Hygge part 2 - how being in the moment is the key to positivity and avoiding stress

I love history and I'm also a great believer in planning ahead, but the fact still remains that each moment we live, we live in the now and it's important to recognize that what we do in each and every "now" moment is the key to leading enriching and positive lives.

These days, we are often encouraged to think about ways we can do more with less and in many ways that's a good thing.  It fits in with the concept of sustainability and reducing, reusing and recycling.  At the same time however, it's important to recognize that devices which perform more than one function rarely perform as well as devices which are dedicated to one, single function.  They are "jacks of all trades" and hence "masters of none".  Smartphones are a good example of this, those of us who are old enough to remember the old candybar phones will remember that actually, they were far better just as phones and even younger people often see the merits of buying dedicated music players and cameras even though higher-end smartphones at least often have decent music-playing and photo-taking capabilities.

Much the same principle applies to the idea of multi-tasking.  I don't dismiss it as a complete myth, I think it's possible to work on several tasks at the same time, in fact it's often essential to do so, but the general idea is to fit the tasks in around each other, for example you might prepare a dish and then set it to cook while you work on something else.  You may still need to remember to check it occasionally, but mostly you will be focusing your attention on your other task.  The more tasks you try to complete in the same time period, the more difficult it will be for you to divide them into distinct chunks so that you can devote appropriate attention to each.  If you take on too many tasks, you have a very real risk of winding up with stress and burnout.  There are three keys to avoiding this.

Set realistic expectations of yourself and other people
Learn to prioritise effectively
Batch your tasks efficiently

Set realistic expectations of yourself and other people

There are 24 hours in each day and everyone needs some of them for essential purposes such as sleeping and eating.  Accept this fact and work with it rather than resenting it or trying to beat it for example with stimulants such as caffeine.

Hint - allow yourself "white space" in your day, rather than scheduling your time down to the last second.  This allows you some flexibility when your day does not go to plan.

Learn to prioritize effectively

Make your task list as long as you like but be sure to mark your priorities clearly and stick to them.  Low-priority tasks only get tackled as, when and if you have the time.

Hint - actively schedule "do nothing" time in your day as a priority.  This is not "task time" or even "hobby time", although it is "me time".  It's at least five minutes each day where you sit in silence with your thoughts.  You don't meditate or pray or do anything of that nature, you simply sit in physical and mental silence.

Batch your tasks effectively

Look for tasks you can group together to save your time and hassle, for example, if you have a commute to work, see if there are tasks you can comfortably do during your journey.

Hint - think about tasks in terms of "where and what" as well as when, you may find unexpected ways to undertake your essential tasks more efficiently.

Being present in the now is also key to managing relationships in a positive manner and avoiding the stress which can come along with relationship challenges.  How often have you felt frustrated because you were trying to talk to someone and felt, maybe only subconsciously, that they weren't really there?  The chances are that you know the feeling, so avoid falling into that trap yourself.

Remember that you can only focus on one task at once, so if someone is talking to you, stop whatever else you are doing and look at them.  This will show them that they have your attention.  In some cases that may be all they want, or need.  Use their name, if you're terrible with names, acknowledge the fact and ask.  When you're talking keep focused on them and adapt your speed to theirs, if someone is talking quickly you can speed up your natural rhythm, but if someone needs more time, give it them and slow down.  These tips apply in any situation and to people of any age, in fact you may find them particularly useful when dealing with children who are often less inhibited about showing their frustrations if they pick up on the fact that you're not giving them the attention they need and want.  (Equally you may find them useful for dealing with the "children" with whom you work!)

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