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5 TIPS TO RECLAIM YOUR TIME: WHY YOU MUST OPT OUT OF THE CULT OF BUSYNESS

To do list in a car on driving wheel and hand holding phone - busy day concept

The bad news: Your relationship with time is more than likely toxic.

You’re overscheduled, stretched too thin, and find it difficult to focus on the present moment. You probably respond with, “busy,” when people ask how you’re doing. The worst part? You don’t feel like you have the power to take control of your time.

Whether you joined voluntarily or not, you’re a card-carrying member of the cult of busyness—the ever-growing group of people whose anxiety is rising because they don’t feel like they have enough time to get everything done. You’re among the hordes of multitaskers who scramble to squeeze the most out of every minute, rolling through life as a ball of stress, only to collapse into an exhausted heap at the end of every day.

How Busyness Took Over and Why it Keeps Getting Worse

It’s not your fault. You weren’t born to be a slave to your schedule. You just got swept up in an unhealthy cultural trend.

But how did so many people become obsessed with time and productivity?

When the world was filled with agrarian (or farming) societies, the passing of time was indicated by the sun and the seasons. Leisure time was a marker of wealth. But with the rise of the Industrial Revolution, the measurement of time became inextricably connected with productivity. Time was money. And the more a person worked, the more valuable he or she was perceived as being.

The technological era has again reshaped people’s relationship with time, creating a driving need to optimize as much of your life as possible. There are the same 24 hours to work with in every day as our agrarian and industrial ancestors had. So, society had to get smart about maximizing people’s skill sets to accomplish more moment-to-moment. With productivity reigning supreme, moments of leisure, rest, and relaxation are often looked at as wasteful or lost opportunities to accumulate wealth.

The result? Many people are held captive by their schedules. You might feel compelled to be seen as productive and, by extension, valuable. Put simply, your lack of time has become a primary marker of your worth. Signaling to others how busy you are implies you’re highly in-demand.

With most people having a digital device at their fingertips around the clock, it’s easy to feel like (and perpetuate the feeling) that everyone else is being productive around the clock. So, you need to compete. Ever had a coworker send emails at midnight? Do you receive group texts from your friends at 5 a.m.? Previous rules of decorum around personal time have been obliterated by both a compulsive need to be seen as hard workers and the variety of ways to communicate instantaneously.

Scientific Evidence for the Cult of Busyness

When someone messages you at odd hours, it triggers a feeling that you need to respond—out of good manners and to show that you, too, are available and productive around the clock. When you’re stuck in a cycle of responding to various stimuli, you don’t feel in control of your time. It’s dictated by others.

Experts studying the evolving relationship with time refer to this feeling as “time poverty.” But contrary to how time-starved many people feel, in reality, we have more free time than any previous generation.

“There is a distinction between objective time, which you can measure, and subjective time, which is experiential,” explains philosopher Nils F. Schott, the James M. Motley Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at Johns Hopkins University.

When you’re preoccupied with the tug of war between what you want to do and what you should be doing, you’re missing opportunities and the ability to enjoy the moment. And you’re likely spending too much time on tasks you feel are urgent—regardless of their importance—and too little time on tasks that are important in the long run, but lack in-your-face urgency. For example, you might respond immediately to an email that pops into your inbox, but put off exercising for weeks (or months, or years).

Some studies show that busy people make better health choices (the thought being that having limited time forces better planning). But it’s no coincidence that as schedules become more hectic, the number of people who say they feel stressed and anxious has increased.

Feeling time-starved, like you’re always behind and will never catch up with life’s demands, can lead to stress, increased feelings of anxiety, and mental distress. Anxiousness can negatively impact sleep quality, which leads to poor planning and decision-making. Thus the cycle continues.

Reclaim Your Time with These 5 Tips

Finally, it’s time for some good news: Experts say there are ways to reverse the harmful effects of time poverty.

Simply put: do less.

Yes, that’s easier said than done because it requires understanding and protecting your priorities. Time is a precious resource, one worth fighting for. Recognizing that you have the power to control how you spend your time is the first step to reclaiming it.

Here are five practical tips to escape the cult of busyness:

