In this technological age, demands on our time are getting increasingly stressful. But could slowing things down and doing less actually make our work more productive?
Mindfulness at Work trainer Gill Hasson explains:
There is more to life than increasing its speed
So said Ghandi.
Technological inventions are continually saving you time; your car gets you there quicker than walking. The microwave cooker heats up your food in seconds. Internet shopping saves you going to the shops. Internet banking saves you time from actually going to the bank – and so on.
What do you do with all the time you’ve spared? Like many of us, you probably use it to fit more into your day. As a result, your life – personal and professional – is more hurried and hectic than ever.
Doing too much is not an effective way to work or live; moving quickly may make you less effective in completing a task and can be stressful. Slowing down is a calmer and more peaceful way to approach your work tasks.
A mindfulness approach to work would see you taking time to do what you’re doing instead of constantly looking for ways to save time. That way, you can fit more in. If you fill your work day with so many things to do, you will always be trying to get ahead of yourself and that’s not mindful. Instead of trying to cram so much into every day, move at a slower, more relaxed pace and get the most out of what you’re doing in the now.
Of course, slowing down is not always easy. Perhaps you tell yourself you just can’t; your job won’t allow it, or you’ll let people down if you don’t keep up with all your commitments. Slowing down takes practice, but it helps you focus on what you are doing and what is happening.
Below are some ideas on how to slow down and be more effective at work:
- Prioritise; work out what’s important and what really needs to be done. Do one thing at a time and let go of what’s not important.
Do it in slow motion
- Whatever you’re doing at the moment, slow it down by 25 percent; whether it’s typing on a keyboard, surfing the internet or even making a cup of tea.
- Take your time. If you do those things more slowly, you will do them more completely and with more concentration. Take your time, and move slowly. Make your actions deliberate – not rushed and random.
- When you find yourself speeding up, pause and take a deep breath. Then take a couple more.
Give yourself more time
- If you’re constantly rushing to appointments or meetings, it’s simply because you don’t allot enough time. If you think it only takes you 30 minutes to get somewhere, perhaps give yourself 45 minutes so you can go at a more leisurely pace and not get stressed if delays occur on the way.
Make some space
- Don’t plan meetings and deadlines so close together. Instead, leave room between activities and tasks. That will make your day more flexible and will leave space in case one thing takes longer than you planned.
- Mindfulness isn’t just for meditation. Techniques ultimately help us to live more in the moment, allowing us to focus our attention on what’s happening with us and around is ‘in the now’.
- In a work sense, this can help us to manage stresses and increase productivity simultaneously to improve both personal and professional results.
This blog is based on an extract from Gill’s book, The Mindfulness Pocketbook
Gill taught Mindfulness at Work on Friday 12 June 2015.