I was walking recently when I came across these words painted on the ground: "Drop your pace".
It was a timely reminder; I'd been rushing around and was feeling overwhelmed by everything I had to do. Seeing these words, I slowed down and took a step back. Immediately, my perspective shifted.
It can be easy to get caught up in the belief that we need to go faster, check more and be ever more available, especially in a digital world.
We end up hunched over our screens feeling tense and endlessly cramming in more and more information until we hit overload.
We often can't seem to break this cycle once we get into it, as everything seems to demand our attention. In the thick of it, we can't distinguish which tasks are most important or worthy of our time.
This is why stepping back for even five minutes is helpful. We begin to regain perspective.
Even more helpful is stepping back for half a day or a day, switching off, taking time for thinking, exploring, and connecting in person.
After even a short time recharging like this, we return to work more productive, ready to go and thinking more clearly.
Balance and productivity go together, yet we don't always realize this.
Recharged, we can re-prioritize, getting on efficiently with the things that matter. We might even go so far as ignoring entirely the unimportant demands or calls for attention that we were so bogged down with amid waves of information overload before.
Often, the point that we most need a break, most need to drop our pace, is at the point where we feel we really can't stop.
Thinking about this reminded me of another phrase: 'Festina Lente,' or 'make haste slowly' (more haste, less speed).
Most of us are guilty, at one point or another, of charging ahead unthinkingly down a path (for example, on a new project), only to realize much later that we've gone off down entirely the wrong track. Or, we go so fast that we make mistakes.
We then have to retrace our steps, fix things or even start all over again. If only we'd slowed down ...
The digital world encourages us to go faster, respond instantly and rush things, but it doesn't always leave us time to think.
Deliberate steps in the right direction rather than hasty steps down the wrong track are more efficient in the long run.
By stepping away from information overload, we let ourselves get calm, get creative and tune in to different answers.
We make better decisions and notice how silly our frantic behavior was. We re-prioritize what is actually important and urgent.
When we're caught up in a cycle of demands, deadlines and digital overload, it can seem counter-intuitive to slow down.
But a reminder to drop your pace is often just what we need.