  1. Track your time. It may seem counterintuitive to pay more attention to your time in order to free yourself of its suffocating restraints. But it’s only by knowing where you’re devoting your minutes and hours that you can begin to reclaim them. After listing all of your activities in a diary, you’ll likely find that you have more free time than you think you do. That big-picture look can also help you prioritize what’s important, so you can focus more time on that. Time tracking can also help you pinpoint the time-sucking activities you need to eliminate.
  2. Stop multitasking. It’s bad for your brain in the short term—and possibly lowers your IQ in the long-term. You may feel like you’re accomplishing more, but studies show multitasking is less productive than devoting your focus to one task or project at a time. And it will negatively affect the quality of your work and could diminish your cognitive function to that of an 8-year-old. To kick the multitasking habit, look to the results from your time diary to identify the window of time you’re most productive. Schedule your most mentally challenging tasks for this period of time. Remind yourself that a majority of the time, what doesn’t get done today can wait until tomorrow.
  3. Ditch the guilt. Give yourself permission to opt out of the rat race. Set boundaries for your time and don’t feel bad for enforcing them. Feeling like you’re failing as a parent because you aren’t spending enough time with your kids? It’s time to let yourself off the hook. Parents today spend more time with their children than parents did 40 years ago. Instead of feeling guilty about the time you aren’t spending with your family, focus on making the time you do spend with them as high-quality as possible. Leave work at the office as much as possible and use your paid vacation time to make memories. You’ll set a great example to your children of what it looks like to honor your priorities and live mindfully.
  4. Choose the right kind of rest. It may be tempting after a hard week to spend the weekend on the couch binging your favorite shows. But your mind won’t register that passive activity as rest. Instead, choose a more mindful form of rejuvenation: read a book, take a walk, meditate, do yoga, practice hygge, call a friend or family member. As is typical with any form of self-care, however, if it’s not scheduled and prioritized, it can become the first thing cut when your schedule gets extra unruly. Remember to book time to refill your tank. It’s also a good idea to have the occasional “device detox,” where you put the phones, laptops, and tablets away and enjoy the company of others. The texts and emails will be there when you return.
  5. Take baby steps. Choose one time-reclaiming activity to implement. Use your time-tracking journal to help you identify areas in your life that consistently encroach upon your personal time and start there by creating realistic boundaries. Maybe you’ll decide to turn email notifications off or not to check texts after 8 p.m. After you’ve successfully incorporated that habit into your daily routine, choose another area to tackle. Keep going until you feel like you control your time instead of the other way around.

The Time is Now

The tornado of tasks sweeping you up—and your anxiety about dealing with all of them right now—isn’t all your fault. You’ve been sucked into the cult of busyness like so many people today.

Unlike others, you now understand how people end up paralyzed by productivity, and how technology has accelerated the perception (and reality) of busyness. And you have time-management tips to help you reclaim your time.

Don’t wait to take control over your schedule. Step off the non-stop treadmill of emails and projects and other people’s needs. Your time is invaluable and finite. So, reclaim your time and wrestle back dominion over your days.

ECLS Energy

Is it time for change?

Archways

In my experience most people change because they have too, life has left them no other choice and they have hung on to old patterns and experiences for various reasons. There is another way though, and it requires effort. You change because you want too.

The first way, people change because they have too, most often because the circumstances demand it with no other alternative but to change. This type of change is often abrupt and can cause many challenges. However, it is the most common reason for a change in most peoples lives. Usually, the biggest challenges and changes come from experiencing a change in what I call the big 3, relationships, health or career. Typically change on any of these levels is abrupt and can be a shock, which introduces fear and makes any transitions or changes even harder to navigate through.

However, as the universe and life itself are truly rich and abundant with opportunities, there is another way to change if you so desire. Usually, people who choose this type of change are dissatisfied with some are of their life and desire to change for various reasons. This change is through conscious effort. It can slowly and systematically reveal much about yourself, your subconscious programming and your true desires. If your willing to do the work it takes to honestly self reflect and heal old traumas and patterns. Questions will inevitably arise such as why are you the way you are? Why are you experiencing what you don’t want instead of what you consciously desire?

To look at your life and truly see where you require a fearless honesty. A willingness to see things as they are and recognition and awareness it is you who has the power to change.

Sound healing combined with energy work is a powerful catalyst for those willing to embark on an internal journey of change from within. When one changes from within one heal what has been holding them back, then the world responds to your new vibration with experiences and change that reflects this new signal your sending out. It doesn’t happen overnight and requires effort that is well rewarded. Are you ready?

Shout Out to AscensionHealingCenter.com

East Coast Life Solutions strongly believes in self-care. We empower women how to holistically be consciously aware of themselves through body, mind and spirit combined to elevate their energy level and reduce stress and anxiety.

Healthy Cove

MINDFULNESS 101

There’s a new trending practice across Insta-feeds, Pinterest boards, and coffee shop chatter: how to be mindful. Practicing mindfulness is about focusing yourself on the present and being intentional throughout your day. So, if you find yourself distracted while you read this, or if your mind feels too cluttered, learning to practice mindfulness can help you feel lighter and refocus your day.

Mindfulness has several definitions:

  • The mental state achieved by focusing on awareness of the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting feelings, thoughts, or bodily sensations.
  •  The self-regulation of attention with an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance.
  •  The ability to be fully present, aware of where you are and what you’re doing, while not getting overwhelmed by what’s happening around you.

