Slow Down

Many of us wear many hats in our lives. Telling us to “SLOW DOWN” may seem like an alien word or not even found in our vocabulary. It even sounds irrelevant or a waste of precious time.

We rush around like Mr. Rabbit in ‘Alice In Wonderland’ movie, always scurrying around with a clock in its “hand”, always running late for something, more like, everything! As for us, we rush through our meals, if not skip them altogether to complete an urgent task; we speed from one place to another during week days and when weekend arrives, we can’t switch off to slow down the tempo to enjoy the drive! Do you experience that too?

Whatever we do, we affect people around us, don’t you agree? When we are in a rush, we also expect them to keep pace. We rush our children to eat more quickly (for what, I wonder?), we tug them along from one activity to another and we literally push everyone to keep to our schedule – our partners, our colleagues, the cab drivers, the maid, the chauffeur, etc.

When you breeze through from one chore to another, from one place to the next, can you feel your heart pumping faster and harder than usual? Do you feel your neck strained, shoulder muscles become stiff, maybe you feel that nagging pain in the upper or lower middle back too. Do you also feel stressed in your mind, desperate, frustrated and/or anxious, as if the walls are closing in around you?

Why do we put so much stress to our minds and bodies? Is it because everything appears important and urgent to us? You may ask, isn’t important and urgent the same? Meanings may differ from person to person. To me, important is not the same as urgent. Not to worry. I’m not going to lecture about the differences here and now.

Briefly though, important and urgent refers to something which may cause great loss – financially, emotionally, physically, if it is not attended to immediately. For example, when the house is on fire, it is important to save lives and get everyone out of the burning house immediately.

Urgent but not important means a task is to be completed within a specific time to avoid inconvenience. Let’s take the example of the burning house again. Before the fire burns everything to ashes, you may also want to act fast to save your passport and other personal belongings. It is an urgent task but not so important as compared to saving lives, especially when the fire is spreading fast.

Having said all that, shouldn’t we try to separate the two and prioritize? I believe that once you list them down, you will know when to rush and when not to. You must know how much you can do and plan within that. Do not try to cramp everything, important or not, urgent or not, into one day, unless you have the time for all. It is alright to carry forward any unimportant task.

You may want to plan like this :
1. Important and Urgent (if more than 1 task, you may number them as 1.1, 1.2, etc)
2. Important but not so urgent(itemise as 2.1,2.2, etc)
3. Urgent but not so important
4. Not urgent and not important

By planning properly, you’ll find that you would not miss any important dateline /appointment /project anymore! If a task is unimportant and you have too many items in your to-do list, you may choose to defer it. You can even allocate some time to chill. The break can be an important item too when you are too tired to move another inch. By allowing your mind and body time to wind down, you can be more productive and get more accomplished after re-charged. Try it!

Besides planning your tasks, let’s talk about punctuality too. It is also about time management. If you have an appointment and you know that it will take about 1 hour to get there, move out at least extra 15 minutes earlier. Traffic condition and weather are so unpredictable. You don’t want to be late or speed all the way to your appointment. It may endanger yours and others’ lives on the road. However, if you happen to arrive earlier, use that time to unwind after the long drive, check your messages and reply to them or even, read a book or something. Arriving earlier or on time indicates that you respect your time and that of the person you are meeting. Being punctual tells the other person that you are disciplined, in control and are serious about the meeting. People will respect you more.

Slow down! Plan your time and journey. Plan your tasks too. Not all are as important and urgent. Some things can’t wait, some can. So, act accordingly.

Now, get off that chair, hang up the apron and rubber gloves, whatever, to go for a walk in the park, do something together with your spouse and/or children, have a cuppa by the garden or even drive out to have a drink/meal with friends. When there’s a will, there’s a way, my friend. Just do it! You’ll feel fabulous, trust me.

Say that again, “SLOW DOWN“. Tell it to yourself, your spouse, your children, friends, boss, colleague, anyone! There’s always time for everything. Though not everything needs to be done now. You know best!

Cheers to an easy and lazy weekend. You deserve it 🙂

~ Alice N.

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