Sometimes when I’m busy and on the go, I feel stressed about it and other times not so much. What makes the difference? Usually, if I’m truly present while on the go, I feel fine about it. It’s when my mind starts to spin out into all of the OTHER things that I’m not doing at that moment that I get stressed.
Thus my advice to those on the go is… be there. Be on the go.
We can only do one thing at a time, and sometimes we’ve committed in a way that makes it feel desirable to be getting many things done all at the same time. It’s not desirable.
Research shows that multi-tasking is actually just time slicing and that we are less efficient and effective at all of those multiple tasks when we multitask. Humans are not parallel processing machines. So it’s time to stop doing that.
Instead, really be there and do what you are doing. Catching a plane, train, bus or getting in the car? Be in that process. On the way to your next meeting? Be on the way, not rehearsing the meeting that’s coming or re-hashing the last one. Wishing you could take a break? Use the next five breaths to do nothing except breathe – actually take a very short break.
Single tasking on everything you do is actually a form of mindfulness. Yes, it can be that simple. If you are aware of what you are doing truly in the present moment, you can make anything a mindfulness practice. Even a few minutes a day can increase your wellbeing and reduce that feeling of stress or overwhelm.
Take Time to Make Time
Maybe you are not one of those who wants to reduce your feeling of stress. Many of my “A” type friends have told me “I don’t want to reduce my stress; that is what keeps me going.” That’s fine, but if you don’t feel you have time to be mindful, you almost certainly don’t have time NOT to be mindful.
Being focused improves your productivity. I am living proof of that. Now that I’ve mostly replaced procrastination and dithering with mindful focus on the task at hand, I get things done in a fraction of the time I did a few years ago. When I feel stuck or overwhelmed, I can usually get back to it after a quick break of mindful awareness and self-compassion.
Mindfulness On the Go
Part of the confusion is that many people think mindfulness is only meditation practice. Carving out 20 minutes or more each day for formal practice is wonderful, but not always practical. Especially during the workday, you may not get even 10 minutes of quiet time.
So be present – really paying attention in the present moment to what you are doing. When you are on the go – notice what you are doing, how you feel, what your senses bring you. When you can, take a few quiet breaths between activities too. Know that mindfulness is not just the formal practice – but being there as a witness to the details of your everyday, busy life.
The next moment will come – be there for that one too. If you are caught in the future or the past, you can’t be in the present. If you are craving calm – or busyness – rather than accepting what is there, you are missing the pleasure you can get in that moment.
Be there. On a break, or on the go. It’s the place to be where you can have impact!