Are we able to do less?
What if we needed to, because (the quality of) our lives depended on it?
Why wait until we’re forced to slow down because of illness or any other throw back in life?
I’ve been talking the last couple of weeks about creating habits, about creating an evening ritual, a morning routine, about the fact that it is always up to us to choose what to do and what not. This conscious way of living will benefit you way more than you can ever imagine. Consciously choosing what to do and what not, will make your life not only more meaningful, but you’ll also be healthier, happier, kinder and more successful because you’ll start focusing on what really matters.
Doing, doing, doing just because society is constantly telling us to do so (and so we keep telling ourselves we must do so), is a recipe for disaster.
This constant busyness will end up in a break down, a break up or both.
Doing less is the answer.
When you ask people nowadays how they are: you can bet your life savings on it, the answer will be: “Busy”, “Really busy”, “Way too busy”, …. And that makes me feeling sad. Because I think it’s a real pity people don’t have time to enjoy life anymore. People don’t relax anymore. Relaxing as in doing nothing and enjoying the nothingness, the peace, the quiet. Most of the time people are even stressing (!) to find the time to relax. People feel tired all the time. People are rushing all day long, … and what for? To what purpose? To earn more? To achieve more? To be able to tell others what they’ve accomplished? If it would make them really happy and if this would fuel their energy, then okay, then I am all for it as they then choose to do so in order to be happy. But what I observe is that people are not happy, people complain all the time, people are exhausted, people get sick, people are suffering from insomnia, people feel depressed…. And then I say, please choose less! Choose to boycott busyness*. Start taking better care of yourself by making your agenda lighter, by choosing to stay home for a change, by choosing to go for a walk, by choosing to breathe.
Picture the following thoughts:
What would you do if you knew people would approve of you doing less?
What would you do if you knew people would be okay with whatever you accomplish in life?
Would you work less?
Would you be okay just sitting around for a while doing nothing, just being, just breathing?
Would you have a cup of coffee without checking your phone?
What would you do if less busy was okay too?
Think about it for a while, go out in nature, and just look around. Be present and enjoy the beauty around you. Try it. Go outside and breathe. Feel what happens.
It will take some adjusting as we were raised to be productive, to be busy, to be working all the time, to do all of our chores before enjoying a moment of quietness, … That is how our parents were raised and that is how they raised us as they were made to believe that this would give us a better chance to be happy in life. So, we shouldn’t blame them as they acted out of love. But now, we DO have a choice. We can make a change. We are the example for the next generation. Think about how we can choose how to live our lives. Give it a chance. Remember it is beneficial for your health, for your happiness, for your productivity, for your relationships, for everything.
Stop feeling unproductive when you are taking care of yourself, of your health, of your relationship.
You are not lazy when you decide:
to take less on to have breathing space in your agenda,
to take a nap to recharge your batteries,
to go for a walk before going to your job,
to meditate for a while during the day,
to say no to extra work load you know you won’t be able to handle, …
People will be happier when you actually do what you promised to do, rather than when you accept all the projects they give you, and then in the end, you can’t deliver or, even if you can, at what cost?
Manage your agenda so that you have enough time to do what you want to do, that you are able to do it well and that there are spaces in between activities so that you don’t need to stress out when one item takes up a little more time than foreseen. Knowing you have time, will give you the calm to be at your best. Once you have created more space, more time, you’ll notice that you are more focused, that you have more energy to tackle whatever problems arise, that your relationships improve, that you are more creative, that you are in a better mental, emotional and physical condition. You and everyone around will benefit from you taking time for yourself, time to recharge, time to just be, time to refocus.
Decide now that you will do less of all that you are rushing into day after day, and that you will create space in your daily schedule to be more instead of do more*.
“You don’t simplify your life to have a simpler life. You simplify your life to have a life” Courtney Carver.
Think of all the benefits, write them down if that makes it more tangible for you and commit to:
delegating whatever you can,
getting rid of all things that need your attention but that you don’t need in your life,
making your agenda lighter: for instance, cancel 2 things from your agenda of next week,
being vigilant to what is coming in: select what is absolutely necessary and say no to all the rest so that you have time to breathe, to do ‘nothing’ for a moment.
Even saying ‘doing nothing’ is something we have to rephrase as it still feels as if we are wasting time. We could call it:
Reconsidering your activities of today.
Reflecting on how you want to be spending your time today.
Coming to a halt to choose your next move.
Pausing to make sure you are making the right choices.
You name it so that it feels good for you.
I invite you all to take a break from your current schedule (I had to delete the word busy :-), we are so used to talking about our ‘busyness’ that it feels off not using the word ‘busy’ anymore) and reprogram it. Plan space in between activities, and guard those buffers.
People will need to adjust too. In the beginning they will feel a bit taken aback when you don’t fill your agenda with appointments back-to-back anymore, but then they’ll learn it’s for the best. And hopefully, they’ll now look at their own agendas from a different perspective too. When everybody creates breathing space, we’ll all be more gracious and kinder towards one another, including ourselves. Even if we have rather full schedules, stop saying we are busy as we then create a mindset of feeling overwhelmed without any room for relaxation, without being allowed to take a breath in between activities. Focus on the spaces in between instead of on the fullness of your agenda.
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*The Busy Boycott, Be More with Less, Courtney Carver.