7 Tips for a Slow & Intentional Day

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Note: This is a guest post by Lauren Harder of Little Minimalist On the Prairies.

From the moment we wake up, we’re faced with decisions, tasks, and responsibilities—people to see, items to check off of our to-do list, work, and errands to complete—there is an intense amount of temptation in today’s culture to rush through our day as if there’s some invisible finish line to cross.

I find myself caught in this trap too often, only to end up exhausted, impatient, and wrung out.

On my last birthday, I wrote down the words, “wholeheartedly present.” These were the words I wanted to live by—a life that was defined by slowing down, living simply, and having authentic connection with the people I love day by day.

How can we hit the brakes and move from frantic to peaceful? Here are a couple tips to help get started:

Eliminate Distractions

Sometimes, distractions can be good. Here, I am referring to habits that steal our focus and energy from being present.

The root of many distracting habits can often be traced back to our phones and other devices. If you find yourself picking up your phone every few minutes, try the following:

  • Set certain times when you won’t check your phone (i.e., early in the morning, late at night, or during the day when you’re trying to spend time with family or get work done).
  • Set screen time limitations in your phone’s settings
  • Put your phone physically out of sight when you’re not wanting to use it
  • Turn off loud notifications (especially for apps that aren’t necessary)

Single-Task

Warning: This may feel boring when you first try it!

The art of single-tasking is rarely practiced these days. We often try to do as much as possible at one time. Just this morning, I was listening to an audiobook while cleaning the kitchen and trying to make a grocery list!

However, there’s something incredibly calming about just doing one thing at a time. Plus, I’ve found that the tasks actually get done more efficiently when it’s the only thing I’m doing.

Depending on what stage of life you’re in, you may not be able to single-task very easily. For example, if you’re at home with children, there are often many demands vying for your attention all at once. This is all the more reason to try single-tasking whenever you can! Give yourself a break, and allow your brain and body to focus on just one thing at a time.

Challenge: Try eating a meal or completing a chore without multi-tasking today!

Put Your To-Do List in its Place

Stuffing our to-do list to the brim is a one-way ticket to a frenzied day.

In fact, the more we put on a to-do list, the less likely we are to get it all done.

The easiest way to combat this is to only include the 3 most important things we need to get done that day! If you end up doing more, consider it a bonus, but don’t aim for something unattainable.

Give Yourself Grace

There’s a reason this section is following the one about our to-do lists. In order to slow down and live more intentionally, we need to be honest about our limitations and give ourselves grace to just do what we’re able to do.

There’s a lot of freedom that can be found in accepting what we can’t do!

If you feel the hustle, hurry, and general busyness of the day catching up with you, take a few minutes to breathe, be honest with yourself about what you’re able to do, and give yourself permission to only do that.

Practice Gratitude

Another helpful practice to slow your pace throughout the day is practicing gratitude. Doing this in real-time pulls you back to the present and makes you aware of the goodness in each moment.

When you feel your inner voice telling you to “hurry up,” use that as your cue to actually physically slow down or stop where you are. Take 30 seconds to think of something you can be grateful for in that moment, and I promise you, your perspective and priorities will shift.

Avoid Shortcuts

Implementing this concept has definitely challenged my patience. The practice of patience is imperative to intentional living. One way to train yourself to be more patient is to choose to do something the long way instead of rushing and looking for shortcuts.

Have you ever hopped between traffic lanes just to get somewhere a few minutes faster? Try to avoid the constant switching and instead allow yourself to just enjoy the drive!

Get Outside

When I’ve had a stressful day at work or am feeling overwhelmed as a mom, I stop what I’m doing and go outside. Feeling the sun on my face and hearing the wind in the trees puts everything back in perspective and calms the frenetic pace I feel like I need to follow.

Even just going for a walk is so good for your physical, mental, and emotional health! It lets your brain wander. Some of my best brainstorming and thinking happens when I’ve gone for a walk.

I hope you feel challenged and empowered to try one of these ideas for yourself today! 

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Lauren is a wife, green tea enthusiast, and an advocate for minimalism and simplicity. She believes minimalism isn’t just about stuff, but the depth to which you embrace the simple joys of life. You can read about minimalism, homesteading, and finding inspiration and grace for yourself on her blog.

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