We are sold the myth that we can sprint all the way. That to be successful in life we should be striving for the finish line all the time.
The truth is too much time at full throttle leads to burnout.
Knowing when and how to slow down is important as it allows us to:
- Refresh and recharge
- Take in the scenery a little
- Review where we are and where we want to get to
Ironically, slowing down can also mean we get more, not less of what is important to us done.
So how can we start to benefit from the powers of slowing down?
1) Read the Signs
Knowing when we need to sprint and when to slow down is important. We need to heed the signals our mind and body are giving us. Too much time in flight will quickly lead to hitting the wall. Too much time idle will get nothing done. We need a synergy between the two.
Some signs that might mean we need to consider slowing down include:
- Unusual irritability (are things that would normally go over your head bothering you?)
- Out of character nervousness or dread about something
- General and continuing feelings of anxiety
- Full blown stress
Take the hint and make some time to slow down.
2) Value the Importance of Rest
Rest is as important as action. They have a Yin and Yang relationship and cannot thrive without the other.
Treat rest as the priority it should be and know that some slow time is as essential as time spent with your foot on the accelerator.
3) Embrace White Space & Commit to Less
We need to be careful what we say yes to. We do this by only committing to those things we either really want to, that support our goals and dreams in some way or those things we have to do. Otherwise we can create some intentional space in our diary.
This white space can seem strange if we’re used to having a full to the brim schedule. However, if we persist we can enjoy the space as a chance to recharge or fill the time with something meaningful to us that supports our goals in life (i.e. a hobby or passion project).
4) Apply Some 80/20 Magic
Using some of Vilfredo Pareto’s wisdom, we can identify the tasks that we currently spend 80% of our time on (it could be more or less).
To aid this process, we can ask ourselves some probing questions.
Are these tasks aligned to our goals in life?
Are they getting us closer to achieving what we want to?
Are they meaning our quality of life is increased?
If not, maybe we should be replacing them with something else.
Regular 80/20 analysis allows us to reduce the unnecessary so the necessary has room to breathe.
5) Single Task
Being productive doesn’t mean doing lots of things at once. It means completing and getting things finished. Once complete, then we move onto the next task or goal. Put enough completed actions together and we’ll soon be flying and achieving lots.
Forget multi-tasking and single task instead.
Slow down and get more done. Truly a winning combination.
Carl is the proud owner of Frictionless Living which is focused on helping readers live a simpler, more personally satisfying, life. He is also the author of several books including: Slow: Seeking Stillness in Fast Paced Times and Need Less, Live More.