Plan plan plan, plan your week: At the beginning of your week plan three tasks to do daily so that you can clear your mind of having to think about what you have to do this week. I have planning days every three months for the overarching view of my business but every Sunday evening I write down what I want to achieve in that coming week. I’m looking at my quarterly plans and then each day I look at what tasks I can do to achieve that. This allows me not to lose course in what I’m doing and to be very efficient achieving the task that I need to.
As a part of my series about “How to Slow Down To Do More” I had the pleasure to interview Sian Young.
Sian is an Ambassador for the UK Health Coaching Association, a UN Global Climate Change Summit and TEDxWomen International Speaker and a Multi-Award Winning published Author now focusing on detoxifying the homes of CEO mums.
A CEO mum herself who has been in business for over 20 years helping over 5000 women feel empowered in their lives, Sian believes that women have the key to great change. They just need the support to ©create sustainable spaces freeing them up to step into their brilliance.
Sian is also a wife to a pioneering sustainable strategist and mother of 3, one son who is 21 and due to COVID-19 she has not seen him in nearly a year, one 16-year-old son from another mother who is an online music entrepreneur and a new baby girl just 11 months old — an official #pandemicbaby having spent most of her short life in quarantine.
Thank you so much for doing this interview with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?
I trained as a health coach becauseI knew I had to run a business that put my health first, you see I had experienced burnout to the point I was hospitalised twice while building and running my first business, an award-winning pole fitness studio. This is where I first learned the power of slowing down to speed up in business, I learnt so many ways to optimise my health and mindset to create the life of my dreams.
Spending some time as a single mother I had to strategise how to achieve my business dreams while nurturing my child and showing him it doesn’t matter the cards you are dealt. You don’t need to choose the path before you, you have the power to uplift your life and achieve your goals without killing yourself with overworking.
When we move in our flow with optimum health we can achieve anything and that the world is a beautiful place full of beautiful people. I want to foster stewardship of our health and our planet as they go hand in hand. I share this wealth of knowledge and experience with those I meet and work with so that we can create true ©Sustainable Health & Wellbeing.
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?
It is my understanding that there is a perfect storm of root causes contributing to the feeling of being rushed and for the difference between the level of feeling rushed both men and women are experiencing. In the west we have a Me culture and this has a direct effect on our level of stress and depression. This state of mind leaves us feeling under pressure and operating in this confused state means tasks can ultimately feel like they are rushing us.
Also the difference between men and women has been clearly highlighted in recent research from the Boston Consulting Group even though both women and men are stepping up in this COVID-19 home working environment women typically do 15 hours more unpaid domestic labour per week than men, leaving them feeling rushed.
A recent UN Report stated that ‘In Europe, as many as 43 per cent of women have experienced psychological abuse, and 22 per cent of women have experienced physical or sexual abuse, from intimate partner’
Women are experiencing more domestic violence and undertaking more childcare and face increased job insecurity; this also gives a feeling of rushed stress for women, and would explain while men in the Pew Research Report feel a little less rushed it is also stated domestic abuse against men is also on the rise. Coupled with our Me Culture you have a lot less ‘community’ support for families to prevent the breakdown of relationships.
It has not always been like this because before world war two women were predominantly stay at home mothers and men dominated the working environment, with the war and the massive loss of male lives meaning women had to step into the workforce, but they still had to perform the domestic role as well, essentially doubling their workload.
Based on your experience or research can you explain why being rushed can harm our productivity, health, and happiness?
As stated in this Telegraph article the ‘work hard play hard’ era is nearly gone. One in three small business owners has suffered from anxiety or depression in the past five years.
Research and my experience from working with clients and running several businesses has shown that rushing yourself not only does not get the job done, it leaves you depleted, affecting your health and happiness. I work on © Sustainable Health & Wellbeing and the old ways are not healthy, productive or sustainable, we are human beings!
Did you know about the brain gut connection, it is also known as the enteric system?
