Find more 'you' time by simplifying how you work

How did it get to be October already? At a recent networking breakfast, the conversation at my table was centered on two questions: How did summer go by so fast, and Why didn’t more of these people take time off to enjoy and appreciate life? There was a lot of grumbling about how busy everyone is these days, and how they need to be reminded to “have a life.” The word “stressed” was used several times. One table guest lamented that even though she was working more, she still went home at the end of the day feeling like she hadn’t accomplished everything she’d set out to do. Another told us that he has been known to find excuses for not taking a time out when he’s overwhelmed at work.

Nowadays, some business folks work in the “fast lane,” using all the modern tools available to try to fit 12 hours of work into an eight-hour day. Jessica Stillman, of Inc., wrote in an August 2014 blog post, “If you spend much of your day being frantic in your pursuit of success, you should know that research shows that the vast, vast majority of high performers are actually very calm. Being hectic (if not downright panicked) isn’t a hallmark of success. It’s a sign you’re making it difficult to reach your own peak level of performance.”

The conversation at that breakfast meeting challenged me to think about how I can simplify what I do to create a better work/life balance. I’ve heard that a simplicity/anti-stress movement is becoming popular among career-focused people. Magazines, books, and websites are providing information for helping people to create a simpler, less stressful, more meaningful life.

A life coach friend shared a couple suggestions that include:

  • Clear clutter. Clutter seems to add to stress.
  • Consolidate things in life and work. 
  • Reduce commitments. Be picky about when to say yes.
  • Outsource whenever possible.
  • Slow down. Take time to “smell the roses” — or for right now, in Wisconsin, to look at the fall color.

According to Gerald Celente, director of the Trends Research Institute in New York, “About 5% to 7% of adults in the U.S. are pursuing some form of voluntary simplicity.” Many have begun the process by setting aside time each day to take a break from email, cell phones, etc. One simplicity guru told me that focusing on the essential daily work tasks and eliminating the rest of the “to-do” list is the best way to begin.

October is one of wonderful Wisconsin’s most colorful seasons. It’s the time of year when folks with a life try to play hooky on a nice day — or at least for a long lunch hour. The color is going to be a peak soon. Time to get out and enjoy!

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