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Slow Down to Speed Up

    In a world that seems to move faster every day, it’s all too easy for managers to get caught up in the whirlwind of endless deadlines, demanding customers, relentless meetings, and the never-ending barrage of emails and notifications. We’re all guilty of it – constantly in a rush, trying to outpace the clock. But what if I told you that the secret to speed is not always going faster, but slowing down? Yep, you read that right. The key to victory is taking things slow. Let’s look at why this unconventional approach works.

    The Urgency Addiction

    As a young manager, I was always stuck in high gear, impatient with anyone who dared to move at a leisurely pace. Nobody walked fast enough, drove fast enough, or worked fast enough for my liking. I was convinced that my rapid, warp-speed style was the ticket to success. As for those who operated at a more measured pace, I labeled them as mediocre. If any of this rings a bell, keep reading. 

    Now, for routine stuff, it makes sense to work swiftly, such as tasks where you can spot and fix errors with minimal fuss or impact on quality. For instance, I might type up this article quickly, knowing I have autocorrect on standby to catch my slip-ups. It’s a smart choice to keep the words flowing, even if a few typos sneak in. After all, it takes just a smidge of time to correct them, and there’s no impact on others.

    However, there comes a time when you need to hit the brakes. Here’s why.

    Reasons to Pump the Brakes

    1. Fewer Mishaps

    The faster you sprint through life, the more mistakes you will likely make. Sure, rushing might seem like a time-saver, but if those blunders require a redo, you lose more than you gain.

    We have all experienced the negative consequences of rushing. The hasty email that turns into a headache, zooming through a task only to realize you missed a crucial detail. Consider how much time you spend mopping up messes caused by haste, and it’s not difficult to see why hitting the brakes is essential.

    2. Smarter Decision-Making

    Rushing often leads to impulsive decisions with repercussions for your team, yourself, and the company. Slowing down to think things through allows for more informed decisions that pay off in the long run, especially in problem-solving.

    When you’re constantly in a hurry, you skip the planning stage, whereas if you take your time, you uncover more efficient solutions.

    Rushing critical decisions, like hiring a new employee, usually results in a bad hire. The result– a performance issue or an employee who is not a good fit in the culture. So, nothing good comes from sprinting through such vital choices.

    3. Improved Creativity

    When you dash from task to task, there’s no room in your brain for creative thinking. Slowing down to pause and reflect unlocks your creative potential. This newfound creativity can lead to ingenious problem-solving, improved processes, and, ultimately, better business outcomes. Check in with yourself when you are in high gear. Your shoulders are hunched, your body tense, and your focus is narrowed. It’s impossible to let creativity flow in that state. Allocate some time in your day to breathe and occasionally leave a bit of space in your schedule. You will be amazed at the improvement in your creative thinking.

    4. Enhanced Communication

    Speed demons tend to neglect listening to their team members or understanding their perspectives when they’re in a hurry. By slowing down and actively listening, managers can foster better communication and build stronger relationships with their teams. This, in turn, leads to improved collaboration, increased productivity, and a happier atmosphere in the company.

    The Speed Balance

    Does this mean you should slow down everything in your life?

    No! Slowing down doesn’t mean plodding along like a three-legged turtle. For everyday activities, go ahead and power through them. The key is finding the sweet spot between rushing too much and being overly meticulous.

    For instance, think about when you’re whipping up dinner. There’s no need to spend an extra 20 minutes crafting each carrot slice with surgical precision. On the other hand, you can save a considerable chunk of time by just easing up a bit to avoid any accidental finger casualties. Sure, the outcome of rushing might not always be catastrophic – maybe you forget a key ingredient, and your meal ends up resembling something that could pass for sawdust. That’s fine occasionally, but if it starts happening regularly your family might stage a culinary intervention. So why not invest a little extra time to review the recipe, organize your ingredients, and focus on what you’re doing (especially when wielding a sharp knife)? Those extra minutes can make all the difference.

    The same principles apply to your workplace tasks. Zip through them when it makes sense, take your foot off the gas a bit when necessary to avoid constant mishaps, and slow down significantly when tackling those big projects that demand planning and attention to detail.

    In a Nutshell

    The next time you feel pressure to rev things up, remember that sometimes the road to success involves slowing down. Take a deep breath, think things through, and watch how much more efficient and effective you become. Who knows, you might even discover that life is more enjoyable when you’re not always racing against the clock. As for me, I’ve learned the art of slowing down, and it’s been a game-changer in both my work and personal life. For one thing, I still have all ten fingers intact!

    Ponder Points

    Do I frequently rush through tasks, and if so, am I aware of the specific areas where this tendency is most pronounced in my work and personal life?

    Are there instances in which slowing down would have led to better decision-making or outcomes?

    What steps can I take to incorporate moments of intentional slowdown into my daily routine, allowing for increased creativity, improved communication, and better overall results in both my professional and personal life?

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