Reflection – 30 days of slowing down

Activity 7 came and went in a blur, which is a little ironic given this was slowing down. I just don’t feel like I did this for 30 days, and maybe that is the power of slowing down?

There were a couple of very simple things that I wanted to try to do in this activity, but the underlying concept was to try to apply the general principle of Slow that Carl Honore outlined in his talk, savouring time instead of counting it.

The things that I had listed for this activity were:

  • meditating
  • stop multi-tasking
  • stop eating lunch at my desk at work
  • enjoying slow food
  • relaxation
  • giving up StumbleUpon

How did each of these tasks work for me?
From the outset I will say that I didn’t do as well in this activity as I had hoped, but that is nothing new really. Having said that I am very happy with the things that I did achieve, and overall I do feel like I was more present and considered in the activities I was undertaking in these 30 days.

Meditation – I think I’ve made enough comments about how this hasn’t been working so well for me in previous activities. It was a little better during this one for two reasons. Firstly, I didn’t plan to do this everyday, which was significantly more realistic. Secondly, and more importantly, I stopped trying to meditate properly. By this I mean that I remembered that meditation is a mindfulness exercise and whilst it required things to be quiet so you can focus on trying to focus on nothing, it doesn’t require me to really be in a darkened room shut away from everything.

So meditation has become something that I do whilst walking from the car to work, or while washing the dishes or hanging out the laundry. I’ve tried to make it more about focusing attention on clearing the endless chatter in my mind and less about where and how I do that. Yes, I have still done some standard meditation as well, but incorporating the process into some of the mundane, daily rituals of life has made it easier for me to practice. I’m calling it pragmatic meditation – not the ideal way to do it, but the way that works for me.

Stop multi-tasking – this was always going to be the hardest thing, and I wouldn’t say that I did it well. Probably the biggest achievement was gaining control over email interruptions by turning off all of my email alerts at work. This meant that it was totally up to me to check for email, rather than being interrupted during other work. This actually took a bit to get used to, as I would be writing a document and every couple of minutes my brain would automatically stop and think about email. However, after 30 days of this activity I can honestly say that sometimes I forget to check email for a couple of hours if I’m really in the zone with the work I’m doing. This is certainly something I’m keeping.

As for other multi-tasking, well I still had the iPad and laptop with me while watching TV at times, but this was usually when I wasn’t really watching TV. I was quite disciplined at not having them if it was a show that I really wanted to watch. What this shows is how often the TV is on as habit/background noise, and there were some times that we just turned it off.

As for not watching TV during dinner, this is always hard because of the time we eat dinner, which is at ABC News time. So we usually still had the news on, but then again there is a lot of news I ignore so we were only partially attentive, if that counts 🙂

Stop eating lunch at my desk – I was pretty successful at making time in my day to leave the office and get some fresh air and time for myself. Sometimes this meant that I did come back and eat lunch at my desk, but I seldom did that while looking at the computer. Usually it was looking out the window and just being in the moment.

I’ve found that this was a really positive change, in the crazy week I had recently I missed being able to take some time for myself, to really slow down a little in my work day. And I know that this might seem like an obvious requirement for many of you, but sometimes common sense is anything but! So this is definitely something I aim to keep going.

Slow Food – we did this a couple of times on the weekends. We went shopping at the farmer’s market twice during the 30 days and had a couple of lovely meals that really practised the principles of slow food. We had done this a little with 30 days of an Asian diet as well, and it is something that we need to remember to do more regularly, because it is nice to be mindful about preparing and consuming food, rather than the usual quickly cook and eat that we do of a weeknight.

Relaxation – this was generally achieved with the other tasks that I was doing, but there were some days that I had to focus a little more on making time to relax. I would generally think about this as I was driving home from work in the afternoon, whether I felt that I had taken time to relax during the day or if I had to do something in the evening. Having that little bit of focus on making time to relax does shift your thinking, and I think this is something I will try to keep in my mind as well.

Giving up StumbleUpon – this would have to be a fail but, you knew that there was a but in here, I did do this for the first ten days. And after that it was probably only about 5 or 6 times during the whole activity. So I don’t think that I did too bad, given that it is something of an addiction 🙂

Overall analysis
I mentioned in the last day that I do feel more relaxed at the end of this activity. I know that this doesn’t happen in a vacuum and that outside influences, as well as the stresses I’m putting myself under in this project, all play a part in those feelings. But I do feel more centred and generally relaxed after these 30 days and I think that this activity has had an impact on that. Maybe it was just well placed amongst all of the other activities, but it has helped revitalise and re-energise me in some ways.

Like the 30 days of the 3 A’s I think that this is the sort of activity that everyone should do. Even if there are only a couple of things that I am able to take forward into my daily life, taking 30 days to really think about the things you are doing and focusing on individual tasks is very powerful. Thank you for helping me understand that Carl.

Forgot one thing: the other thing that this activity prompted me to finally organise for myself is the reduction of hours to a 9 day fortnight. I should hopefully get to start this during the pay period and I can’t wait to have an extra day a fortnight just for me and the things I want to achieve. I’m thinking of dedicating most of that time to something that will support the outcome of Activity 6, but I’ll post more about that when I know what I’m doing.

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