In a world that’s in a constant state of busy-ness being able to slow down can be very hard.
We worry that if we go slow we might miss something, or we simply can’t find enough time in the day to get everything done that demands our attention. There’s also a concern that if we take our foot of the accelerator we’ll get left behind.
Not being able to slow down isn’t good for us.
When we are constantly ‘on’ and rushing we can easily miss what is happening around us. Our brain gets so focused on the task at hand we ignore other ideas or inputs that really should be factored in. We become blinkered to alternative perspectives, as our attention is on getting the task finished.
There’s times when we need to operate with speed, and times when we need to cruise.
And by cruising I’m not suggesting that you kick back and do nothing, but rather you consider how you deliberately construct your day so you have time for reflection, to think and ponder, to wonder and daydream.
It is in this space that ideas will arise, problems will be solved and new perspectives will be gathered.
Now I love getting things done and ticking tasks off my ‘to do’ list and getting the dopamine hit that arises every time I get something accomplished or finished.
However, it is when I am cruising that my best ideas come to the surface. Issues that were challenging, no longer appear so hard. Problems that looked perplexing get resolved.
Rushing is easy. We can all look busy. Finding time to think and reflect is much harder. It’s far harder to not look busy, in a world that rewards busy-ness.
As the author Henry David Thoreau said, “It’s not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”
Being able to slow down is a habit, just like setting up a regular exercise routine, meditation practice or reading every night before you go to sleep.
If you want to create the habit of being more mindful about when you need to be fast or cruise, it starts with considering:
- Do you have any allocated time for reflection and creative thought? If so, is this enough or do you need more time? You want to identify whether you are spending enough time in this state, and if not, what you need to do about it.
- If you don’t have any allocated time, what’s stopped you from doing this to date? You want to be clear on what’s stopped you from doing this in the past and how you can remove those roadblocks.
- How much of your day is spent productively? The more you know how you spend your time, the easier it is to carve out time for cruising.
- What could you stop doing or do less of to create some cruising time in your day? This is so you can identify where there are potential opportunities in your day to reflect and slow down. If you don’t get deliberate about this practice, it won’t happen.
- What are the benefits of having some allocated cruising time for you and those around you? If you want to create a new habit you need to be clear on what the reward or pay-off from that new habit is – otherwise it won’t happen!
Change happens. Make it work for you.
Michelle Gibbings is a change leadership and career expert and founder of Change Meridian. Michelle works with global leaders and teams to help them get fit for the future of work. She is the Author of ‘Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work’. For more information: www.michellegibbings.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org