Slow the eff down

Sound familiar? A lot of us feel like we’re moving at a hundred miles a minute but not accomplishing nearly enough. That’s why Claire is here to tell us how sprinting from one task to the next is killing your productivity and making you feel like crap. (Luckily, there’s a solution.) Listen up!

slow the eff down

As I type this, I am trying to move at 100 miles a minute, in about 20 different directions.

This is not a joke. Since beginning this post, I have:

  • Eaten an after-dinner snack (okay, several after-dinner snacks)
  • Done laundry
  • Answered emails
  • Made tea
  • Scrolled through Instagram roughly 47 times

Honestly, though? None of these tasks were done well, and just as importantly, none of them have made me feel the way I want to feel.

For all of the time I’ve spent trying to keep myself busy, clean and satiated this evening, I’ve accomplished embarrassingly little.

How many of your days look exactly like this?

If you, like me, spend your precious time struggling to complete what really counts toward accomplishing your Big Life Goals, it may be time to:

Slow down. Take a breath. Look more closely at whose agenda you’re following.

When I say “whose agenda,” here, I’m not implying that you’re taking orders from another person; what I actually mean is that you’re allowing a noisy little voice in your head to run the show.

Because believe it or not, we’re all catering to two agendas: our own, and our egos’.

Our own agendas are full of inspiring, life-changing plans, like:

  • Create a work of art that truly moves someone
  • Treat my body with the love and respect it deserves, so that it looks and feels awesome
  • Build a career that’s challenging, fulfilling and makes a difference in the world

Our egos’ agendas are full of self-centered, instant-gratification plans, like:

  • Binge-watch Orange Is the New Black
  • Get some Very Important Email Answering done
  • Take a nap

Neither of these agendas are inherently good or bad; they both simply revolve around a core of desired feelings. The major difference, however, is that our agendas are rooted in bravery and the embracing of challenge, while our egos’ agendas are rooted in comfort and the avoidance of pain.

Creating a work of art—or, in this case, a blog post worth reading—will ultimately bring me satisfaction, pride, and the joy of collaboration with a writer I deeply admire (hi, Cassie!). First, however, it has brought feelings of fear that what I write will be crap, and frustration at the fact that the words aren’t materializing as easily as I’d like.

Only by slowing the fuck down, feeling those scary emotions and moving through them do I have any chance of accomplishing my goal tonight.

Instead, however, I’ve chosen to run from them for the past three hours. And my ego has happily stepped in to help me.

This irritating little ego still wanted to feel proud and productive, but it didn’t want to deal with the tough stuff. So it picked easier options. How about the laundry? it said. Oh, and look, you have new Facebook notifications. Those are probably important. You should check them off the list!

And so I did. And now I have clean underwear and know that three people “liked” a photo I posted yesterday.

But have I really accomplished anything? Have I connected with anyone? Did it matter?

Um, resounding NOPE up in here.

To experience the deep fulfillment and feelings of helpfulness that spring from creating something worthwhile, I’ve first had to:

  • Admit to myself that yes, I’m scared, and yes, I’m frustrated.
  • Actually FEEL those feelings for a minute. Hang around with them. Let them wear themselves out.
  • Put my fingers on the keyboard and do the damn work.

By sloooooowing doooooown and accepting those emotions you’re so used to running from—those flutterings of dread before a workout, the overwhelm of launching a new product, the nervousness that no one will connect with your art—you’ll actually be able to get more done, and you’ll be better at what you’re doing.

Keep trying to numb those feelings, and your ego will gleefully help you overeat, put that new product on hold indefinitely, send lots of tweets, texts and snapchats, then settle in for a nap.

And you. will. be. stuck.

The next time you’re feeling busybusybusy but aren’t actually getting anything done, stop for a second. Put down the phone/laptop/cookie.

Ask yourself: How do I feel right now? And how do I want to feel?

If “how do I feel?” results in a negative answer—afraid, frustrated, hurt, angry—don’t rush to block it out. Let it wash over you. Try to live inside it for a second; what does it feel like, physically? Is your stomach clenched? Are your knuckles white? Do you need a few seconds to punch your pillow, or to cry it out? Do what it takes to get comfortable with that emotion—once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to move through it in peace.

Once that’s finished, you can focus on the good stuff: if you want to feel accomplished, you’re smart enough to know that a nap won’t provide that result. If you want to feel healthy and vibrant, the package of Oreos does not hold the answer.

You know what needs to happen to move closer to your dream life. Rushing from one activity to the next in an effort to avoid discomfort is not it. 

I’d love to know, though—what is?

