Finding ways to prioritise and simplify your life

Time Pressure On A Woman With Red Background

Overwhelmed and time poor?

It’s easy to become overwhelmed when life feels like a series of juggling acts between work and home.

At times it can feel as though you’re trying to keep a dozen or more plates spinning on poles, like they do at the circus, never really getting anywhere but too afraid to stop in case one of them is sent crashing to the floor and you lose all control.

I’ve been feeling a little that way of late, and one of the casualties has been this blog.

Apart from a hastily put-together short post after I was contacted to see if I’d publicise Bear Grylls ‘overcoming personal challenges’ TV programme, I haven’t turned a draft into a ‘publish’ since late February (and there’s a few filed waiting their turn).


I’ve learnt over my too many years to mention on this planet, there’s times when you feel so bogged down by unexpected events, that in order to reduce the unmanageable stress in your life you need to prioritise where you put your energy.

And that means allowing, and being okay with, a plate or two dropping.

One of the ways I’ve discovered is to ask myself whether each thing I do HAS to be done by me.

The two minute rule

Some years ago found a really useful ‘two minute rule’ which I printed out, attached to my computer, and followed when I worked as a ‘Midwifery Educator and Quality Co-ordinator’ in New Zealand:

Delegate it

Defer it

Delete it

Drop it

It’s mainly for email correspondence, but you get the picture.

Using your time and energy wisely

Living one of my dreams cruising the canals and rivers of UK on a narrowboat is an incredible experience, and one I hope we can continue for a long while.

However, returning to live in England has meant my closer proximity to family here brings responsibilities, as well as wonderful times together. My elderly father (he’s an amazing 94 years old), hasn’t been too well in the past few months. I know time with him is precious, and that’s been a priority.

But like most other people, we do need to earn money, both to live day-to-day and for my kiwi husband to apply for the next round of his British residency visa.

And whilst one-to-one coaching is something I love to do, supporting people to let go of limiting beliefs and discover what’s stopping them from living their dreams, I’m mindful that a nomadic narrow boating life will only allow me to take on a limited number of clients.

So this year I’ve begun another income stream, quite similar to an aspect of life coaching where we support clients to connect with their inner child. And I’ve discovered I have quite a talent for it – face painting! The delight on children’s (and adults come to that!) faces when they see themselves transformed is so energising.

I also write a blog about our boating, and have done since 2009. It’s one of the aspects of marketing for my husband’s business ‘The Home Brew Boat‘ which he’s set up on board and on-line this year. So again, that’s a priority.

Slow coaching

Last year I wrote a post called ‘Introducing the SLoW coach’.

It’s been one of my most popular posts.

And it’s also led to another opportunity to support people to find more life in their lives.

Many life coaches promote themselves as being there to support and encourage you to have and do more. And that’s great – for some people.

But what about doing less and BEING MORE? That’s what the evidence is pointing to currently, the tide is turing on the busyness we’ve been engulfed in.

Seriously, by stopping and reflecting, by being more mindful about what’s serving us and what’s slamming doors in our faces, we can focus on one thing at a time.

Prioritising your life

* In what ways do you deal with the feeling that you can’t possibly fit everything you ‘need’ to do into each day?

Contact me if you’re interested in knowing more about Slow Coaching …

Introducing the ‘SLoW Coach’


“Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.”
-~Eddie Cantor

When did you last stop to ‘smell the roses’, or allow yourself the time to ‘stand and stare’?

As far as any of us are aware, THIS LIFE IS IT! You can gamble on there being something else on ‘the other side’, but are you seriously going to leave living until a day that’s unlikely to even exist?

Can you subscribe to the belief that you can get more out of life, by ‘doing’ less?

Driven to succeed

If you’ve read my ‘About me‘ page, you’ll see I’ve spent a good proportion of my life as a driven woman.

Driven to do what you may ask?

A retroscope (a made-up word used by midwives!) is a wonderful tool, it means you can look back and see where you could have made different choices to have another outcome. Looking through my imaginary scope, I see someone who was trying to ‘prove’ something to herself and others, who, despite being a rather adventurous and naive teenager, could still ‘succeed’ in a career.

I’ve met, and continue to meet, people with similar aspirations.

Living in this fast-paced society, we feel (and IMHO are encouraged to believe) the only way to live is to cram it all in – our ever increasing workload and active social life – and sitting for any period of time in stillness and calm, is a selfish, fruitless and boring waste of time.

