Is it time to accept the impossibility of work-life balance?
Similarly to slow food, slow living asks us to adopt a more peaceful, mindful pace of life.
For author of Destination Simple: Everyday Rituals for a Slower Life Brooke McAlary, slow living is about figuring out what’s most important, and placing it front and centre in your life.
It’s about not trying to achieve a perfect balance, and ’tilting’ your focus to one thing at a time, instead of juggling many tasks at once.
“Tilting is like the antidote to the myth of work-life balance,” Brooke told Lifestyle.
“For me, work-life balance was about having everything evenly weighted and feeling like I was doing a good job of everything all the time,” she explains. “We don’t want to wobble, we never want to look unbalanced. But this is damaging and exhuasting for us.”
Brooke discovered her simplified, slowed down approach after being diagnosed with post-natal depression some six years ago.
“It really appealed to me because it wasn’t just about getting rid of stuff, it was about creating a completely different pace of life and a different mind set.”
Here, we’ve asked Brooke to let us in on her top five essential tips on how to settle into a slower pace.
Find your ‘why’
“The number one thing is to take time to figure out what’s important to you. Ask yourself what you want life to stand for and what you want life to look like,” says Brooke.
“Weigh that up against what life looks like at the moment, and see how similar or dissimilar they are.”
Brooke listed out the things that were the centre of her life on a piece of paper, and kept it close by for reference.
“Having that piece of paper near me made it easier to make certain decisions. Doing some work to figure out your priorities and your ‘why’ in life really helps.”
According to Brooke, multitasking is very draining. “We don’t do anything well when we’re doing five things at once.”
With new research suggesting it can take up to 23 minutes to regain our concentration once we’ve been distracted, Brooke suggests trying to ‘single task’.
“I talk about this in my book – but it’s essentially focusing on the one thing at hand. Whether that’s at work or at home, or doing some kind of chore. When we take the time to focus and do one thing at a time, we actually get it done more quickly and the result is usually better quality.”
Simplify your space
Slow living doesn’t have to mean throwing out all your worldy possessions, or become a fully fledged minimalist. However, Brooke does admit that “getting rid of some of the excess clutter was really important in slowing down, because it gave me time and space. Simplifying my home really helped – to not have to clean as much or pick up as many toys, or make as many decisions on what to wear.”
Spending time in nature is a beautiful impetus for slowing down, Brooke says. “I think it’s important to go outside and go out into nature in a small or big way everyday. Even if it’s just five minutes in the park at lunchtime with your shoes off in the grass.”
“Slow living is not about taking three hour walks everyday or meditation, as nice as those things are, it’s not really realistic for a lot of people.”
Daily digital detox
While it may be easier said than done for so many of us, Brooke advises taking time each day to disconnect from technology.
“We’re constantly bombarded with notifications and emails and five different social media channels and news websites, and while it’s great to be so widely informed, but it does take a toll on us.”
“I would recommend taking at least half an hour each day to be offline, and to do something with our hands, like writing with a pencil and paper, something that is a physical task. It’s important to give ourselves the opportunity to let some information out, rather than cramming more in.”