When we try to juggle everything, we can’t enjoy anything!
Put it all down and take a few moments to enjoy life!
It was a conversation with my friend Rudy, coupled with a book I recently finished, that serves as the inspiration for my writing this week. On Wednesday morning I called Rudy to discuss a few details regarding a project we are pursuing. During the conversation he asked, “Are you working from your deck?” I laughed and answered in the affirmative. He chuckled and said, “I knew it!” Those who know me well, are aware of my morning and evening deck routines. Weather permitting, I begin the day on the deck with coffee and the newspaper. This is followed by a review of email, and preparation of a note of gratitude or thanks. It’s a slow, purposeful and productive way for me to begin my day. Likewise, my evenings end on the deck. I put on some relaxing music (recently it has been Native American Flute), read for a short period, and then enjoy a bourbon and conversation with my father (he is there in spirit). God also weighs-in on occasion. In essence my days begin and end with routines that are purposeful, but simultaneously slow things down, and let me appreciate some moments in my day.
It is the routines in our life that become the focal point for Brooke McAlary’s book, Destination Simple. McAlary proposes that life in a fast-paced world where we are over-scheduled, overworked, and over-stressed, is a choice. The resultant anxiety, sleep deprivation and pressures of life in the fast lane, is worn like a badge of honor; one which may also serve to compromise relationships and personal health. In her book, McAlary challenges us to make a different choice; one which will enable us to take back control by making a few simple changes in the daily flow of our lives, and it begins with our daily routines.
Routines can be defined as an act or series of acts regularly repeated in a set precise manner. At first glance, our daily routines are camouflaged, however when we give them weight and significance they stand out. By making a few simple changes we can slow things down.
Try Single-tasking – Multitasking has become a way of life, but from that extensive list of things you do on a routine basis, choose one. For the period of time it takes to complete it, focus solely on that task and immerse yourself fully and completely in completing it. That simple action will help you find the simple beauty and joy of mindfully completing one task.
Unplug – We live in a connected world and are continually deluged with information. This is our choice and is created through our routine connection to our smartphones, watches, wifi and social media. We need time to ourselves; time to let the noise, stimulus and information subside. Find a period in your day to unplug and reconnect with yourself or a loved one (who has also chosen to unplug).
Empty Your Mind – Our minds are a clutter field. We have don’t forget lists, commitments, must do’s, and don’t forget items floating around in our heads along with everything on our calendar. No wonder sleep is evasive and relaxing becomes difficult at best. Try a brain-dump! Get a paper and pencil, commit to 5-10 minutes, preferably later in the day or before bed, and dump it all. Write it all down. It gets it out of your head leaving your mind more relaxed. The good news is you have the paper for reference later.
Commit to Three – We all have to-do lists. Some even mistakenly think that a long to-do list is a sign of importance, when actually it serves as clutter and a sign of inefficiency. Rather than routinely making a long list of everything that needs to be done, identify three priorities that must be addressed and resolved today. Only after completing them is anything else addressed.
Gratitude – Find a small window within each day to create a list of five things for which you are grateful. Once your list is complete, take a few moments to reflect on it, and be grateful for the positive elements of your life. Remind yourself every day that no matter how bad things get, you can choose to find the good things in your life.
Life goes by quickly and there are moments we should savor. One is occurring as I write. Yes, I’m on my deck and the sun is filtering through leaves that are changing color. One of my favorite songs is playing in the background, and I can smell the aroma of the coffee that sits beside me. I can hear and feel the cool fall wind that is moving through the trees, and out of the corner of my eye, I see Patches, a feral cat, returning from his morning hunt. I have much to be thankful for and I’ve created my list. The week ahead is busy with several meetings, deadlines for some writing, and two presentations, but at present I’ve made a choice to slow things down and savor the moment. Robert Frost said it best, “And that has made all the difference.”