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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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