A version of this post first appeared on the Turn Off the Overwhelm blog.
We live such busy lives. We run from meeting to meeting, sales call to sales call, school event to school event, all without question.
Instead of questioning the validity of these sprints, we simply brush reasons aside, because it’s just what we do, right?
While it may be part of our everyday life, it doesn’t mean it has to be part of our everyday acceptance of busyness over silence and time to regroup.
In fact, not taking the time to regroup can have serious health repercussions on your body, mind, and soul. Stress, anxiety, lethargy, etc. All warning signs that our bodies need to recharge and our minds need to refocus.
But in a world where silence and moments of quiet seem to be placed at the back of a very long queue, how do we find these moments?
Simple – find them when you’d normally expect them to be hiding from your view.
The Alternative Commute
To get to where I work, I spend about four hours per day commuting – one bus ride and two train trips each way.
I used to spend this time catching up on emails, setting up projects for the day, answering questions on a blog post, scanning photos for perfect Instagram updates later, or just playing games on my phone
And while I was productive then, it had an impact on how productive I was later, as the inevitable crash came and tiredness negated effectiveness.
Now, while I still catch up on the tasks mentioned above, now I take at least half the journey to close my eyes and concentrate on nothing but whatever thoughts and images appear in my mind at that time.
Or, I look at the rising sun, and enjoy the way the light touches the clouds and illuminates a different picture each day.
- For you, think of ways you can mix up your commute. Can you take public transport instead of driving, that allows you to switch off and just enjoy the journey? Or can you park up early and walk some of the way, and enjoy the newer sights and sounds?
Moments of Silence in a Sea of Noise
On any given day, we’re surrounded by noise and commotion. Kids, the workplace, traffic, pets, city life, TV, and radio, etc.
We get distracted from what we’re doing by the lure of what others are doing or saying, and our minds jump from one point of attention to another.
By the end of the day, our minds can be so frazzled that we remain hyper, even when we know we need to rest and recharge.
One of the things I started to do was to take my noise-canceling headphones wherever I go and use them whenever I could based on seeing both the need and opportunity for silence
This allowed me to be “in the moment” of the place I needed to be, but still have the ability to switch off, catch my breath, and recharge for the moments ahead.
- For you, identify the parts of your day when silence can be switched on. Invest in a good quality pair of noise-canceling headphones, and curate a collection of your favourite songs or soundtracks that take you to a memory that makes you happy or appreciative of life.
Let Technology Help Instead of Distract
It’s easy to look at how quickly technology has evolved to be an ever-present in our lives, and those of the people we interact with on a daily basis.
And it’s fair to say our mobile-first approach to most things today means we’re connected longer and with more frequency than we’ve ever been, and that’s not going to go away anytime soon.
But that doesn’t mean we have to let technology rule our lives the busy way all the time.
While mobile access means our busyness can be added to at any time of the day, use that same technology to remind you to be aware of your need for downtime for both body and mind.
- For you, think of how you want to refresh yourself, and access apps that can make that happen. The Headspace program is a great way to do this and offers daily meditation exercises through mobile, tablet or desktop.
Making Time When You Don’t Have Time
We get swept up into believing lives of busyness are the norm, and we’re clearly doing something wrong if we have too many moments to pause, breathe, live.
The sad fact is, busyness is not the norm, or shouldn’t be.
- Yes, we have deadlines.
- Yes, we have projects that need completing.
- Yes, we have commitments to keep.
But none of these will be met while you’re fighting to keep healthy because you refuse to step away and recharge the batteries.
None of these will be completed if your health suffers to the degree that you’re lying in a hospital bed wondering how you got there, as your body gives you the answer to your question.
We all struggle with the work-life balance. Where does one end and the other begin?
There are many different answers depending on who you talk to – but there’s only one answer that really matters, and that’s the one only you can provide.
Listen to your advice, know that you need to switch off, and learn when to take the time even when you think you can’t.
Then you can really start to live a deliberate life and enjoy all it has to offer.
Originally published on Turn Off the Overwhelm, my new project on leading a deliberate life. If you’re looking to refocus on what matters most, I invite you to check the project out and subscribe for the latest updates.