I have a friend whose last name is Rush. Ironically, she is chronically late and takes her time with every decision, especially those involving aesthetics, such as what color to paint the walls or which skirt to wear. She’s arranged her life so that she doesn’t feel compelled to rush and her friends forgive her lack of punctuality because once she does arrive, she’s absolutely present in the moment and always lovely to look at.
I, on the other hand, tend to run a little fast and caffeinated. The busier I am, the more I rush, which is starting to impact my orderliness. If I’m not careful, I can arrive distracted and look like I styled my hair with a leaf blower.
A few weeks ago, a client in the country immediately preceded a client in the city. I went directly from a dirt road to San Francisco’s Sea Cliff Avenue in a dust-covered vehicle loaded to the gills with donations and recycling I was hauling away for the country client. I imagined that anyone observing my “I Love Order” license plate thought it was a joke.
During another extremely busy week, I arrived at home after 7 p.m. and started slicing cucumbers for a salad and deeply cut my index finger. I left a file cabinet open and banged up my shin. I’d been in a hurry and left the drawer open.
The only thing my exhausted rushing hadn’t caused was a speeding ticket. Recently, I was zooming along at 75 mph, my car loaded with a Marin client’s recycling, and a California Highway Patrol car cruised past me like an orca whale. Thankfully, he was headed for larger prey.
When my clients complain of overwhelm, I tell them to look for areas in their schedule that they can delete or edit. It can be so difficult to say “no” to a party, a trip, an outing, and perhaps even more so to an income- generating opportunity. In the case of my back-to-back clients, I should have taken a day off between them to get to the donation drop-off, the car wash, and the hair and nail salon. The serenity would have been more than worth the temporary loss of income.
In the case of cutting my finger, I should know better than to chop and slice veggies after 5p.m. On busy days, I should prep my evening meal early that morning or, better yet, grab something from the Whole Foods premade section. I started looking around for other tasks and commitments I could delete, where I could add some down time and self-care — even something as mundane as scrubbing the rough skin off my heels.
I also pulled out the manual to my Prius and learned to set the cruise control so that I don’t suddenly find myself over the limit when one of my favorite songs is playing. All these little time and sanity savers require time and sanity to put into place, so it helps to write them down. The rule is that the likelihood of accomplishing something is 40-70 percent greater when we write it down, so make a list of these action items and set aside an hour a day to handle a few. Yes, a nap can be one of those things!
This is the age of overwhelm, and now more than ever we need our slow, our quiet, our siesta, our meditation, our time for exfoliation/massage/insert-your-favorite-body-treat-here. Digital devices, and that includes television, throw images at us so quickly that we start to take that pace on as a matter of course. If you take time out to slow down, and maybe even allow yourself to show up five minutes late once in a while — aka, human — you will likely find that you show up better.