January 6, 2010
How to slow down in life
Confession: This work/life balance blogger could use a little help in the work/life balance department. That's why I was excited to receive a book over the holidays called The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World. Among the book's many valuable topics: recognizing when your plate is full, perfecting the fine art of saying no, managing expectations (yours and those of others), breaking tricky tasks into less daunting increments, breaking free from the digital leash, and kicking procrastination to the curb.
To learn a bit more about the power of taking life at a slower pace, I recently had an e-chat with author Christine Louise Hohlbaum. Here's what she had to say.
Q. Where are the biggest places you see people wasting valuable time?
A. While not a technophobe by any means, I see that we often spend more time with our digital gadgets than we do with other people. Evaluate how much screen time you spend during the day (whether it is television, the computer, or your cell phone). Chances are you can save yourself an hour or two by limiting their use and spending that time doing things that nurture you.
Q. How does the person who says they have "no free time" outside work begin to slow down and decompress?
A. We all have the same amount of time in a day; the question is what do we do with the time we have? Design gadget-free zones such as the kitchen table or the living room. Create boundaries by sticking to your personalized office hours. Enforce them. If you start answering client calls at 8 p.m. every time, he or she will think you are readily available at any time. If you commute via car, consider turning off the radio for thirty minutes while you concentrate on the drive itself. You will arrive home more refreshed than stimulated. Expose yourself to natural light every day, whether during a walk around the block at lunch time or in the morning before work.
Q. Besides taking a vacation, what are the most effective ways to slow down in life?
A. The first step is to identify what is most important to you. Is it spending more time with family, friends, on your hobbies, or exercise? Recognize that you have more power than you realize to choose how you spend your time. Establishing a positive relationship with time will truly give you more of it. As you identify what is most important to you, you will find ways to spend more time doing those things than time-sucking activities that are often mind-numbing as well.
Q. What exactly does it mean to "establish a positive relationship with time"?
A. We all have a personal bank account of time from which we can [draw]. You have the choice to waste three hours a day in front of the tube or to pursue things that you love. If your life feels off balance, you're in luck. That realization is the first step toward making a difference for yourself.
Q. Many of us will be looking to stick to resolutions this month. Any tips for ensuring we succeed?
A. Make this year be about the one thing that is most important to you. Perhaps you've been putting off pursuing a hobby or taking that trip because you feel you "don't have time." Name your year something (such as the Year of the House, the Year of Fun, the Year of Adventure), then find ways to take baby steps toward fulfilling that goal.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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