by Marcus Loane
13th November 2009
Sometimes our lives can become so busy that we feel we are rushing around trying to "get everything done" and it is an endless task. The rush-rush feeling is a state of mind and it may be there even when we do not really have that many things to do in the time available. At other times we may have lots to do but we do not feel rushed or stressed. This shows us that it is mostly a state of mind so we can have control over it.
The rushed feeling is associated with thinking about all the things to do in the future instead of concentrating on the current task. A simple trick which brings you back to the present so you can focus and concentrate, is to make a to do list. You could have a separate one for work and home. When I do this I often allocate specific times for each task. This frees my mind of the foolish and distracting tendency to keep juggling future tasks in my head. It is much more productive to write them down and then forget about all of them except the one you are working on now, in the present. This is an application of moment to moment living in conjunction with planning.
Another strategy is to do things carefully, deliberately and slowly. This slows down your mind and decreases the rushed stressed feelings. If you are physically rushing (walking fast, or even running up the corridors at work) then of course you are reinforcing in your mind that you are rushed. Moving your body relatively slowly and noticing your breathing from time to time helps to reinforce a sense of calm control and concentration on the here and now.
Another strategy is to prioritise your to do list and do the high priorities first. If there really is too much for you to do then there is no point fretting about it. You can only do what you are capable of. You could delegate some of it (a sensible management strategy), ask for more time (if that is possible) or just let some of it slide.
You also have to realise that there may never be a time when you have "got everything done" as new tasks get added. Therefore you have to accept, and learn to live with, your perpetual to do list and take it one task at a time. You can do your best on the current task and when that is finished do your best on the next current task. The trick is to be fully in the present for most of the time. The times when it is not sensible to be in the present are when you are in the planning stages, but even that can be regarded as just another activity, to be done well, with focus, in the present, and then temporarily forgotten about as you concentrate on the step by step implementation of it.
Often we can feel rushed from the moment our alarm clock goes off if we have only just enough time for our morning routine before heading into work. A simple trick to prevent this is to
set the alarm 20 minutes earlier than you need.
Then you do not feel you have to rush while imagining the traffic you are about to join. How you start your day sets the tone for the rest of it so this is very worthwhile.
Thinking ahead is a sign of intelligence but it can be detrimental for our happiness if our minds are constantly in the future. The answer is to use planning (at work, in life in general) in short sessions and then return to the business of living and enjoying what you are doing. You can schedule your planning sessions the same way you schedule your tasks during a planning session. Remember to schedule in some relaxation too. You can also deliberately leave some "white space" in your diary where you have a designated time where nothing is expected of you.
To sum up, if possible, do one thing at a time and give it your full attention. Become fully absorbed in what you are doing and really enjoy it.
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