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.
Speed Affects Your Family – Especially Your Children
Our fast pace at work affects our home life because you cannot just flick a switch and slow down when you get home. Your brain is still in fast-mode. Consequently you deal with your family in the same hurried fashion, which for those of you with children has disastrous consequences because children crave attention and connection. And it is difficult to ‘connect’ with your children if your mind is in fast-thinking mode. How many of you with children truly connect with them when you get home? Do you make long eye contact? Do you take them for a long slow walk to the local park? Do you read them a bed-time story that lasts at least 20 minutes? If you do then you are in a small minority. If you don’t then you are robbing yourself and your children of real happiness. Most fast-paced executives fall into the category of patting their kids on the head when they get home and then trying to distract them with TV or video games. We must remind ourselves that our kids will never be two years of age again or eight years, or 12 years or whatever age your kids are. Slow time with them is crucial. And the earlier there age the greater their need for your time. More than ever, and contrary to popular belief, children need quantity as well as quality time.
Is it About Switching Off?
Most fast-moving executives fall into the trap of solving the work-speed problem by trying to learn to ‘switch off’ and slow down when they get home. But it never happens. Never happens! It is virtually impossible to flick an internal switch and slow down when your brain has been on high-speed for eight to twelve hours. Some may be able to switch off work-related thinking but rarely have I met anyone that can actually slow down. It is very difficult for the brain to make that adjustment. It is like driving on a long highway doing 120 km/hour for eight hours and then reaching an exit where you have to slow down to 50km/hour. It feels excruciatingly frustrating. You feel the powerful urge to speed up again. Most of us have experienced this phenomenon and paid the price for it with a speeding ticket. Similarly we pay a high price in our personal life when we don’t slow down at home. A walk in the park after work helps. As does yoga or meditation. A fast and heavy gym workout is usually our choice of exercise but many practitioners are starting to realize that the principle of ‘no pain no gain’ actually does more harm than good. (There is a Slow Exercise movement also gaining popularity, which you can read about in Honore’s book). In any event all these activities take more of your time, in an age where we are so very time poor. To achieve work/life balance most people also take up hobbies and try to squeeze them into a schedule that is already bursting at the seams. Consequently they find themselves even more hurried. So they drive faster, walk faster, eat faster and talk faster. They squeeze every waking minute with something to do. We have all been brain-washed to think, “don’t just sit there do something”. When in fact the opposite is true: “Don’t just do something, sit there”. It is in those moments of silence, that creativity sparks in our mind and we gain our perspective.
So what is the answer to our ‘speed’ problem? The answer is clearly not in slowing down when you get home, but rather in working slower throughout the day. This may be a progression up and down in speed but generally slower. It is about easing into the day and easing out of the day. In returning to our car-on-a-highway analogy it is like starting the day at 60km/hour, accelerating to 80km/h then after lunch progressively shifting down to 70, then 60 then walking out of the office nice and relaxed at 50km/hour. So there is no adjustment needed for when you get home. You then only have to work on switching off. (An effective method for doing just that is to brain dump everything in a journal – See Chapter 12 of my book).
Tomorrow I will give you practical strategies on how to work slower throughout the day without compromising your work performance.
A dear friend of mine from New Zealand had his home burgled on the weekend. He took his family away for a great weekend to Lake Taupo for what he said “was the best break ever,” only to return home and find the front door open and belongings stolen. The most significant thing that was stolen however was his daughter’s innocence. For the first time she had to process the fact that there are ‘bad people’ in this world.
So how does one deal with such an event? Any parent will tell you that the best way to raise children is to continually distract them with more positive matters. (Children are easily distracted not because they are naive but because they live in the present.) The idea here is not to dwell on the event. Sometimes people spend too much time analyzing what went wrong and how it affected them emotionally. The issue grows in proportion to the amount of time they spend thinking about it.
It is no different in business. Ideas are stolen or ‘borrowed’ all the time. But I see so many entrepreneurs waste a lot of their focus and energy dwelling on it rather than getting on with it. They focus on the review mirror instead of the road ahead.
So whether you have been burgled in life or in business, the best way to deal with it is to learn from it, get over it and distract yourself with more positive matters. Focus on your mission and your goals. Wake up every morning and take action. Continue to eat well, exercise, love, laugh, create, innovate, communicate and build solid relationships with family, friends and associates. Very soon you will forget about the event.
What you choose to do in your future can never be burgled.