Being with my self

I had a bit of an epiphany when I made the brave move (alone) to live and work in New Zealand for nine months in 2001/2002.

I had a four-month contract as an agency midwife, at a small and friendly maternity unit in Gisborne, on the east coast of the North Island.  The remainder of the time, apart from five weeks with my amazing parents who came to visit and play, I was able to reflect on my life; my hopes and dreams.

I read Clarissa Pinkola Estes sensational book ‘Women Who Run With the Wolves‘, and had some incredible insights. I’d never had such a ‘self’ish time – I mostly adored it, but was also very challenged being with ME.

Returning to England in the summer of 2002, I soon resumed the speed-driven pace of life which appears to be inherent in British society, and allowed my ‘self ‘to be eaten up once more by my passion for changing the world of midwifery for the better.

I gained a prestigious post with the Department of Health, leading a midwifery recruitment and retention project, which basically entailed having almost no other life – but succeeded in raising the profile of midwifery and its R & R challenges – for a short time! But at what cost …

Slowing down

Fast forward (pun intended) three years from that period, and I was back in New Zealand, working part-time, though still in a senior post. I read ‘In Praise of Slow‘ by Carl Honore, and something ‘clicked’ inside me. Carl’s description of ‘the cult of speed’ rang so many bells for me.

I knew I’d succumbed to it so many times and on so many levels – and really wanted to get off the merry-go-round and have more life in my life.

By being busy all the time, we may be avoiding (consciously or not) being with our ‘selves’, and with those people who are important to us. One day we, and they, will no longer be here. And it’s highly unlikely that you’ll wish, on your death-bed, you’d gained another promotion, or saved (rather than spent on yourself) more money to leave for your family to squander.

The health risks of ‘busy’ness

This phenomenon of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, is creating health problems for women. Reading the fascinating book ‘Rushing Women’s Syndrome‘ by Dr Libby Weaver, I understood more fully how we affect our health by this culture of speed.

When we’re rushing around, our body interprets this as ‘stress’, and releases Adrenaline. The body thinks your life is in danger, and prepares itself for ‘fight or flight’.

But we rarely need to run away from a tiger, so we confuse our nervous system which burns sugar rather than fat.

How often do you reach for a sugary snack during the day? Dr Weaver alarmingly suggests that the cellulite on your thighs is caused by the mobilisation of glycogen out of the muscles – due to stress.

There’s so much more around this subject if you want to delve further, – check our ‘Dr Libby’ on Facebook

The SLoW Coach

As a fairly new Life Coach, I’m still defining my ‘niche’ market – who are the people I resonate the most with and can support?

One of my passions as a coach is obviously around looking at the balance of people’s lives, and working with them to see how they can ‘slow down’ a little (or a lot) to reflect and change what aspects aren’t working as well as they’d like.

I recall having a silver belt buckle designed (by one of my beautiful and talented sisters) and made when I was a nurse. My initials at that time were S.L.O., and they figured on the middle of the buckle which I still have and treasure.

I recently realised, that although I reverted to my maiden name over twenty years ago, my full name really does now spell out SLoW – Sandra Louise Walsh!

So maybe this is leading me towards where my expertise could be focussed in the future?

Shall I be ‘The Slow Coach? It’s certainly a new way of being for me, and it’s enriching my life in so many ways.

I challenge you to slow down a little whenever you can, get to know your self better, and make the magical moments of life last longer!

“Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you.”
–John De Paola

How do you value, and spend, your precious time?

Loving time


“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” ~William Penn

How often do you catch yourself saying ‘I don’t have enough time for …‘?

Could it be possible that the things you believe you don’t have time for, are the very things most likely to increase your happiness?

Which of these, do you regularly say with conviction:

I don’t have time to …”:

  • Shop for fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Cook healthy meals from scratch
  • Take regular exercise
  • Spend time with my family or friends
  • Talk openly with my partner about what’s important in our lives and relationship
  • Enjoy being outside gardening, or playing games with my children (or grandchildren/nieces/nephews)
  • Sit still and be mindful
  • Read that book
  • Go dancing

You may be able to add many more pleasurable and uplifting things to the list. Or even start your own?

The question I put to you is, “What are you spending the 24 hours of each day doing, and prioritising  that leads you to really believe you’re deprived of quality time”?

