If you had of told me 12 weeks ago that I would have to spend 7 weeks isolated in my home, living a slower life I would have dreaded the thought. I’ve always thrived on being busy, I love (or thought I loved) the hustle and bustle however the past 7 weeks has opened my eyes and shown me that the pace in which I was operating prior to COVID-19 isolation is not how I want to live my life.
I spoke with many people over this period of isolation who shared that they too felt like pre COVID-19 life was too fast paced and that living life in the ‘always on’ digital world wasn’t something they wanted to return to, I truly believe that we were so consumed with being busy and rushing around that people are now craving more peace, quiet and simplicity.
The reality is that living life in the 21st Century has seen us offer ourselves up as being available 24/7, we also expect that others should be available at the click of a finger. There are no more ‘office hours’ and the ability to message someone at any time of the day is second nature, however being so accessible has led to many of us feeling overloaded and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t need to be that way.
As author Annie Dillard said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Which is why I’ve made a few changes to reflect the future life I want to live and how I want to spend my time, I’ve become more comfortable with using the word no without feeling guilty, I’ve asked for help without feeling like a burden, I’ve put my phone away so I’m much more present and I’ve identified areas in my life, both business and personal, that were not sparking my joy and I’ve shown them the door.
Whilst the thought of living a slower life sounds like a dream, you may be wondering just how you know what to prioritise and what it is in your life that needs to be given the boot. Here’s a simple exercise to determine where your time is going on an average day and help you prioritise the things that bring a smile to your dial. I suggest completing this exercise over a 1 week period, capturing the information every day to give you the best understanding of just where you’re spending your precious time.
On a piece of paper create three columns
In the first column write “Sleep – X hours” x = whatever the average number of hours you sleep is
In the second column I want you to write “Work – X hours” x = whatever the number of hours you work is. If you don’t work then leave this column blank
Finally in the third column write down the following tasks and the time they take
a.) Things that you have to do (showering, eating, looking after children, etc)
b.) Things that you want to do (hobbies, exercise, reading, spending time with family, etc)
c.) Other things that you regularly do (watch TV, scroll Facebook, play video games etc)
d.) Anything else that takes your time each day and isn’t captured already
Now I want you to review your list and ask yourself if you’re happy with where your time is going in column three. If you wish you had more time to spend on your hobby or with your family but find you’re spending a couple of hours scrolling social media each night and it’s not bringing you joy then you may want to change that habit.
If you’re struggling with prioritising the things you want to do vs the things you currently do, please don’t be too hard on yourself and look at creating small changes to your life. I’ve helped hundreds of people live a more organised, and I sometimes still find it challenging creating a balance however I consider success as taking my own advice at least 50% of the time! This is a rule of thumb that you might adopt too.