Slow down, take a breather and smell the roses. I am sure that you have heard all these phrases. In fact, one of the upsides of lockdowns and restrictions is in the fact that we are forced to slow down and, in some cases, stop. So much of our lives are filled with busyness, rushing from here to there and just trying to hurry through life so that we can end the day completing a check list of things that seems to never end. Every day, the list starts again, and the hurried busy life starts again. Pretty much like a mouse running on a never ending, never stopping wheel. It just keeps going but not going anywhere.
On the one hand we want to live a life that is meaningful and purposeful while trying to survive the never-ending list of things to do. To get the things that we want and need to be completed within the hours that we have in a day, there might seem to be no choice but to just hurry through it all. After all, if we can finish something faster then we can get on to the next thing. However, the next thing never really stops or ends.
The downside of hurry is that you have now failed to enjoy the life’s journey that is, the moment that you are in. By failing to appreciate and make the most of every moment, you have in essence missed out on precious moments that you are never going to be able to get back. A well lived life is one that is filled with these moments, small and big, that you are able to enjoy and make the impact that makes its meaningful and satisfying. No one can live a well lived life by hurrying through it.
For example, when you are on a holiday, you have a great list of things to see and to do. However, based on my experience, the best moments of any holiday is just to enjoy the moment. The best moments are seldom the place itself, but it is the time that you take to appreciate everything around you, the sights and sounds, the people, the laughter and the breathtaking views and so on. It is the journey that makes the holiday amazing and not necessarily the location itself.
When you are rushing around and hurrying through the day, you are short-changing yourself from enjoying the moment because we all know that when the moment passes by, it is gone, you cannot get it back again.
Hurry is the enemy of happy and satisfied life because it robs you of:
- Appreciating the moment. You miss the moment because you are not paying attention to the present. You are focus on hurrying through that your focus is not on the things that matter, but on the things that passes by.
- Appreciating the people around you. You will miss the time and joy of spending focused and quality time with the people around you. How many of us spend “physical time” with people around us and yet not know any more about the person. Spending time is not just being physically present. It is communicating and connecting with the person in a meaningful way.
- Appreciating the journey of life. Life is about the journey and not the destination. Destination helps us to know where you are going but life is made up of the journey to the destination. In fact, at every different season of your life, the destination is different and will continue to change. However, the life what we live is the journey. The journey shapes your experience, growth and maturity. The journey shapes the world around you. The journey shapes the perception and mindset that shapes how you will live.
What can you do to reduce or eliminate the rushing around and hurried life? I think there are 3 guidelines that we can follow, and they are:
- Create margins in your day and in your life.
- Focus on the important and impactful.
- Walk and Not Run
Let’s break them down.
Create Margins in your day, in your life
We need margins in our day. Margins in your day is pretty much like margins on a piece of paper. On a piece paper, margins allow you to “add notes”, gives you the ability to make highlights and pointers and provides you with visual clarity. When you see a page with nicely spaced words and margin, you will automatically perceive it to be a readable piece of work. On the other hand, if you see a page that is cluttered with words crammed into a page, you will perceive it to be a sloppy work. Our eyes, what we see, provides visual cues to our mind which will in turn either focus or distracts us. Giving yourself that extra space or margin in the day, provides you with the opportunity to not hurry or rush through the day.
Margin gives you the required space and an opportunity to take a little time to slow down, to recharge, to reflect and to make small but necessary changes along the way. Create margins in your day and in each week, in each month and so on. Ultimately these margins will give you the opportunity to slow down and appreciate the moment.
How would go about building in margins in your day?
Just like on a piece of paper, you set up the margins up front. Once the margins are set up, the rest will flow accordingly. Just like on paper, when you have set up the margins, the number of words on a page is determined. In the same way with your day or schedule, set up the margins first. The first margin item on your calendar should be time for yourself. Whether that is at the start of the day with exercise or mindfulness activities and or at the end of the day with reflection and grateful sessions, block that into your calendar first. After which, you will prioritise the important and must do items. Look through what you need to do that will give you the most impact and satisfaction. Then, the nice to do’s and so on.
