We sure struck a chord with our spring newsletter. We dedicated that issue to the “slow movement” and received a tremendous amount of positive feedback about how much the newsletter “hit home.” People could really relate to the desire to slow down.
While many people were able to connect with the need, fewer were able to successfully create change. Which got me thinking, why have some people been able to slow down and others have not?
My first thought was some people simply had made choices that, by their very nature, make for a crazy busy life (having kids, working in the technology industry or committing to too much).
Or maybe it was the phase of life they were in – younger children, older parents, peak earning years?
Without a doubt these factors, and others, were significant, but the fact remains that there are people with super fast-paced careers, complicated family structures and many personal interests who are able to live a much “slower” life than others.
KEEPING IT SIMPLE ISN’T SO SIMPLE
As I talked with people, it became clear that the major issue was not just the pace, but also the complexity, of our lives.
With virtually all the knowledge in the world at our fingertips, decision making is harder.
Whether you are trying to figure out what to eat for dinner, how to arrange a carpool for your children, how to save for college or how to help your aging parents age gracefully, the stakes are higher and the stress very real.
No wonder it sounds so good to slow down, but how the heck can you do it? What is the secret sauce to slowing down in an ever faster and more complex world?
It is clear there is no so silver bullet; it is a process and takes a “lifelong learning” mentality to thrive in our rapidly changing world. But it’s not impossible and there are resources to help you navigate seemingly mutually exclusive forces: increasing complexity and the need to slow down.
Thankfully, entire new industries have started — whether it’s a college counselor, a Medicare expert or a dinner delivery service — to help us slow down our ever-increasing, overly complicated lives.
FINDING YOUR HAPPY PLACE
The first step to simplifying and slowing down is to figure out how you are spending your time, what is causing you stress and where you can get help.
Take a moment and think about how your day is spent; what are the things that bring you joy and what are the tasks that make your blood pressure rise? Once you identify these things, you can figure out how to outsource certain tasks so you have more time for the things you enjoy.
TAPPING INTO KNOWLEDGE OF EXPERTS
One key is to use experts, who are available across nearly every field and are ready and able to help.
For example, Medicare is a reality, whether for you or your aging parents. Medicare Part D, the prescription drug benefit, is often changing and how to navigate the “donut hole” can be especially perplexing. Instead of spending hours on the Internet trying to wade through insurance industry propaganda, political positioning stories and thousands of pages of relevant information, there are “Medicare experts” to help people quickly navigate the system (including Alan Hamm, who WWP has on retainer for our clients and the parents of our clients).
What is covered, what is not, what forms need to be filed, to whom, by when and a host of other complexities can all be summarized in an action plan after a 30-minute phone call.
Sounds too good to be true? It’s not.
There are resources, including WWP, that can connect you to CPAs, estate planning attorneys and insurance agents. But even more than that, the teams of experts today includes mortgage bankers, reverse mortgage specialists, health care experts, elder care managers, family law attorneys, life and professional coaches, bookkeepers, social security and Medicare specialists, and college admissions counselors.
HELP IS JUST A CLICK AWAY
But it doesn’t stop there. The personal services space is just blossoming. There are online task masters, professional organizers and delivery services that are here to help.
If you need a personal virtual assistant, check out Task Rabbit, Redbutler.com or GetFriday.com to outsource tasks and give you extra time. If you need a plumber, want a hotel upgrade or have a question on your AT&T bill, these services will do all that and more. The top three requests to Redbutler are help with travel arrangements, conducting research and scheduling appointments.
If your home is cluttered and you don’t know where to begin, hire a professional organizer and look forward to a peaceful, organized environment. If you have an entry closet that is teeming with clothes and shoes, an organizer can sort, toss and create a space that makes you smile every morning when you grab your coat to head out the door.
If you don’t like to shop, try Amazon, InstaCart or Google Express. Imagine that instead of stopping at Target on the way home to grab school supplies, dog food and face wash, you logged on for 10 minutes, did the shopping and had items on your front door step when you got home?
Not only will you have gained extra time and avoided stress, but you have what you need in the simplest way possible. “It will literally change your life,” we’ve heard people say.
As much as technology has increased complexity, it also has helped simplify some tasks, especially for parents.
Shuddle (the Uber for kids) is growing in popularity as a way to get a child (or group of children) from school to soccer, piano or tutor, then back home again. This saves the time needed to do the driving, arrange the car pool or hire a day care provider.
Teamsnap is the go-to app for those with kids who play sports. The simple interface is packed with important details about location, time and uniforms. No more sifting through emails or calling the coach!
Learning how to delegate and trying new services can be scary, but the trade-off of gaining time and reducing stress – makes the leap well worth it.
So once you contemplate how you want to spend your time, you can find resources to help you offload the things that don’t bring you joy. If you love to shop but hate to cook, then use a dinner delivery service. If a stroll through a farmers market makes you smile, but managing travel arrangements makes you want to pull your hair out, then a virtual assistant will help you carve out time for doing what you love.
There are many people out there who want to simplify and thankfully we live in a time and place that offers solutions, experts and apps to help you keep make that happen.
So if you want time to travel the world, hike with your friends or just read to your child, thenfigure out what you can offload to make those things happen and then — enjoy!