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Embrace the moments in-between

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Our days are filled with gaps and transitions as we wait at traffic lights, the bus-stop or the school gates. These micro moments offer us the opportunity to tune in with the whispers of our soul. Solutions and revelations reveal themselves, creative inspiration strikes, worries or aspirations emerge.

In reality, many of us reach for the devices in our pockets: we want to be entertained or inspired, we want to catch up on work or get ahead on life admin. Often, it’s simply a reflex.

We don’t want to be bored and we are afraid of engaging in a dialogue with ourselves to explore what we truly need and desire. It’s much easier, and less challenging, to move through our days on autopilot. That way we stay safe and never risk failure in the pursuit of our dreams; we avoid having to admit the lover, home or job is no longer good for us. Our smartphones allow us to zone out instead of tune in during those slices of ‘wasted’ time.

For years, I struggled with insomnia. Sleep eluded me on many nights when I was utterly exhausted. My head hit that pillow and the mental chatter commenced its epic conversation. It was like a dull and unwelcome dinner party guest who dominates the evening. The problem was I crammed every waking moment with stimuli and I raced through my days. There was no room in my crazy schedule to process the thoughts and emotions that came up each day, so they made an appearance at bedtime and drove me crazy.

Now, I welcome these moments in between – the shower, the coffee shop queue, the station platform – and I allow my mind to wander, daydream or make connections. Sometimes the urge to reach for my phone is overwhelming because I don’t want to be alone with my thoughts. Mostly, I try to move through this discomfort and enjoy the micro pause: I notice the small physical niggles that can be symptomatic of stress or anxiety; I wonder about a future scenario and acknowledge, for the first time, a new life goal. Embracing boredom and opening up space to acknowledge my fears or fantasies feels more constructive than filling my brain with digital noise for the couple of minutes it takes for the barista to pour my flat white.


  1. Pay attention to how many micro moments you have each day. It might be 30 seconds while your bread is in the toaster or five minutes outside your yoga class.
  2. Notice how many times each day you have the urge to reach for your phone, the newspaper, the TV remote rather than just wait for the moment in-between to pass.
  3. Do you feel better or calmer after filling that moment in-between with external stimuli?
  4. Resist the desire to check your inbox, feed or account. When it feels really difficult, ask yourself why. Inhale deeply and notice what your body wants to tell you; what feels tense or numb? What thoughts come into your mind? Do you daydream or ruminate?

Want to dig deeper? Check out these links: Good Sleep Hygiene, Press Pause Podcast Interview, What Happened to Downtime? The Extinction of Deep Thinking and Sacred Space.

Founded in 2014 by Londoner, author and speaker Clare Barry after experiencing burnout, Urban Curiosity is a creativity and wellness company that helps busy people slow down and see things differently. Clare passionately believes our time, energy and attention are our most precious resources. The World Health Organisation predicts more than 70 per cent of us will live in an urban place by 2050 and her mission is to show you that it is possible to live in a hectic, cacophonous city and still find moments of quiet, calm and heartfelt human connection every day.

Clare Barry is Life + Me’s Urban Wellbeing Expert. If you have a question for Clare for our Q+As, or if you have a suggested topic you would like Clare to cover, email [email protected]

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