Another option is that you build in margins in each activity or after a block of sessions that you have scheduled. For example, if you are someone who has back-to-back meetings scheduled, you would certainly have experienced running late for meetings and if you start the day running late, then it is safe to say that you would probably be in a hurried, rushed and distracted mindset in and for every meeting. That will hardly produce the best outcomes. Create and give yourself margins even if the margin just looks like a 15 min break for coffee and toilet breaks. You can also create margins at different check points throughout the day so that even if you do start running late, you will be able to “catch up” at the next point of your schedule. No one wants to be in a hurried mode for the whole day.
Focus on the Important and Impactful.
Focus allows you to know what to eliminate and what to say no to. The truth is that time is not the problem, the problem is what you do with your time. How you use the time that you do have is where most people find challenging. The only way to manage your time is for you to develop your skills to prioritise, the discipline to stay focus and to be comfortable with saying No.
The ability to prioritise will help you know what you need to schedule into your day. When you are clear on your priorities, you will then be able to focus and allocate the appropriate energy resources on getting the job done. Focus on the important and impactful. We have the natural tendencies to do what we like and sometimes what we like and enjoy is not necessarily what will give you the impact that you desire. For example, I enjoy binge watching Netflix but that is not going to give me the impact that I want to accomplish for my day.
For me to do the things that I need to do, I need to be discipline. Discipline to stick to my commitment and to carry it through. Discipline is critical in any execution of task especially the ones that you might not like. Let’s be honest, there are things on our to-do list that we don’t like nor enjoy but it must be done.
Lastly, in order for you to stay focus on the important and impactful, you will need to stop being a people pleaser and learn to be comfortable with saying No. Say No to other people’s expectations or their ad-hoc request. Time is our friend and enemy and it is the same for everyone. No one has more or less time than you. Everyone is given the same number of hours. We have enough to do on our own, we don’t have to add other people’s expectations to it. One of the many reasons why we need to hurry is because our list of things to do does not just consist of our list but other people’s list as well.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying don’t help or to be selfish and self-centred. In fact, on the contrary. I am suggesting that if you can build margins in your day, you will have the opportunity to help people when required. Why? You have built in the margin to do so. You can help because you have built in the margin to do that. If you have not built in the margin in your day, your ability to help is limited.
Walk and Not Run.
To stop the hurry, it is by doing the opposite. Stop running. Start walking. You will still arrive at the destination, maybe taking a little longer but you will certainly reach the destination without the pain of running to the destination. Pain is not gain when it is not required. I think that it’s foolish to want pain when you don’t have to.
Slow down and walk to your destination. This allows you to observe and appreciate everything along the way. You can smell the roses, see the beauty of flowers, the amazing changes in the seasons and the colours that follow the change of the season. Enjoy the journey. One of the certainties of life is that there will be challenges and situations that are tough and hard. When you are able to slow down and not be hurried, you are also able to perceive and respond to situations differently. The “Walk” will allow you to have clarity in your thoughts, to make decisions in a calm and measured approach, and to make changes along the way.
For example, the path that you are taking is filled with pit holes, some smooth and rocky or bumpy roads and barriers in between, leading to where you want to go. When you are running, the chances of you falling, tripping, and hurting yourself is much higher as compared to when you are walking the path. It is the same with how you live your life. A hurried life where you are always running, you are faced with a higher chance of hurting yourself. Slow down and walk because ultimately you will arrive at your destination. The difference is how bruised and battered do you want to be.
Life is hard enough, don’t add to it by hurrying through it. Do the opposite and walk to your destination, all the while enjoying each moment. Appreciating the journey, how you managed to avoid falling into a pit hole or tripping over a barrier and experience the journey for what it is.
Let me summarise how you can eliminate or reduce the hurry in your life in order for your have a happy and satisfied life. One, create and build margins into your day and life. Two, focus on the important and impactful. Third, walk and not run.
Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I hope that you have learned at least one thing that you are able to apply into your everyday life. As always, please subscribe, follow and share this blog with your friends. Take care and step into the everyday with purpose.