Strategies to Simplify an Overactive Life
Photo by Maya Dehlin
The "busy" happens to all of us. As deliberate as I try to be--life can snowball into "overwhelm" without a great deal of effort. It happens. But as my fatigue builds or my anxiety mounts with the increasing demands of my life, I have found a few strategies that help to bring me back down again. I am sure you have a few tricks of your own! Let's collaborate, shall we?
I take stock of every event or detail in my planner. I am careful to note what the true "have to dos" are for the next two to four weeks? I am ruthless here. Anything that I can cancel, I absolutely do. I am always surprised at how empowering this step can make me feel. The next step comes for items that may be necessary but they may be time flexible too. Anything I can reschedule, I do. Many times I reschedule for the following month. Or I wait as long as I am able. This reconfiguration usually takes me 30 minutes to an hour. It is like trimming the fat off the meat of my life. I can literally gain hours and hours over a month this way. Normally, I don't even notice what I have canceled.
From there, I try to notice any natural windows of time. Where do I have open space? Do I have an hour before bed? Thirty minutes before the children awaken in the mornings? Do I have a daily lunch hour at work? Do I have an open morning on an upcoming Saturday? Whatever I may have, I work to give purpose to that time. Purpose is a verb! Yep. That is right. "Purpose" that time for YOU. I am not talking hours if you don't have hours. A little can go a long way. I will write in "WALK" or "READ" or "YOGA" or " M TIME." It may be a thirty-minute block or two hours. Trades can work too. Maybe you have a lunch hour that you usually work through or perhaps you normally watch YouTube videos while you lunch or catch up on email. One idea is to schedule a couple of times each week where you head outside for lunch. You work to be aware of your senses while you eat. Noticing birds or colors or the sounds of the city. Or you may decide to eat lunch in your office for a bit but add a 20-minute walk at a nearby park. Trades can work wonders. Or consider adding a pleasure to an already assigned task at hand.
Shift your time and your life to SIMPLIFY mode. Basic meals with few ingredients. Streamlined social engagements. Essential exercise routines only. Sleep is paramount. I begin to say "I really can't" a bit more. I have found countless times, a good "no" is really a "yes" to myself and my values.
Move more slowly and be more present. It sounds counter-intuitive but it works for me. I need to take a shower. True! Why not savor and really be in the shower? Feel the water. Focus on the senses. The smell of the shampoo and how it feels in my hair. Allow the moment to bring you home to where you are NOW. Need to eat? Put down your computer and really taste the food in front of you. Are you chewing well? Is it crunchy? Sweet? Are you thirsty? So many times when we feel busy, our minds become out of touch with the space before us. We tend to speed up everything. The reminder to slow down and focus on one thing at a time is an instant de-stressor. And it can be super challenging!
We all feel busy at times. I try not to use the word "busy" as it makes me feel disempowered or disconnected from who I am and what I want from life. I definitely never had dreams of being a busy person, you know? I like to say that my week feels "full" as I may have many good things happening in a week or month. The crucial element is that a good part of what I am doing reflects me. It is all a balance. A cycle. Try to be easy with yourself here. If you actually feel chronically "busy" or "exhausted" compared to "full", I might gently suggest you consider your relationship with expectations (for yourself, for others, for your life), your values (being able to know what is most important and prioritize a bit of that in your day), and boundaries (being able to say "no" to others in order to honor yourself).
I hope some of these strategies are helpful to you. Here is another blog post from the wise Courtney Carver on simplifying the busy life if you would like some added support. Do you have any strategies you would like to share? What do you do when your life seems to loom large before you? I always love to hear from you!