In the past I’ve written about the growing amount of people that answer the question, “Hey, how are you,” with “I’m doing Ok, just really busy.”
Busyness seems to be a growing epidemic. Even though we seem to have lots of gadgets that are meant to make us more efficient with our time, the gadgets all draw our attention and life seems to speed up. What happens when life speeds up? Well, often times what’s best for us goes to the bottom of the “to do” list.
I might ask people, “So you have this seemingly unending to-do list. Where are you on this list?” This is often met with either a quizzical look or a moment of reflection where the answer is almost always, “I’m not on it. There’s no time for me.”
Now there have been enough people writing about time management and I’ve written a few times about attention management, but today I want to bring up something different and that’s the idea of flexibility.
While I do believe that a flexible body lends itself to a flexible mind, here I’m focusing on the mind and our behavior.
If you had the time, what are some things that you’d like to do in the day? Would you like to have more time to yourself to just relax? Would you like to learn the guitar? Would you like to fit in more exercise? Would you like to be more social?
We often times have these rigid ideas in our minds about what it means to do any of the things above. For example, in order to exercise you might think you need an hour or more to go to a gym or to play guitar there needs to be time set aside for 30 minutes or more in a quiet place. Or maybe to be social you need to set up events or go out to more gatherings of some kind.
What if you flipped your mind about and thought more micro? What if we were more flexible with what we could do with our time?
For example, is there anywhere in your day you have 5 minutes to do some push-ups or sit ups? Or perhaps is there a 20 minute time at lunch to just take a walk around your building or block?
For guitar, there are so many YouTube instruction videos that are free now that offer little 5 minute instructions. Pick up your guitar and play for 5-10 minutes; that is perfectly fine. Doing that a number of times will either get the engines revving to make more time or will simply improve your playing.
To relax, there are plenty of opportunities during the day to do this, you don’t need to go on vacation or have an entire afternoon to yourself (while that has its own merits). You can allow stop lights to be a reminder to breathe and relax the body; you can choose to wash dishes without the fervor of getting them done, but more with a mindful lens. The shower can also be a mini-retreat if practiced with mindfulness. We have many more of these examples in A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook.
Allow your mind to entertain the idea that we can do the things we like in the small moments of the day.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.