The ability to slow down and take a break away from the mundane is necessary for appreciating the small moments in life. So many of us are operating on autopilot without even knowing it. We develop habits that quickly become ingrained into the routines we follow until we do them almost effortlessly.
We wake up, go to work, crave lunch time and happy hours just to return home for dinner and go to sleep too late. Rinse. Wash. Repeat.
Come on, admit it.
While reading this, you’re probably living for the weekend or dreading its end right about now. Mondays are absolutely despicable and Fridays feel like heaven on Earth. Surely, I’m not the only one that can relate.
Almost every week, we step onto a slow moving spiral downhill until it feels as though we’re caught in the middle of a whirlwind that we can’t escape from.
Exhaustion and anxiety slowly creeps up on us until we’re forced to take a day or two of paid time off.
Welcome to the hectic world of living your life on autopilot goal-friends!
All too often we get wrapped up in the flow of our daily routines, hectic work schedules, and completing tasks we hope will bring us closer to our goals.
Throughout the day we fret over checking off boxes in planners and have become accustomed to putting on our capes to save everyone in their time of need.
We’re superheroes on the job and at home. Not to mention the first ones expected to step up to the plate for everyone around us.
When the kids need dinner, close friends need an ear to listen, or our elderly parents need help – guess whose number is first on their speed dial? Ours.
Have you ever taken a step back to assess who will send out a bat signal for you?
Operating on autopilot won’t lead to a sweet victory or a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It often results in burnout, disappointment, and time lost with loved ones we can’t get back.
Slowing down is a conscious decision we all have to make in our lives. There’s no set age limit to do so either. Some wait until retirement from the rat race while others decide to hop off the hamster wheel much earlier in life.
Constantly being on the go, setting intentional goals, and meeting milestones needs a timeline and end date, too. Slowing down in life shouldn’t be an option, but more so, a matter of when.
How do you make yourself slow down?
Ditch the to-do list
We’re usually provided with tips on how to be highly productive and the benefits of creating atomic habits, but I challenge you to not write a to-do list for one day, maybe not even for a week.
If you suffer from anxiety or have the tendency to guilt trip yourself over a lack of productivity, this may seem like an uphill battle at first, but it’s definitely a way to slow down with intention.
Make scrapping your to-do list every other day a habit.
This allows us the opportunity to discover what actually makes us feel good.
With no demands, house chores, or important reminders taking up space in the back of our minds, we have more time and mental capacity to focus on the people and things that we love most.
To be clear, I’m not encouraging you to abandon all obligations. You still need to show up for work, drop the kiddos off at school, pay bills, and attend doctor’s appointments.
These are the necessities that we need in order to sustain a healthy and wealthy lifestyle. Our education, finances, and wellness should remain priorities.
But there are several other activities that can be limited or fully eliminated from our daily routine.
Think about the excess things in your life that don’t need a due date attached to them. What are some things you can leave off of your nifty to-do list for now?
Do you need to launch that new website over the weekend? What about painting your home office a new color or making a luxury purchase?
Do you absolutely need to do those things before the week is out? Instead of spending the evening binge watching a new Netflix series, why not opt to read a novel or watch a documentary instead?
Although the goal is to slow down and be present, we can still be intentional about the activities we decide to take part in. When you ditch your to-do list take part in things that will nourish your mind, body, and soul.
The aim is to remove ourselves from the treadmill of our daily routines by engaging in things that don’t require overstimulation from the world.
Slowing down means to draw within. Reading books, journaling, nurturing healthy relationships, and spending more time with family teaches us how to slow down, sit down and just be.
Prep your meals for the week
What’s for breakfast? What’s for lunch? What are we eating for dinner tonight? We’ve heard it all before right? In fact, many of us ask ourselves this several times throughout the day, which often results in poor eating habits.
We scramble to make a quick sandwich with all the trimmings or pick up takeout from our favorite fast-food restaurant. When we don’t plan what we put into our bodies, we are more likely to make unhealthy selections in the food we eat.
Rarely do we pick up fruit or nuts to snack on, but out of habit make our way to the snack drawer filled with junk food – chips, fruit juices loaded with sugar, or frozen processed foods we can cook quickly and be back on the go.
I’ve made a habit of meal prepping on Sundays, so healthy foods are pre-selected for me. In the mornings, I eat overnight oats, smoothies, healthy wraps, pastas, and salads for lunch, and I plan a dinner menu for the week.
I’m not addicted to sweets or artificial sugar. Therefore, most of my sugar intake comes naturally from fruits or dates (that have a plethora of benefits by the way). For desert, I drink a date smoothie that’s super delicious and nutritious.
The foods you fuel your bodies with should give you energy, make your skin texture smoother and brighter, and make your body look and feel good, too. Even if you don’t have a rigorous exercise routine, eighty percent of weight loss is contingent upon having a healthy diet.
Meal prepping can contribute to healthier living practices, weight loss, but also add more time to your day. Finding various ways to slow down a little is perfectly okay.
Stop feeling guilty about a lack of productivity
They have programmed us to work, work, work, and even set up automated systems that allow us to work some more.
Buzz words such as financial freedom, hustle harder, and be your own boss are in our faces daily.
It’s propaganda for entrepreneurship and leading a lifestyle that frees you from the chains of working a nine-to-five. However, what many don’t depict are the downsides of business ownership – burnout, sleepless nights, and financial risks.
Sure, it may be a quicker way to financial freedom, but it’s not for everyone and that’s completely okay. Some people thrive in structured working environments with a set schedule and a guaranteed paycheck.
There are other ways to get wealth, specifically through investing. It doesn’t have to be a business of your own, the stock market and real estate are great alternatives that will allow you to rest and not drive yourself crazy trying to build a business from the ground up.