Possible time ‘wasters’

Let’s consider three possibilities.

Working hours

Progression in the 19th and 20th centuries brought with it an increase in machinery, and subsequently computers and other technology. It was believed by the 21st century we’d be working less hours, freeing up more time for leisure. Is that true? It certainly doesn’t appear to be – but do correct me if I’m wrong. Or maybe we could be, but the pay has decreased disproportionately so to keep up with the lifestyle we aspire to we feel we have to continue to work long hours?

Or are we led to believe by subtle (but very clever) marketing messages that it’s important to have bigger and better careers, houses, cars, computers, phones, clothes, holidays in the exotic places, etc. We then find ourselves living to work, rather than working to live.

Maybe it’s time to ask whether we really need to?

What if each individual stopped trying to keep up with, or impress, anyone else?

Would you still need to earn as much as you are now?

What could you cut back on to release some expenditure?

One of the uplifting things for me about living in New Zealand for eight years, was most people’s lack of attachment to material possessions. It seemed accepted as ‘the norm’ to work part time, i.e. less than a forty hour week. And these were some of the happiest people I’ve met.


The other thing I’ve noticed since returning to England to live, is the excessive number of shops and shopping outlets. Now I realise there’s a dichotomy here in that if people don’t shop, businesses don’t survive. But how much of it is a catch 22 situation?

The more people shop, the more shops are needed.  The more shops are needed, and the more money people spend on things they don’t need, the longer people have to work to keep said shops open.

I’m currently living on a very tight budget, as my husband and I have chosen to leave our ‘proper jobs’ to travel the waterways of England.  This has really opened my eyes to how much money we used to waste on unnecessary ‘stuff’ – even when living in New Zealand!

As Will Smith says: “Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.


I challenged a client recently to consider giving up watching the television for one night of the week. She was initially aghast at this suggestion.  Her relationship wasn’t going well, and she believed her partner didn’t love her ‘enough’ – what on earth would they talk about? They both worked full time and had different interests that kept them occupied at the weekends. I’d asked what they did in the evenings after work. They generally ate ‘fast food’, as they didn’t have time to shop or cook ‘healthy’ options.  They then flopped in front of the TV until bedtime, when they were so exhausted and sluggish they just slept.

She took up the challenge.  Next time we met, her energy had changed dramatically, and she excitedly informed me her relationship had turned a corner. They’d begun to talk to each other. They’d made a plan to exercise together in the evenings – walking or running. They’d reconnected, found themselves and each other once again. Within six months they’d unexpectedly changed jobs – and countries.

This may be an extreme example. But ask yourself how much time you spend each day, week and month watching ‘the box’. What are you watching? How is it contributing to your happiness? Is it instead giving you the impression that the world is full of terrorists? Or conversely that everyone else is happier, richer, smarter and luckier than you?

Turn off the TV!

Turn off the TV!

Making time count

Imagine being diagnosed with an debilitating illness.  This could be something mild like a migraine, or a life threatening diagnosis. Consider whether you would continue spending your time in the same way you are now?

If you had a migraine, you’d have to take time off work, you’d have to get someone to look after the children and do the shopping and cooking. If you hear the worst and find your days are limited – will you feel as though you’ve spent your time wisely?

Ask yourself today the following:

  1. Is everything I do absolutely necessary? Write down each day how you spend your time, and keep this going for a month.  At the end of this time, highlight those things that were essential and which were desirable, which ones you did out of a sense of duty or habit. What could you let go of?
  2. Do you have to do everything you do, or could you ask someone else for help? It’s true that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Do you enjoy playing ‘the rescuer’, and need to feel needed? Do you take over and organise everyone else so they feel they can’t possibly live without you? How does that help you or others? What would it mean for you to hand some things over?
  3. If you knew in advance the day and time of your departure from this world, what would be the most important things for you to spend your time doing? A mantra of mine is ‘carpe Diem’, seize the day, from that wonderful film ‘Dead Poet’s Society’. None of us know what’s round the next corner. The world could be struck by a meteorite at any time and in an instant we’d be wiped out. Are you spending your valuable time trying to be someone you’re not, trying to please everyone, spending money on things you don’t need so you have to work longer? How can you begin to change this?

I’d love to hear from you about the ways you’re spending your valuable time, and where you could change to accommodate more of your pleasurable and heart-centred activities …