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Slowing Down: The Turtle vs. The Hare

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The old tale of the Turtle and the Hare implores us to recognize that slow and steady wins the race. The question is: can this childhood lesson be translated into our adulthood careers?

If you’ve ever wished for life to slow down, chances are you’re not alone. We’ve all been at a point where we begrudgingly think to ourselves, “if one more project is put on my plate …”, “if one more message demands returning …”, “if I have to work late again …”, “if … when … ugh!”

Truth is, we’ve gotten to a point that, despite the opportunities presented, actually escaping work is darn near impossible. Between smartphones, social media, and the general existence of our overwhelmingly speedy system of modern communication, we, as a society, are at a loss. Not only are we trying to figure out how to cope with constant interaction, but we’re seemingly losing the battle of slowing down the rate with which we are responding to it.

Frances Booth, contributor for Forbes Magazine, discusses this phenomenon in her article What’s The Rush? Take Your Time And Gain An Advantage. This piece, refreshing in its reassurance that we’re not alone in our continual daily rush, provides sound advice that can help us all take a step back and slow down. Because, as Booth points out, balancing the phenomenal world of technology can be just the advantage you need to do so:

Technology doesn’t always help here. It can leave us with the feeling that there’s always something else to do – messages to reply to, platforms to check, updates to post.

Messages scream at us (or so we feel) to respond “now, now, now”, rather than taking our time, or thinking things through. We keep answering but the messages keep coming … we’ll never be finished.

Turtle vs. Hare

© Flickr user DannonL

Below are Booth’s tips (along with our thoughts) for slowing down in our daily work lives:

Time for undivided attention

When you give 100% attention, you’re saying that the person you’re listening to is important. . . Giving 100% attention will quickly make a difference to your relationships and your business communication.

One of the greatest misconceptions is that multitasking is productive. On the contrary, when your focus is divided between several different projects, that means it’s also limited. It is physically and mentally impossible to give 100% of your attention to multiple tasks simultaneously. That means, despite your best efforts, working on several projects at the same time lessens the quality of work you’re able to provide. If you want to increase your productivity and quality of success on a task, the best thing you can do is allot time specifically to complete one thing at a time.

Time to join the dots

One of the perils of the digital world is that ideas get cut off mid-flow by incoming distractions. “Beep beep” or “bzzz” – we answer to a distraction and our half-developed thought is gone. There’s also a danger that we settle for surface thinking or soundbites rather than in-depth thought or considered work. Or we focus on our thoughts being validated, liked, or shared, rather than putting the emphasis on creating, thinking for ourselves, and being original.

It’s not a secret. Here on The Methodology Blog, we openly talk about how much we despise the existence of workplace interruptions. Not only do they appear in just about every way possible, many (if not most) can damage our productivity in just a few seconds. In some cases, even the simplest of interruptions can set us back thirty minutes before we can recover and regain our focus. The main problem however, is that we can’t always control interruptions when they come creeping about the office.

Our solution? Consider changing the office culture with two strategies:

  • Train others by modeling good interruption behavior
  • Push back on interruptions by over engaging

Time to concentrate

Focus skills are becoming more valuable as people are becoming more and more easily distracted. This distraction has huge implications in the workplace, particularly in the field of productivity. Can the people you work with concentrate on their work for extended spells of time? Or do they get distracted and break off from their task every 15 minutes? Taking time to concentrate on one task at a time improves your productivity

We encourage you to truly indulge in uninterrupted time throughout the day. If necessary, block off sections on your calendar that is strictly dedicated to creative workflow. During this time, alert coworkers to your unavailability, put up an automatic reply for your inbox, update your voicemail and turn down/off your phone. Do whatever is necessary to create an environment where you can work and concentrate freely.

Time to reply

The pressure to respond instantly means we often give priority – and time – to things that are less important than our major tasks and goals, taking away time from those key projects. Stepping back by pausing gives us perspective. Another benefit of a delayed response is that it gives us time to compose a considered reply. Replying without thinking can lead to us saying yes to things that we don’t have time for, or making poor decisions.

Take it from us, do not doubt this fantastic tip! But, if you are a tad skeptical, consider reading Robby Slaughter’s latest book, The Battle For Your Email Inbox. You’ll be glad you did.

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Ashley Lee

Ashley Lee

Ashley has been working with the AccelaWork team since 2008. She is a communications expert with a background in corporate work, and a graduate of the University of Dayton with a degree in Public Relations. She lives in the greater Indianapolis area with her husband and four children. Ashley enjoys jewelry, fashion, and coffee.
Ashley Lee

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