8 Compelling Reasons to Slow Down at Work

Schedules are packed and deadlines are tight. Combined, you feel like you need to speed up to pack everything in. But there are smart reasons to do just the opposite. Take a breath and slow down. Here, eight reasons why you should.

  1. You’ll be a better listener – Often you may be thinking so fast that you move on from what’s being said to somewhere further along in the conversation. Perhaps thinking about what you’re going to say or just wishing the other person would get on with it. Both of those behaviors make you a lousy listener. If you don’t have time for a conversation, say so. And if you’re having one, slow your brain down and stay in the moment.
  2. You’ll get more of the right things done – If you launch into the workday without planning your default task is probably dealing with email. And you know that once you get sucked into email, hours can disappear with little to show for it. Slow down for just a few minutes, think, and create a plan to handle your highest priority tasks first.
  3. You’ll have less to apologize for – When somebody pushes your buttons, whether intentionally or not, your amygdala (responsible for your fight or flight response) kicks in first. If you act in that moment you may regret it later. It’s the very reason experts suggest that you write the angry email but wait until later to send it, when your more rational brain (prefrontal cortex) will give you better advice.
  4. You’ll avoid wasting time – How many times have you agonized and strategized about a problem that either never materialized or ended up getting fixed without your intervention? All that time and energy spent for nothing. Slow down and think about whether you really need to deal with this problem right now. Some people who thrive on variety and excitement may even be focusing on the problem because it’s more interesting than a more important task. That ever you?
  5. You’ll save money – For many, buying is fun. The research, the actual purchase, the receiving. There’s a bit of a dopamine hit associated with getting something new. But that can be where the good feeling ends. It’s more fun acquiring it than it is fun or useful having it. If you think you need to buy something, write it down on a list or keep the advertisement in a folder that you can look at in a week or a month. See if you still want/need it then.
  6. You’ll produce higher quality work – That familiar saying about “not having enough time to do it right but having enough time to do it over” is familiar because it happens all the time. People don’t really do their best work at the last minute and rushing is required. The planning in #2 sets you up to have enough time to do the job right the first time.
  7. You’ll be more considerate – Moving too fast can make you want to finish other people’s sentences which is annoying. Especially when you finish it incorrectly. You also may miss social cues that are opportunities to be polite. Hold the elevator for a co-worker even though it slows you down a few seconds. Offer to help someone struggling with a heavy load (either workload or literally a heavy box). Slow down and notice the people around you. Step in.
  8. You’ll be safer – Multitasking behind the wheel is disastrous and not the way to save time. Same for speeding. Get in an accident or get a speeding ticket and see just how much time was “saved.” Even moving quickly on your own feet can cause problems. Tripping, falling, running into things, etc. Don’t have to be a sloth, just watch where you’re going and get there in one unbroken, unbruised piece.

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