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Human Behavior

21 Not-So-Secret Ways to Slow Down Your Day

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Not on any day in my existence—until last week—did I consider writing about this subject. As someone who spends much of his awake time (and a fair bit of sleep time) thinking about techniques to accomplish more, I recently found myself thinking about slowing down.

Between the contraptions, devices, apps (on my!), friends, relatives, bosses, customers, and anything else with two or four, we move from rise time until pillow time. It’s astonishing we haven’t somehow re-calibrated space and time to lengthen what we consider “a day.”

Since that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon, I thought I’d offer up twenty-one of my tricks to slow down your day.

I wanted to be Speed Racer growing up. I sometimes still do…

Do things slower. Duh. Wake up slower. Get out of bed slower. Shower slower. Eat slower. Drive slower. Pet your dog slower. It works. I even typed that sentence slower to test my theory. That’s one for the plus column.

Where’s Olivia Newton-John when you need her?

Exercise. As in get your heart rate elevated. Do it whenever you can schedule it in-morning, lunchtime, nighttime. Anytime is better than no time, but morning time is un-steal-able if you can fit it in. It’ll make everything else seem like it’s moving slower…even your heart rate when you’re done.

Is it a Leap Year yet? I could use the extra time…

Schedule less. Super Duh. Schedule fewer things throughout the day because something unexpected will undoubtedly come up. If nothing does, you can use the unscheduled time to be more productive. When your schedule is full, you have no time to handle the unexpected so you toss it at the end of the day (if you didn’t already slide everything else later). Your day just got longer. Congratulations.

Schedule, uh, nothing. If you just can’t help your I-need-to-fill-my-calendar compulsive self, then insert a few blackouts. That way you have a little cushion for the unexpected.

Schedule email. For most, this is not only the biggest distraction, but also can send your schedule unnecessarily off course as you attend to what you think is urgent. Try checking your email when you arrive at work, when you return from lunch, and before you leave work. If you’re an incessant type, try doing it once each hour instead of sixty times each hour. If you must check your email because it’s a job requirement, try to limit it to opening only those that possibly require urgent care.

“Sit up straight” was darn good advice. Thanks Mom.

Sit correctly. As in anatomically correctly the way your spine was meant to fluctuate. Sitting correctly at your desk or wherever you sit is important. Hunching over makes you feel more tight and stressed. If you stand for work, stand correctly.

Stand up periodically. Assuming many of us sit most of the time at work, make sure to take a break and stand. Walk for a few minutes to wake up your butt.

Stretch. See previous only be more aggressive.

What time is it? It’s now silly.

Stay present. Attempt to stay in the present moment for one hour. I bet you can’t do it. Try it anyway. It’s a fact that 12% of human thought is about the future. That’s two of your awake hours every single day. Do you realize that in an entire year you spend 730 hours thinking about stuff that will likely never happen? Moving right along…

Breathe. One great way to stay present is to breathe deeply. Try this. Breathe in through your nose so that your belly expands. While it’s expanding, breathe in through your mouth so your chest also expands. Repeat five times. There. All better.

Notice. Pay attention to the little things. Pay attention to the unexciting things. The more you focus on them the more exciting they become.

Stay grounded. This is part of the graduate program of the Stay Present curriculum. If you can stay grounded and not lose your mind for the moment, you’ll likely remain present. It’s a transitive property thing.

I thought it was impolite to stare.

Focus on people. It’s one thing to stay present and another to stay grounded, but it’s quite special to truly focus on people. Some jobs require more human interaction than others, but take what you can get. Any chance you’re able to engage with another, make an extra effort to soak in all of him or her. You will find that what you think about you bring about. Think about their great qualities. Imagine their journey. Learn from them. You’ll be amazed in more ways than one.

Coffee! Who doesn’t love coffee? If you’re not a coffee drinker, have tea or whatever you drink. Take a break. Better yet, take a break with some other people.

It’s been two minutes since I last checked. Omigawd. I wonder what I missed on Facebook.

Become Anti-Social. As in Media. I love social media! Just take a break every now and then.

Lost—Have you seen my cell phone?

Unplug. That means no electronics. Not even a hairdryer.

Found—I knew I should have looked there first!

Find joy. Look for the joy in everything you get to do. You’ll never find it if you don’t look for it. It’s a fact that joy exists in virtually anything you can imagine. You just need to look closely enough.

But I’m supposedly a grown up…

Play. I don’t care what it is—video games, rugby, checkers, or chess. I stopped right after I typed the lead in to this section to play hide and seek with my dogs. I wanted to make sure I ate my own dog food so to speak. Huge pun intended. They found me every time. Suspense over.

Goof off. You have no idea how hard we laughed after we took this picture. I still laugh just as hard as I did two days ago when it was taken. This little one is a gift that keeps on giving.

Who doesn’t love a list?

Write down three things. The reason many organized people have trouble executing a productive day is because they have too many items on their to-do lists. I accomplish a ton and I never have more than three major items that have to be accomplished on a given day. If you can focus on the truly important acts, you’ll be amazed at how much extra credit you can earn in a day.

Can you just give me the CliffsNotes?

No. Well, yes. Just say, “No.” I probably could have saved the first thousand words I wrote and just given you these few. It’s the silver bullet. If you can simply and tactfully say “No” to the many requests you receive throughout the day, you’ll be cured. This becomes much easier to do when you focus on only those things that are truly important to you.

I’d love to hear from you: Any tips to slow down the day?

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