My attention span seems to grow shorter each year. I have a hard time concentrating on something for an extended period of time. I have a hard time staying focused because there are so many things happening. Many times, my life feels frantic.
When I was a kid, I read books all the time. Books like Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, and the Hardy Boys. Now, reading a full book is work. There are too many distractions, like getting a text, or checking Twitter, or seeing if there’s anything new on my Facebook newsfeed. Most people my age live their life in the hyper present. The driving question is, “What is happening right now?” Behind that is another question – “Is there something I’m missing?” If there’s something I’m missing, then I need to get it. Now.
If you followed a person who lives in the hyper present for 72 hours, you would likely see a common theme. Find out what’s happening now. Make sure I’m not missing anything. Get what I’m missing. Now.
Or it might look like this.
Find out what’s happening now. Make sure I’m not missing anything. Place myself into what I’m missing via a like, favorite, comment, or text.
If you live your life at this pace, at times it will feel frantic. In fact, it may feel frantic quite often. The reason why is that you have all the things you need to do in your everyday life, and you also have to find out what is happening now, so that you don’t miss out on something, and then get the thing you’re missing out on ASAP.
I got tired of living at this pace so I made a few changes. I wanted to have a greater sense of control, and feel more proactive as opposed to frantically reactive. Sometimes I fall back into a frantic lifestyle, but when I do these things, my life feels much more peaceful. These work for me, and they may be helpful to you as well.
1. Wake Up Early. Most days of the week, I wake up Monday-Friday between 5 and 5:30. When I wake up early, I feel like I have the whole day ahead of me. In the morning, I work out with one of my buddies, and spend some time connecting with God. Sometimes it is in prayer, and sometimes I read my Bible. Spiritual connection is important for me to live with more peace. (Michael Hyatt has a great post about taking on the day early in the morning which you can read here.) It took me a long time to become good at waking up early. Now, I love it. I feel behind if I don’t do it.
2. Connection. When my life is at peace, I usually am talking with some of my family and closest friends throughout the week. I schedule ahead of time with them to hang out, and have fun together. I will say it is important for me to be around positive people, or I can begin to carry a negative vibe. If you’re closest people influence you in a negative way, this will not provide peace in your heart. You may need to weed out the people who are keeping you from growth. Besides, why would you want to crowd out your dreams and desires with cynicism and doubt? I want to be closely connected to whole-hearted people who are passionate, and working to create something better with their life.
3. Sleep. I find that getting enough sleep is important. There are different studies on the amount of sleep a person should get. I try to get between 6 and 8. If I’m closer to 6 hours, then I will likely take a 15-20 minute power nap at some point of the day. There is some excellent research on the power of naps, and the way napping rejuvenates a person’s mind. A few years ago in America, if you asked someone, “How are you doing?” The most common answer was, “Fine.” Now, it is “I’m tired.” Get more sleep. By the way, if you wake up early and work out in the morning consistently, you won’t stay up as late because your body will tell you to go to bed early. When it does, listen to it.
4. Healthy Eating. This is one of the most difficult things for me to do. I enjoy fast food, but I hate the after-effects of it. Sometimes, it takes three to five days for my body to recalibrate to eating healthily, but I do find that I enjoy life a lot more when I do. When I’m doing well on this, I drink around 96 oz of water each day. I do this by drinking from a Nalgene. An interesting fact on this is that I used to hate drinking water. I still don’t like it sometimes, but often I’ll squeeze a lime in the water. Try that with a little cayenne pepper. It will set you in motion. And you’ll feel more energized.
5. Intentionally Learn. There are incredible podcasts for free today in the Podcast app on iTunes. Audiobooks can be great in the car as well. Ask someone who is an expert in a field to have lunch with you so that you can pick their brain. Buy them lunch if you need to, but learn. I’ve heard of one leader who kept small notecards in his suit jacket pocket, and when he learned something new from someone, he would write it down and hand it to his assistant who would file it away for him. You may not have an assistant, but you can file away what you learn. One great app to use on this is Evernote.
Now, I know these all seem basic, but I think if you focus on waking up early, creating and maintaining positive connections, getting the right amount of sleep, eating healthy food and drinking plenty of water, and choosing to intentionally learn, you will find your life become more peaceful. You will have a greater sense of balance. You won’t feel like you’re frantically catching up because you’re taking ownership of your life, and creating the life on purpose that you want to live. Give these five a shot for two weeks, and journal how you feel at the end of each day. I bet you’ll feel less frantic and more at peaceful and purposeful very soon.