“I’m a slacker if I’m not constantly accomplishing something. I’m afraid others will think I’m lazy. I need to do more, faster.”
This belief that we MUST be uber productive to be worthy is killing our confidence and our ability to get stuff done.
Acting with the idea that “more is always better, so I need to do more” contributes to:
- Anxiety: “How will I ever get where I want to?”
- A mindset of scarcity and impatience: “I’m not doing enough”
- Fear: “If I don’t create what I want here, then I won’t be okay in life.”
- A scattered mind: “So much to do, so little time!”
The counterintuitive solution to productivity may lie in the very thing we fear will impede it: slowing down.
The benefits of slowing down are numerous. Research has found that when we’re idle, we allow our minds to wander. And that daydreaming makes us more creative and better at problem-solving.
Slowing down is a great productivity tool. When our energy is depleted, we can’t possibly be as productive because we’ll be out of fuel to burn.
If slowing down is so important, why don’t we do it more often? Why isn’t “mindful and slow” our default state?
There’s something attractive about the idea that hard work can solve all your problems. It’s simple and gives you a clear path forward. To be fair, it’s rooted in a gem of truth: action begets results.
But it’s not the whole story.How you do something matters just as much as the fact that you do it.
The goal of slowing down isn’t to go slower. It’s about moving forward in the most effective way.
The following 8 approaches to slowing down work well together, but this isn’t a fixed sequence. Treat them as options to experiment with.
8 Ways to Slow Down and Get Better Results
- Physically slow down. Changing your physical body is a great way to shift your psychology. Start by sitting still. Put your devices away. Breathe deeply for a few minutes. Sit in meditation. Go for a walk outside. Anywhere from 5-20 minutes can create a profound shift.
- Get out of your head and into your body: Re-ground yourself by directing your attention towards the physical sensations in your body. Observe how the sensations ebb, flow, and change over time. By noticing what’s there without judgment, you can stay more intentional.
- Recall the nature of your thoughts: The thoughts crossing your mind are just thoughts, not universal truths. Think of them as suggestions, or possibilities. Question them. Is this thought actually true?
- Consider alternate paths forward: What do you want here? How have you been approaching it? What are some different ways you could approach it?
- Set a new intention: Having slowed down and considered your approach, what do you want to do now? In the bigpicture, what’s most important?
- Write about it: Thoughts move quickly in the mind. And if you’ve got a fast ADHD brain, thoughts zip through before you can catch them. Getting them down on paper slows things down so you can see them more clearly. Grab a pen and some paper and write thoughts as they surface in your mind. (Without judging them or needing to do something about it.)
- Prime yourself for quality action: Before acting, consider: “What would it look like to move forward in the best way?” For me, this often involves taking a break to shift my state by exercising, having some tea, or switching my physical location, as examples. Creating a deliberate shift, even a small one, helps with letting go of the previous approach, and orienting to your new intention.
- Treat it as an experiment: It can be intimidating to try new approaches. Instead of worrying about what will happen if it doesn’t work, treat it as an experiment. You’ll never know what will happen unless you give it a go!
It’s important to note that slowing down is NOT about making things perfect. Instead, it’s about improving your effectiveness, even by a little bit.
Most importantly, celebrate every tiny win at the end of the day. Congratulate yourself for slowing down.
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