- Could you cook dinner, supervise homework, do a set of squats, clean the kitchen benches and have a phone conversation?
- Could you drive, listen to a business webinar, put your makeup on at traffic lights and do your pelvic floor exercises?
- Could you scoff a sandwich, edit a report, chat on-and-off with a colleague and stretch your legs after a pre-lunch jog?
Sure you could, right? And more!
When I was a kid, there was a well-known advertising campaign built around the catchphrase: ‘Life. Be in it’. It encouraged pin-up slob, Norm, to ditch the beer and the TV and get active.
Thirty years on, it’s as if a big bunch of people have taken this idea and run rings around it. ‘Life be in it’ indeed! Hah! We’re living by a new maxim now: ‘Life. Thrash it to bits.’
I have a friend who was last seen skimming over the surface of her world like a first-time ice skater – desperately trying to stay upright, clutching at passers-by – heading for a spectacular crash. It was thrilling for a while - living on fast forward, ‘having it all’. Then it was wearing. Irritating. Too much.
She would collapse into bed each night - physically spent and desperate for sleep, which is when her racing mind would kick in with its insomnia-provoking ritual of picking over the ‘undone’ on the to-do list – a vulture that wouldn’t let its prey alone.
But wait! There’s more. And more. And more...
‘Gaah! Stop the world...’ she would plead. ‘Everything’s frantic! Crazy busy! Insane!’
And yet there are people whose experience of life is quite different from this. Quite ‘sane’. Very ‘devoid’ of skating wildly on thin ice, screaming ‘Look at m-eeee...’ Clunk! Repeat.
These people are calm. They’re comfortable in their own skin. They’re getting somewhere towards their goals.
They sleep. They eat. They exercise.
They see their friends. They have ‘me time’.
They have space.
These people are motivated, inspired, excited, satisfied, and they laugh – a lot. They’re ‘present’ in their own lives - living deep, not fast.
More often than not, the people I meet who have life balance ‘sorted’ have done so after a wake-up call that nobody would choose to experience. Something, or someone, plucked them unceremoniously from the dazzling, chaotic merry-go-round of life and dumped them on the cold, unforgiving pavement beside it. Hard.
And, while they scrambled to their feet again - as they glanced up, they developed a vastly different perspective on the ride. They’re not seen queuing up for another turn. They won’t risk being spat out again.
‘Something has to change...’
It’s a phrase I hear so often from my clients. Desperate people call for ... well, measures that aren’t that desperate, actually. Which often comes as a pleasant relief.
Feeling completely ‘over it’ right now? Here are three easy ways to get off the ice and onto more stable footings:
Choose one thing and do only that. Much of our frustration while multi-tasking comes from having to frequently ‘shift gears’.
Create ‘white space’
Between tasks, or appointments, build in some ‘white space’ in your diary. You’ll get more done by doing less, and allowing a few minutes to re-charge and to re-group your thoughts and priorities.
Be 100% present
Whatever you’re doing at any one time, focus exclusively on it.
- Hide-and-Seek with the kids? Immerse yourself, instead of folding the washing and listening for the blackberry.
- Lunch? Put the magazine down and focus on the tastes, the textures and the flavours.
- Work? Shut off email and other distractions, including that nagging inner voice that may be whingeing at you to be elsewhere.
Life becomes more meaningful and productive when we learn to absorb ourselves in activities more deeply, single-mindedly and purposefully.
It may be easier to lose the frazzle than you think.
It’s your life. Be in it
Emma Grey is the author of Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum (Lothian, 2005). Her training consultancy, www.worklifebliss.com.au, throws a lifeline to women who are struggling to ‘have it all’ and she offers a free eBook on the site, called ‘The 7 Types of Busy: how to untangle yourself from having too much’. Emma has three children and two step-children – two young adults, a teen, a tween and a toddler. She’s two books in, writing a teen-fiction trilogy (no vampires) and loves travel, social networking and ABBA tribute nights and she blogs every so often at www.emmacatherinegrey.blogspot.com.