5 tips to slow it down and make the most of your day.

I’m trying not to begin the countdown. Last night at the dinner table everyone started making their calculations. How many weeks until our guests get here? How long until Easter? And then it came “well how many weeks until we go back to Australia for school holidays?”

Last year we began the countdown at 17 weeks.

This meant that every Thursday morning (the end of our working week) we would drive to school and talk about exactly how many sleeps and what we would eat and where we would go and who we would see when we got there – which was all fine. However, it was all in the future.

This year I am living in the present.

I’ve wished away far too much of my life. When the children were babies I wished mostly for sleep, but I had milestones along the way that broke up the time. I wished away pregnancies “only 12 more weeks”. I couldn’t wait until she she would sleep through the night or sit up on her own. I couldn’t wait until he could hold his own sippy cup. I couldn’t wait until she could crawl, walk, talk, buy me a beer.

Still waiting.

I began sentences with “imagine when they can bath themselves” and “imagine when they can brush their own teeth”. We counted down the days for every holiday, days until G came home, days until Granny arrived. And while I was marking the days off the calendar, I never stopped to realize that I’d just lost another day of my life.

I’m not losing any more days. I’m slowing it down. And I’ve come up with 5 ways to do it.

1.     Get offline.

Anyone else sit down at the computer and look up to discover they’ve just lost an hour of their life? From now on there are set times for surfing the web, scanning Facebook and giggling over Twitter. I set very strict screen time for the little travellers but not for myself? Ah, the sweet irony of parenthood.

2.     Put my phone in my handbag.

I carry my phone in my hand, this means I am constantly looking down. I do it without thinking, I glance for an update, a message, an email. I glance while I’m at the cash register, I glance while I wait to pick up the children. I glance when I see someone else glance. Have you ever noticed that technology is as infectious as a yawn?

3.     Schedule my day and stick to it.

I work from home so my time is a little too flexible for my personality. It’s time to stick to the schedule. I can drag anything out. Whether it’s the gym, the grocery shopping, a “quick” coffee, or cleaning out the kids cupboards. My calendar now has a timetable of blog/book/articles/communication. It also has the fun stuff like coffee and gym but no more wondering around over to get a towel and striking up a lovely chat with the elderly man who’s going skiing in Switzerland with his wife in a few weeks. They have three children and six grandchildren, scattered all over the world. Their daughter had some health problems but all is well now. They like it here, they think they’d like to stay, they just bought a new car….. twenty minutes later! I really didn’t need to spend those 20 minutes shooting the breeze by the water cooler. Which brings me to my next point.

4.     Shut up.

Over the years it has become apparent that I could strike up a chat with a basketball hoop if I was in the mood. If I’ve ever wondered where the time went it was usually because it was unproductive time. If I’ve written 3,000 words that morning I know exactly where the time went – if I’ve spoken 3,000 words, not so much. I can still chat, I just need to remember to keep an eye on the time.

5.     Stop and look.

I am determined that I will look each child in the eye at least once a day. I know this sounds ridiculous, I drive them to school and pick them up every day. We go to activities, talk in the car, I lean over homework and wash hair in the bath that night – but there have been evenings I’ve laid in bed and wondered if I actually stopped and took the time to see the little travellers. I am going to really try to not rush them in and out of the car, to the bath or the dinner table. It doesn’t make it any faster when I clap my hands and raise my voice. But let’s just say, ahem, for arguments sake that we ARE running late and consequently in a bit of a hurry. I will take the time to see their faces when I kiss them goodbye.

Everyone needs to be seen.

What do you think? Any tips? How do you make the most of each day?

Sign up for the best bits here

Your favourite posts from the group as well as the gems from the podcast. We'll send it straight to your inbox to save you searching

Powered by ConvertKit


  1. Lynda Otvos says

    Wonderful ways to bring one’s focus onto that which we want to matter most; may memories of Now permeate thruout your and little travelers lives. Namaste

  2. I love this, Kirsty 🙂
    I’m all about slowing down at the moment.  There are so many demands on us that we just don’t pay proper attention to each other!

    My latest trick (which is WORKING! Yay!) is that I’ve reduced the number of decisions I need to make every day.  It keeps my brain calm and helps me be more present in each moment.

    ‘Making fewer decisions’ means I’ve put my house on autopilot.  I’ve done a rotating 5-day menu for school lunches.  I’ve started a chore roster for the kids and told them they need to check it before school, before dinner, and before bed.  I’ve made a “getting ready” list for the kids to follow in the mornings.  I’ve asked my Ms9 to start using the reminder function in her iPod so she’s on top of her own schedule. I’ve split my housework into small chunks and have put reminders in my laptop to keep me on track – I do no more and no less than what’s scheduled each day.  My husband and I have agreed on a routine for weeknights & weekends so we can balance competing demands of family/friends/clubs etc.

