So, I’ve unintentionally (or without planning to) been away for a month. What with getting the kids back to school and a million things going on at work, I haven’t found much time.
What I have been looking for in all the hectic is ways to catch a pause – moments of self care and taking time which don’t take me off the FIRE path. Often when I think about FIRE, read blogs or listen to podcasts, it can feel like the calm comes after the FIREstorm. Or there are mid-point goals, like going part time at work, or sabbaticals. There is lots of interesting information about mini-retirements: planning and negotiating time out of normal work. With my work and family responsibilities I can’t see this happening for at least a few years. Whilst that might be my own limited thinking, I wanted to try and at least build some pause into smaller blocks of time.
First things – clearing out space in my day. I read the fantastic book Make Time which has a huge range of suggestions for ways to clear out time in your day (or week) and also space in your mind. I would really recommend reading the book, but there’s also a great podcast by Choose FI where they interview the author. I started implementing some of the ideas immediately, and the one which has made the most difference was clearing out my phone’s home screen. This along with turning off almost all notifications means I’m no longer wasting time in what they call ‘infinity pools‘ – apps which endlessly refresh and encourage endless scrolling.
Second – making things feel special makes it feel like a break. There are a few areas where five extra minutes (or less) can make something feel like a treat, and break up the day. Setting out my lunch on a proper plate, with a glass of iced water means even if I am eating at my desk I feel the change in rhythm of the day. Setting the table nicely when I am home and getting dinner out for the kids ditto. Mixing a cocktail for whilst I am making dinner (with alcohol or no) also marks the break between work and family time – even if I know full well the laptop is going on again after the children are asleep – and feels like a decadent luxury. None of these things cost more money or include any fuss: a few minutes really makes a difference.
Third – take a pause on the inside. I have been meaning to take up meditation for such a long time it’s become something of a running joke. There’s a lot of evidence of the benefits of meditation : helping with anxiety and stress, creating space in a mind which is ‘on’ all the time. I also recently read Glennon Doyle’s book Untamed in which she talks about how meditation helps her manage and juggle things even in the hardest times. I had a conversation with a friend in which I committed to meditate once, the next day, for five minutes. I did it, then … nothing for the next few days. Then, in one of those moments of serendipity my daughter had a school assignment to meditate twice that week. Since then we have meditated together every evening before bed – a much needed pause each evening in a stressful world.
Whether you have five minutes or five hours, find a way to take a break. I love this infographic with 50 ideas from Karen Horneffer-Ginter – it’s available to print out for free and full of inspiration.
I highly recommend finding ways to pause in your day – or your week, or month. Creating spaces lets the light in, to think about the future and fine-tune plans, but also enjoy the now. Enjoy your moments of calm!