There are jobs and then there are careers. When you’re working at a job, you watch the clock. When you’re building your career, you get done what needs to be done. When you have a job, it’s the last thing you wanna think about when you have time off. When it comes to your career, you’re up late at night with great new ideas.
While building up a career for yourself does have its infinite benefits, it can be difficult to switch off and give yourself some much needed down time. Technology complicates things. Having your own personal phone that you carry around everywhere means that you’re constantly on call. People expect a response from you immediately. Family can be just as unforgiving.
So how can we ever truly relax? While I’m taking some time to myself, I still have trouble living in the present. I’m thinking about what could be popping up on my screen, or about how early I’ll have to get out of bed tomorrow. How do we stop thinking about what we could be doing, while we should be focusing on what we are doing?
It takes discipline. It takes re-learning. Funnily enough; it takes communication. This is what I find helps:
Tell Others That You’re Having “Me Time”
Who you communicate this to will be different for everyone. If you’re taking a long bath and don’t want to be disturbed, just let who you’re living with know. If you’re taking a break from social media and won’t be posting for a weekend, let your followers know. Taking a break isn’t a sign of weakness and people will appreciate the honesty and openness.
Use Your Commute to Your Advantage
It takes me about an hour and a half to get to work. That’s 3 hours there and back on public transport and I love it. I take time to myself. I make sure I’ve downloaded a podcast the night before, I look out the window and I listen. No looking at screens. No thinking about where I’m going or what I did that day. Traveling is an in-between state of limbo where you can be anyone and think anything. Enjoy it. We spend so much time doing it.
This is the only time when you can truly be you. I suppose it’s another in-between state of limbo. I’m never in any sort of mood when I’m by myself, I’m just being. It’s very calming and freeing. Again, try it with no screens and no communication with anyone who isn’t in your direct surroundings. Ever had a solo dance party in an empty house? Just take time to exist with yourself.
Pay Attention to the Smaller Things
This is another point about living in the present. There is so much going on everyday, so much beauty, that we take for granted. Stop for a minute, take a breath and notice it. Give your beloved pet (or partner) some cuddles. Are the leaves on the trees a slightly different colour than they were last week? What shapes are the clouds today? Notice how pretty the room looks when the sunlight hits it a certain way?
Keep a Clean and Tidy Home
This one goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway. Tidy house; tidy mind. Also, regularly sort through your stuff and donate the things that you don’t need or want anymore. It’ll be like a weight has been lifted, trust me. At this point, go ahead and buy yourself some flowers for the coffee table! You’ve earnt it (don’t forget to notice how lovely they smell).
Essentially, you need to know how you personally allocate your time. Certain activities need to be for certain thoughts. Work = work. Play = play. Create some rules for yourself.
Have alone time and really immerse yourself in it.
Photo: kvs artistry