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Become More Productive by Slowing Down

November 5, 2012

Do you come back from vacation and,  just a day later, the slower memories of a more leisurely pace are a distant memory?  So much to do, so little time….

The organizations of today  are under unrelenting pressure with constant change and the mandate to do more with less. And with email, cell phone, web sites, blogs, facebook and other social media,we are constantly bombarded with information. No wonder we feel like we are always behind.  By always focusing on immediate demands, there is no time to really think, to plan, to strategize, to be creative.  I sometimes wonder what I did with all of my free time before I had a website, several email addresses and a blog.

In a recent article in Time Magazine  Peter Bacevice discusses  how  “slow work” can make us more productive.

Researchers suggest that we alternate between “mindful” activities that require cognitive focus,  and “mindless work” , such as routine administrative tasks that can be more restful.

Here are two ways to handle short-term demands yet have the energy for  long-term creativity.

1.  Block out time for yourself

No interruptions, no meetings.  This alows you time to work on the important tasks that are crucial to your work, but are frequently set aside to address immediate demands.  This also give others the message that you are using your time for maximum productivity.   I sometimes tell people that  the reason I started my own business was to go to less meetings, and so I can structure my day by mixing up tasks in a way that works for me .  When I am tired or drained, I do administrative work that is routine and is restful.

2. Vary your routine 

Take your laptop to the cafeteria or another quitet space in your building. Or better yet, get  out of your office and go to a park or an outdoor cafe or coffee house. One of my clients absolutely cannot work from home.  There are just too many distractions.  She found an outdoor cafe by a gym she uses.  There she  can people watch and  have lunch with a friend.  In this environment she is amazingly productive and  creative.  Years ago  I  was sometimes blocked when  I had to write reports for an organization.  When that happened I would go to a coffee shop and complete the report with little difficulty.

“For fast acting relief, try slowing down.”

 Lily Tomlin



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