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.