5 Ways to Create More Time (without giving up anything)

Image: Design Sponge

Image: Design Sponge

 

One of the challenges in moving from living a hectic life to one that is moving at a much slower pace is the fear of “giving up” things that we believe make us happy. The thought of cutting something out of our lives can make us feel uncomfortable or question whether it’s the right thing to do.

Humans are creatures of habit: once we get into a routine, it’s pretty darn hard to break out of it. There is a place in our lives for some sort of routine and predictability, and some habits are very good to get into. But when routines and habits aren’t healthy for us and stop us from achieving greatness or experiencing a different level of happiness, it’s time to look at the way we are living and start questioning whether there are better ways to do what we are currently doing.

So for those of you who are just dipping your toes into the water of unbusyness or are beginning to question why you are so busy and how you can change the pace, here are 5 ways to create “more time” without sacrificing anything you are currently doing:

1. Accept that unbusyness is not going to appear gift wrapped on your doorstep one morning: this is a gradual change in lifestyle which begins with the decision to WANT to slow down.

2. Manifestation helps us achieve what we so desire. That doesn’t mean by chanting “I’m going to be unbusy, I’m going to unbusy” 500 times each day and constantly thinking of a less busy life our place will slow down. Positive words and thoughts are not enough: we have to live as though we are already unbusy. Begin by slowing down the tasks that you work on each day: don’t rush while washing the dishes, don’t run from one appointment to the next. Start speaking as though you are not busy: when talking to someone, don’t steer the conversation towards how busy your life is and how you are not achieving everything you want to. Feel grateful and happy for the things you have achieved each day.

3. Restructure your days. Companies restructure themselves on a regular basis to cut costs and increase productivity, but we can restructure our time to create more. Think about how you go about your day and write a list of all the ways that your days are not “working” or areas of your days that seem busier than others. For example, I find the time between when my kids get home from school and when I leave for work the most hectic. I have identified that the hectic energy at this time of the day is because I am cooking dinner while the kids are eating their after school snack, which does not allow me to sit with them and help with homework or readers. I have now promised my kids that I will cook dinner during the day so that when they get home from school, I have time to sit with them and help with homework before I have to leave for work. I have not cut anything out of my day but simply restructured my hours.

4. Be yourself. How can being authentic create more time in our lives? We often live our lives as though we are someone who we are not- trying to impress others requires effort and time that we could use living the life that we truly want for ourselves. Maybe you have taken something on just because you wanted to please someone else, or are behaving in a manner that does not align with who you truly are or what you value. Realign your time with who you truly are, and learn to accept yourself- flaws and all. I accept that I’m the woman who doesn’t have a home that looks like a display home- messiness, finger prints on windows, loom bands on the floor- but that’s who I am and what my life is. I could spend my time making sure everything at home looks perfect to project an image of perfectionism to everyone else, but that’s not the real Natalie.

5. Be generous with your time. Hold on, how can you be generous with your time when you barely have enough for yourself? It is through giving and helping others that we can put our own lives into perspective and gain a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction. Giving our time to help others who are struggling helps us realise that our daily struggles may not be as important as we think they are when compared with what others are experiencing. This can help us shift the way that we spend our time. Giving our time to make someone else happy makes us happy- seeing someone smile or having them thank us for our generosity gives us a feeling of satisfaction and contentment that can help us move through each day with a little less stress and busyness. And the more we give, the more we receive- someone else will be generous with their time and it may end up helping us in some way.

Moving from a busy to a less busy lifestyle may sound overwhelming and requiring too many sacrifices and changes, however by starting off with these 5 tips you will be creating shifts in your lives that will allow you to have a taste of what an unbusy lifestyle is.

The focus of an unbusy lifestyle is not what is being given up, but what is being gained- more time.

Letting Things Fester

ForgivenessHave you ever given advice to someone and then realised that you have been doing the complete opposite, and so feel like a complete hypocrite?

