The Need for Speed

Today, everything seem to be changing on a daily basis. Products come and go almost in a blink of the eye. Today's fad is yesterday's has been. With how things seem to change so fast, it is easy to get caught up in the rat race and find yourself going crazy doing this and that with hardly a moment to stop and think. The problem is, when you get into this state of being, you end up getting less done than if you just slowed down to a steady pace.

Just ask any marathon runner about how they choose their speed. If they run too fast, they wear themselves out before they finish the race. If they go to slow they never catch the leader. It requires a happy medium to win. They may step it up at the end but they pace themselves.

Personally, I am a go, go, go type of person. I get antsy when I am not getting something done. I definitely know what it is like to fill the day up and go non-stop sometimes forgetting to slow down and think.

But if you are not thinking, what are you doing? Most likely you are doing things that you shouldn't be doing. The danger is that you get yourself so busy that it feels like you are getting things done. Eventually you are afraid to slow down in fear that all these things you need to get done will overwhelm you and you will get even further behind.

About 2 1/2 years ago I finally decided I needed to stop just a little and take some time out of my day for something I had always wanted to do. I blocked off severals hour 3 days during the week which were to be devoted to my new activity and told everyone those hours were sacred and not to bother me. To be sure, there was some resistence from my employees. "You have a responsibility to the business" and "You need to be available for your customers" were some of the things I heard. But I stuck with my conviction. I was NOT to be disturbed!

And the business went on as before... the world did not end.

I began to slow down in other areas. What was the hurry of getting this product done today? Couldn't that task wait until tomorrow? I was not procrastinating. I was still getting things done. I just refused to let the work impose on my schedule.

And the surprising thing was, I was getting more done.

What was going on here?

When we pace ourselves, much like the marathon runner, we make constant progress without wearing ourselves out. We also allow our minds to engage. This helps us review what is on our schedule and evaluate both the priority (how important it is) and the urgency (when does it really need to be done). We also can filter out those things that are demanding our attention but really don't need to be done.

Another advantage of finding this middle ground between going too fast and too slow is how it affects your mood. When we are constantly busy with so many things demanding out time, we get stressed. That stress comes out as anger, frustration, depression and a myriad of other emotions. These emotions prevent us from thinking clearly. We start to make mistakes. We frustrate employees, clients and friends. And we cease to think through solutions to our problems clearly. We end up spending more time fixing our mistakes, repairing relationships and trying to just think. When you slow down, you spend more time being productive and less time dealing with your screw ups.

The key is to find your steady pace. Over time, like the marathon runner, you will be able to step up your pace without compromising your productivity. But the key is to make the most of your time by actually slowing down a little, giving yourself time to reflect and think of the best ways to spend your time.

And take a little time for yourself.

Even when I work 60+ hours a week (and if you have started your own business you know what this is like), I take time for myself and my wife. This time is best spent on the things you want to do the most and not on your responsibilities. Just like the body, the mind needs a little rest now and then.

And when you slow down a little, I hope you, like me, actually get more done.