Set Your Intention. First, it’s important to make the choice that you want to actually slow down. If you truly love being crazy busy, then you won’t make this change. But when it’s something you truly want in your heart, this is the first step. I like to back this up with a daily affirmation, so when I start the day I get clear on how I want the day to go. For example, instead of just rushing through the day, I’ll start by writing down my affirmation “I have all the time I need to do everything I need to do” or “Because I’m organized my day flows with joy and ease”. Find one that works for you and feels good in your bones.
As a part of my series about “How to Slow Down To Do More” I had the pleasure to interview Jennifer Dawn who is a Business Coach and founder of Best Planner Ever. She began her entrepreneurial career selling apples off her grandfather’s tree because a lemonade stand was so “yesterday”. She’s a serial entrepreneur who has grown two multi-million dollar businesses, is a successful speaker, and author. She serves high-achieving entrepreneurs through private coaching and hands on workshops. Jennifer is a master at setting and achieving goals, problem solving, time and energy management.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?
Absolutely. In 2012 I left corporate because I was working crazy hours and never seeing my kids. I hired a coach to help me figure out the next steps and began taking on consulting work. I re-located to New York and when I arrived was asked by a national network of women entrepreneurs to lead their group. I accepted and through this work found a love of coaching and mentoring. In 2014 I stepped out on my own and have been going strong ever since.
According to a 2006 Pew Research Report report, 26% of women and 21% of men feel that they are “always rushed”. Has it always been this way? Can you give a few reasons regarding what you think causes this prevalent feeling of being rushed?
The demands of our world today without question have shifted us to a place where being rushed and stressed is the norm. Plus, we are literally bombarded every day by technology in our faces pressing us to do more, more, more. Based on my own experience however, the feeling of being rushed most often comes from the choice we are making to allow it in our lives.
Based on your experience or research can you explain why being rushed can harm our productivity, health, and happiness?
Without a doubt it raises our stress level and the more stress the more negative side effects we will experience. Every disease on the planet can be linked in some way to stress. Anything that causes us to be in a state of constant stress will affect our overall health, happiness, and well-being.
On the flip side, can you give examples of how we can do more, and how our lives would improve if we could slow down?
When we slow down we have time to think. When we take time to think, we’ll be more clear and focused in our daily work. That leads us to spending more time working “in the zone” which is not only more fun, but also much more productive. When we can improve our productivity, now we can work fewer hours, spend more time with family and friends, and our overall happiness increases. When we spend time with those we love, because we have slowed down, we’ll also be more present for them. Slowing down is the key to greater happiness without question.
We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed. Can you share with our readers 6 strategies that you use to “slow down to do more”? Can you please give a story or example for each?
Set Your Intention
First, it’s important to make the choice that you want to actually slow down. If you truly love being crazy busy, then you won’t make this change. But when it’s something you truly want in your heart, this is the first step. I like to back this up with a daily affirmation, so when I start the day I get clear on how I want the day to go. For example, instead of just rushing through the day, I’ll start by writing down my affirmation “I have all the time I need to do everything I need to do” or “Because I’m organized my day flows with joy and ease”. Find one that works for you and feels good in your bones.
Use a Better Planning Tool
Many daily planners on the market today actually keep you feeling rushed. Having too many empty lines on a to-do list — and feeling pressured to fill them in and cross them off — can keep us in a cycle of bad productivity. Instead, choose a planner with fewer lines on the daily list or only allow yourself a set number of 3–5 daily to-do’s. It will require you to be far more intentional with your time, eliminate unnecessary tasks, and focus your energy on the things which really matter.
Learn to Say No
Too often we don’t want to disappoint those around us — so instead of saying no, we continue to say yes to everything. This only burdens us further and keeps us rushing to get it all done. The art of saying no is a skill that can be developed and mastered. One fun way to do this is make it a game. Over the holidays my family receives numerous invitations to holiday parties. While we certainly appreciate being included, it adds a huge strain to our already busy December. Last year my husband and I made a game out of who could turn down the most invites. It made the chore of saying no a lot easier and as a result we enjoyed a quiet, stress free holiday on our own terms.
Prioritize Every Day
Most people launch into the day without thought of the tasks which will actually move their goals and life forward. To be less rushed, it’s critical to make sure the time you do have is put towards tasks that have the best potential to move the needle forward. An easy way to do this is take 5 minutes each morning to plan your day. Look at the list of tasks for the day and prioritize by A, B, and C. The A task is one that has the biggest impact on your business and life goals. The B tasks are things that are important — but you’ll do them anyway. C tasks can be put off for later when time permits. The goal is do at least 1 A task per day. Following this simple system enables you to make sure your time is always being spent in the right place.
Just Do It
Sometimes you have to stop trying to slow down, and just slow down.
Give Yourself a Break
Finally, lighten up on yourself. You won’t be perfect at this in the beginning, but when you do slow down be sure to celebrate it.
How do you define “mindfulness”? Can you give an example or story?
Mindfulness to me is being connected to my heart, and not rushing through each day stuck in my head.
When I built my first seven figure company, I worked all the hours in a day. I would rush from the moment I woke up, until I fell exhausted into bed. Each night I would lay there and beat myself up because I had not gotten enough done. It seemed like my life was an endless to do list, like running a marathon every day with no finish line.
I worked like this through my first company, second company, and into my third company until I hit rock bottom. My entire life collapsed around my head and there was nowhere left to go — except somewhere new. Sometimes we need a huge kick in the pants to wake up. I hired a life coach to help me put my life back together again and this was the first time I truly began to get out of my head and connected to my heart. That was almost 10 years ago and I’ve never gone back to that crazy, rushed way of living. Now I’m not only growing my third seven figure business, but I also fully enjoy the lifestyle that goes with it. Whenever I start to feel rushed, pressed, or stressed I immediately slow down and get myself centered again.
Can you give examples of how people can integrate mindfulness into their everyday lives?
Yes, and this is so important. You can choose to be more mindful but if you don’t surround yourself with good tools to support the choice, it’s easy to hop back on the crazy train.
For me it starts with my daily planner. I set my intention FIRST, before the day gets started. I get to decide how I want my day to go. Then, I prioritize my tasks for the day, so my time is spent on activities that move my life and business forward.
I always schedule at least 30 minutes a day for my yoga practice, which often includes a short meditation. This really helps too.
Do you have any mindfulness tools that you find most helpful at work?
Again, this goes back to my daily planner. It sits on my desk right in front of my computer so I can’t not look at it. I can easily reference my Vision Board (it’s at the front of my planner) or my Vision Statement when I need to reconnect with what I want my life to be — instead of where it may want to take me.
It’s about making the choice to live a different way. Then having a tool right in front of your face that can keep you on track with your choice.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to use mindfulness tools or practices
I love anything from Abraham Hicks. There are numerous videos you can find online and I listen to their Meditations app as well. I also love Glo (formerly Yoga Glo) they have many meditations to choose from in addition to yoga, and because you can access via any mobile device it works from anywhere. I don’t have to worry about finding a class, I can do it anywhere, anytime.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite is by Dolly Parton “You’ll never do a whole lot unless you are brave enough to try.”
Any time I’m feeling a bit fearful I can’t help but think of Dolly and know all I need is the courage to try.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Truthfully, my movement would be: Slow Down To Achieve More. It comes up over and over again in my work. If you truly want to live your best life, slowing down is perhaps the most important skill to master. Everything else comes after.
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!