Over the past century, our lifetime has expanded and our working hours decreased. Do you, like me, wonder where all that free time has gone? asks Florence Parot
Do you often feel overloaded, overwhelmed, rushing under the pressure of getting it all done? Our timetables are so full even the most adept organisers among us sometimes feel there is simply too much to be done. Have you noticed what generally goes out of the window first? Our personal time.
Where Are You Going?
The first step is to look at your current work/life balance and write down how much time you dedicate each week to: work (including work you may be bringing back home work-related emails and phone calls); home; family; friends; hobbies; me time; TV; internet; and, sports. Be honest with yourself and assess it carefully. How does the result make you feel?
Then Ask Yourself
What makes me feel great? What brings me joy? Where do I take my energy from? What is vital/important/not very important/a waste of time/draining? Where do I really make a difference and where can I delegate? What can I simply not do (learn to say no) or do less often/differently? If this were my last day and I were looking back on my life, what would I want my contribution to
Some First Aid Solutions
The idea is to put what is very important to you and brings you joy first on the agenda. You will feel better and have more energy for the rest. Favour high-quality relationships. Honour your well-being – physical, mental and spiritual. And do not forget to enjoy life.
One Step Further
But what if you are already doing all these things and still feel overwhelmed? Well, here is a secret: do less and you will be able to do more. Slow down and you will arrive first. Are you intrigued?
Our biggest mistake is to overwork, to pile up chore after chore, task after task and to never stop. Our bodies are not meant to function that way for too long a time. Our attention span, concentration and energy levels all need refreshing. We need to stop in order to be able to function efficiently.
At the end of the week, we are exhausted; we have forgotten to take a break. Waste of time? Quite the contrary, big mistake! Only a few seconds of break can make a big difference to your energy levels at the end of the day. Learning to rest and relax is essential. Life does not require all our resources all of the time. It is dangerous. The first step in going forward is to stop.
“Simplify, Simplify.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
Take A Break
A one-minute break can recharge you for the rest of the working hours. Take micro-breaks during the day. For 30 seconds, close your eyes, breathe out deeply, let your shoulders down, unclench your jaw, feel your feet on the floor and listen only to your breathing. Then open your eyes and go on with what you have to do. The secret is to do it several times a day, every day.
One day a week, give yourself a day off from everything. Do not plan anything and do whatever you feel like doing on that day. Whatever you do, make it as simple and slow as possible. Treat yourself to freedom! No work, no meetings and no friends over. Have a lie-in, take a long bath. Enjoy a quiet cup of tea, a good book or soft music. Go for a gentle stroll. No TV, no phone, no computer. Breathe! Take time to daydream or to do
Of course, do not forget to go on holidays. Make sure that at least once or twice a year, you get at least three days of complete rest in a row. Go tp a calm and agreeable place, with fresh air, nice surroundings, silence and peace – without your mobile or laptop. Why not even try a silent retreat for a
Get to know your needs, limits and rhythms. Learn how to use time and not let it use you. Do you know how much sleep you need and at what time? Do you know your own limits? Do you know when you work at your best?
Several times a day, listen to how you are feeling, to your body, your breathing and take it into account. You can, for instance, listen to how you are breathing and feeling when driving, arriving home, or cooking dinner.
A Few Sophrology Exercises To Help You During The Day
If You Feel You Are Worried: Breathe in and gently contract the muscles in your whole body, sensing any tension or discomfort. Breathe out loudly, let go and completely relax the muscles, letting the tensions flow away. Do this three times and listen to how you are feeling inside. You can do this exercise sitting, lying down or standing up.
If You Feel You Are Tired: Close your eyes and imagine that you find yourself in a very sunny place. Imagine that each time you breathe in, you are breathing in the sun’s rays, light, warmth and energy. Let this energy and warmth into your body and imagine it spreading everywhere, from your head to your arms, your back and your feet. Hold this image for a few minutes before opening your eyes and bringing yourself back to the awareness of the room.
Live A Mindful life: How Not To Multitask And Still Get It All Done
Try concentrating on just one thing at a time, whenever you can. Try it first, for instance, washing the dishes, drinking a cup of tea or eating. You can even practice mindfulness when the phone rings. Breathe in and out, then answer (with a smile).
This is very different from living in the short term, which is a kind of constant emergency. It is being completely present to what you are doing. You will then be able to use your full focus and be more effective, with much less energy wasted going from one thing to another. In the end, most things will get done quicker and, guess what? You will have more time to relax.
“Do not think like the cowboy who shoots faster than his shadow but like a chess master.” ~ Jean-Louis Servan Schreiber
The aim of course is to live as much as possible in mindfulness, but do not put too much pressure on yourself. Start small, try these tools on something easy, and build from there.
It may help to remember that life is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t exhaust yourself, and don’t forget to enjoy life along the way.