What plans from your agenda are you going to tackle today, and what plans from your ego’s are you going to happily kiss goodbye?

 

 

Claire Suellentrop

Claire Suellentrop wants to live in a world where her friends pursue their bucket list dreams with reckless abandon, where they give their all to doing what they love, and where their health and well-being aren’t compromised in the process. As the health coach behind Eat Well. Party Hard., she’s passionate about creating opportunities for people to grow and thrive, and fuels her own crazy life with a plant-based diet, black coffee and whiskey. Her ebook, Killer Confidence: Anywhere + At Any Weight is available (for free!) right here.

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Comments

  1. Just what I needed to read today as that’s how i feel just about everyday – pulled in all sorts of directions with 5000 things on my mind at any given moment. Especially at work, when I’m sitting here I just feel like I need to multitask tenfold and it makes me mentally very exhausted by the time I depart. My plans for today is to read my blog feeds and take it easy since I was rushing and running ragged yesterday. Today taking slowing it down! Beautifully written Claire! Have a great one ladies -Iva

    • Totally get what you mean re: needing to multitask at work. My last job centered around communicating with college students throughout the day, so my boss actually insisted that my coworkers and I keep Twitter, Facebook and our email open at all times. Aagh! WORST way to get anything done. Hope today’s been more mindful and less exhausting than yesterday 🙂

  2. Oh my goodness. This post is so relevant. It’s almost a picture of my life. I KNOW that scrolling through Instagram every 5 minutes is not going to make me feel any more productive, yet I STILL DO IT. I’m slowing learning to pull back the reins + seriously, slow the eff down. Thank you for having Claire over here to share this! Loved it!

    • Seconding that thanks to Cassie! Sarah, when I dig deep into WHY I’m checking Instagram/Facebook/email (which, um, I just did WHILE typing this comment), I find that it’s usually because I want to feel like I can cross something off my list–like, okay, I’ve seen everyone’s photos, NOW it’s time to do some work. That, or I want to feel connected to someone/something–though actually DOING the work would forge a way deeper connection than just “liking” someone’s photo.

      Anyway, cheers to putting down the phones and doing the damn work 😉

  3. This is so interesting. I think people can be very different. I’m someone who is always busybusybusy and I’ve always been like that. I’ve tried slowing down and having a normal schedule. It killed my productivity because when I take things at a normal pace I over analyze everything, and that is exhausting. I’m not someone other people want to be around when I slow down. When I’m busy I can only obsess so much over each thing, which gives me perspective I don’t have otherwise. When time is limited, I’m also more aware of it being precious and less likely to squander it. But because I constantly have a lot going on (e.g. working/school 7 days a week) some of my projects get behind my ideal schedule. That’s okay with me. I’ll get around to them again when I feel like it. 🙂

    • You bring up a great point, Chantelle–I think there’s definitely a difference between being productive-busy, and distracted-busy. It sounds like you’re a productive-busy kind of person, which is awesome. I tend to easily become a distracted-busy person throughout the day by letting stuff that makes me feel fake-productive (reading Feedly, checking social media, hovering over my email account) get in the way of what would be ACTUALLY productive (writing, pitching clients, completing a biz audit).

  4. There is definitely a difference between being busy and being productive. And I’ve been running around like a busy body instead of writing my dissertation. So this was a hard BUT IMPORTANT pep talk to hear. Thanks so much. 🙂

    I am supposed to do this damn thing, but I keep cleaning “because my house needs to be clean before I can write.” That’s a bunch of shit. Ha.

    Thanks for the kick in the ass, I really needed it.

    • “I am supposed to do this damn thing, but I keep cleaning ‘because my house needs to be clean before I can write.'” Dude, we are so on the same page. My train of thought is usually “My kitchen needs to be clean before I can write, my bathroom needs to be clean before I can answer all these emails, my bathroom needs to be clean before I can…” etc. etc. Such a waste of time, haha. Good luck with the dissertation!

  5. I definitely need this today. I have a long summer stretching ahead of me and many things I want to accomplish. I am learning to be more focused and productive in those little pockets of free time. It’s a process, though.

  6. This is such a great post, and a fantastic topic! I am so easily distracted by shiny Internet things that sometimes it takes me FOR-EV-AH to get started on any task, especially when it comes to work. I love the idea of figuring out why we’re putting off doing what we need to do, honoring that feeling, and moving past it to accomplish that task. That is such an important piece to the puzzle and can only help our productivity & focus once we sort it all out!

  7. love this post, cassie! thank you 🙂

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  2. […] If you’re ready to start eating healthier + cutting out the junk, but are just too overwhelmed by everything else on your plate, go say hi to Cassie. […]

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