10 Ways to Slow Down Your Busy Life

Life can get really busy, really fast. And it comes in seasons–some seasons are busier than others (i.e. new school year, new job, Christmas, project deadlines, etc.).

Whatever the reason, busyness requires some balance. We can’t go at a constant 110mph without burnout. Rest assured, if you don’t establish balanced habits, there will be casualties. That’s why there needs to be some in-between times tucked here and there where we can slow down, recharge, regroup and collect our sanity. Here are 10 ways simple you can slow down your busy life.  

1. Read a Book

This would be my number one, book nerd that I am! But seriously, research shows that reading is a great way to relax. And I’m not talking about something highly analytical. Read something for fun! Or maybe you read highly analytical stuff for fun…Well, whatever you consider enjoyable and relaxing, read that! 

2. Play a Game

I’m not anti-video games but, truth be told, I wouldn’t much miss them if I never saw another one as long as I live (except maybe Mario Kart cause I’m kind of a sucker for Mario Kart :P). So when I say game, I’m talking good ol’ fashioned boards, cards, dice, spinners and instructions that take 20 minutes to figure out. Taboo, Monopoly, Risk, Boggle (my fam’s current fave), Pictionary, Scategories, Dutch Blitz (our all-time fave card game) you name it! Get your favorite people together, take a load off and have some fun!

3. Write a Letter

The art and habit of letter writing isn’t as common as it used to be. But it’s not dead and just like physical books, I don’t think it’s in danger of dying. There are plenty of people who still write letters. You can even join the Letter Writers Alliance, an online society that is dedicated to keeping this tradition alive!
Writing a letter doesn’t cost much, just a stamp and some time to put your thoughts on paper. Ah, yes–time! Take a few minutes to indulge in some real text messaging. 

4. Take a Nap

Take 15 minutes and just shut down. The car, the couch, your bed, if you’re lucky. Steal away and take a snooze and then pick up where you left off! 

5. Crank Up the Classics

Make your morning or afternoon mellow with classical tunes. Classical music is soothing and will brighten your mood or ease your tension. If you’re feeling frazzled and like you can’t catch up with the craziness around you, keep calm and listen to Beethoven.

6. Take up a Hobby

I’m a firm believer in hobbies. Everyone needs something they can go to exercise their creativity and give dreams a place to play. Some people play instruments. Some cook. Some go fishing. Some paint pictures. Some scrapbook. Some have a combination of several things. Whatever your creative outlet is, give it a space in your busy schedule and don’t miss out on the things that put a smile on your face and keep your brain happy.  

7. Cook a Meal

We live in a microwaved society. These days you don’t have to know how to cook much because food can be put in the microwave, poured out of a bag, shoved in the oven, called in, or picked up at a window. But if you find yourself too busy to cook every so often, you might need to slow it down and take out your pan or casserole dish. Taking time to cook a meal is not only the healthier choice, it can also be a good way to interact with your family, reflect on the day, think through problems, or just escape the craziness.

8. Take a Walk

If the weather permits, get some fresh air and go for a stroll. Walking outdoors is a great way to clear your mind and get your thoughts in order. Not to mention the added health benefits and the inevitable need for a tall, refreshing glass of water afterwards!

9. Say No

You don’t need to say yes to everything. One of the best ways to slow down is to be mindful of what you can realistically fit on your calendar without sacrificing the health and sanity of yourself and your family. That means sometimes saying no to good things. Not all good things are beneficial or necessary right now or in this season. In the words of the apostle Paul, “all things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient,” (1 Corinthians 10:23). It’s okay to say no. Sometimes, it’s the best choice you can make.

10. Be Present

I will be the first one to say this to myself: Put Your Phone Down. I know I’m just as guilty of this as the next person but do you notice how many face-to-face conversations we have with our phone in our hands or, worse still, with our faces in our phones? Most of us can remember the days when phones were hung up in cradles on the wall or side table. We did function without smartphones once upon a time so I know it’s possible to do so now for at least an afternoon or evening. Instagram can wait. Nobody’s going to get mad at you if you don’t check your FB feed again (and if they do, you need to find some new friends). YouTube will still be there when you get back. Vine will still be funny, tweets don’t expire, you can replay the scope on katch, and your email and texts will be ready for you to open at a later time.

We’re all busy and we’re all connected and that’s great but at some point, you gotta put it down for awhile and interact with what’s going on right in front of you, in the flesh, face to face. One day your kiddo won’t want to play catch with you. One day your friend might move away to pursue another chapter in life. One day your significant other may decide that someone else has more time for them. You don’t want to look up one day and find that you missed it all.


What are some of the ways you take it slow? Do you need to make commitments to be more intentional about slowing down your busyness? Why do you think it’s so hard to stop sometimes?

7. The Next Step | 31 Days

This is post 7/31 of Write 31 Days. See full list HERE.

I’ve just committed to NaNoWriMo. Again.

I mean, I’ve got a working title and everything. 

Two attempts in past years and I’ve never finished NaNoWriMo. And my Inner Idiot is poking furiously at me cause he’s totally indignant.

What do you think you’re doing? You have no business trying to write a novel in a month!! You think you’re going to write 50,000 words? Really? When are you going to have time for that!?! You’re kidding me right now!

Yeah, I know, I have no business writing a novel in a month but you know what? It’s a next step. 

