Slow living for busy people a beginner's guide
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Slow Living for Busy People: a beginner’s guide for the real world

Slow living keeps showing up in my life. Instagram posts, facebook, podcasts. It seems like everywhere I turn there’s a message to slow down. Everywhere else, including my internal dialogue, the message is to get more done, and do it quickly. Ironically, or perhaps as an ode to these conflicting forces, I’ve been using my work lunch break to research what the hell slow living even is. I feel like I don’t have any other time for it.

And that’s the reason I’ve decided to take a wander down the slow living path. Life is a whirlwind of doingness. Work, washing, cleaning, cooking, photography, writing, gym, family. An endless cycle of things to do and things to feel guilty for not doing. The world is fast – fast food, fast conversation, fast work, fast news. Our brains are bombarded by a perpetual overload of invasive information, messages, apps and notifications. Is it any wonder we feel like we’re in a constant state of time poverty?

Life is a whirlwind of doingness. Work, washing, cleaning, cooking, photography, writing, gym, family. An endless cycle of things to do and things to feel guilty for not doing. Click To Tweet

With that in mind the last thing we need is another thing to do that we don’t get done and beat ourselves up about. The reality is that life is full to the brim. In an effort to be kind – to me and to you – I’ve put together a bunch of easy ways to start slowing down in the real world. You don’t have to move to the country and grow potatoes to slow the pace. Adopt a slow living lifestyle, sure, but be gentle with yourself while you do it. After all, isn’t that the point?

What even is it? Slow living at a glance

Slow living is not about lying around doing nothing. It is about living with deliberate intention. Surprisingly, it also doesn’t mean doing everything slowly. It does mean doing things with presence rather than mindlessness. And understanding that there are times to move quickly, but choosing those times with care and stopping the fast pace when that thing is done.

Slowing down improves presence, mindfulness, mental health and reduces stress. Seems like a no brainer right?

How to slow down in the real world

Take your time, introduce a new thing on your own schedule. Make switching to slow living a mindful process of its own. Introduce a new thing once a week, once a month, once a season – there are no rules. Here’s some ideas that don’t require a lifestyle overhaul to get started.

slow food vietnamese pho

Slow Food

Sometimes take out IS slow living. If you’ve had a long day it’s OK to skip mindfully dicing a carrot and call Uber Eats. Make space for something else you want to focus on for the evening. Here’s some ways to add mindful food to your day:

  • Put your take out on a beautiful plate
  • Choose take out with fresh ingredients and wonderful aromas – my favourite is Pho and I eat it with chopsticks to slow down
  • Turn off the tech when you’re eating and focus on the experience of nourishing your body
  • Batch cook in a slow cooker: get the best of both worlds by taking your time to prep your meals for the week in one go and absorb the scent as it fills your home through the course of an entire day
  • Make something you would usually buy every now and then
Sometimes take out IS slow living. If you’ve had a long day it’s OK to skip mindfully dicing a carrot and call Uber Eats.Click To Tweet

Slow Home

A cabin in the woods with morning light spilling through sash windows while you craft next to a roaring fireplace might be the slow living dream. For us urban dwellers who are, at least for the moment, stuck in the concrete and glass there’s some things we can do to make home feel a little calmer.

  • Get rid of stuff so there’s less cleaning and a sense of space
  • Start a hobby and turn off the TV while you do it
  • Go old school and make a ritual of watching a TV series one episode per week instead of bingeing
  • Grow a vegetable in a pot – and eat it. Just one.
  • Tune into The Low Tox Life podcast and implement what grabs you

laptop in the wilderness slow work

Slow Work

The Commute

For most of us the commute to work is lost time. I look around on my bus or train and see heads bent, lost in smart phone apps designed to create an addictive mindless pressing of buttons. Here’s some ideas for reclaiming your commute and shifting it to a meaningful space.

  • Switch out the short form social media for long form content and give your brain a chance to absorb quietly by tuning into a podcast on a topic that interests you.
  • Look out the window
  • Knit on the train
  • If you walk slow it down and take your time instead of rushing to work
  • If you want to go large see if you can zero your commute: move closer to work or work closer to home and then use that extra time mindfully
At the Office

While your long term slow living plan might include a move to a work day settled in a beautiful studio or writing room perhaps this is not yet financially viable. That doesn’t mean you have to give up the idea of slow work with what you have.

  • Put a plant on your desk: let a little nature in, even a short glance at green will give your brain a mini-break from the work world pace and help you shift back to a mindful mindset
  • Single task – multi-tasking is both the antithesis to slow living and an illusion. Our brains cannot focus on more than one thing at a time and task switching is not conducive to focus. Busy is not productive. Try focusing on a single task and finishing it before moving on to the next one
  • Set a daily intention based in loving kindness rather than external work goals. Here’s a few suggestions:
    being a helpful colleague, being kind to someone you struggle with, listening well to the people you work with.
  • If you keep moving something to the next day admit you don’t want to do it and aren’t going to. Delete or delegate it if you can
  • Don’t share your calendar. Don’t let people steal your time and interrupt your attention
  • Check out the Hurry Slowly Podcast for all the reasons slowing down at work is a great idea and brilliant ideas on how to do it
Single task – multi-tasking is both the antithesis to slow living and an illusion. Our brains cannot focus on more than one thing at a time and task switching is not conducive to focus. Busy is not productive.Click To Tweet

solo female traveler on pink salt lake

Slow Connections

Self

I think we’re a little scared to put away the phone and have empty spaces with ourselves. We’re afraid of what we’ll find and that it might be uncomfortable. It might be but distraction isn’t going to bring it to the surface for resolution. More often though the emptiness is because we’re missing the slavery to our button pressing. Given enough tech free time we start to reconnect and the emptiness dissipates. This is definitely one to take slowly and with a healthy dose of self-care. Try these steady steps to reconnect with yourself:

  • Have a weekly no plans night set aside just for you
  • Make hygiene mindful: brush your teeth with focus, shower with intention
  • Don’t fill empty spaces with buying stuff: try a no spend week
  • Use Flipd to lock yourself out of your phone for an hour a day and hang out with yourself
Others

We’re so distracted even when we are with company that connection is missing in our interactions. Going old school and removing tech is a quick way to slow down your time with others:

  • Say no to those that stress you
  • Fill your connection time with those you love who love you back fiercely
  • Call instead of text to deepen the connection
  • Don’t take your phone when you’re meeting up with friends

You don’t need to change everything to go slow. If you’re busy and can’t imagine fitting in another lifestyle solution perhaps it is time to gently weave a slow living lifestyle into your daily grind. If you’ve already switched share your best tips in the comments below. Thinking of making a slow change? We’d love to hear about your journey.

One Comment

  • Markus O. Gross

    You—once again—nailed it, Kylie. In my experience, mindfulness is the key to slow life. Most people don’t even realise that their candle burns at both ends. 😔

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