“To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life.” – Jill Bolte Taylor
Life is too crammed full these days. Even in our downtime, we are busy communicating. Texting, tweeting, facebook. The time for reflection gets smaller and smaller. Barely a blip in most of our hi-speed, hi-tech lives.
Our kids too. The most overbooked generation in all of history. Less time for free play, the emphasis is on focus focus focus and you will get ahead. But new research shows that play time increases smarts more than being in the classroom, and so many extracurricular activities are no guarantee of success in life.
Multitasking Overload is the MO of most moms, almost by necessity. Most of us know multitasking isn’t good for you. Our brains just aren’t wired that way. But if you’re anything like me, the moment my eyes blink open, my mind races into the day, the endless to-do’s. We never seem to have enough time for all life asks of us.
As I sit down to write this piece about multitasking overload, I realize that I have a lot of the symptoms, despite my best efforts to lead a balanced life. It creeps up on you, this busy-ness that brings ever more busy-ness. The Blob Who Ate My Life. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The antidote to overload is easier than you think.
Though multitasking can dumb down your IQ by ten points, letting your brain rest can make you smarter. It sounds ridiculously simple. Daydream, take walks, get enough rest, make time to do nothing. The very things we love to do are not just good for us, but necessary. Our brains require plenty of downtime to optimally function. Memory depends on sleep. Students do better on tests after a nap. Our best eureka moments often come during relaxed moments like taking a shower or going for a walk. Scientific discoveries have even come from dreams. So whenever you’re feeling overloaded, give yourself a break. You’ll accomplish more by doing less.
Six Tips to Make Time for What Matters
- Start the day in a beautiful way. When you wake up, instead of thinking about all the things you have to do, direct your focus to five things you are grateful for. Whatever you think about when you first wake up will set the tone for the day. If busy-ness breaks in, let it go. Come back to gratitude and love, and your day will be filled with them.
- Check in with yourself and teach your children to do the same. Learn to recognize the signs of overload: anxious, sad, angry, overwhelmed. These emotions are signals that you need a break. Stop and take a nurturing moment. This could be as simple as taking a few deep breaths, or taking a mini-mental vacation by visualizing your favorite peaceful setting. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, make time to nurture yourself when you need it.
- Use your energy wisely. Tasks are an unavoidable part of life. Where possible, schedule more demanding tasks for the morning when energies are higher, and less demanding chores for later in the day. Take a look at your schedule and drop any unnecessary duties that cost more time and energy than they are worth.
- Get simple exercise through the day. Make it fun. Turn on a song. One of my favorites is “Happy” by Pharell . I dance to that and the energy renews my mind and sets me straight, especially when I need a break but can’t take a long one.
- Schedule time to do nothing. Downtime is essential to restoring your brain’s attention and motivation. It increases productivity, creativity, and performance. Get lazy to get busy. Turn off your phone. Forget your worries. Try staring at clouds or going for a walk in nature. Play. Read. Meditate. Soak in a tub. There are many ways to enjoy the good things in life.
- Practice good sleep rituals. Your body craves routine. About 30 minutes to an hour before bed, wind down. Turn off electronics, turn down the lights, put on soft music or do some gentle stretches. If you watch TV, watch something relaxing. It’s best to clear your mind when you hit the pillow. Try not to fret about events of the day. Instead, think about what went right. Everything will be waiting the next day anyway. A refreshed mind and body will more easily see solutions.
Here’s to your happily ever after.