Let me break it down; When we are stressed the body sends a signal to the stomach to STOP digestion and we move into a fight, flight , freeze or appease situation in which all the blood rushes to your extremities and you don’t take any nutrients from your food. Then, because you have not taken nutrients from your food, your gut brain axis sends a message to your mind that there is an emergency and then your mind stops digestion while it finds out what this emergency is. This gets into a cycle of chronic stress and of nutritional deficiency from which you can’t be productive, healthy or happy. The art of slowing down, eating mindfully and working from an empowered and inspired stand actually increases productivity.
This also increases happiness and your health is increased because the emergency cycle of chronic stress is turned off in your body and you can now, after a good gut repair protocol, absorb your nutrients again..
It makes physical and economical sense to Slow down in order to Speed up!
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?
I think our biggest mistake is that we allow our mind to be focused on the future or worrying about things that happened in the past which means in the present moment we don’t have the energy or capacity that we could have. Mindfulness gives us that power back. If we are mindful and present with a calm, clear mind, we bring that to every task and save valuable energy. In our minds this allows us to step into the task that we have with absolute clarity because our mind has not been overused.
A good way to support yourself to do this is to have a practice of planning your week at the beginning of the week and planning what you need to do in that week down to a daily task.
Give yourself no more than three things to achieve in a day and if you do more it’s a happy bonus. Then when you are finding yourself brushing your teeth thinking about the work you’ve got to do you have to call yourself back to the present moment of brushing your teeth.
If you see it like cleaning up the hard drive of your computer if you have all the files open all the time your computer slows down. If you shut down the files and open the file that you need to deal with at that point in time your computer runs faster, smoother and the tasks are done quicker which means you can do more tasks in less time if you bring mindfulness into your life.
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?
1: Be present and focused on the moment that you are in when you are in it.
For example when you are cooking your dinner this is something you most likely have to do anyway so don’t do that thinking about the jobs that you have to do and all the things that you don’t want to happen.
Just being present with the sizzling of the food, focus on the way you are turning the food in the pan, really allow yourself to experience the scents of the food, feel the abundance of being able to eat, experience everything about your cooking. Allow your mind to be present in the moment, this will clear a massive space for clarity to come. It will also improve your absorption of the nutrients of your food, it will relieve the stress of cooking and that feeling of trying to fit in this inconvenient task. This gives you a mini brain break while nourishing yourself and your family.
2:Plan plan plan, plan your week:
At the beginning of your week plan three tasks to do daily so that you can clear your mind of having to think about what you have to do this week. I have planning days every three months for the overarching view of my business but every Sunday evening I write down what I want to achieve in that coming week. I’m looking at my quarterly plans and then each day I look at what tasks I can do to achieve that. This allows me not to lose course in what I’m doing and to be very efficient achieving the task that I need to.
3: Have a notepad on your desk for task splitting.
As a mother I often have to stop in the middle of a task to attend to my child’s needs so just as I’m about to stop my task I note down on my table notepad where I am in the task and what I was just about to do. This allows me to return to exactly where I was knowing exactly where I was going, allowing me to be mindfully present with my child fulfilling their needs and I slip right back into my task without wasting any time trying to figure out what I was just doing.
4: Listen to your body:
To do this I practice meditation and mindfulness as a daily habit so in those times of mindfulness while brushing my teeth, cooking and being present with my child I will ask questions in my mind to my body asking what it needs, feeling for imbalances then I spend time on clearing what has come up. Reach out to a coach or I can do it with the skills that I have but I know if I do not give time to know what is going on with my body at some point the messages will become louder in the form of ill health that will really slow me down and not in a good way.
5: Take time in nature and again be mindful of the present right there in nature.
There is no point taking a walk in nature to think about work; it defeats the object of taking a walk in nature. The more you stay present and mindful the better you sleep, the better you digest your food, so when you take a walk in nature and you can get up early you feel more energy, experience the natural healing and energizing properties of nature to create even more energy and abundance of your life so slow down and take the time to walk in nature presently and mindfully — it will give you more energy.
