To Do More, First Slow Down

Racing snailsHave you ever hung up from a phone call and as soon as you hear the “click,” you flash on an important question you needed to ask that person? Moments like this are when I realise I am working too fast for my own good. By slowing down, for example, by taking the moments I needed to prepare for that call in the first place, I would have ultimately saved myself time in the long run. Had I fully prepared for that call before making it, I could have completed everything in one call instead of having to make a second call for conclusion. In this case my desire to move faster really cost me in the long run.

So how do you effectively slow down so you can speed up? There are two critical steps:

1. Identify what is working. . . and do more of that.
2. Identify what is not working. . . and change it.

So how do you learn what is working and what is not? One of the easiest ways is to take an inventory. For three to five days really look at what you do in a day. Write it down. What systematic actions do you take that are comfortable for you? What have you practiced enough that you do those actions easily, maybe even without thought? What do you do that wastes time or could be done more effectively? When you take a thorough inventory of what you do already that is working, or not, you gain an opportunity to become more effective, that is, to “speed up.”

If you don’t notice what is not working, you can’t fix it. This is not about making judgments of what is “right” and what is “wrong.” It’s about seeing what moves me toward where I want to be and what is keeping me stuck. Acknowledgement of this awareness is an excellent first step in moving forward. When I notice the details of how I currently perform various tasks, I can then consciously choose to change those methods, allowing me to “speed up” over time. This results in more opportunities at the end of the day for additional work or even play.

So what tasks are you currently, consistently performing that might be holding you back? For example, do you currently rewrite your “to do” list each morning? Do you tend to multitask on everything?

Once you have identified how you currently work, you can make effective choices to help you speed up. For example, does it really make sense to continue to take precious minutes each morning re-writing your “to do” list just because “that’s how I’ve always done it”? Or if you multitask, might you consider focusing on one task to completion to see how that works. This change alone often results in less total time to task completion and you’ll discover more time to focus elsewhere. Even if you need to multitask much of the day, take time to apply singular focus to one or two tasks a day. By performing this experiment you can better determine which tasks might be fine done in parallel and which are completed more effectively given singular focus. Once you identify these patterns you can consciously choose changes to become more effective.

Objectively look at your habits, your ideas, and your existing and desired skills so you can get better and go faster. Take the time now to slow down. . . to re-dedicate your focus, so you can move in a positive direction and hold your pace. We tend to lose sight of how much more we can accomplish when we stick to a plan of taking deliberate and focused actions toward clearly defined outcomes. Change is rarely easy but often critical to move us where we want to go.

So commit to yourself to slow down right now, by taking an inventory of what is working and what is holding you back. Once you’ve identified the things you want to change you can start changing those . . . ultimately helping you speed up.