That happened to me today.

I was talking to a friend this morning and giving advice about how to overcome a situation where two people cannot move forward after a disagreement- it made me feel frustrated thinking about the negative energy that remains after an argument, and how by letting things fester, we are not only making ourselves and the other person feel crap, but the negative energy that festers spreads to other people around us.

And by not forgiving someone, we are wasting time and energy on an emotion that stems from our egos.

After my conversation this morning, I felt uneasiness and guilt for I realised that I had been treating a person in a similar manner, and had let the tension between us fester for several months. Oh I was still annoyed with this person, and believed I was the one in the right, but after stopping to think about the situation and how much time and energy I had wasted being frustrated and annoyed with this person, I realised that I had to let go of the situation. I had to forgive this person, and move on. Clear the air. Nip the bud.

I realised that negative thoughts and emotions contribute to our busyness. How, you ask?

Think about the last disagreement you had with someone- were you able to walk away from that argument and continue on with your life like nothing had happened? You may have made it look that way to the rest of the world, but I bet deep down in your subconscious you were still suffering from the negativity.

Myself, it can take me hours or days to be able to continue on with life as it was before said disagreement. I might be washing the dishes then all of a sudden stop and think “Damn *insert name*, I’m so angry with them for what they did” and then I realise I’ve wasted 10 minutes allowing negative thoughts and emotions to take over me. 10 minutes I could have spent doing something far more productive. And then I find myself working twice as hard to stay on top of everything. I have become busy.

We might call a friend and vent our frustrations, and end up on the phone for over an hour.

We might feel like staying in bed all day feeing sorry for ourselves.

Not only have we exchanged positivity and happiness for negativity and anger, we have given up time: hours, days and sadly, sometimes years.

The time spent allowing something to fester is time that could be spent on more important things. And we let things fester because we are afraid: afraid of what we will learn about ourselves  if we confront the other person or situation. Afraid of appearing to be “weak” or admitting we are wrong. Afraid of how we will feel afterwards.

We let our egos get in the way of resolving negative situations.

So this afternoon, I finally had enough of the festering. I wasn’t happy with the situation that had unfolded with this person, and I was certain she felt the same. I imagined the weekend I would have, thinking and analysing and feeling hurt and upset about the situation- wasting time and energy. I imagined she doing the same throughout the course of her weekend. I imagined the ripple effect this would have on those around us.

This afternoon, I made the first step in apologising and moving on, and her acceptance and apology in return made me feel like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. We both agreed that the tension between us was not worth the time and energy we had already wasted on negative thoughts and emotions (and could have continued to waste) and it was not serving anyone.

Now we can both continue on with our weekends, spending time doing the things that make us happy.

More living and less busyness.

Gaining Time, Giving Back

Yellow Flower

 Image: The Rusted Chain

One of the benefits of being less busy is having more time to spend on things that I value most. I have gained more time which I have spent with family and friends, travelling, writing, and appreciating each day just that little bit more than I did over a year ago. But even though I have gained a lot through being less busy, I still want to give back.

Something that I have recently started doing is thinking more about how I can give back to those less fortunate than ourselves, and my research has uncovered some grassroots organisations that are doing amazing things that I never would have known about otherwise.

A few weeks ago I came across a local organisation that collects and distributes second hand goods to asylum seekers/refugees who have been released from detention and are living in our region of Melbourne. Now call me ignorant, but I had no idea what happens to refugees once they are released from detention- I assumed that they would receive some government assistance when settling into life in Australia. I never thought much more about it.

The local organisation collects all sort of goods and there are volunteers responsible for each type of item: a volunteer who collects household goods, one who collects bedding and linen, one who organises food hampers, one who collects bicycles etc…These are then distributed to the refugee families as the need arises.

