Slow Down

This is Part 5 in the Apt Design 2011 Ebook Series – Creating Work/Life Balance.
Click here to get the book and see the whole series.

You move fast.

Admit it. Much of the time, maybe most of the time, you hit the floor running and don’t get a break till you climb into bed at night. Its a problem so many of us are facing more and more in modern times.

Leo Babauta puts it this way in his book Focus,

We live in curious times. It’s called the Age of Information, but in another light it can be called the Age of Distraction. … never have the distractions been so voluminous, so overwhelming, so intense, so persistent as they are now. … More and more, we are connected, we are up to our necks in the stream of information, we are in the crossfire of the battle for our attention, and we are engaged in a harrying blur of multitasking activity.

Slow DownBut now a reversal has begun. You’ve seen it in plenty of other places before this blog post – a cultural movement to slow down, turn off the noise and live more freely. Here’s a look at some ways to live a better life by slowing down and doing less:

Don’t Do. Just Be.

In our current American culture there is so much emphasis on Getting Things Done. We make todo lists for every part of our life and there are thousands of books and videos telling us how to be more productive. Built into our modern worldview is the idea that we are only worthwhile if we are accomplishing something.

Break that thought habit. You don’t need to be constantly doing. Take some time to stop doing and start being. Relax and be yourself. Think quietly. Reflect. Breathe. Look at the stars. Sip tea by yourself while the sun rises. Pet a sleeping animal. Just sit and be.

Kill the Need to Know Instantly

In the past it took awhile to hear about things that had happened. You may not read about events until days, weeks or even months later. As our technology has advanced the time it takes for us to find out about things has significantly decreased until now there are an endless amount of ways for you to know what’s going on as it happens.

People used to survive without that instant knowledge. You still can.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jT0JT3N47g

You don’t need to know everything that happens the second that it happens. Try turning off whatever it is that’s constantly bombarding you with the immediate and the now and the urgent. The less you are being invaded with what is happening elsewhere the more you can focus on what is happening where you are. The point is not to see how long you can go without the stream of information, but to kill the need to know everything instantly.

Urgent is Poison

This need for doing things immediately is often worst in your job. You see it stamped across papers and blaring its little “!!!” at you in your inbox. Its called Urgent. And its poison. Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson from 37Signals put it this way in their book Rework:

Most things just don’t warrant that kind of hysteria. If a task doesn’t get done this very instant, nobody is going to die. Nobody’s going to lose their job. It won’t cost the company a ton of money. What it will do is create artificial stress, which leads to burnout and worse.

Relax a little. Slow things down. Enjoy being without doing.

Do This Now:

Try this. Find 5 full minutes to lay on the floor quietly and do nothing but breath and clear your mind of thoughts. 5 full minutes. I think you’ll find 2 things: 1. It will be harder than you think and 2. Afterwards you will feel even better than you would have thought.

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