How to reclaim a sense of calm when you’re time poor but design savvy

In my recent trend seminars and media events I’ve been discussing the new luxuries of Time, Space and Quiet.  Our online & offline lives are busy, crowded and noisy, and nothing is going to change soon about that pace and intensity unless we take control ourselves.

ABOVE right: The most popular book on our Trend Hub at Decor + Design was by Danielle Marchant.  (Photographed on Tektura’s beautiful Quartz Block wallcovering).

Answering email requests, keeping up with insta & facebook posts, joining in on whatsapp chats, photographing, sharing, liking every significant and remotely interesting moment, as well as actually being present in the real world is stressful.  I’m not sure that all of my connected activities give me the great feeling of connectedness or control they should or I hope for.  And I sense it’s the same for many other people too.  As the world becomes more complex and confusing, and we also attempt to navigate the online world, many people I’ve spoken to recently are becoming overwhelmed – not able or wanting to keep up with it all anymore.

Isn’t it time we stopped, reassessed and simplified EVERYTHING?  And then slowed the hell down.

2 things happened this summer that make me think the pace of life and demands we and others put on us are now out of control, and the pressure to share and be constantly available cranks it up to an unsustainable level.  Both were conversations I had with journalists at exhibitions, but on opposite sides of the world – one in the UK and the other in Australia.  The first conversation was with a Feature Writer for magazine.  When she was introduced to me, in order that I could show her around a trend display, she politely but firmly informed me that she could only spare 3 minutes.  3 minutes to meet a new person, see a display of products, comprehend and capture (both visually and verbally) predictions for the year ahead, express thanks and say goodbye.  I could see a look in her eyes that pleaded ‘Please find a way to help me get this done in 3 minutes and don’t add to my stress’.  By coincidence the first trend I talked her through was a trend we call CLARITY and it is all about slowing down the pace of life, simplifying, focusing-in on wellbeing and exercising restraint – basically living in a way that is mindful and leans towards a minimalist mindset (you can find out more about the CLARITY trend in this post by Laura and via the montages below).  In the end we spent 20 minutes together chatting about the trends and, perhaps even more importantly, about what was going on in her life that meant she had to get stuff done in 3 minutes!

ABOVE left: Presenting the trend seminar at Decor + Design in Melbourne in July.  Right: Writing this blog post whilst in Sydney.

The other conversation I had was with a Journalist who was at a lunch event at an exhibition and she was going to write a review of the show.  I asked her what she thought of the show and which exhibitors she liked and she told me she hadn’t had time to see the exhibition yet and wasn’t sure she was going to have time after the lunch either.  Hmmmm how you gonna write a review of a show you haven’t had time to see??

You know I think a lot of what was driving both of these women’s anxieties and driving the pace at which they were trying and failing to fit everything in was because of their phones – the constant contact with everyone, everywhere, all the time that kept reminding them there was more to do today so they’d better not waste a single minute.  Digital is meant to mean freedom – being able to complete tasks anywhere, making things easier and faster, which should give us more time for other activities…real world activities.  But don’t we just fill that time with more online stuff and feel the pull and pressure to keep up-to-date with everyone else’s updates; comparing ourselves and our lives to everyone else’s?  It doesn’t seem to me to create any extra time because the lure of our screens sucks us in and our time with it.

These pressures during our working day and in our private time are the reasons why I feel that creating room schemes and spaces that are calming is crucial to providing an emotional and physical sanctuary in our own homes that can lift us away from the stresses of work, social media pressures, online distractions, constant content consumption and the constant ‘busy’ state we’re trapped in.  We have to stop the glorification of ‘busy’.

When you remove the unnecessary, the meaningless and excessive aspects of your life your true nature is revealed and you can make purer choices.  I believe this often leads to a strong desire to live in spaces and with products that complement your new composed state of mind.

Making the rooms in your home and your outdoor spaces (as above) simplified comfort zones is an important step towards making your life simpler and more meaningful.  Trying to only purchase and surround ourselves with products that calm us and enrich our lives is key.  For me owning less ‘stuff’ is calming.  It means I am more considered and selective in my purchasing habits and the things I own are meaningful, bring joy, give me comfort or are functional; enjoyable and easy to use but limited in number.

Room schemes in soothing colours, that are understated and relaxed in style, visually quiet, pared back and simplified can cultivate calmness and improve your sense of wellbeing.  These spaces are the physical expression of a desire to enjoy the present moment – to be comfortable with ourselves and our surroundings; relaxed and in control.

Lounges, kitchens and outdoor spaces are great areas to explore the benefits of this design ethos…and so are bathrooms.  The bathroom is evolving to be a place of relaxation; a place devoted to personal wellbeing, rather than a purely practical space.  It can be a sanctuary from the stresses of modern life and even an escape from stresses within our own homes.  The very real luxuries of Time to yourself, Privacy and Quiet can be accessed in soothing, spa inspired bathroom designs.

Two things to contemplate:

Look around your home today and select one room or area to simplify.  Get rid of a few things.  Make more space.  Organise the stuff that’s left into groupings.  Create order.  Create a quiet corner to sit.  Consider the introduction of a big area of a calming colour based on the montages above.

Then be honest with yourself about your relationship with your phone, tablet and laptop.  Via all the screens in our lives we’re force fed a lot of information each day.  That info is trying to get our attention and persuade us to like something, click something, buy , favourite, pin, rate, review, disapprove or join something.  And none of it is important.  For me it’s time to begin to filter all this information and take action to block it in order to reduce distractions and tune in to myself rather than the online buzz.  You might be feeling these stresses too and, like me, feel time poor.  So perhaps it’s time you limited your time online too.  Here’s a book we’ve had on our Trend Hubs this year that might help.

2 thoughts on “How to reclaim a sense of calm when you’re time poor but design savvy

  1. I love this concept – especially creating outdoor comfort zones! Most of us spend so much time inside at our screens, so I think it’s really healthy if you can have access to your outside space and make it somewhere where you’d be happy to spend time. We really need to prioritise our mental health and well-being, and if we have the option to design our homes to do this then why not!

  2. Thanks so much for your comment Sophie. I’m glad you liked the ‘outdoor comfort zone’ concept. I truly believe design can have a huge role to play in improving wellbeing. Thanks for visiting our blog and I hope you’ll visit again 😉
    Victoria

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