Writing for 31 days in a row is a step in the direction of really owning this thing called being a writer. I know that when I get up in the morning, a blog post needs to be written and published before I go to bed that night. Intellectually, it sounds so basic and it is but in reality, it’s so hard. But it’s day 7 and I haven’t skipped a day yet. And I’m committed to the next 24. Who says I can’t crank out 50,000 words in 30 days?

Oh yeah, my Inner Idiot. But who’s listening to him anyway? Moving on.  

I’m a write… Oh, it’s so hard to write or say those words, like I haven’t earned the certification or something but *clears throat* let’s try again.

I’m a writer. But practice isn’t included. I want to be a good writer. I want to treat it like it’s a real thing not just something I do here and there. I’m not trying to write the next American classic, I’m just taking on the challenge of honing in my craft. 

Because writing’s my art. 

I’m kind of on this kick of doing hard things whether or not it’s your passion or are particularly good at it. And that’s just a function of what I’m personally going through. First steps are hard because we don’t know what’s going to happen. Next steps are hard too but now you’re gaining some momentum and that’s got a freak factor all it’s own. But you have to take that first step. And then you have to take the next step. And for me, NaNoWriMo is the next step. 

In college, I had a rhythm to my work. One test after another after another. One set of classes this term and another set the next term. The work was hard but I pretty much knew what the next step was.

But that’s so not how the real world works. More often than not, you take the next step not knowing what you’ll find or how it’ll turn out. You just pray you’ve done your research, asked the right questions and prepared as best you could beforehand.

But you can only prepare so much. At some point you just have to do. Yeah, it’s scary as all get out and yeah, maybe you have ‘no business’ doing it but if you feel that pull, that calling, that’s a real thing and it deserves your notice. And when you get to a point when you feel like God’s placed something in your heart to do, and you can’t think about anything else, then take that first step. 

And then take the next. 

#write31days

6. Practice Not Included | 31 Days

This is post 6/31 of Write 31 Days. See full list HERE.

When I was a kid, I took ice skating lessons. I loved the rush of cold past my face as I sailed across the ice. I was given my own pair of beautiful white skates. My slender kiddo form was a great asset to the sport and I loved every minute of it.

But I was afraid to fall.

I was too cautious and afraid to lose control that I failed the second level. So I quit. My skates just sat in my closet until they were too small to wear anymore and, now that I think about it, I don’t remember what happened to them. We probably gave them away. I’ll never know if God had professional skating in His plan for my life but I do know that fear falling at prevented me from developing a solid talent on the ice.

My brother is better at the piano than I am even though I’ve had more formal music training than he did. We both have a natural ear and deep love for music and while I have a few more technical skills then he does, he is, hands down, the better musician.

Why?

Cause he’s has the patience to figure it out. He’ll sit there and piece out the chords and melody lines ’til he gets it right. I know how some things are done but I don’t have the patience to sit through sour notes, missed chords, and the reputation that’s required when mastering an instrument. So I stay in one spot, not growing in my craft of piano playing.

Yesterday, I wrote about not being good at everything. Those things we don’t have a natural talent or liking for that require an extra push to get done. For me, that’s math. But what about the things we may have actual talent for? Our creative God gives us creative talents and passions as a gift. But while He may have given the gift, the practice isn’t included. That’s your job.

Every artist must refine her craft. This is why they’re artists. Their very soul craves the art but they must still pursue the process. Being an artist isn’t about being a prodigy, it’s about the tireless pursuit of that which you can’t help but want to share with the world.

We still have to practice the things we love. An athlete wakes up before dawn to get to the track. A singer exercises and strengthens his vocal chords on a daily basis. The homemaker is intentional about finding new ways to manage time and economize. The teacher makes a point to get to know her students so she can best reach them. This is art. It must be practiced so we become better at it.

I still like the cold against my face when I’m on the ice but I haven’t mastered a basic sliding stop and can’t do much more than go around the rink in cautious circles. I love the feeling of the keys under my fingers but I haven’t taken the time to patiently strengthen my coordination and music reading.

Pursuing your art, the work you naturally love and want to share, means letting yourself fall over and over and over again until your leg muscles learn and master what you expect of them. That means pushing through the pain of exercises until your fingers fly across the keys without you thinking about it. It’s a process. It’s a practice. It’s showing up consistently and not quitting even when you feel like you’re not getting anywhere.

That’s why I’m doing Write 31 Days. I’ve been told I’m a good writer and I definitely have a passion for the written word. But I sorely need the practice. So every morning this month, I’ve committed to sitting myself down and not getting up until I hit the  publish button. After years of struggling to ‘make time’ to practice the craft of writing, I decided to take the bull by the horns and just do it.

Being afraid to fall is a function of a deeper artist issue that’s plagued my life: the pursuit of perfect work.

Perfection in art will kill your craft faster than anything else.

It killed my skills on the ice.

It’s killing my talent for the piano.

It could kill my abilities as a writer.

Allowing yourself to fall and fumble through sour notes while practicing is one thing. It’s still a relatively safe place. But shipping art to the public in an imperfect state is a totally different story. And it’s that need for perfection that keeps us from shipping anything at all.

But you have to ship. And you have to ship imperfect stuff so you can learn to create better stuff. It’s an ongoing process that never ends. Your art will never be perfect. Your craft will always need tweaking and there will be new tricks of the trade to discover.

So practice! Let yourself fall. Force yourself to listen to the sour notes. Hit publish. Don’t let the pursuit of perfect art keep you from experiencing and sharing the art itself. You’ve been given a gift and a unique life voice. Don’t get in your own way of sharing it with the world.

#write31days