“Whatever the tasks, do them slowly with ease, in mindfulness, so not to do any tasks with the goal of getting them over with. Resolve to each job in a
relaxed way, with all your attention.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh
Our lives are so rushed. We’re trying to get a list of tasks done, and finish as much as we can each day, speeding along in our lives to our next destination. We rush what we need to do there so we can move to the next.
At the end of the day, we’re exhausted. Our minds are over-stressed from the busyness. We don’t have time for what’s important to us, what we really want to be doing, and for spending time with our loved ones. Sundays are the worst day for me in this aspect– I tend to have a big list of things to do (laundry, grocery shop, meal plan, clean, exercise, etc) that I am very easily overwhelmed. I get grumpy when I can’t finish everything on my to-do list.
But we don’t have to live like this. We can enjoy a simpler, content life, we only need to choose to. That’s what mindfulness is about. Being mindful of what we are doing in the present moment, taking our time, and only thinking about what can be done in the present moment.
Here are some questions to ask yourself the next time you feel stressed about a big “to-do” list.
What is really important?
It may be family, a spouse, your children, doing well at your job, blogging three times per week, or running a ten minute mile. Step back and look at what’s really important to you. What do you really want to be doing? Then do it.
What are your commitments?
We have way too many commitments in today’s world. We can’t do everything that we say we’re going to do. Just accept this. Do what’s important to you and eliminate what isn’t.
How much are you trying to do per day?
We only have twenty four hours in a day. Don’t fill up your day with tasks. If you try to do ten tasks per day (and fail), do three important ones instead. Save the others for the next day. Complete your three tasks with mindfulness and don’t try to rush through them.
Do you leave time for transition?
Scheduling things back to back is a huge mistake. Tasks usually take longer than we anticipate and leaves us feeling rushed and stressed. Leave a good sized gap between your tasks and focus on each one.
What can you eliminate?
Simplify your to-do list down to the essentials. Again, you can’t do everything. Even if you could, more things will probably pop up. Do you really need to cook dinner, fold laundry, write a blog post, sweep the floor and do the dishes in a couple hours? What can you save for later or tomorrow? What can you delegate to others?
With that said, slow down and enjoy every task. Whatever you’re doing, do it with a sense of calm. Whether it be taking a shower, cooking dinner, or driving. Just slow down. You do not need to complete this task at record speed. Pay attention, instead of thinking about other things. Be in the moment. It sounds silly to “be in the moment” while you’re brushing your teeth, but this is the simplest step you can take to become more mindful in your life.
Have you simplified your life? What have you cut out? What do you slow down and pay attention to?
Post inspired by ZenHabits.