We all seem to have increasing demands on our time and it can often feel as if we are living on automatic pilot – spending our days feeling that we've got far too much to do and letting ourselves be distracted (or numbed) by all the information and technology that surrounds us. It can be difficult to feel truly well in oneself, or stay closely connected to others, or think clearly enough to make wise decisions in this rushed and 'too busy' state.
Time to pause
Maybe it's time to slow down, take a few deep breaths and take stock of our lives. How does the idea of pausing, being present and reaching that inner-peace place sound? Try mindful breathing for some instant calm. For a few moments, just concentrate on your breath. If you make the exhales slightly longer than the inhales, this will signal your body to move into relaxation mode (ie switch to the parasympathetic nervous system).
Changing the busy habit
We can get into habits of busyness where 'getting things done' seems more important than truly choosing the focus of our lives. In the words of journalist and author Oliver Burkeman*, "...we measure our worth not by the results we achieve, but by how much of out time we spend doing. We live frenetic lives, at least in part, because it makes us feel good about ourselves. To put it mildly, this makes no sense. Perhaps we'd pause long enought to realist that – if we weren't so damn busy."
Yet we could choose to live life more purposefully – by thinking about how we invest our time and why. Here are some questions to start the process of self-reflection:
- Do you feel you have a choice about how busy your life is?
- How does being busy serve you?
- Just how important is everything on your to-do list?
- What's working and what needs changing in your life?
- Is your life fulfilling you in the way you'd hoped?
- Does being super-busy help you avoid some difficult emotions or decisions?
- When was the last time you stepped back to explore your priorities and direction?
*From his article about his interesting BBC Radio 4 series called 'Oliver Burkeman is Busy' which is available from the BBC Radio iPlayer.