A few weeks ago, I put a call out to friends and family who had bicycles they no longer wanted or needed and were still in good condition. We received 6 bikes, which hubby cleaned and tuned up. On Saturday during our garage declutter (more details about this in the upcoming newsletter. Make sure you subscribe!), a lady from the local organisation for refugees came to our house and collected these bikes. She mentioned there was a need for 56 bikes in total for refugees who did not have any other method of transportation. Some of these families needed bikes for their children to ride to school, or to get to the local shops etc…something that we take for granted. They do not have cars, and many do not have family here to help support them.

It was such a great feeling for our family to be able to donate these bicycles and know that they were going to people who really needed them. We hope to collect more bikes to donate in the future- if you are a local living in the western suburbs of Melbourne, please contact me if you have good quality goods for donation and I can point you in the right direction.

When we are caught up in our busyness, we tend to forget what’s going on in the “real world” and sometimes neglect to look beyond the issues we are dealing with. It isn’t until we come across the struggles of others that we realise that our busyness often stems from trivial details and events- I feel embarrassed when I think back to what I used to value in my life, what I thought was important. A family escaping a war-torn country with nothing but the clothes on their backs and travelling in dangerous conditions to this beautiful country of ours: now that’s the real world. Not celebrities, not high-end fashion, not social media dramas, not the stuff we collect in our homes, not our bank accounts.

Love, Fear and Busyness

Children Are Happy

 

Spiritual author Marianne Williamson once said, “Children are happy because they don’t have a file in their minds called “All the Things That Could Go Wrong.”

I’ve been a little bit off the blog radar of late as I am experiencing some changes in my life that have been quite stressful and has resulted in me having to keep in check my unbusyness. There have been lots of phone calls, conversations, meetings, tears, anger, questioning and unfortunately, neglect of my normal, everyday unbusy lifestyle.

As much as I hate to admit it, a bit of the old busyness has tried to creep back into my life.

I realised this when I found myself ignoring my youngest child’s pleas to play with her because I was too busy discussing my situation during an important phone call, and also when I came home from work one night and saw the state of the house with a fresh pair of eyes. Far out, how did I let everything go like that?

But rather than beat myself up about the state of play, I used this as an opportunity to reflect on why I was being dragged back into busyness, and is this the same reason why the rest of us are stuck in the trap of busyness?

The Marianne Williamson quote strongly resonates with me- when reflecting on our busyness, can we pinpoint exactly why we are busy? What is making us busy? Are we busy worrying about all the things that could go wrong?

I believe that fear lies behind much of our busyness.

Take, for example, the following “Fear Statements”. How many of these have you said or thought:

-If I don’t put my child through {insert extra curricular activity}, they may miss out.

-If I don’t send my child to {insert name of expensive/private school}, they might not be smart enough to get a good job.

-If I don’t buy ‘x’ now, what if it is not there when I need it?

-If I don’t insure the contents of my home, what if they become damaged or are stolen?

-If I don’t check Facebook today, I might be missing out on something.

-If I don’t invest my money, I might end up poor at retirement.

-If I don’t protect myself now, then {insert worst possible scenario} might happen.

-What if I ask that person out on a date and they reject me?

-What if I make a choice and it ends up being the wrong one?

-What if I tell that person the truth and they end up hating me?

-What if I decide I don’t want to marry that person, will I end up finding someone else or will I be forever lonely?

-What if things don’t turn out the way I planned?

And it goes on and on and on…

Behind each of these questions and statements, is fear. Fear of something happening (or not happening) to us or others we care about. Have you made a decision because of one of these statements or questions? Yep, I sure have.

The fear that we allow ourselves to feel ends up dictating how we live our lives and the decisions we make, and impacts on what we end up attracting to our lives. If we look at the law of attraction, which states that “like attracts like”, living with and in fear not only dictates our decisions but attracts fear to us. When we live with fearful thoughts, fearful things happen to us. We are blocking the “good stuff” from entering our lives.