    It’s all bog-standard organising stuff – nothing revolutionary – but it works for us.  We’re accustomed to budgeting money and so we’ve just applied the same principles to budgeting our time.  It means we make a decision once, record that decision in a chart or on a device, and then just get on with it.  It sounds counter-intuitive, but stronger discipline has made our family more relaxed and more flexible than before.  Funny, eh?

  3. What a great post – I didn’t realise how much is spent doing things that really don’t count for much and how much time I have wished away until I read this. I am going to make a conscious effort to be present in the moment and cut down on my time wasting activities.

    Have a great day !

  4. Now that my kids are older (one at Uni, one in high school) the workload has lightened, but I get less done – precisely for the reasons you list! I have always found that, the busier I am, the more I get done, which is quite counterintuitive! When my boys were small and I was working full-time, my lifesaver was finding FlyLady (sort of a free online home/life management guru 
    http://flylady.net/) who helped me establish daily/weekly/monthly routines and schedules for everything from menu planning to family fun to decluttering.  Just as you say, it’s all about sticking to a schedule – thanks for the reminder!

  5. I am with you on this. The power to be productive is in our own hands and sometimes slowing it down and focussing is the way to enjoying and utilizing your time in the day.

    Thankyou fot this. I am off to the vegetable garden now.

  6. Must be something in the air. Yesterday I made almost the exact same conclusions. I’m doing a little test (Idea from Ramit Sethi who does excellent, if long-winded, finance stuff) for the next week I’m turning off the Internet from 8-3 and I’ll see how that feels and, more importantly, how many words I write a day. Imagine. Shall we make a pact!

  7. If we spend all of our time waiting on the right moment, events, life to be just so-and-so, we miss out on all that’s happening in it right now.  And what great ideas you have as a starting point. 

    I’ve gotten out of practice again lately, so thanks for the reminder to really stop, look and listen to my loved ones.  Found myself recently having teenage daughter/son come into the living room, mumble a few things, I mumble back and a few minutes later don’t even remeber what the exchange was all about as I was engrossed in something else.

    However, I am always all about seizing the moment, taking a chance, making a change, doing what’s right for me NOW rather than later.  Not staying in a miserable job….waiting for each weekend to roll around.  Not trying something new as the time might not be just right.  Waiting, waiting, ….well we might just wait forever and we don’t have forever.

    Me being the yoga-type, I come back to the breath.  I notice my breath and it brings me back into the moment.  I began blogging with the notion/subject of paying attention to each moment, but seems I’ve gotten sidetracked lately.  Good luck with your own strategies!

  8. These are great tips Kirsty and I’ve been nodding along whilst reading. Going offline is something that’s worked for me. I don’t have things on automatic on my phone anymore. It means I have to open my mail or Facebook to check for messages. It’s hard at first, but does mean that I can concentrate on other things when I should be.
    Love the looking a child in the eye.
    Good luck.

  9. valentina vaselli says

    keeping off line is the reasn i resist not to buy a smart phone:  i already use a lot the  with skype and fb to keep in touch and get company while home, so i restrain myself from having a mobile that goes on internet: which means whenever i am away from pc or out of home, i dont put a second of my attention into updates or emails, everything can wait for when im back home and i still can plug off 100% during weekends and vacations.
    it may sounds strange but being italian i have a lot of discipline in my daily life from cooking: the fact that everyday i do spend some time cooking lunch and dinner gives me time to make something practical, sometimes creative, with my hands and clear off the brain from everything else: while cooking there is no other multitasking that breaks in.
    multitasking is necessary but exhausting and steal you away from the moment in which you make something,cooking is my multitasking-free moment of the day

  10. Bravo! Great post! I needed to read number 2… why must i glue my phone to my hand?! 

  11. Oh how I love this post. Like many people reading it, I pictured how much I do this too. Connectedness, in the real sense gets hard the more technology is involved. BTW, I’ve only travelled to Doha twice for work but in my short time there I just fell in love with it.

  12. Wise words!  I’ve always tried to enjoy something about each age & stage my kids are in, some ages are easier than others, but there’s always something to appreciate.

  13. These are great, simple, doable things. Thanks for sharing. I’m working on #3 and #5 these days. Scheduling my day and sticking to it is harder than it sounds (I was supposed to be offline 20 minutes ago). And stopping and really seeing my kids is such a gift, when I remind myself to do it!

  14. These are all so true, but I especially like the last one. I know there are many times that I am talking to my kids while doing something else, so not really present. Looking at someone forces you to pay them the attention they deserve. Thanks for the reminder.

  15. We are in the middle of a holiday week between moving from the UK back to Australia. It has been awful. I have been cross with the kids and myself. I was thinking about how to let them know I love them, even when it all gets too much. I think proper eye contact is something I can do! I appreciate your practical, calm take on things. I am not a real expat, but this week I feel I qualify, just a little bit! x

Speak Your Mind