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10 Ways to Slow Down in a Fast-Paced World

10 Ways to Slow Down in a Fast-Paced World

Do you want to be happy, relaxed, and healthy? Of course! But maybe you don’t have time to go to a yoga studio or learn breathing exercises or meditation. Here are some simple ways you can add more peace and mindfulness to your regular, busy day.

Be present during chores

You’ve gotta do them anyway. Why not find a way to enjoy them? Take a moment to be present while handwashing those dishes that aren’t dishwasher-friendly. Feel the hot water on your hands, enjoy the soap bubbles, hear the clink of the cups. While you’re vacuuming, pay attention to each stroke, hear the dust and dirt getting sucked into the vacuum, enjoy the change from dirty carpet to clean! And while you’re de-cluttering, notice each object that you are picking up. Know that as you are clearing your space you are also clearing your mind.

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Turn off the car radio. Pull out the ear buds.

No need to completely block out your favorite tunes or radio programming, but give yourself an occasional break. Don’t be proud of not remembering how you got to work – that’s the sign of an over-busy mind! Focus on the scenery and the sounds of life moving by you. You might be surprised by landmarks you’ve never noticed before! And if you’re an exercise enthusiast, see if you can take your workout outdoors. Pull out those ear buds and give yourself a break from the talk and the music. Focus on what’s happening around you. Take in the air and the life around you. Notice the sound of your feet hitting the pavement, the feel of your legs pumping. Wave and smile at passerby. If you can coordinate, grab a friend or coworker to go with you. Having someone to talk to will get you out of your head and “to do” list and into the present.

Limit TV.

Sometimes I walk into a house and the TV is already on. It has become background noise, part of the family environment. It can also be quite a distraction.   I used to have the TV on while working, as motivating background noise. I discovered I was about 30 percent efficient when doing this. Enjoy the natural sounds of your home; be present for your family. Choose the specific shows you want to watch, and otherwise keep the TV off.

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Cut back on the e-mail checking.

E-mail is one of my big “go-to”s when I want to quick break from something I’m working on. And later I regret it. Decide ahead of time when you will be checking your e-mail. Even if you have to check it multiple times during the day, schedule those in.   It is a huge distraction that pulls you right out of the present moment – you’re either reminded about something you haven’t accomplished or worrying about something coming up in the future. Stick to the task that you’re accomplishing right now. Later you can mentally prepare yourself for organizing the onslaught of people and messages vying for your attention.

Be goal-oriented with social media.

Just like going into a store with a shopping list, make a list of what you plan to accomplish on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. If you want to check in with some friends, go directly to their page or feed. Are you looking for some recipe ideas? Do a search. If you stick to the list, you’ll save a lot of time and keep your mind from getting scattered.

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Eat at the table.

Make dinner about the food (and company!) Keep the table clear of everything but food during dinner – no TV, no books, no phone, no paperwork or mail, no nothing! Then, focus on the food. Don’t just eat to eat. Make eating a meditative experience. Take in the smells, the appearance, every taste. Savor each bite as it enters your mouth and reaches your taste buds. Focusing on your senses brings you back to the present moment, with the added benefit of better digestion.

Count your steps.

Here’s an easy one! Count your steps, and stay in the present moment. No need to go crazy with the counting. Just keep counting up to 10 or 20. Count your steps down the stairs, to the kitchen, to your car, in to work, to the store – anywhere! Notice your pace. Are you rushed? Slow down your steps, relax your body, and take it all in.

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Take advantage of lines.

Not a fan of lines? Me neither! But what a perfect opportunity to slow down and relax. Take some deep breaths. Take in your surroundings. If you’re outdoors, soak up the rays. Maybe chat up the people around you – or people-watch!   While waiting in line for a chance to be a movie extra, I struck up a conversation with an actress that inspired me to immediately sign up for an improv class — an eye-opening, fantastic experience!

Mini-meditate during traffic stops and starts.

If there’s anything more frustrating than waiting in line, it is waiting in traffic or waiting for a train. Again, take advantage of this time! Concentrate on your breaths with each breath in and out. Count the vehicles or train compartments that pass.   Sometimes I’ll look to see who’s driving the vehicles that pass by or even pick a color or vehicle make to watch for. Enjoy this quick opportunity to slow down.

Take the scenic route.

Do you have an alternate route to work in case of bad traffic? Why not take it on a good traffic day? Or even just a slight detour down a parallel road? When we have a habitual way of doing things, our brains tend to go on auto-pilot and our concentration goes on vacation. Instead of giving your head an excuse to start worrying about work or those items on your “to do” list, take a route that forces you to pay attention. This can also apply to your walking routes. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park in a different parking spot. Sit in a different chair at the meeting. Pick a different spot in the living room.

And as far as that looming “to do” list, get it out of your head and onto paper as quickly as possible. Give it your undivided attention when you are ready for it. Keep your full attention in the present moment in everything you do, and you’re on your way to that happier, more peaceful you!

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

1. Create a Daily Plan

Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

3. Use a Calendar

Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

4. Use an Organizer

An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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5. Know Your Deadlines

When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

6. Learn to Say “No”

Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

7. Target to Be Early

When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

8. Time Box Your Activities

This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

11. Focus

Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

12. Block out Distractions

What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

13. Track Your Time Spent

When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

15. Prioritize

Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

16. Delegate

If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

For related work, batch them together.

For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

  1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
  2. coaching
  3. workshop development
  4. business development
  5. administrative

I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

19. Cut off When You Need To

The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

More Time Management Techniques

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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