Mindfulness is a personal practice, so it’s fine to craft your own definition.

mindfulness

There are three foundational principles of mindfulness:

  1.  Awareness
  2.  Acceptance
  3.  Attentional redirection

The goal of mindfulness is to set an intention with a purpose. Your intention can flow into a relationship, an objective at work, better mental health, or improving your self-esteem. Your intention for the day can even be as simple as taking time to breathe.

Awareness

This step is your starting point to become a more mindful person. It’s all about experiencing life and recognizing if you are or are not present in the moment. Awareness isn’t about staying on track 24/7 or daydreaming your day away. By taking time to realize if you are present in the moment, you’re gently nudging your brain back to focus on the here and now. Awareness is as simple as acknowledging you feel “this way,” or are thinking about “that.” It’s the first step to recognizing your present reality.

Acceptance

Acceptance is perhaps the most freeing aspect of mindfulness. If you ever feel frustrated with yourself, practising mindfulness can help. It’s normal to get distracted, daydream, or get caught up in emotion. Yes, it’s even okay to do so (gasp!). Accepting your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations will allow you to notice their value or effect to then move on. Dwelling on things you cannot change can send you down a spiral of agitation, discontent, and leave you at a standstill.

Attentional Redirection

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, panicked, or anxiety-ridden, intentionally redirect your attention. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling what you do. Adjust your focus to the sound of a coworker’s keyboard, the stitching on the steering wheel, the weight of your body on the bed, the expanse of your breath.

Cultivate Mindfulness

Several techniques and resources are available to easily cultivate mindfulness as a daily practice.

1. Getting in the Right Headspace™

This app is a treasure trove of thought-provoking and calming messages to help you practice mindfulness throughout the day. Most of the 15–30-minute sessions are led by a mindfulness expert. Each gets you calm, present in the moment, and leaves you with tips you can recall any time you need them.

Both meditation sessions and mindfulness sessions cover an array of focuses, sleep sessions, sleep sounds, and more. The Headspace app is free to download at the App Store or Google Play and has a plethora of free sessions. There’s also a paid plan option for any serious mindfulness gurus.

2. Meditation Class Is in Session

Let’s try a few moments of meditation. Find someone to read this to you in a calm voice, pausing a few minutes after each step.

Gently let your eyes close.

Settle in and feel your feet on the floor, your spine stacked, your hands in your lap.

Take a moment to focus on your breath.

Feel the weight of your diaphragm change as you take a deep in-breath…and now a long out-breath.

If your mind has drifted off, acknowledge that thought. Accept it, without judging it.

Gently bring your attention back to the body, acknowledging any sensations, tension, or pain.

Let those sensations exist. Give them room in your body to be.

Turning your attention back to the breath, feel the weight of your diaphragm change as you take a deep in-breath…and now a long out-breath.

When you’re ready, open your eyes.

Do you feel refreshed, lighter, more mindful?

3. The Game of Life

Living is complex, chaotic, exciting, enthralling, and a swirling mass of all those things together. Pick an area of your life you’d like to improve, be more attentive to, or gain more from. Practising mindfulness around a main area of your life can reap amazing benefits.

Let’s see which of these best fit your situation:

• Mindful Eating

Nutrition is a large part of your daily routine. It can be either fuel or frustration, depending on your eating habits and relationship with food. Intuitive eating mixes nutrition with mindful practices to help strengthen your body and your mind. There’s even a Mindful Eating Guide on Health Line’s website that’s a fantastic starting point to stay present in and out of the kitchen.

• Mindful Parenting

Piles of laundry and toys + raging teenage hormones + homework on the new math system x crying terrible twos + navigating a first-time crush = one majorly exhausted parent. Mindful parenting techniques can turn the crazy times with your kids into manageable moments of love and growth. Taking time to slow down and be present not only makes things easier for you, it does the same for your child. A brave paediatrician tells her story for practising mindful parenting—it starts with ending perfectionism.

• Mindfulness at Work

The grind. The nine-to-five. Payin’ dem bills. A big majority of our life is spent at work, behind the desk, punching the time clock. It’s easy to just go through the motions, without being present and intentional about the work we’re doing or the interactions we have. There are realistic ways to be more mindful in the workplace, though. Make it a priority to take breaks to clear your mind and refocus on your next task. Remember to actively listen to conversations you have by making solid eye contact. You could even try email meditation. Check out this great article for more mindful workplace tips.

• Mindful Students

Teachers recognize the flood of information that comes at students is a lot to process. Even the quick switch from subject to subject can leave children on autopilot. That’s why some teachers are starting their lesson plans with a daily mindful moment for themselves and their students.

Now you better understand what being mindful means, take the next five minutes to be in the moment, accept yourself, and direct your attention with intention. Remember, your mind is becoming a non-judgmental zone—soft lighting, river sounds, and all. Take a deep in-breath…and exhale.