Learn how to take your time

Life is much more enjoyable when savored. Consider these examples from Leo Babauta, author of the blog Zen Habits and the book The Power of Less: Do Less, Get More Done:

  • Is a book better if you speed read it, or if you take your time and get lost in it?
  • Is a song better if you skim through it, or if you take the time to really listen?
  • Is food better if you cram it down your throat, or if you savor every bite and really appreciate the flavor?
  • Is your work better if you’re trying to do 10 things at once, or if you really pour yourself into one important task?
  • Is your time spent with a friend or loved one better if you have a rushed meeting interrupted by your e-mails and text messages, or if you can relax and really focus on the person?

When moving through life at a relaxed, easy pace—in awareness—the magic of each moment is fully realized. Moments are lived instead of missed.

Recently, I realized that I spend most of my time rushing around, frantically trying to check things off my to-do list and I spend the rest of my time rehashing the past or planning for and worrying about the future. My mind told me, “There is too much to do and not enough time,” and I believed it.

After attending a week-long Zen retreat, I came to understand that I’ve been stressing myself out by believing things that aren’t true. Attempting to control and manage everything by rushing, worrying and rehashing isn’t helpful. When I drop all that, I have plenty of time to do what’s important. This is my life. I can take my time—and suddenly I have all the time in the world.

What’s helped the most is to periodically remind myself to be fully present in this moment. In the morning, I decide which two or three things I want to do that day. Then, I do one at a time, and practice putting my full attention on that one task, not worrying about what’s next. It’s a lot like meditation. When I notice that my mind has wandered, I gently bring it back to the task at hand. It really works. I feel more calm and peaceful.

More tips:

  • If your job forces you to rush, take charge. Work with your boss to make changes in what you do and how you do it.
  • Do less. Lower your expectations of what you can get done in a day. Eliminate unnecessary commitments.
  • Allow plenty of time between tasks to switch gears or get from one location to another.
  • Disconnect from the electronic age. Take time to be free of interruptions from phone calls, e-mails, text messages, etc.
  • Realize that if it doesn’t get done, that’s okay. There’s always another day. The important things will get done.
  • Practice letting go of the rest.

Karen Giles-Smith, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian, freelance writer and health/wellness coach based in Mason, Michigan. Visit TheWellnessWriter.com and AtEaseWithEating.com.

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