So how do you work slower throughout the day? Try adopting some of the following strategies:
- Don’t schedule in more than two meetings per day. And meetings should not last more than an hour.
- Don’t schedule any meetings after 3pm. It is the most unproductive time of day and also the time of day where most misunderstandings and therefore conflicts occur.
- Don’t pick up your second line (or call waiting) when you are already on a phone call.
- Don’t rush your meetings or phone calls. Take your time and ensure that you understand the objectives and outcome of a discussion.
- Listen more and absorb what the other person is saying.
- Don’t take on too much work. Learn to say ‘no’.
- Don’t rush your individual tasks. Enjoy doing them to the best of your ability knowing and reminding yourself that the service you give affects the customer. Visualise them praising you for the good work you will do.
- Don’t accept any last minute deadlines imposed on you. Last-minute deadlines usually arise from somebody else’s inefficiency. It is somebody else problem. Don’t make it yours unless it is truly an exception requiring you to go beyond the call of duty.
- Take a walk at lunch – preferably where there is a park or trees. Go alone.
- Take at least 45 minutes for lunch.
- Take a packed lunch to work for at least three days in the week. You will get more nutrition and you will save money.
- Keep a photo on your desk and look at it throughout the day. It could be a photo of your partner, your children or a picture of your next holiday destination.
These are just some of many strategies that we can each adopt. For those of you who are self-employed you will find that when you work slower then you can choose to work whenever and wherever you are without compromising your quality of life. Because working slower reduces stress. Stress management is a major challenge in our working lives. But people don’t realize that the problem is not the work we do but the speed in which we do it. For example when we are faced with a problem (or challenge) at work that same problem can generate different levels of stress depending on your frame of mind. If you tackle the problem in a slower frame of mind the problem shrinks in stature and the solution comes clearly and simply. The opposite applies when you are hurried. Problems are magnified unnecessarily and viewed as potential disasters. That is why most fast-paced and stressed people are caught in a cycle of worrying about things that never materialise. They blow things out of proportion.
Therefore working slower can solve your stress problem a lot cheaper and a lot more effectively than gym memberships, counseling sessions and pub drinking sessions.
The next burning question that I am sure you are about to ask is: Does slowing down at work reduce productivity and the business profitability? The answer is “definitely not”. Think tortoise and the hare. The fact is you are more effective when you slow down. You are more focused, more methodical, more thorough, more alert, more relaxed, and more creative. And all this facilitates better customer service and better management of yourself and others that work with you.
We have to also acknowledge that most of the time pressure we put ourselves under is self-inflicted because we tend to waste time here and there throughout the day. By managing your time more effectively you will find that there is never a need for speed at work. Time management is simply adhering to the cliché that “there is a time to work, a time to rest and a time to play.” To do this, simply apply what I call the “Triple 8 Rule”. We have 24 hours in the day:
- 8 hours for sleep
- 8 hours for work, and
- 8 hours for socializing and relaxing
Too much sleep makes you sluggish. Not enough sleep makes you tired and irritable. Too much work makes you stressed but not enough work makes you feel dissatisfied and bored (not to mention poor). Too much social time makes you directionless but not enough makes you boring and stressed. A fine balance between these three is the key. There are many books written on time management and I do not intend to bore you with the obvious; suffice it to say that you will find that it is a lot easier to slow down if you manage your time effectively. In addition to energy it is your most valuable resource. So slow down and smell the roses. Shed your cynicism. Sit and reflect and grow rich in mind. Listen to music you love. Savour the flavour of food and wine. Take the time to really listen to people. Take a slow stroll in the park. Daydream about your next holiday. Look into your children’s eyes and see the wonder and excitement for life.
Hopefully we in the service industry will gain momentum on this issue and start a Slow Service Movement that will improve our quality of service and more importantly our quality of life. We owe it to our customers, to our family and most importantly to ourselves.
Tomorrow I am off overseas on a relaxing break with my family. Its a time for slow living and really connecting with the family. Its also a time when most of my creative ideas come flowing.
See you in 8 days.