Slow Down You Move Too Fast

This last week I had 5 flights in three days and worked in three cities. Now I’m back home in Mexico trying to slow down.

Today we set out on some errands and met some friends. Result, a long lunch and fewer errands achieved. The relaxation factor went way up.

Remember the Slowskis, the two tortoises on the TV ad reveling in a slower paced life. Maybe there is more to the commercial than just the product being sold, faster internet service.

Slow is good. And so is having unstructured time and shorter days. Good for our health and good for productivity.

If working longer hours is not the answer to increased productivity, then what about working faster? This belief was challenged by psychologist Guy Claxton in his book

Claxton summarized research which strongly indicates that some problems are better solved by slower paced, intuitive thinking which originates from the unconscious mind rather than the fast-paced, analytical, “meet-the-deadline” thinking with which we are all more familiar.

This finding flies in the face of prevailing business practices which demand fast, logical thinking as the way to solve business problems. Contrary to popular belief, at times we need to learn how to slow down our thinking rather than speed it up.  This is especially true, Claxton argues, for the development of complex and original ideas.

A couple of years ago we moved to Mexico and in our town, at least, slowness is a way of life. This takes time for folks North of the border to get used to. I was standing in a bank line and a person was taking forever to use the cash machine. I muttered under my breath in English, “Is he taking out a home loan or something. Get a move on, hurry up”. I was surprised when a Mexican woman turned around and said “Sir, you need to calm down”

Lesson received.

What then can you do to slow your life down before some life crisis does?

The demands of your job will not let you work the proverbial “Four Hour Work Week“. You do not have to feel bad about working so hard.

But we can intentionally create pauses in our day by

1. Restricting our email times and visits to social networking sites

2. Finding silence in nature

3. Creating stillness in our minds through focussed activity such as the practice of yoga or meditation

4. Celebrating pauses in conversation and enjoying moments of silence

5. Taking restorative power naps at work

6. Turning the TV off, or better still, don’t turn it on.

Change your focus from noise to silence and from speed to slowness.  And it is likely to change your life. Just as music has pauses between notes or else it is noise, so create pauses in your life. In line with the previous blog, in so doing, open up room for your imagination to soar.

Listen to the Slowskis.

Question

How do you slow down your life?

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About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
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