Or, you can simply choose to live a life that’s sustainable for you. Sometimes, we have to slow down to be more productive.
What do I mean by this exactly? There’s no blueprint to follow in life. Subscribing to the “American Dream” and actively taking part in capitalism is a choice. You don’t have to work a job for the rest of your life.
One of my dreams is to retire on a farm with a homestead for my family. I grew up in a big city with all the flashy cars, lights, and entertainment, where everyone is constantly on the go in search of their next big break or gig.
As a person who loves traveling, I purposely visit places that move at a much slower pace where I’m forced to slow down and can relish in the quiet and be with my own thoughts. Not everyone needs or wants a multi-million dollar lifestyle, and for those who do, to each their own.
You aren’t a robot. Our brains and bodies cannot function properly without an adequate amount of sleep each night. After working eight to twelve hour schedules (or more) each day, it’s essential to rest, which looks different for everyone.
Some people may opt to take midday naps, play video games, watch a good movie, or pick up a delightful book to read. Others may need to take a day or two off to recharge and reset.
There are many reasons to slow down in life. It doesn’t have to stem from burnout and working too much. Maybe a failing relationship or friendship needs more of your attention. Some things need to be moved to the wayside until you can learn how to slow down and listen to the needs of others.
And if you give too much of yourself to those around you, and neglect your own self-care maybe you need to slow down in order to understand what your mind, body, and soul is missing.
How do I relax and slow down?
Designate a specific time out of your day to do absolutely nothing.
Do nothing. It’s as simple as that.
I understand that sitting still and remaining inactive for hours is something that may be foreign in many of us who don’t live sedentary lifestyles, but there are various ways to train your mind and body to relax and slow down at night.
My go to is creating a hard stop time for work during the week. Since we’re now living in the times of the remote workforce, creating a healthy work/life balance can be a challenge.
In response, I’ve set boundaries by not answering work related emails or phone calls after five o’clock. My evening routine starts early and ends late. It doesn’t include much activity aside from a self-care routine, mindful eating, listening to audiobooks or soft music that’s calming to the senses, writing or reading a book.
You may wonder how these activities are any different from engaging in acts of leisure such as a sport for exercise, visiting the gym, scrolling on social media, or spending the night watching a TV series?
Well, there are several activities that are calmer, slower and require little attention or brain power. Remember, we want our bodies to relax and wind down in the evening. Writing and reading are productive activities that can stimulate us mentally.
Listening to a podcast, soothing music, or watching a documentary are educational and don’t require physical activity.
The goal is to slow down goal-friends not work ourselves up some more. Choose a few nights to practice slowing down more and select a day or two where you can retreat within your own thoughts and identify your purpose.
How can I relax in 5 minutes?
Pick up a book instead of the TV remote. I’m an avid reader, so I always have a book in my bag, on my desk, or in the car I can pull out whenever I want to relax and escape from life, temporarily, of course.
Fiction novels provide the opportunity to jump into a different world and forget about the daily stressors that often keep us up at night.
Several researchers have found that reading a book right before bed quickly relaxes the mind. According to Dreams, reading allows your muscles to relax and slows down your breathing, leaving you feeling calmer.
How can I work slower?
Our productivity in the workplace or at home will vary whenever we have approaching deadlines or would like to get a head start on a project. What’s important is that your output is consistent and of quality.
Doing everything at once isn’t necessary. Pace and prioritize your workload accordingly. Learning how to slow down at work takes time.
If you’re used to being the speedy Gonzalez at your workplace just for the sake of receiving recognition, take a step back and evaluate how your work could improve if you invested more time in completing it.
You’d probably experience fewer mistakes and receive better feedback from colleagues and management.
When working at home part-time or on a side hustle don’t overexert yourself with tasks you more than likely won’t get done. My advice has always been to select three things that you find most difficult in your business and knock them out at the beginning of the workday.
Lately, I haven’t been following this strategy. After working 8-10 hours some days I am tired. Too exhausted to pick up another planner or switch my brain to knock out yet another task at night. It’s important that we teach ourselves how to slow down and listen to our bodies.
What do you feel like doing? Can you push through a few more hours of office work or work on your side hustle for hours after dinner? Listen to your body. If it’s telling you to rest and try again tomorrow, do that, instead.
What does it mean to live a fast life?
Living life in the fast lane is usually appealing to overachievers who thrive off of public recognition, acceptance, and gaining riches to get the finer things in life.
There’s nothing wrong with being a high achiever or wanting an abundance of wealth. Many of us want and deserve to live fruitful and fulfilling lifestyles, but attaining it usually comes at a cost.
When we become too obsessed with finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, we miss out on what’s most important – the journey.
We sacrifice fostering what could have been lifelong relationships by staying late at the office or working on the weekends.
Our infatuation with success and the material things it can bring prevents us from living in the moment and cherishing valuable experiences.
Living too fast prohibits us from slowing down in the present, because we stay ten steps ahead in the future mentally. It’s only lonely at the top when you leave everyone else behind.
There needs to be a healthy balance.
When you slow down and take a break from living your life on autopilot, you can set clear goals that won’t force you to neglect family, friends, and miss out on precious moments that make you smile, and eventually turn into memories you can look back on.
We have to break the habit of jamming our schedules with various routines until life feels mundane. Stop chaining yourself to to-do lists, loosen the reins a bit slow down and allow life to ‘happen’.
What does slow living look like?
The practice of slow living differs for everyone. What looks like a slow day for me may not be a ‘slow day’ for you. Select an evening or a few weekdays to take part in slower activities. Download the FREE time management tracker below to try your hand at a slow living lifestyle today.
I teach entrepreneurs how to simplify their life and business with less + own their time and maximize productivity towards their personal and monetary goals.