memories, and then enjoy creating a gallery wall in our living room or photobook for my family to look at.
Take a Day Off Each WeekTaking a day off of work and any “productive” pursuits each week allows us to reset ourselves mentally. In 2019, a study by the U.S. Travel Association found that 768 million vacation days went unused, with 55 percent of workers admitting that they didn't take their allotted vacation days.
The Benefits of Slowing DownLiving a slower, less hectic pace of life may mean fewer external accomplishments, but I guarantee you’ll go further.
If you’ve grown tired of the fast-paced lifestyle that our society promotes, let me encourage you to embrace life in the slow lane. Make a decision to focus on what’s most important and drop the rest. Let go of the desire to do it all. We’re humans with limits.