5 Simple Ways To Do More Without Killing Yourself

Photo by [NEOSiAM 2020](https://www.pexels.com/@neo8iam?utm_content=attributionCopyText&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=pexels) from [Pexels](https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-s-hands-covered-with-blood-673862/?utm_content=attributionCopyText&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=pexels)Photo by NEOSiAM 2020 from Pexels How to manage the chaos called life

“Only in recent history has ‘working hard’ signaled pride rather than shame” — Nassim Taleb

There’s great pride in the hustle. In the 4-hour sleep days.

I get it. Desperate situations need desperate measures. At some point, we all work hard, sacrifice downtime, relationship, and general life satisfaction.

The problem is when it becomes a norm rather than an exception. And it doesn’t take long for these bad habits to creep in.

You start working past 9 pm because you’ve to deliver a project before the seemingly impossible deadline. A week goes by and you’re still working past 9 pm. Why? Because “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” I didn’t say this, Parkinson did.

To aid the benefits of downtime and to induce stillness in our lives, it’s time to rewind and reorder.

The following tips have helped me manage the chaos in my life, and if applied thoughtfully, they’ll help you too.

Take Moments Throughout the Day to Center Yourself

There’s a new trend that has taken the world by a storm — micro mindfulness. It’s one of the best practices to avoid overstimulation and draw your attention back to the present moment.

It’s mindfulness for the A-type, always-on people who need to seriously relax. The trick is simple — take short breaks 2–3 times a day to center yourself, calm down, and get a new perspective on things.

It helps you connect to your higher self to avoid making egoic decisions. So often we get lost in the drama going on around us. All you need is to zoom out and get perspective. You need to get still.

Rising above the drama helps you realize how ridiculous it often is. You can then take a variety of factors into consideration before taking action.

There’s also valid science to back it up. When you take these short mindful breaks, you activate your parasympathetic nervous system instead of the sympathetic nervous system. The former induces a sense of calmness and even-mindedness in your life. Whereas, the latter puts you in the fight-or-flight mode.

Take a slow walk. No phones, no earplugs. Just you. Brownie points if you can walk barefoot on grass.

Do a 10-minute guide meditation from apps like Headspace, Calm or YouTube

Next time you’re in the shower, feel the sensation of the water hitting your forehead and then different parts of your body.

There are plentiful mindfulness opportunities throughout the day. You just have to find them.

Prioritization 101

Long lists, endless tasks and overwhelm are the characteristics of most work environments. You’re always trying to catch up with your to-do list which is longer than your toilet roll.

But it doesn’t have to be that way — because long lists never get done. They’re just guilt trips. You know you can’t ever finish them but the high-achiever inside you doesn’t want to quit.

You knock-off 10 items but 90 others are still left. Don’t piss on your own parade to destroy your motivation.

Break them up into 10 lists for instance, and take the list one at a time. I’d argue that even 10 tasks are too much for the day. Pick the 3 most important ones and maybe 5–7 small tasks which take around 15 minutes to complete.

Once you do that, only focus on the top item. Write that task on a separate sheet and hide your list. You don’t want the whole list staring at you throughout the day. This is prioritization 101.

It’ll effectually improve your confidence, concentration, and satisfaction.

Rest Actively

“Restorative daytime naps, insight-generating long walks, vigorous exercise, and lengthy vacations aren’t unproductive distractions, they help creative people do their work. […] Rest is not work’s adversary. Rest is work’s partner. They complement and complete each other.” — Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

You didn’t think we’d skip rest, did you? If you’ve been working on 3 top-priority tasks throughout the day, you can call it a day.

The fact of the matter is, you need to tackle difficult tasks at work every day. But if you don’t rest, your willpower will not work. And you’ll fall back into the same routine of unimportant tasks and long lists.

There’s a lot of misconception about what rest means. For most, it’s scrolling through social media, watching TV or Netflix, and drinking. (Or any other vice you like to indulge in)

These are energy-suckers. They give you a short-term dopamine hit but deplete you inside. These hollow pleasures will soon turn into addictions if you don’t take action now.

Replace them with quality rest like meditation, walking, swimming, running, hiking, spending time with family, etc. Pick an activity that you’ll not skip.

Allow Moments of Stillness and Boredom to Enter Your Life

Do you check your phone when you’re standing in a queue for 5 mins? If the answer is yes, you’re not comfortable with boredom.

And that’s not good. We’re taught to avoid boredom from time to time — to work on something exciting that fuels the fire. But when it comes to productivity, it’s absolutely key.

Some of your days will go great. You’ll be filled with passion, and happiness because they work is just right. Not too hard, not too easy, but just right. You may even enter the elusive Flow state.

But that is the exception. Tasks like planning, filing taxes, admin tasks, and even some creative tasks can be terribly boring. These are the times when you’re battling with your brain to resist the urge to check Facebook or to take a coffee break.

This is why being okay with boredom and stillness is important. People get so uncomfortable in silence. They put on headphones tout de suite to ease their feeling — to escape reality. And while small doses of escapism are fine, it should never become a habit.

When you willfully forge moments of boredom, you’ll realize how much junk information you consume. The more junk you put into your mind, the more time it needs to clean it out.

So how can you implement this in your life?

Next time when you’re driving, don’t turn on the music. When you’re bored with a show on TV, don’t check your phone. When you’re chatting with someone over IM, don’t hastily switch back to Facebook until they reply.

Being bored is the key to living a good life.

You Are Not the Doer

Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself — Arthur Conan Doyle

At the risk of sounding too spiritual, you’re not the one who’s doing the work — God is doing it through you.

Whether you call it God or the Universe or Energy doesn’t matter (every religion and philosophy has a different name for this). But there’s a higher presence above all of us that is guiding every action. And once you open yourself up to His power, you’ll realize you can do much more.

As Ryan Holiday says in his book Stillness is the Key, “[it] isn’t really about God. It’s about surrender. It’s about faith.” When you recognize this higher power within you, there’s no more “I”.

The whole life we’re trapped in “I”. “I” did this. “I” worked really hard today. “I” is your ego. And with the ego, you can gain only so much. But when you allow the higher power to step in, you’ll be amazed to see how you flow effortlessly through life.

It doesn’t mean life becomes easy. It means you become powerful. Acknowledge that there’s something bigger at play here. Bigger than all of us. It’s the root of deep peace.

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Written on August 2, 2020