Does summer speed along too fast? Do you feel hectic and hurried rather than rested and relaxed? I look forward to summer, but it seems like it slips by more quickly every year. Vacations, swimming lessons, activities for the kids, part-time jobs for the teens, social events, and yard and home improvement projects make summer way too rushed.
Life is anything but simple, even in the summer–maybe especially in the summer. There is so much to do and so little time. My family and I hurry from one activity to the next, sometimes barely taking time to appreciate them. Sometimes the stuff that is supposed to be fun doesn’t feel fun because we are so busy. Hectic schedules eat away at what is supposed to be a summer break.
Here are tips to simplify summer time and enjoy the remainder of your summer at a simpler pace. There are ways to change your time perception and techniques to appreciate these wonderful summer days.
Do you hurry time along? I suggest a simple exercise for you to check your own pace. It sounds corny, but if you try it, you may be surprised by the results. Ask a friend or family member to time you with a watch, or use a stopwatch or kitchen timer by yourself. Begin by sitting quietly and closing your eyes. Do nothing but sit and relax. See if you can set your internal clock for three minutes (no fair counting!). Open your eyes and check the time when you think three minutes has elapsed. How did you do?
For many of us, three minutes sitting quietly with our eyes closed will seem like an eternity. We will speed things up and feel that three minutes elapsed well before three minutes of real time passed. Maybe we are used to living lives that are too "speeded up."
To slow down to a more enjoyable pace, regularly do more activities that you "lose yourself” in. These are activities so engrossing to you personally that you get pulled into the flow and you don’t realize how much time has passed. You will know what these things are if you take a few moments to think about it. Some people like to read or garden. Others like to sew or work on a favorite project or hobby. Still others might exercise or bike. It could be anything. Everyone is unique.
Time won’t necessarily slow down when you do these things. In fact, favorites often make time fly for people. But, it flies by in an enjoyable way that leaves you energized, centered, and refreshed. When you allow yourself to do your personal favorites, you find yourself thinking afterwards, "Wow, I really liked that. I forgot how much I enjoy doing that. I could do that more often." After thinking that, many of us go directly back to the other hectic demands in our lives. Stop. Give yourself permission to do the things you love. Give permission more often.
Find activities that stretch time for you. For many, quiet nature walks or sitting and looking at a lake can slow things down and stretch out time. Getting out and enjoying nature also provides perspective and balance in harried lives. Spending time outside can literally help us spend time outside of ourselves and our worries and problems. Time outside of ourselves can give us perspective in our lives.
Would you consider trying meditation for a change of pace? Meditation isn’t just for the "experts." There are many simple forms of meditation. A classic book that provides several easy ways to begin to meditate is How to Meditate by Lawrence LeShan (Little, Brown and Company 1999). You can take as little as ten minutes to meditate if you want. Meditation can be a tool to slow down and refocus. It isn’t as hard to do as you may think it is!
If meditating isn’t your cup of tea, consider taking five to thirty minutes to do nothing. Yes, I mean nothing. I don’t mean watching television, doing a routine task, or even starting to mentally compose your to-do list. Taking time to do nothing will slow you down. It may even make you fidgety. Doing nothing for a short while will prepare you to plunge in with new energy for whatever tasks or summer pleasures are waiting for you.
Try to live in the moment. Focus totally on doing one thing at a time. I know we are all supposed to multi-task, and sometimes we must. Unfortunately, multi-tasking often leaves us stressed and unfocused. We feel fragmented and splintered.
Focusing on one thing at a time helps us to be really present instead of preoccupied. When I am with my kids, I know they can tell if I am really present, or if I am multi-tasking. It’s a "no brainer" to guess which version of Mom they prefer.
Slow down. If I can’t get it all done today anyway, maybe I can sometimes ease up to be a little kinder to myself. I know that when I slow down, I enjoy myself more. I think I am easier on the people around me, and I am probably more fun to be around.
Are you saying, "I don’t have time?" Try to make time for yourself. Unfortunately, no one else can do this for you. Remember, how you spend the rest of this summer is your choice. Make choices that work for you.
Helpful Time Stretching Time Management Books
The three books below present an interesting perspective of our harried society and provide practical tips to improve the quality of your time. Rather than being time management books in the traditional sense, they offer suggestions to change how you perceive and utilize your time.
Time Shifting–Creating More Time to Enjoy your Life by Stephan Rechtschaffen (Main Street Books, 1997).
Slowing Down in a Speeded Up World by Adair Lara (Conari Press, 1994).
Taking Your Time–Finding Balance in a Hurried World by Eknath Easwaran (Nilgiri Press, 2006).
Barbara Tako is a clutter clearing motivational speaker and author of "Clutter Clearing Choices: Clear Clutter, Organize Your Home, & Reclaim Your Life" (O Books, 2010), a seasonally organized book of clutter clearing tips that readers can pick and choose from to fit their personal style and needs. Sign up for her free monthly clutter clearing tips newsletter at http://www.clutterclearingchoices.com.