I follow a whole bunch of lifestyle bloggers in the UK and it feels like Slow Living and discussions on how to lead a more meaningful (and mindful) life is having a bit of a moment; the reaction and resistance to immediate gratification and living a less mindless, more is more, superficial existence. And it’s really captured my imagination, as it kind of puts a name to the thoughts that I’ve been having for a while, as I’ve been realising that flapping through life like a headless chicken is not the most sensible approach to being a mum, wife and my best self; I just hadn’t put a label on it or worked out what I needed to do to take a different path. And don’t get me wrong, I haven’t worked it out yet and am not living a stress-free, peaceful existence. But I’ve started to take some baby steps and have at least taken the time to think about the changes that I want to make, so if you’re interested and have been having similar thoughts, here’s my take – as a wife, mum and somebody who works for myself – on Slow Living.
Nooks and Crannies
I went to a seminar a few years ago and amongst other things it deep dived into maximizing productivity and ways to manage your time effectively and this concept really stuck with me. The speaker referred to it as his theory of ‘Nooks and Crannies’ in that the way that he stayed focused on smashing his daily ‘to do’ list was by maximising all of those little moments in the day that otherwise are just lost and dead time; think waiting for the bus, sitting in the car waiting for your child to finish soccer practice, sitting in the airport waiting for your flight. He made sure that he used all of those spare minutes to get through emails, return calls, prepare for meetings etc. etc. and it got me to thinking about how I could do the same in my world as a time-poor working mum. So, I started to make sure that on the walk back from school drop off (or to pick my boys up), I returned client calls and worked through copy for clients in my head, typed blog ideas into my phone whilst waiting for the bell to ring and listened to podcasts on work related topics. And as much as I can see the value in doing all of these things and squeezing as much as I can into my days, I have realized that I have been running my day according to a 37-part ‘things to do’ list, diarising everything to the nth degree (including putting the bloody washing out) and it’s made me wound like a tightly coiled spring rather than an uberproductive supermum. And being so tightly scheduled and ‘on’ all the time is death to creativity for me as I haven’t been allowing myself to think and wander; to listen and be inspired.
So now I’ve taken my AirPods out of my bag, so that I can spend my walking and commuting time to think and shape and (controversially) also do nothing. Just be. Just wander and try and take myself down a gear or two. And my ‘to do’ lists are only allowed to have 5 things..no more!
Done is better than perfect
I am a perfectionist so I struggle with this a bit – and to be fair when clients are paying me for content and copy this isn’t a bad way to be – but with regards to my own work – my blog and passion project – I’m still really working through what I want to say and which parts of my life I want to share; I’m also trying to focus on less being more, ensuring that I don’t push myself to produce content to an unrealistic schedule but focus on producing content that’s good quality and that I can be proud of.
When you run a blog – and it’s a part of your business – showing up and when you say you will is important, but for me I can’t quite jump on the ‘done is better than perfect’ bandwagon. Maybe that’s the case when you run a service based small business and do your blog as part of your marketing/business development, but when your ‘proper’ job is as a writer also, it has to be stuff that I’m proud of and that does me justice.
But I am working on how I fit my blog schedule into my working (and daily) world a bit better as I really don’t want my boys’ overriding memories of their childhood to be their mum welded to her MacBook.
Green time not screen time!
And I’m also focusing on getting my work life balance in a bit better shape so that I can do my job well but also get to be with the boys; so that yes we do homework together, but we also make time for watching a movie together, play Uno, kick a ball around at the park, read together. And aside from the boys, that I make time for things like a coffee with my school mum mates because the joy of being a freelancer is that your time is your own, but I find that my self-imposed pressure to be doing enough, to do more, to be ‘on’ all the time is far greater than when I was in corporate land and had a boss. As if I have to justify to people (and myself) that I’m super busy and working full time when it’s ok to declare that part time was always the goal and it’s not down to a lack of clients or work or capability. The whole point of working for myself was to be achieve my professional goals but also to be more present with the boys, to be a better mum and to achieve my creative goals. And I lose sight of this more than I should; way more!
So, I’m trying to move away from mindless screen time where possible – for them as well as me – so that we can do the good stuff; and so that I can do more reading, creating and writing for pleasure. And to have more time to be in the moment rather than thinking about what needs to be done and self-flagellating about what didn’t get done yesterday.
Well there are my baby steps towards living a slower life. Does this resonate with you and how do you make sure that you achieve what you want to but in the right way?