Slowing Down

We live in a very fast-paced world. Slowing down sounds unimaginable, especially when many of us feel like we’ve got a lot of catching up to do. We’re constantly plugged in, constantly rushing and constantly stressed that we’re not where we should be in life. It’s a bit of an epidemic.

Time is one of our most precious commodities. But the older we get, the more aware we are of how it might run out. Ironically, I’m going to argue that slowing down may open a whole new world of creativity and productivity that you didn’t think was possible.

5 Ways Slowing Down Will Change Your Life:

1. It will decrease your stress

Mornings are stressful. Even more so if you’re trying to get kids out the door. But the added pressure you put on yourself and them to “hurry up” doesn’t actually help you in any way. What it will do is escalate your stress and start your day off on the wrong foot. You’ll also be taking that energy with you on your commute. Now, time that could be spent generating new ideas turns into time spent re-centering yourself. Give yourself a break. Let a crowded subway pass and get the next one. Let someone get in front of you while you’re in traffic. The impact it will have on your time is minimal compared to the impact it will have on your stress.

2. You’ll make interesting connections

When you’re rushing from here to there, you miss opportunities to make new and meaningful connections with the people in your universe. Take, for example, the mom who is always rushing to work after she drops her kid off at school. That was me, and a few moms called me out on it one day. The very day they didn’t say hi as I approached was the day I actually had made the decision not to rush. So I stopped and engaged them and they seemed surprised. “You’re always in a rush,” they said. Since then they have become good friends but had I stuck to my rush, it never would have happened. Giving myself permission to be slightly behind schedule when it’s not urgent to stay exactly on schedule has been a gift. I run into old friends and cross paths with people that brighten my day.

Yes, I still run into friends when I find myself rushing but I slow down. I allow myself to have the moment and to enjoy the encounter, to listen to a personal story an old friend I haven’t seen in a long time may launch into. It’s ultimately what we’re here for, connections to others.

3. It will help you think more clearly

Sometimes, in an act of self preservation as you’re trying to manage your morning your mind may just shut down as you go through the motions of getting everyone else out the door. Then as you’ve locked the door behind you, the thought hits you…you’re glasses…WHERE ARE THEY????  Stress compromises the neurons in the brain that allow you to think clearly. Taking a step back to stop the rush and just give in to where you are will probably help you get to where you need to be a lot faster than if you kept rushing! You’ll also get there more safely!

4. You’ll produce better work

Rushing not only causes you to think less clearly but it also puts the focus on simply getting things done so you can cross them off your list. As a result the quality of your work may suffer. Getting something done doesn’t necessarily mean it’s done well. You want to be the best you possible and that best you wants to produce top quality work. Allow yourself some breathing room. Slowing down will help you think more clearly one one project at a time. You’ll come up with better ideas and better work to show for it.

5. You’ll be happier

Rushing becomes habitual. You have to unlearn it as a behavior. Not only will it impact your physical health if you don’t, your emotional health will suffer as well. Rushing puts you in a state of resistance. You’re fighting against a clock, against traffic, against deadlines. For all our rushing to get everything accomplished, we often find we missed a big piece of the puzzle along the way. We missed the things that make our actions satisfying. Ironically when we slow down and do less we feel more accomplished and more fulfilled. We feel like we’ve done more as a result. This season, the best thing you can do for yourself is make a conscious effort to slow down. Try it for a week and you’ll be surprised at how much richer your days will be.

I’m not promoting leaving others in a bind while you catch up with a friend or slacking off at work. What I am suggesting is putting things in perspective. A friend of mine who works at a fashion company told me there is a sign at her office that says “Relax, it’s just fashion people.” It’s not surprising they have very low turnover.