“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”
~ Lao Tzu
Consider the above quote from Lao Tzu: how can it be true?
Is it possible to never hurry, but to get everything done?
It seems contradictory to our modern world, where everything is a rush, where we try to cram as much into every minute of the day as possible, where if we are not busy, we feel unproductive and lazy.
Maybe we’re playing the wrong game — we’ve been conditioned to believe that busier is better, but actually the speed of doing is not as important as what we focus on doing.
Maybe we’re going at the wrong speed.
Maybe if we are constantly rushing, we will miss out on life itself.
Let’s let go of the obsession with speed, and instead slow down, stop rushing, and enjoy life.
And still get everything done.
Here are 9 ways how to live a slower-paced life:
1. Do less.
Cut back on your projects, on your task list, on how much you try to do each day.
Focus not on quantity but quality.
Pick 2-3 important things — or even just one important thing — and work on those first.
2. Have fewer meetings.
Meetings are usually a big waste of time.
And they eat into your day, forcing you to squeeze the things you really need to do into small windows, and making you rush.
Try to have blocks of time with no interruptions, so you don’t have to rush from one meeting to another.
3. Practice disconnecting.
Have times when you turn off your devices and your email notifications and whatnot.
Time with no phone calls, when you’re just creating, or when you’re just spending time with someone, or just reading a book, or just taking a walk, or just eating mindfully.
You can even disconnect for an entire day, and you won’t be hurt.
4. Give yourself time to get ready and get there.
If you’re constantly rushing to appointments or other places you have to be, it’s because you don’t allot enough time in your schedule for preparing and for traveling.
Pad your schedule to allow time for this stuff.
If you think it only takes you 10 minutes to get ready for work or a date, perhaps give yourself 30-45 minutes so you don’t have to shave in a rush or put on makeup in the car.
If you think you can get there in 10 minutes, perhaps give yourself 2-3 times that amount so you can go at a leisurely pace and maybe even get there early.
5. Practice being comfortable with sitting, doing nothing.
Sometimes when you have to wait, you become impatient or uncomfortable.
You may want your mobile device or at least a magazine, because standing and waiting is either a waste of time or something you’re not used to doing without feeling self-conscious.
Instead, try just sitting there, looking around, soaking in your surroundings.
Try standing in line and just watching and listening to people around you. It takes practice, but after awhile, you’ll do it with a smile.
6. Realize that if it doesn’t get done, that’s OK.
There’s always tomorrow.
And yes, I know that’s a frustrating attitude for some of you who don’t like laziness or procrastination or living without firm deadlines, but it’s also reality.
The world likely won’t end if you don’t get that task done today.
Your boss might get mad, but the company won’t collapse and the life will inevitably go on. And the things that need to get done will.
7. Start to eliminate the unnecessary.
When you do the important things with focus, without rush, there will be things that get pushed back, that don’t get done.
And you need to ask yourself: how necessary are these things?
What would happen if I stopped doing them?
How can I eliminate them, delegate them, automate them?
8. Practice mindfulness.
Simply learn to live in the present, rather than thinking so much about the future or the past.
When you eat, fully appreciate your food.
When you’re with someone, be with them fully.
When you’re walking, appreciate your surroundings, no matter where you are.
9. Slowly eliminate commitments.
We’re overcommitted, which is why we’re rushing around so much.
Not just with work — projects and meetings and the like. Parents have tons of things to do with and for their kids, and we overcommit our kids as well.
Many of us have busy social lives, or civic commitments, or are coaching or playing on sports teams.
We have classes and groups and hobbies. But in trying to cram so much into our lives, we’re actually deteriorating the quality of those lives.
Slowly eliminate commitments — pick 4-5 essential ones, and realize that the rest, while nice or important, just don’t fit right now.
Life is better when unrushed. And given the fleeting nature of this life, why waste even a moment by rushing through it?
Remember the quote above: if nature can get everything done without rushing, so can you.