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Are you always in a rush?

With busy lives, over-committed schedules, and unexpected curveballs it’s little wonder it can feel as if we never have enough time in our day.

How does rushing make you feel?

Tired?
Frustrated?
A bit panicky?

I know I feel all these things when under pressure to get something done quickly because I think I’m running out of time.

But I also know that it’s during those times that it feels stressful and uncomfortable and sometimes results in my making silly mistakes, forgetting something important or falling flat on my face.

Like the time I was rushing from work to get to our son’s school for pick-up. I was horribly late; every traffic light was against me, and I was fretting about how he would be feeling. I pictured a small lonely boy waiting forlornly outside the school with an angry teacher frustrated by my inability to do something as simple as pick up our child after school on time.

I zoomed into the visitor’s car park, parked across two car bays and ran across the lawn to where our son was standing with his bag.

“I’m so sorry, love; I got held up at work.”

“But Mum, you’re always late!”

The accompanying teacher was staring me down. I mumbled my apologies and scooted off before they could say something I didn’t want to hear along the lines of irresponsible parenting…

“Get in the car, love.”

“But Mum…”

“No buts, I know I’m late in picking you up and we’ve got to get straight to your clarinet lesson.”

“But Mum…”

I didn’t respond, started up the car and zoomed up the road towards the suburb where his clarinet teacher lived.

Having arrived only five minutes late, I helped our son out of the car and started walking up the path to the front door.

He stood by the car watching me and didn’t move.

“Come on, we’re only a few minutes late!”

“But Mum, it’s Tuesday. Clarinet is tomorrow.”

 

Rushing.

It’s unpleasant and doesn’t help you to accomplish what needs to be done well.

The alternative is to become unhurried.

If you think this sounds like an invitation to practice mindfulness and go all Zen, well, it could be, but it doesn’t have to be.

Instead, why not take a step back, breathe and reflect on how much of your time is spent in unpleasant rushing and what it would feel like not to.

 

On becoming Unhurried.

Being unhurried is about recognising we all have the same amount of time in our day. And though we keep trying, attempting to squeeze more in by doing it faster, doesn’t work.

When you’re going on holiday and your suitcase is full to the gunnels, it won’t close no matter how much you jump up and down on it.

Other than risking an unpleasant suitcase malfunction at the luggage carousel when your overstuffed case bursts scattering your underwear around, there is really only one solution.

You’re going to have to take something or several things out.

I know I know, you really, really, really want to take those three extra pairs shoes for all those nice places you’ll be visiting.

But you can’t.
So, let’s get better at getting over ourselves and choosing to do with less.

My husband is annoyingly good at this. All he wants is a spare pair of jocks, a clean T-shirt and toothbrush, and he’s pretty much set to go. Sigh.

 

So, how can you create more space for those things you want to do well?

  1. Set proper boundaries, and then honour them. Picking up the kids on time was important to me as was taking good care of my patients. But because I was already at work, that took precedence over the school pick-up. The solution? My receptionists were onto this already, blocking off the last appointment (because I was always running late anyway) to give me a better chance of getting to the school on time.
  2. Take a reality check. It’s easy to overestimate how much time you have vs. how long it will take you to complete a task, like filling in the quarterly BAS sheet. While I might think I can put together the outline of a new presentation in three hours, past experience has shown I need to double that time, and not to expect to get other tasks done that day.
  3. Once you’ve created the space for a task, guard it with your life. Deflect any interruptions or distractions that will quietly nibble up your precious time without you noticing. Research has shown that, that knock on the door, “Have you got a moment,” will, on average, translate into 23 minutes before you can resume work, asking, “Now where was I?”
  4. Practice going more slowly. Changing down a gear instead of driving around the place at high speed and picking up too many speeding tickets means you get to retain the energy you need to enjoy where you are, who you’re with and retain the focus to deal with the task at hand.

And guess what?

Even though you thought this approach would be too slow, you may be pleasantly surprised to find you’ve got the job done in good time and to the standard you know you’re capable of.

Now doesn’t that feel good!

So next time you hear your little voice telling you to hurry up, ask yourself is hurrying going to get you the result you really want?

And if the answer is no, slow down and enjoy your calm approach to the task at hand,

Because when we treat everything as urgent and important, we’re creating a state of constant busyness which stresses our brain and leads to eventual mental, emotional and cognitive fatigue.

Slowing down can enable you to achieve so much more.

Is this true for you?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Dr Jenny Brockis

Jenny is a Board-Certified Lifestyle Medicine Physician, author, coach, and workplace health and wellbeing specialist. Her latest book 'Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life' (Wiley) is available online and at all good bookstores.

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