We resort to busyness because to us it satisfies and “solves” the Fear Statements we have about our lives. We are so busy trying to do all of the things that we believe will prevent us from experiencing negative events, that we don’t have the ability to see another way of living.

During the busy periods of my life, I was so concerned with having money for the future, everything that I thought my children needed to keep them happy, and everything that I thought I was expected to have and do for someone of my age and at my life stage. I’m a mother, I need to involve my kids in every activity and event otherwise they might end up “falling behind” or missing out. They may look back one day and think “My life is scarred because mum decided not to buy those Smiggle pens back in May 2011” or “I’m not cultured because I didn’t learn to speak 3 languages by the time I was 5 years old”.  Had to make sure I volunteered on every committee I came into contact with, otherwise I was not a contributing community member. All of these decisions were based on fear!

The stressful event I am experiencing now is stressful because of the focus on possible fear-based outcomes that I have. Thinking of all the possible awful outcomes has resulted in some tears and confusion amongst myself and some friends going through the same thing. This has led to busyness, through making so many phone calls, researching, printing, discussing, meeting. Yes, some of it is very important and relevant, but the thoughts and feelings within me do not have to be a reflection of the possible awful outcomes that may not even occur!

I’ve realised that to be able to overcome our busyness, we are going to have to let go of our fears and embrace love instead, to allow loving and positive events to enter our lives. We are going to have to stop the “Fear Statements” from entering our minds and our bodies in order to stop blocking other thoughts and feelings from entering. Like attracts like. I want to attract the outcome that I so desire. It won’t happen when fear permeates my mind and body.

That’s not to say, go and make impulse decisions based on what you really want to happen. It does not mean to let go of our responsibilities, or to not have regard for others in the way that we conduct ourselves. But let’s have some more trust in love, trust in goodness and faith that everything will work out for the best. Let’s not resort to fear as a way of living. It’s damn hard, I know it is, to change our way of thinking and acting to reflect a more loving and less fearful state, but once we make the change and see the outcomes that occur, then we have the proof that it’s a better way to live.

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Gratefulness Over Busyness

(Image: Pinterest)

(Image: Pinterest)

 

It can be so darn tough trying to feel positive and grateful when you are in a really crappy situation.

For a moment there, it’s much easier to wallow in our crap and feel sorry for ourselves and deal with the situation at hand, especially when things happen that shock us. And it’s perfectly okay to do this!

But once we have had time to process what has happened, there comes a sense of clarity that allows us to see those things around us that were hiding behind our busyness while we were being stressed, worried, angry, sad.

It might be as simple as noticing the first blossom on a fruit tree (I’ve been looking out my window every morning waiting for the first sign of spring!) or overhearing a funny conversation between your kids. This morning, I looked at my 4 year old and thought, “You look older today!”

When we practice gratefulness, we can appreciate what we have rather than hang onto what we once had or look for something that we think we want. Appreciation and gratefulness go hand in hand, and can do wonders for our sense of worth and our level of happiness.

Recently, there was an explosion of gratefulness posts on Facebook that invited people to write 3 things they were grateful for each day for 5 days. Apart from being a nice change from the usual Facebook junk, I did notice friends participating who I had never known to express that level of gratefulness. I enjoyed reading their posts, and I enjoyed thinking about the flow on effect of expressing gratefulness to everyone on social media.

The more we express our gratefulness to the world, the more positive energy we create, and we can never have enough positivity! The effects are far more powerful than lecturing people on how to be happier, because we are inviting people to take a different view of their lives and to open themselves up to becoming grateful for what they currently have.

It’s a shift in thinking that creates a ripple effect.

When we notice what’s around us, we realise that everything will work out fine. The crap we were wallowing in, won’t consume us for much longer.

And with that, I’d like to share 3 things I’m currently grateful for:

1. The ability to make decisions about my life, even when I think I have no choice or control.

2. A glass of water.

3. Being a woman, a mother, who is studying a University degree from the comfort of her home.

What are you grateful for?