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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 September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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