Have less stress and more success by breaking the habit of rushing.
I started working with a new client a few weeks ago. She’s a busy working professional, a wife and a mom to her young son. Before we started working together, she described herself as overwhelmed, with an “all-consuming” job that spilled all over into her personal life.
When we met for the first time, I noticed immediately that she lived “on the run”. All the time. Zooming from one thing to the next, yet never feeling like anything got her proper attention or got done to her best ability.
She was going way too fast, and it wasn’t working.
At the time that I write this, though, her experience of her days has improved dramatically. We started addressing this issue as soon as I noticed it. Almost immediately, she came to appreciate that slowing down, and being more intentional in everything (versus racing and scrambling her way through her day) quickly transformed both her work life and home life.
I see this all the time in working women, especially working moms. I see it in myself, if I’m not careful.
When we feel stressed and busy, with too many things to do, it’s tempting (and maybe even logical) to constantly push ourselves.
Dig deep, and push through that busy workday.
Get up, race through the early morning routine, race to work (or to your desk, if you’re still working from home). Always a little late for meetings, you constantly feel like you’re just trying to get through, hammering out responses to emails during any break you can find.
Why stop for a proper breakfast, break or lunch, who has time?
Race back home or back into your personal life, where you hopefully get some personal or family time in. In the background, though, in either your head or your actions you’re still trying to get work-related things done. Pump out those evening emails, in any gaps you can find (or worst case, right before bed). Ugh! No.
When you operate out of this habitual pushing and rushing, you’re so focused on getting things done that you’re never fully present. You continually feel the stress, the background driving hum under your skin. It’s exhausting. It’s not very sustainable, either, though many people do it for years on end. Not surprisingly, burnout or other mental or physical health challenges will often emerge. Mind and body trying to get our attention, trying to slow us down.
As I always say to my executive coaching clients, my goal isn’t to sacrifice your business or professional success on the altar of “life balance”. Quite the opposite. If you slow down and work and live more intentionally, and if you take better care of yourself, you’ll probably be way more effective. At everything in your life.
Here are some strategies to try, if you’re tired of rushing and want to start living:
1) Become aware of your habit of pushing or rushing. When you catch yourself doing it, ask yourself if it’s really necessary. Are the extra seconds or minutes that you might gain, really worth all the tension and stress? (Most likely not)
2) Whenever you catch yourself rushing or feeling keyed up, pause and consciously dial back your pace. Take a few deep breaths (you’ve probably been breathing very shallowly). Relax your tense shoulders. Focus on what you need to do, but without that extra pressure. You’ll probably find that you can do most tasks more effectively, from an intentionally more relaxed state.
3) Leave yourself time to get to wherever you’re going, or to prepare for your next meeting, etc. Let go of any magical ideas about time that keep you rushing around, perpetually late, scrambling and feeling off-kilter. This one action alone will make a huge difference in how you and your days feel.
4) Forget the multi-tasking and allow yourself the luxury of being present with whatever you’re doing. We know from studies that multitasking doesn’t actually work. It just makes you feel more tired and scattered. Sure, sometimes you may need to take care of something while you’re engaged in something else, but don’t make that a habit.
5) Building on #4, practice being present. When you’re in a meeting, be in the meeting. When you’re with your partner or child, put down the phone and be with them. Put down your busy distracted thoughts, too, and be with the people around you. If you’re out for a walk, notice the lovely or interesting things in your environment. See your world. Most of us spend way too much time in our heads, and not enough time in our lives.article continues after advertisement
Most importantly, don’t let rushing and pushing become your default way of moving through your days. Life’s too short. If you’re speeding through your life all the time, the odds are pretty good that you’ll rush right past the things that matter most.
Slow down. Breathe. One thing at a time. You’ll be surprised (and delighted) by how much you still get done, and how much better it all feels.
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