Slow Down to Speed Up

When we are feeling harried or like we’re falling behind, our typical response is to try and move faster, to accelerate. And sometimes this can work. But more often, in our rush to catch up, we get sloppy. We miss critical details and overlook the obvious.

At a previous job, I worked with a guy who was constantly putting out fires all day long. He would jump from task to task, email to email, one after another. Some would argue he was getting a lot done. Technically, this was true. He was doing a lot, but with one crucial flaw:

Confusing motion with progress.

He was moving (a lot) but he wasn’t moving forward. Half of his emails were follow-up emails to address issues he missed, omitted or forgot the first (or second or third) time.

What my friend needed to do was slow down—something entirely counterintuitive when we’re feeling overwhelmed and overloaded. He needed to pause, take a few deep breaths, and collect and order his thoughts. Take 30 seconds now to save himself 20 minutes later.

At the other end of the spectrum, it is also easy to over-analyze, over-plan, and over-think. If we slow down too much, we may run the risk of slipping into inertia, accomplishing little.

Slow down enough to speed up, but not so much that you start losing steam.

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