Health Advocate Blog

Make time for what matters most

Today, many people are so busy multitasking, keeping up with an overload of information and multiple obligations, or acquiring and maintaining their “stuff,” that they have little time left to figure out if these activities truly have any meaning in their life. Sometimes it’s just easier to go along with habits than to find alternatives that could allow more time for pursuits that could make you feel more alive, inspired, connected, and that truly uses your talents.  The start of the new year is a great time to start making small changes that can free up space for focusing more on what really matters–whether it’s engaging with good friends, pursuing a new hobby or an artistic or musical interest, eating better, getting fit or just enjoying more sunsets! Try these tips:

Get out of the multitasking trap. Doing multiple things at once – checking your phone while chatting with a friend while streaming videos, for example—can actually make you less productive. Often, many tasks are left only half done or abandoned altogether. Plus, in an effort to be more social and informed all at once, you can be left feeling more isolated and less informed…and possibly burned out! Try this instead: Focus on being mindfully present–fully engaged on the task at hand–whether it’s a conversation with your sibling, sending an email, or walking your dog in the woods. Remember, focusing on what matters most is not about doing more things, but doing more of the right things.

Begin combating distractions. Being constantly connected to digital devices can rob you of the opportunity to truly enjoy your time off, hold a deep conversation, savor a meal or focus on your work. Try cutting down on the tabs and multiple windows open on your device. Remove the email app from your phone, or check it only at predefined periods. Disable as many notifications and news feeds as possible.

Take your vacation! Vacations are not negotiable luxuries, but are crucial for maintaining good health and enjoying an enriched life. Taking even a modest vacation can give your body a break from chronic stress that can contribute to anxiety, depression, insomnia and other ills. Whether it’s a road trip through majestic parks or discovering the vibrancy of a shimmering city, you’ll create meaningful memories as well as free up mental space for dreaming, creativity, and inviting ideas about how to include more meaningful activities in your day-to-day life.

Cut back on nonessential things. Before purchasing another gadget, decorative item or piece of clothing you may not need, or container or shelving unit to stash your growing collection of stuff, or even a fancy cleaning or home maintenance tool to maintain its upkeep, ask yourself this: “am I choosing or living with material goods I don’t use, need or love?” Take an inventory and begin to pare down. Donating, recycling or discarding the non-essentials—and pausing to reflect when buying things–can result in freeing up time and space for the things that matter.

Each day, carve out time in your daily routine for important, meaningful activities. Maybe you’ve determined it’s yoga, spending time with a loved one, taking a run or creative writing. If you don’t consciously decide to slot these things in your normal routine, your day can easily fill up with those activities that don’t add value, like checking social media.