Learning how to stop rushing around all the time isn’t easy, but you can do it. The first step is to think about how you spend your days. Do you often find yourself rushing to cram everything in? I’m talking multitasking mania. The morning is a flurry of activity to get out the door, traffic is a busy nightmare, work is insane? Yeah, I can imagine you nodding your head. It stinks to feel like you’re in a constant battle to rush, rush, rush. Every second seems to count.
I know that when my life becomes rushed day after day, I start to feel like someone is robbing me of my actual life. It’s as if I blame my own activity on an invisible taskmaster. The truth is no one else is hurrying me out the door and through my day at high speed. Every time I rush it’s because I’m choosing to.
What are you really accomplishing by rushing?
There’s also a very practical question about rushing: How much time are you really saving by doing it? Stop and think about it seriously for a moment. Exactly how many minutes or hours are you saving?
I once clocked myself driving somewhere in a rushed way and then in a totally relaxed way. I saved three minutes total. Three minutes! That’s it. If I were an emergency room doctor rushing to see a patient, or I had to unlock my shop because an employee called in sick, then rushing there would make sense.
Those three minutes could mean saving a life or not losing a customer. But for most of us those three minutes aren’t really worth the racing heartbeat, the surge of adrenaline, and the inner feelings of resentment.
What happens when you stop rushing?
Now let’s look at it from the other angle: What would happen if you went a little more slowly? What if you stopped rushing altogether? Those three minutes saved would add up. If you usually rush around for three minutes every hour during the day, that adds up to a solid half hour of rushing.
What if you converted that rushing time into a half hour of relaxation time instead? Maybe you could relax your mind so you could think more clearly. You could relax your muscles, breathe deeply, or do a few minutes of Yoga stretching. You might not feel compelled to text and drive, which is so dangerous for everyone, including you. You might never experience road rage. Sometimes I worry that today’s kids see adulthood mainly as a crunch to do too much. The more kids can see adults relaxing and enjoying their time on Earth, the more they will look forward to their future.
My disclaimer about stressful times
I’m not saying that there aren’t times in life when you will need to rush. I’m saying that most of the time you may not need to. You can even find ways to relax in a stressful time. When I was going through my cancer treatments five years ago, I used to sit in a garden outside the church where my kids were doing after-school activities. I didn’t use my phone or do work; I sat and prayed, or I looked at the pretty flowers around me. I took time to chill out. But, you don’t need an illness to do that.
Here are three tips to stop rushing:
1. Schedule breaks.
Don’t allow yourself to put work and others above your own peace of mind. At first, mark on your calendar when you’ll get a break every day–or several breaks! After a while it will become habit and you won’t want to do without. A study by Cornell University proves that these breaks from technology, in particular, can help you become more, not less, productive.
2. Set timers
That might sound like a bummer, but again it’s just about training your mind. The timers will help you limit the time you spend on anactivity so you don’t overdo it. A lot of time people rush because they’re letting themselves believe that there’s too much to get done. That’s probably true — isn’t it always? The key isn’t to try and finish it all because you’re boing to lose. The key is to enjoy your life in the context of what you can get done.
3. Stop multitasking
You can read my article about multitasking here. I think we’ve been trained by society to believe that multitasking is a sign of accomplishment, but really it’s just a stress generator.
For more reading about how to reduce stress:
- Ten Relaxation Techniques that Zap Stress Fast, by Jeannette Moninger at WebMD
- Relaxation techniques: Try these steps to reduce stress, by the Mayo Clinic