Month of Slow

So, here’s the thing: I have been working a lot recently, running my old business, which is a full-time job, and building my new coaching practice here in Seattle. Granted, there are plenty of situations I could be in—and that other people are in—that would be much harder. But truth be told, it’s been taking more of a toll then I expected it to. My body is sending me very clear signals that it’s time to put self-care on top of my agenda for a while. As I know what happens when I don’t (seems like we all need to try that out first before learning), I am listening.

So I am declaring March the “Month of Slow.” Check out what I am doing and maybe you feel like joining me and implementing some of these things too.

Prioritize sleep
Seriously, it doesn’t matter how many businesses you run or how many family members depend on you as their caretaker: If you don’t get enough sleep, you’re not doing any of them a favor. Over the years, I have turned into a bit of a “sleep first” hardliner I admit. Chances are, if you don’t have an infant at home, you can get enough sleep. I’m not saying it’s easy—but it’s certainly possible. It may involve missing out on things to go to bed earlier or setting new boundaries to transfer tasks and duties, true. But it can be done. And trust me on this one, getting enough sleep is a gamechanger. The gamechanger, even.

So, how much sleep is enough? Probably about an hour more than you think would be my best bet. For the longest time, I used to think I am a seven-hours-a-night kind of girl, but now that I have established a relatively strict bedtime routine, I know my body wants eight hours, and some days or weeks even nine. So that’s what I am striving for. And as it’s my Month of Slow, my commitment to myself is: If I can’t get my eight hours at night because I am out beyond my bedtime, I’ll treat myself to a nap the next day. I’m actually looking forward to that.

Do less
I know, doing less in a self-declared Month of Slow sounds like a no-brainer, but I still want to talk about it, because it’s not as easy as it sounds. Personally, I may have broken my phone addiction but I am not kidding myself: I am still a total slave to my to-do list. (The fact that my to-do list is by far the most expensive app I’ve ever bought probably demonstrates the extent of the issue.) On an average day, my to-do list comprises between 15 and 20 items. Some may be small—like sending a specific email—or weekly repeat items—like sharing my Monday blog post on social media. Some are business-related, others private. But pretty much anything I don’t do right away (because it takes longer than 5 minutes, another one of my personal rules), ends up on my to-do list.

This wouldn’t be a problem if I weren’t such a precrastinator (more about that in one of the next blog posts), meaning that I usually do stuff well before it’s due, immediately if possible. Consequently, I am stressing myself out by doing more than necessary on most days. So my plan for March is to not do stuff when I think it should be done but closer to its actual deadline. That won’t turn me into a last-minute person, but it should free up quite a bit of time every day—and reduce my to-do lists to a maximum of 15 items a day, maybe only ten some days. That’s a goal I am absolutely excited about!

Treat yourself
My third action item for the Month of Slow is to treat myself. In my particular case, this usually means time spent outdoors with my dog and time spent alone at a sauna spa. It’s a little ridiculous how rarely I do these things, considering that they only take about two hours each and cost nothing or very little. I bet if you’ve read this far, you’re most likely nodding. Your favorite treat is probably different from mine, but chances are it’s also something you can do in an hour or two and at low or no costs.

So I hope you’ll join me for this Month of Slow and treat yourself a little too! Just once a week, take some time to do something just because you want to do it—and please make it something that’s not your kids’ or partner’s favorite pastime that you have grown to enjoy as well. Be selfish and do something that’s really totally your thing. (If my dog could talk, she’d probably tell you that I have more fun at the huge off-leash area we go to than she does.)

Truth be told, I don’t fully trust myself—yet—to pull off this Month of Slow. But writing about it feels great, so I know I will feel even better seeing it through. “Slow” really isn’t my speed. But seriously, what nicer challenge could there be than taking more time for myself and de-stressing my life a little? So here we go: blog post written, ticked off the to-do list for the day. Next stop: couch. And here’s to a relaxed March!

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