If you’re like many of my nearest and dearest, moments of quiet are especially welcome during action-packed days. Such stillness allows for prayer, reflection, and quiet contemplation. So how to make the best use of your time on the busiest of days while still feeling peaceful? Perhaps one, some, or all of the following ideas will resonate with you.
Allow for extra time between every meeting and activity
These buffer zones don’t have to be super lengthy, but they can make all the difference in keeping things peaceful and low-key on your most action-packed days. If a meeting runs longer than usual, a traffic detour takes you out of your way, or you run into your long-lost friend from high school while en route to an important meeting, your buffer zones will come in handy. They help keep you from running late or feeling frazzled in an attempt to not be late. Of course, if your meeting ends on time, traffic is light, and there are no former classmates in your vicinity, you’ll have some extra time before your next meeting or activity in which to enjoy some quiet, reflection, and stillness.
Gratitude is great
Regardless of how busy you think you are, take at least a few moments to express sincere gratitude every day. Doing this keeps things in perspective and allows you to focus on the good that’s going on all around you. A dear friend regularly keeps a gratitude list, and I’ve learned from her just how marvelous this can be. Consider keeping a small notepad or piece of paper with you throughout each day so you can jot things on your gratitude list. At the end of the day, reflect on your list and give thanks for the overflowing goodness in your life.
Make good use of those unexpected waiting periods
Sitting in a waiting room for awhile? Standing in a line that hasn’t inched forward in the past seven minutes? Are you at home and on hold with the telephone company? Take these unexpected waiting periods to enjoy the mental peace and quiet, regardless of the noisy environment around you.
Or, if you feel so inclined, take this unexpected waiting period to handle a few of the to dos on your radar. You may find it enjoyable to jot down your grocery list or plan part of your menu for the week ahead. Or you may wish to write down a few ideas for what to serve at your upcoming shin-dig in honor of Uncle Bob. Or if you’re at home, chop vegetables for dinner, empty your dishwasher, or pack lunches for tomorrow while that lovely “hold” music (courtesy of Kenny G) croons on your speakerphone.
If you’d like to make good on your goal to be in touch with friends and family more regularly, waiting in a long line at the grocery store could be the perfect time to use your smart phone to send a thoughtful email to a loved one. Or plan ahead and keep some cheerful note cards in your purse so you can send your love across the miles with a handwritten note scrawled when you least thought you’d have time. Who knew you could purchase a week’s worth of produce and write to Cousin Ethel all during what was supposed to be a quick trip to your local supermarket?!
Or if you’re at work and placed on hold by a vendor who you telephoned, use the waiting time to prepare for your next meeting, catch-up on work email, or price flights for that upcoming business trip. There’s no need to play solitaire while impatiently drumming your fingers on the desk to the beat of Kenny G’s latest hold music selection.
Be present in this moment, and the next, and the next, and…
Multi-tasking seems to be the name of the game these days. Some people make grocery lists while at work meetings. Others check their email and Facebook accounts simultaneously, while chatting with a family member and placing a take-out telephone order. While at one point multi-tasking may have seemed like an intelligent way to take care of many tasks simultaneously, I’ve been learning that being present in every moment allows me to be a better wife, daughter, sister, and friend. I’m able to be more attentive, more thoughtful, and more deliberate in my actions when my attention isn’t diverted by many little things. Of course there are times when it’s great to multi-task (like making good use of those unexpected waiting periods mentioned above), but over the past several months, I’ve been realizing that by being present in each moment the peaceful factor continues to soar. There’s a stillness and a sense of order that prevails when I am present in the now, not in the past or in the future or in the land of “hurry up and get as much done as possible in one moment.”
So whenever a super busy day is on the horizon, be sure to manage your time that day so that you have moments of quiet and stillness. I know you’ll make great use of this wonderful gift, known as the present.
* Photo by Jonathan Eggers