How Balance in Life is About Boxes

 

The science shows how multitasking isn’t really a thing. Our brains switch quickly from one task to another, yet we are never simultaneously thinking about two separate things at the exact same moment.

So it doesn’t make sense to try to live like we are able to multitask.

Leading a more balanced life isn’t about having two items on the same scale and weighing them equally. It is about only having one item on the scale and allowing it to weigh in fully.

 

I describe this with the metaphor of boxes. Think of all the important areas of your life, like work, family, personal goals, etc, each as their own box. In the ‘family box’ are all the activities that are required for a good, healthy family life.

The key is only having one box open at a time to play in fully and recognising you need to carefully put the lid on one box and store it before pulling out and opening the next.

 

This mental act of putting the box away signifies the space between, also termed the ‘third space’ by Dr Adam Fraser. It is the space between two different tasks/areas of your life, where you reset yourself. In this space between you release all that was going on with the first box, into that box and close the lid. Then ready to be fully present you can open your next box.

I have found and have coached people in using this tool which has proved extremely helpful in stressful situations.  When working on the stressful item, open the box and be fully in that box working on the task to effectively work through it, but when it is time to put it away pack it up fully so you don’t take it with you into other areas of your life.

 

Another consideration is how often each box is coming out. 

It isn’t healthy to spend most of your time in the ‘online world box’ and only short amounts in the ‘sleep box’. Nor can you spend all your time in the ‘work box’ and little in the ‘family box’.

But special projects do come along in life and one box may be out more often than the others for a while. As long as it is balanced in the long run this is healthy.  For example, you may have a large work or personal project you are pouring yourself into for a couple months. But in doing so you know you will dedicate more time to the family later such as scheduling a vacation.

 

To be mindful, present and find more simplicity in these crazy times:

Keep one box open at a time.

Mentally put away the box before opening the next.

Ensure over the medium to longer term all boxes are opened regularly.

 

 

P.S. If you want a ‘social media box’ have one but don’t take it to dinner with you and open it at the table.

The Space Between Pursuing Everything and Pursuing Nothing

I find most people are in one of two categories. They are either trying to do everything or nothing much.

There is no right or wrong.

There is no big life rule that says you must push yourself to achieve all you can possibly achieve, nor is there any rule that says you must spend your down time as just that and nothing else.

Yet, we guilt ourselves no matter our situation.

Those chillin cats savouring the fruits of their laborious working hours with slow walks, a good TV series and a number of well read books are watching the busy bees pondering if they should also be striving to achieve in their downtime.

For the busy bees, there is guilt in not achieving enough, fast enough or successfully enough with the flipside guilt they are not getting enough downtime, whilst asking them self, ‘What is the most productive way to have downtime?’

I am a busy bee and I do look on a little enviously at the relaxing downtime of those chillin cats. But I acknowledge I cannot sit still for long periods of time. My ideas would swell inside until I burst.

Just a someone who enjoys their unscheduled downtime should definitely dive into that guilt free.

I appreciate the calm and steadiness someone who can chill brings into my life. I need them. They balance me. Just like I need other busy bees to buzz around with sometimes.

There is no doubt the chilling cats need a buzzer to sometimes pull them along. But they also need times with other chillin cats to be at ease without having to discuss what to do, how to do it or where to go.

The key is losing the guilt and finding your unique flow into one, the other and the spaces in between as it works for you.

It is important to check in with yourself to make sure you are ok; you are not running yourself ragged, nor are you letting life’s dreams float on by.

All in all, being the person you are is the perfect way to be.

There is no guilt in being who you are; a busy bee or a chillin cat – just be you.

 

Photo:  Jorunn Lorenzen

Minimal Living Beyond Possessions

 

I didn’t just want less stuff.

In fact at my core, embarking on minimalism was about ‘things’ the least.

I had just come out of a very rough patch in life, my heart was broken and my so called life-direction had blown away in the hurricane that followed. I hadn’t been truly in touch with who I was for a good decade and as a result I had no idea what I, as just ‘me’, now wanted out of life.

When I moved on with only essentials I was unconsciously peeling back the layers of the life that had just been dismantled in an effort to try to find ‘me’.

‘Me’  wasn’t something I could tap into easily, or in any short timeframe.  I realised I had to allow the process that time gifts, reveal more of me, one piece at a time.

In the moments of change that left my legs collapsed beneath me, down there on the ground I began to uncover the girl I was once; independent, creative and full of wonder. My joy in being, my excitement for the world and all its people had been tossed aside over the years which I realised was one of my most fulfilling expressions.

The weight that lifted from freeing myself from commitments and possessions provided the opportunity to start exploring how to live the life I had only dreamed of.

The most amazing discovery was that it was only a little bit of readjusting away.

 

We get caught up in what a dream life is. We think it is shooting for the stars and dismiss going for it, when in fact, if we sit down and map it out, it is often just a few short tweeks away.

 

Living intentionally cost me what I thought was hard to give up, but in fact I learnt I was yearning to give up the mindless shop wandering, an overflowing, complicated wardrobe, confusion in self-fulfilment, a bad diet, an unhealthy lifestyle, no time for self development, and the debt that comes with wanting more, rather than appreciating more.

I wanted  peace.

I wanted simplicity.

I wanted days of intention and focus, where peaceful energy flowed.

And, I got all of these and more in return for just making the room for them to arrive.

 

It has been a long journey and I now know it will be a lifelong one. For as we grow and change, so I now know to come back to centre often and check in.

I do stumble, I make mistakes, take wrong turns but I have learnt to make my peace, learn the lesson and forgive myself.

I know in my heart I have a deep love for all others and the fact that I know that is enough.

I didn’t get here overnight and to stay here I continually readjust. There isn’t a destination, intentional living is a journey for me.

 

 

I tell myself it is a journey into the heart of all I could ever hope for – I may get dreams coming true, I may not – but I know fulfilment is in the trying.

 

 

Thanks for being here with me.

 

If this journey interests you, you can read about if further in my book: Five Bedrooms to Five Boxes, Living Simply with Purpose.

9 Tips to Simplify Stuff

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Reduce rather than reorganise.

Only purchase to replace.

Go home and evaluate what you have got and where you will place it, consider how you will use it and check nothing else could do the job.

Keep clear bench tops and tables, this will help you remain in check about putting everything away and bring about a really enjoyable spacious feeling.

Do a little each day. Clean up one draw, one counter whenever you have 5 minutes spare. Don’t consider where to start, just start with what is closest.

Distance reduces the emotion. If you haven’t used it in 6 months and still cannot bear to part with it, pack it away for a few months and then revisit it.

Forget sales/bargains. Only buy what is on the shopping list. A $1 spent on a $2 item is still a $1 spent and those add up – and double in value when placed on debt.

Crowd out excess shopping with a new intentional hobby.

Consider with intention your TV time, particularly if you have multiple TVs in your home. Redirecting this time also reduces your exposure to commercials which impact our buying significantly.

Instead of trying to stop doing what you don’t want to – crowd it out with more of what you do want to – focus there and arrive.

 

 

Powerfully Present with Peace

 

Being in each moment as it arises.

Not letting the anxiety of the situation take over.

Relaxing into and fully focused on each task as it arises, completing it wholly.

Eliminating all the distractions – because really missing out on facebook or Instagram for a day, week or even a month makes absolutely no difference.

If we want the world to show up for us – we must show it we are ready by leading – the way – powerfully present with peace.

I will show up and sink in.