Ever been stuck in first gear or tried to drive your car on ice? In either case, you put in a lot of effort and make very little progress. Our daily lives can be much the same way. Have you ever tried slowing down to go faster?
Over time, working too hard and too fast can take a toll, whether it’s on your car or your own personal health. Since February is National Heart Month, we want to remind you that slowing down is not only good for your health, it may actually make you perform faster in the long run. You can accomplish more things with less effort. Additionally, when you slow down, you have the ability to think beyond yourself and have a higher awareness towards others’ wants and needs.
Advantages of Slowing Down
While most of us enjoy checking off the box of a completed project, there is something to be said about slowing down. For one, accuracy tends to increase when you take the time to think things through. Isn’t it better to do things a little slower, but only have to do them once? When we rush, we have a higher propensity to make mistakes.
To learn more about slowing down for accuracy on the job, check out Alison Green’s blog about slowing down to avoid mistakes.
If we are a member of a team, working in a more controlled environment will help us get and stay in alignment with our team members. Just like that car engine that runs smoother and more effectively in fourth gear compared with first, a team operates the same way. If everyone knows their role and effectively works toward completing their part of the project, the team succeeds.
Slowing down to go faster also helps us find the right solutions to challenges and problems. If we rush into a project without all the information, we may misdiagnose a problem. Taking our time to assess exactly what needs to be done, and working it at a reasonable pace, will give us a better chance to correctly execute a problem we need to solve.
Ways to Slow Down to Move Faster
It’s easy to say we should slow down, but our workflow isn’t getting any lighter and the demands of our superiors are not letting up anytime soon. So how do we find the sweet spot between working hard and working smart? If our goal is to work effectively, efficiently and successfully, and to have enough energy from start to finish, then these five recommendations may help to improve your productivity.
- Ask for help. Asking for help is not always easy, especially if you happen to be in a position of authority or a resident expert in a particular area. As an authority figure, you may hold onto a basic belief that you are supposed to have all the answers. You think by asking others for help it might weaken your authoritative position. The same holds true for a resident expert in a field. You may believe asking others for help might position you as less brilliant than everyone thought you were.
The fact is that the only lack of brilliance is in not asking for help. No one has all the answers to everything, and everyone can use a hand from time to time. People typically like to help other people when they can and a person may be genuinely thrilled that you valued their skills enough to ask them for help.
- Delegate. Because no one is an expert in everything, all people need help from someone at some time. Everyone has something that they are very good at doing. If you just aren’t good at a certain task or in a certain area, find someone who is and delegate that task. Of course, be willing to return the favor when you hold an expertise in something in which they may need help in the future.
- Take a break. You are the office hero, continuously overachieving and exceeding expectations. And you love that image you project. But after awhile, it may be difficult to maintain that level of performance. Everyone needs a break so their brain has a chance to rest and recharge. Do your body and mind a favor and give it a rest every once in awhile. You’ll be surprised at how positively it responds with a new sense of rejuvenation.
- Pace yourself. It’s not a race, so stop trying to outdo everyone else. Working at an effective and steady pace, you will accomplish more than if you blow through your work and burn out your mind and spirit. You want to win the war, not the battle, so go at a pace you can feel comfortable long term.
- Celebrate your victories. We spend a lot of time working. Many of us spend at least one third of our lives at work, others even more. When we accomplish something, we need to take a step back and celebrate our victories. Appreciating what we have accomplished acts as fuel to energize our next endeavor. Stop and smell the roses!
While you’re doing this, remember to take a moment to recognize the accomplishments of your coworkers too. A little praise goes a long way in making a lasting connection with those you work alongside.
Why Pace Matters
Finding a reasonable pace at which to work may not only make you more productive, it may keep you healthier. You never know when your body or mind will be pushed beyond its limit. Avoiding continuously stressful situations is the first place to start.
While eliminating stress entirely may not be possible, we can take certain levels of stress and turn them into fuel to accomplish our goals. There is a definite difference between pushing yourself to expand your abilities and pushing yourself into exhaustion. Having multiple tasks on your plate may help you to focus and be productive, but living regularly in a world filled with stress is neither healthy nor advised.
During this National Heart Awareness Month, do something to minimize the unhealthy stress in your life. Our own company has two staff members that faced major heart surgery before age fifty; one of them in her twenties. Heart disease can occur at any age and for many different reasons. While you owe it your company to be productive, you also owe it to yourself and to your family to be healthy. Make today the day you try slowing down to go faster and witness the immediate results on your productivity, health and happiness. To learn more about better handling stress, check out my blog on how to turn negatives into positives.