6: Practice of gratitude
At the end of the day, being grateful for what you have achieved and celebrating what you have achieved feeds your mind energetically to give you the real power, strength and desire to keep on achieving. If you approach something with dread and despair this will be what shows up in your work.
I have come from the streets to become a multi award-winning entrepreneur and one of the most powerful tools I have used is gratitude, gratitude for what we have. I remember one night sleeping in the ruins of a castle outside in the mud. I was 6 stone, emaciated, and by rights I should have died that night but the first thought in my mind when I woke up was gratitude, for the fact I could breathe, for the fact I could see, for the fact I could smell even though the smell was disgusting. Ever since that day of clarity from the depths of despair I have learnt the power of gratitude to reprogramme your mind and your life for better. All the way up it has been my gratitude in what I have, the gifts in my life, the ability to try and for being here another day that has reprogrammed my mind to expect more of the best, expect better times for me, to expect better support. If you do nothing else from this article, take this practice.
How do you define “mindfulness”? Can you give an example or story?
Mindfulness is the art of being present in the very moment you are in.
I use mindfulness to slow my life down even though I am busy with a young baby, have my coaching business and am CEO of The Center for Sustainable Action. I know that if I am present in my life I have bountiful energy, clarity and ability to twitch tasks.
An example of how I use this practice with my baby is to be with her 100% present, watch her move, breathe peacefully beside her, be with her and fill them up with present attention. This works for a couple of ways.
First it relaxes your mind and gives you space to just be, especially when working from home. When you are fully present with your children then they have longer times where they do not need your presence and they just play. This allows you more time to get your jobs done and you also have a clear mind with clarity and energy to fulfil your tasks in less time with more precision.
Can you give examples of how people can integrate mindfulness into their everyday lives?
As detailed above, mindfulness is part of your life if you let it be. You can mindfully brush your teeth in the morning instead of allowing your mind to be thinking about what to do for the day, how to do everything and what’s going to happen in the future. When you’re brushing your teeth, just be there brushing your teeth and breathe and allow yourself this moment in time that you were going to be spending anyway to be mindful. Allow yourself the same when you make a cup of coffee or cook, showering, eating. You can bring mindfulness into your everyday life.
Do you have any mindfulness tools that you find most helpful at work?
I do have a 7 week mindfulness course available on my website to help you build mindfulness into your life. Your breath and gratitude are powerful tools we all have if we use them! Come and have a look at www.sian-young.com
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to use mindfulness tools or practices
Eastern Body Western Mind: Auodea Judith
The Amor of God: Priscilla Shirer
Taming your Tiger: Dharma-Arya Akong Rinpoche
Kings Community Church: Podcast
My training as a meditation teacher and the tool of giving myself time to develop my practice
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“When the student is ready the teacher will come”
Throughout my life this has been true. When I was ready to give up and leave streetlife then came a woman who was as damaged as me but one level up in life than I was and she taught me how to be a woman. She taught me how to navigate outside of street life. I was a student, I was ready for her lesson. I took it and I moved on and this has happened so many times right up to the point where now I have expert coaches to help me achieve the next level of success.
I have spent time listening to my body’s needs and when I have looked up after listening there has been a coach in my network who is perfect for the healing step I need to take next. I have just gone through a deep gut cleanse, rebalancing and releasing and bringing my health to the next level. Look out for those teachers in your life as they will come in many forms and they will have gifts of knowledge that will get you to the next level in your life if you do the work!
I’m speaking from the perspective of a woman who has come from starving on the streets to multi award-winning international speaker and entrepreneur.
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. 🙂
My work is all about inspiring families to be strong, to communicate well and to allow the woman in the home to have the space and clarity to step into her brilliance. We see more and more women in leading positions and that with balanced men will change this planet. We need to give women’s voices the equality and respect that is only right to allow them to step into their brilliance, we need to support our women so that they may heal and unpick subconscious patterns in their life so that they can be shining examples for their children and families.
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!