Take Time to Smell the Roses
If you’re like most people, you begin the work week with an over-stuffed calendar and a never-ending list of things to do. These days most of us are live a constant state of go, go, go and multi-tasking has become the new (and acceptable) norm. As a result, we often forget to slow down, be present and look for the precious moments in our day. While we may be getting a boat load of things done, we may also be missing out on a few of life’s simple pleasures along the way.
What if, in between moving mountains, we took a few, intentional timeouts each day?
I recently pondered this question and challenged myself to hit the pause button long enough to enjoy a few magical moments each day. Those of you that know me, know that I can sometimes struggle with work/life balance, so this was a biggie for me. My timeouts are usually planned way in advance and dictated by my schedule, not sprinkled in, throughout my day. So admittedly this was a slightly different way of “being.”
For seven days I made it a point to consciously look for, create and enjoy three intentional timeouts each day. It’s true that my timeouts varied in duration. But whether they lasted two minutes or two hours, afterwards I found that I was more refreshed, connected to and efficient with, whatever I was doing. You may be wondering, if at the end of the week, I felt as though taking some intentional pauses hurt my productivity? I don’t think so. In fact I believe that I had even had more available energy to get things done. But more to the point, I realized that my overall satisfaction was less about quantity and crossing things of my list and more about quality – as in quality of life – along the way.
Suffice to say, this is now a practice to which I am committed. And if you are not already taking some intentional timeouts, may I suggest you give it a try? Admittedly my simple pleasures may look a little different than yours. However I offer them because I find that many of us are so wound up, we don’t even know where to look. So consider this your starter list of sweet moments. By all means, cross out any that don’t resonate with you and add your own. Along the way take note of how you feel with a few delicious and well-deserved pauses.
- Establish connection. Ask someone how s/he is and linger long enough to hear the answer. Respond to them in a way that shows you’ve heard them.
- Walk down a new street or street you haven’t been down in ages. Observe the buildings, cars and people.
- Take a proper lunch, away from your desk. If you are at home, set the table as you would for any guest.
- Buy flowers for yourself. Take the time to purposely arrange and admire them.
- Buy flowers for someone else, just because. Bask in the glory of making someone else’s day.
- Observe a child. (This past week I played peek-a-boo with a child on the subway for seven stops. It was the best subway ride I’ve had in a while.)
- Pet a dog (or a cat). Notice how this action makes you feel.
- Look out the window. Let your mind wonder and see where it goes.
- Break your diet with a delicious treat. Whether you eat just a few bites or the whole thing, savor the taste. (YOLO!)
- Get dressed up for no other reason than to feel great about yourself. Your best clothes are meant to be worn and enjoyed, not left hanging in your closet.
- Put on your prettiest bra and undies, even if (especially if) you are the only one that sees them.
- Be silly. Skip down the street; jump in a puddle; dance at your desk. Do something that makes you giggle even if people stare.
- Turn up the music. Pretend you’re teenager and pump up the volume when you’re listening to your favorite tune.
- Turn off your notifications. Each day take a time out from social media, texts and email. Notice what you are more present to when you eliminate these distractions.
- Pick up the phone and call someone you’ve been thinking about. Email is lovely but it can never replace h-e-a-r-i-n-g someone’s voice.
While we may think of these as timeouts, they are really tune-ins to what is important to you. So please don’t forget to slow down and smell the roses. Writer Jeff Goins has said of these special moments, “These are not distractions from life; they are life itself. Let’s not forget or rush through them on our way to the next big accomplishment. Because in the end, these moments are all we have.”
After taking a timeout to consider this, I couldn’t agree more.