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5 Ways to Slow Down Time This Summer

Posted: 07/01/2014 7:51 pm

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Finally, summer is here..."when the living is (supposed to be) easy." Hope you are enjoying the start to this lovely season. According to a recent article in the Globe and Mail, far too many Canadians are really bad at taking vacations. Are you one of them? I confess, sometimes I am. But whether you are 'good' or 'bad' about the vacay thing, my advice is: don't blink. Summer goes by soooo fast. Too fast in my 'time zone' -- I can't believe it is already July!

Do you feel that way too?

Well given that summer is here and in Canada is does feel very fleeting, I thought it timely to write a few ideas on how we can slow down time (this summer -- or really any season) so that we can enjoy more of it while it's here. I'm working hard on each of these myself. This isn't about mastering them at once, but rather living in these strategies as best we can daily so that we become more aware in the moments and make the most of them.

5 Ways to Slow Down Time This Summer (or any season):

1. Focus Time:

Multitasking and distractions are big time thieves. We allow these thieves into our lives -- daily. We juggle activities; answer emails ad hoc at every ting; invite or allow distractions of all kinds to intrude. Not only do these habits make your valuable time less productive (yes, less), it also zaps your energy because multitasking spends way more brain energy then focused thinking.

Conversely focus brings the gift of fueling ourselves. Focus fuels our brain capacity and creativity; energizes us and keeps us sharp. And with the right kind of focus activity, it can put us in a state of flow -- a delicious state that leads to more engagement, well-being and happiness and a feeling of time 'well-spent'. And while time in flow can fly by (we get lost in time) this is usually a good, energizing 'time-goes-'fast' experience vs. a depleting fast. And you can likely get more done. Those flow states usually involve using your top strengths. See here for a past blog post about strengths and flow ("Why the Lizard Wouldn't Eat").

These days, there's so much to juggle with the loads of work and life but there's plenty of opportunity to rein in the gratuitous multitasking and distractions and ramp up a bit more of focus time in your day. Maybe it's taking 20 minutes of uninterrupted time to write that report or think about a plan or start to flesh out a creative idea. Outside of work it might be falling into a great book or a personal hobby. Practise with pockets of focus time this summer and see if you experience a shift in how you feel about time. Read about multitasking in an excerpt from my book, Ease.

2. Get Present:

While this idea is related to focus, it deserves its own mention. How often do we allow our minds to be someplace other than where we actually meant to be? Perhaps you are at a meeting but thinking about something else (the work that beckons? or concern about another matter). Or away from work (family time, friends, etc.) but your supposedly 'off' time gets robbed as you worry or think about something else. Did you miss your son's winning pitch at the baseball game because you were on your smart phone dealing with work?

Reality can certainly pull us away at times but if you can catch yourself in a reactive (and unnecessary) moment of 'inattention' and shift to a state of attention you will overcome an insidious robber of our time. From tuned out to tuned in -- you will likely be rewarded with more moments that you truly wouldn't want to miss this summer.

3. Reality Test Your To Do List:

I'm often guilty of putting too many things on my to-do list and when I do that I know this can trigger the perception of 'not enough time' which is an energy drain to say the least. Keep that 'not enough time' gremlin at bay and take a harder look at your own expectations of what can get done in any given period of time. Learn to right-size your daily (and weekly, monthly) goals and to-do's. This will also invite you to learn to say 'no' more often.

4. Leave Margins:

Using time wisely doesn't imply you should pack in activities to the fullest of your day's capacity. In fact, the opposite is what many of us need. Leave margins to 'get there', 'do that', or deal with contingencies (traffic, etc) -- or just to think and recharge your batteries. This will give you more spaciousness and a feeling of enough time vs. not enough. And paradoxically, you will probably get more done and do it better as a result.

To do this well, learn to master your schedule better: deliberately leave some 'white space' around the edges (and in other places); make space for breaks to recharge (even tiny ones help) -- even when it is 'crazy busy'.

5. Choose Joy Over Angst:

Well, nothing robs us of quality time more than negativity (worry, frustration, angst). A day in a funk is a day wasted. Sure, stuff concerns us, challenges us, gets us down -- but focusing only on the negativity will guarantee to feed into the 'scarcity of time' experience.

Instead, learn to master the art of positivity -- and make room for it especially during times of duress. This will not only build your capacity to deal with the tough issues and even boost your ability to generate more positive outcomes --- it will also give you back ownership of your time. By having the choice of how you want to be at any given moment, you 'own the moment'.

SOS to Help You Own the Moment -- Embrace it or waste it!

There are oodles of tips and actionable ideas to support you in my book, Ease --- Manage Overwhelm in Times of 'Crazy Busy'. And I'll be presenting a series of Tele-talks soon to help you put these ideas and more into action at work and home -- not just this summer but throughout the year-round 'season of rush'.

For now, I'm wishing you a happy start to the summer. May your time be plentiful, well-spent and filled with joy, well-being and lots of ease along the way.

A longer version of this article was originally posted on my blog.

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