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One Solution to the “to much to do, too little time” Dilemma

August '18

My mind races morning, noon and night these days. In three days, I’m moving out of state with more tasks to complete than time to do so—including composing this monthly newsletter. So I asked myself what I might suggest if I were coaching a client of mine facing a similar dilemma. My answer was to reprise an old issue of Midlife Discovery—i.e. find a less time-consuming substitute. 

My hope is you will bear with me and find this former issue helpful. The one I selected (from the summer of ‘13) actually recommends what I did during the first week of August to break up my extensive downsizing activities—“enjoy some easy living.” I headed for an island off the coast of Maine to spend time with family, and luxuriate in the restorative days of good company and the sheer beauty of land and sea in a part of the world I love.

Now here’s that reprised issue for you.

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy,” run the lyrics of George Gershwin’s gorgeous song. How about you? Are you enjoying some easy-living this summer? I hope so, because sheer idleness benefits both body and soul. Think about it, how long has it been since you spent days doing nothing, or for that matter even one day? “Too much to do; too little time,” you may reasonably reply. Busy days with long to-do-lists characterize the daily world of most women these days. As one coaching client lamented, “I’m over worked, overwhelmed and over it!”

On those days when your life is accelerating out of control, I recommend pausing for a mindful moment to help center yourself again. Whenever you find your mind and heart racing, simply stop what you are doing and take three relaxing deep breaths. For a relaxing breath: breathe in through your nose for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven and then exhale through your mouth for a count of eight. If you practice this relaxing breath when your stress starts to mount, you’ll notice yourself becoming a bit lighter and more at ease.

In addition to this emergency response, you’ll want to give yourself some serious down time—days, I mean days, of doing nothing—adopting a lazy way of life. If you stop your usual daily pace by setting aside your to-do list and all your appointments—especially if you turn off your phone and avoid all screens, you may still find your mind racing with a focus on what you have to do next. You might even feel a little lost; it’s a challenge to learn the art of doing nothing.

Once you do settle down into “being”, instead of “doing”, your focus will shift to what you want to do. Maybe you want to lie in a hammock with a good book, or join your sister for a walk on the beach, or meet a friend at a local coffee shop – just to chat with no agenda. Perhaps your attention to the moment at hand instead of worrying about your next task, will enhance this coffee-shop conversation.

Why not see if you can grab a little time in the remaining days of summer for some of that “easy living” before you head into all your high-power, fall activities? And thank you for bearing with me as I make this big move—wish me luck!

Thank you!
Bonnie

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