In the words of They Might be Giants, “time is marching on and time is still marching on…”
This time of year time feels a little bit sped up with all the gatherings and events and parties and to-do lists and travel plans and whoa! Wait a minute! All of a sudden we’re freaking out with all that’s on our mind/calendar/list/plate! You know the feeling? Well chill because here are 8 ways to gain more time without actual time travel. Seriously.
1. Take a deep breath. It really is the first step in calming yourself down when your mind is swirling about. Perhaps you’re saying, “But I don’t have time to take a deep breath gosh darnit!” And I’m saying really, you do. And if you do, you might actually feel time expand a tiny bit. And if you take a few deep breaths, you might feel it expand even more. So pause what you’re doing. Whatever it is. And for a minute or two, just concentrate on breathing. You’ll oxygenate your body and mind and give yourself a chance to approach things more calmly which will in fact feel like time expanding. No matter where you are, pause and take a deep breath or a few. Really intentional, big, deep breaths.
2. Get out of your head. Rather than letting all the things you have to do swirl about in your head uncontrollably and continuously, make a list. The list frees your brain from overwhelm and puts all the things you need to do in front of you where you can see them, approach them and deal with them. One. By. One. So you can slowly get them all done. Put your list on paper or on your phone or wherever it will be most helpful. The beauty of the paper list vs. the electronic list is that you get the satisfaction of crossing things out with a very animated, intentional swipe of your pen. And once they’re crossed off you can see just how much you’ve done. And when you’ve got the list in full action, you’ll see that many of the things that swirl so furiously in your head, might only take minutes to accomplish and don’t need to occupy so much mental energy.
3. Cross something off. I don’t mean cross it off because it’s done. I mean cross it off as in don’t do it. Surely there’s one thing on your list that doesn’t really NEED to get done. Maybe it’s an event that you really aren’t OBLIGATED to attend. Or maybe it’s an activity that you realize you don’t really need to do. Whatever it is, on almost everyone’s list, there is something that can be deleted. Or at least delayed until another time when you have more time.
4. Combine efforts. There are different ways you can approach this combination of efforts. Try to schedule things so that all your activities fall back to back on the same day – making for a busy day yes but also leaving other days of the week open for you to feel more spacious. If you’re meeting someone for coffee one morning, segue immediately into the next without leaving the space. If you’re volunteering at school or elsewhere in the community, schedule it so that another errand or task is done immediately afterward. This not only blocks your time nicely but also gives definitive end times to each activity. You can also block things by time of day, scheduling all your extra activities in a certain time frame each morning leaving the rest of the day free for your own personal or work related efforts. On the days that are to be for your projects only, put it on the calendar with the same importance as the meetings. Write it down in order to protect that time from the intrusion of other things that might be presented.
5. Schedule less. If you’re feeling this overwhelm often, perhaps you ought to think about trying to do less. If it’s making you stressed or anxious, then maybe it really is too much. Consider eliminating things not just for one time but for the longer term. Maybe you’re on too many committees or in too many groups. Whatever it is, they will be there when you’re ready but if it’s too much, you’re not serving anyone by overextending yourself.
6. Delegate. Surely you don’t need to do everything yourself. Got a friend, co-worker or family member who might pick up some of the slack? Ask your partner to take on one of your tasks. Or your kids to chip in a little more with things. Or your parents or friends to babysit so you can get something done. Try doing things co-operatively such as child care or toy shopping or post office or whatever is on your list. No point in all of us doing all of it. Share, trade, barter, bargain. Whatever you can do to make things feel more efficient and fun.
7. Get more sleep. Sure it seems funny to think of sleeping more as giving you more time but seriously, when you are well-rested you’re a much more efficient machine. Go to bed 30 minutes earlier. Leave something undone that night. If you’re a parent, you most likely won’t ever get it ALL done, so leave some of it undone in the name of a good night’s rest. SO worth it. And truly, you’ll feel stronger, more capable, more efficient and more joyful too so you can get more done more joyfully.
8. Lower your standards. At least temporarily. And think about what really matters. Got company coming and you’re trying to get the baseboards shiny before they arrive? Or make the perfect shrimp dish for your cocktail party? Before you freak out or stress out or wither, ask yourself if what you’re stressing about is worth it. Nobody’s going to notice your baseboards. And if they do, do you really care? And don’t you think your friends and family are coming to be with you and not coming to see a perfectly laid out Martha Stewart style spread? Sure, if you can do it all without stress or worry go for it, but if it’s causing you to go into full on overload, is it really worth it? That’s a rhetorical question by the way.
Three of the recurring themes of this season are peace, love and joy so it says on every card we’ve received. Be sure you set yourself up for a lot of both. Because really, isn’t that the whole point of us being here on this earth anyway? I think so. This time of year and always.
If you want to make your holiday season slow down to just the tempo you like, check out the Create your Slow Holiday workbook. It’ll totally get you exactly where you want to be.