Emeka and Ifeyinwa believe that by doing less, we can actually enjoy more. So they are challenging you our chop-chat-chillers to live life more slowly. Here are five ways our co-founders each try and slow life down.
1) Take time to reflect
Emeka: Write down five things you’re grateful for. I do this every morning, so I’m reflecting on the day before. Do it whilst having breakfast, after your run or on the train to work (instead of Pokemon Go). Often I recall the small things, such as the little boy who I saw hugging his mum on the bus. I also like to reflect on the impact I’ve had on others, such as friends who have confided in me and who I’ve been able to help. From time to time, you unlock a gratitude treasure chest and the positive emotion just overflows and you want to rush to thank everyone in your phonebook. Everyday it leaves me happier though and typically I end up writing at least ten things.
Ifeyinwa: For me, my diary is my everything. Take my phone. Take my laptop. I’ll survive. But don’t take my diary. At the end of each day, I write in my one-line-a-day journal. It runs for five years: each page allows me to write an entry for the same date over a five-year period. So when I write today’s entry I’ll be able to see what I did the year before and the year before that. It reminds me of little moments I’d forgotten and also shows me how much I’ve progressed with certain challenges. I love looking through it. I also have another diary where I’ll write longer, more detailed entries.
For me, writing is like pressing pause on life and giving me the space to do a personal check-in. I’ve had friends tell me they’ve tried and failed to keep a diary. But it’s not something you can “fail” at. It can just take you a while to develop the habit. And there’s no wrong or right way to do it. A great starting point is that one-line-a-day journal. Or if you want to have the freedom to write more, buy yourself a nice book (you can do it on your laptop but I find it more beneficial to be away from a screen), get a pen and try it.
2) Switch Off
Ifeyinwa: I don’t have any of the social media apps (except Whatsapp) on my phone for personal use. The sites can be great sometimes but they’re also just very loud. You’re bombarded with so much information, which you can do your best to filter, but you still lack a certain amount of control. Just think of the amount of distressing news or general negativity that gets posted and reposted each day. If I’ve read an article once, I don’t want to keep being reminded of it or see pictures or videos throughout the day or week. So I’ll log off for a couple of days and even when I return I’ll limit the amount of time I’ll be on it for. If you’re feeling drained or particularly annoyed after logging in, maybe it’s a sign that you should try logging off too.
Emeka: WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook Messenger, Text, work e-mail, personal e-mail…thank you for the day’s connectivity but it’s 10pm. Now, everything off! Initially, I feared I'd be missing out on important messages from friends and family. The reality is that “emergency” very rarely happens or that really important message can wait until the next day. You don’t even have to switch your phone off, just slip on flight mode and chuck it in the drawer. Pick it up again at 8am the next day. That’s ten hours of blissful non-connectivity.
3) Do Less
Ifeyinwa: Because there are seven days in a week I used to take that to mean there were seven days for me to work, play or both. I failed to allocate a day, or even an hour, for rest. Now, I try to commit to less in advance. If I’ve got one social engagement in a week or two big meetings, I’m not adding any more to my diary. I’m trying to adopt a sustainable way of living. Just because I could do something, doesn’t mean I should. It means saying no a lot more, which can make you unpopular, but it’s important to know and respect your limits.
Emeka: “You don’t have to dance to the beat of every drum.” My pops scolded me with this when I was thirteen years old. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties and run down that I understood what he meant though. I don’t have to say yes to everything or everyone. Focus your energies on those who matter most. My family are my number one and close friends are my number two. I will try to make time for them, no matter what. It's a harsh reality but the truth is we can't be that close with everyone. And sometimes, even when we want to go to that rave, we’ll sleep better and feel better the next day (in more ways than one) if we stay in and catch up with the most important person – ourself. (Disclaimer: this is the one I find hardest to implement and I'm still working on Ifeyinwa's tip of not cramming in my days with work or social activities).
Emeka: I love to rave. Those who have seen me on the dance floor can testify to the flailing arms and legs that have taken them out. I also love a project. And when I’m focused on a particular one then I need all my energies for that. A regular sleep pattern is key to that. The regularity can’t be underestimated. Our bodies crave rhythm. I literally set two bedtime alarms: number one is to start thinking about going to bed; number two is to pack up ASAP. As the saying goes, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” – and that's the ambition.
Ifeyinwa: I nap. All the time. One of my friends jokes that whenever he calls me I’ve just woken up from a nap. I used to feel bad about it and think it was a sign of weakness but I’ve accepted now that sometimes it’s necessary, especially on days when I’ve done a long run. I’ll feel my body become heavier, tasks are taking longer or I’m making more mistakes, so I’ll take myself to bed. Instead of trying to push through it, I’ve learnt to listen to what my body is telling me.
5) Schedule a break
Emeka: Ifeyinwa and I both love travelling. I would say she caught the bug from me, seeing as I’m the older one. It’s kind of like chickenpox! The fact is, in London there’s lots to do, any day at any time. And as I’ve already expressed, I find it hard to say no to things and switch off properly unless I’m away. But for me, travel doesn’t necessarily mean leaving the UK. I went to school in Winchester, Hampshire and I love getting out to the countryside when I can. When I jump on that train from Waterloo and see the city disappear in the background, my heart feels immediately calm.
Ifeyinwa: It is important to make sure your break really is a break. Just because you’ve left your home city doesn’t necessarily mean you’re relaxing. We’ve all been there when we come back from holiday exhausted because we crammed so much in. Every now and then schedule a trip with no plans. Just go and be.
Many of us are “living the fast life instead of the good life”. We are obsessed by speed, addicted to the adrenaline rush. The danger is that we only slow down once we've had a serious wake up call. The two of us are slowly realising that life is a marathon not a sprint. So we are trying to embrace our inner tortoises to make sure we enjoy it along the way. We challenge you to join us and try to slow your life down.
Emeka & Ifeyinwa x