My mindful living challenge

… is to slow down.

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I am always going, doing, moving. Even after weeks of summer vacation, I found myself feeling pressed for time. I had hoped that feeling would disappear this summer, my first off in 4 years. And it was wonderful, fun, productive, and sometimes relaxing – but I found relaxation to be elusive. There are so many things that I want to do, see, learn, explore. This is not new; I have felt time stress for as long as I can remember. I believe it is one of the things that led me to the simple living path: I realized fairly young that time was more important to me than things.

I’m not alone. Search “time scarcity” and you will find articles in The Economist and Inc. Magazine, among others. I’ve gleaned a few tips:

  • Act like time is abundant. (I’m not sure how this will help. If I allow myself the luxury of wasting time, I will know I am wasting time, and won’t that create more time stress? But I do know that when I feel like time is abundant, I am happier.)
  • Focus on priorities. (Presumably, if the priorities are being completed, I will feel less stressed. I tend to prioritize already since, as noted, I always feel time pressure.)
  • Stop getting sucked into the internet vortex and reading every article in the search for all the answers. (Obviously, guilty as charged).

I’m going to try a few ideas of my own:

  • I removed shortcuts for nearly all apps on my phone. I can still get to them if I need to, but it won’t be as fast. Clear screen, clear mind? (I long ago deleted social media apps entirely.)
  • Phone and errand sabbaths. When I traveled to Germany a decade ago, stores were still not open on Sundays. It was a revelation. People were outside walking, biking. Extended families got together for coffee. The pace was slow. It was an entire day to just be. My Sundays tend to be devoted to getting ready for the hectic work week, but eliminating errands and phone should buy me at least a couple of hours.
  • Focus on what was accomplished. Be positive, not negative.
  • Meditate. 5 to 10 minute sessions are typical for me, but on very busy days I don’t even manage that… even though I know it helps me feel less busy. This needs to move up the priority list to daily habit.
  • Less is more. I can apply my positive experiences from decluttering to other activities, such as
    • A 5-book limit from the library. I  sometimes always check out a large stack of books and it clutters my space and makes me feel like I have even more to do. 5 books at a time is enough.
    • Mindful grocery shopping. I tend to buy a lot of produce on the weekend, all of which we will eat in the course of a week, but it’s much easier to find things when the refrigerator isn’t packed. And realistically, we can always go a week eating from the freezer and pantry.
    • Projects. It’s enough to have one outdoor project and one indoor project at a time. Multiple projects begun means longer finishing time for each, and the associated constant reminders of work undone.

It’s easy to make lists and then forget them. I’ll remind myself of these goals regularly:

  • Automated email each Saturday afternoon about phone and errand sabbath.
  • Meditation each morning and evening. Since I focus for a short time, it is easy to add to my routines.
  • A note on my library card.
  • Last week of each month: eat down the freezer and pantry (I’ll enjoy the mini-vacation!).
  • Monthly project planning. While in my former intensely scheduled and highly structured job, I was resistant to any form of structure at home and also felt like I never had time for anything other than the household basics. But I think that now I can start adding this back, with a monthly calendar reminder.

What will I do with the time I’m creating?

  • A fun family outing
  • Walking, biking, kayaking
  • Talking with friends (often while walking)
  • Reading
  • Making something – other than dinner, that is!
  • Take more photos of bees and butterflies, because that means I’m out in nature where I love to be.


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