We live in an achievement-oriented society, where being “busy” is practically a religion. Sure, we’re getting stuff done, but we often forget about the healing power of sitting around in our pajamas and doing nothing. This time is good for us because it allows us to actually like our lives and just be. And by “just be,” I don’t mean meditating or writing in a gratitude journal. I mean watching TV with one eye and buying joggers online with the other. This time feels good—and when I get enough of it, I’m nicer, happier and less resentful of others.
So how do we get more chill time? Start doing less. Here’s how.
1. Face Reality
I used to have an app that let me list all my daily goals and check them off. My ultimate goal was to have an “every goal day,” where I checked off everything from “walk to work” to “draw” to “cook.” I eventually realized this was impossible. No one has a Hermione time travel watch (as far as I know…) so admit defeat to the pressure to do everything. Do some things. That’s enough.
2. Spread Your Goals Throughout the Week
Once you’ve admitted that you can’t do everything, settle on doing just one thing that matters to you every day. Cook on Monday. Go to barre class on Tuesday. Paint on Wednesday. If you do more than one thing, awesome job! You rule! But you don’t have to.
The psychology of why we don’t trust other people to help us with basic things is beyond me. Maybe it’s pride, selflessness or because they don’t do it *exactly* the way we do, and that, for some reason, is bad. I get caught up in these hurdles constantly. Try to look at what keeps you from asking for help from your family, friends, and co-workers, and make it a point to get past it.
4. Pay Someone to Do Something, and Don’t Feel Bad About It
The New York Times recently reported on a study that found that people who spend money on time-saving purchases (e.g., lawn mowing or food delivery) over material things reported a higher sense of well-being. If you save, say, $30 a month, you can possibly get one task you hate off of your plate. If someone gives you a hard time, who cares? If it makes you happier, tell them so.
5. Say No More Often
So-and-so’s brother is in a fun run. A band you liked in high school is in town. Someone from yoga is having a summer solstice party. There are countless opportunities to do things, but how many opportunities are there to do nothing? Not enough! I used to get caught in the trap of saying yes to everything unless I felt like I had a legitimate excuse not to, and my friends would get annoyed when I would eventually get overextended and flake. Just flake from the start—at least it’s honest! Plus, then you can spend more time with your dog, your baby, or your TV.
6. Quit Something
Can you imagine how stressful life would be if you never quit anything? I was on a Taekwondo sparring team as a teenager and I used to spend a fair portion of my school days worrying about whether or not I’d get punched in the throat. When I eventually quit, a huge source of stress left my life. Look at what you can leave behind, whether it’s an expensive fitness class, a less-than-rewarding job or a toxic relationship. Say sayonara, and never look back.
7. Care Less
I know this sounds sacrilegious—what would happen if you weren’t emotionally invested in everything?! Well, possibly good things. Let’s look at your job. How much are you counting on it to Justify Your Very Existence as a Human on This Earth? A little bit? A lotta bit? And if that’s the case, does it make things like taking feedback really hard, because your entire sense of self-worth is rolled up in how well you do? A healthy sense of emotional distance can give you the perspective that helps you stay afloat when things go sour. Plus, if you care less about the day-to-day, you might just find yourself with more energy to fight the battles that really matter.
Becky Lang is a writer, creative director and occasional podcaster living in Minneapolis. She also likes to draw dogs and female protagonists.
BY Becky Lang - September 22, 2017
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Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.
Love the tips! I practice most of these too. Spacing my list over time really helps me makes me feel less overwhelmed.
Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
This was exactly the article I needed to read today- thank you! I also have a really hard time saying no to fun things unless I physically can’t go, and I also end up getting stressed and flaking or arriving late because of it. Here’s to making goals about NOT doing things haha
I used to feel bad to pay someone to do something. That’s so true. I still feel bad but not as bad as I used to. I love reading this.
YES! Face reality had me laugh out loud because it’s so true! I need to spread my goals throughout the week, that would help me from trying to do too much all in the same day.
I loved this post ! I’m all about productivity and organization but sometimes I get overwhelmed and end up doing nothing and feeling like a failure. I still want to be a productive but I’ll take these tips for my well-being and plan less things and try to get at least a day a week on which I don’t do anything (except from uni because this is something I can’t skip haha) and also work on asking help because that’s something I never do.
What a great article! We read a lot about how to become a yes-person and how that will open all kinds of doors for us. I love that you went the other route. Saying yes has never been a problem for me. It’s saying NO, in order to take time for myself, that’s the hard one! Love, love this piece!!!
Wonderful post! I often plan to be too ambitious…New recipes that take a lot of time to make, exercise, get out with the kids, etc. Then I remember it’s okay if we just play at home, eat pasta, and go to be early.
LOVE this! Needed this. Thank you!