5 ways to slow down without killing your productivity
We all live life too quickly.
Perhaps, it's a byproduct of technology and instant gratification, perhaps not. Either way, I wonder if maybe we'd be doing ourselves a favor if we just slowed down a bit. Personally, I'm one of those people that doesn't like to slow down. I feel that life SHOULD be lived fast. There's way too much to do and so little time. It's an exciting world out there just waiting to be explored! But I've found glimpses of a life lived slower and those glimpses have been windows into a more satisfied, more intentional life.
Our first fear might be that slowing down parts of our lives would kill our productivity game. Weirdly enough, that's the best part about slowing down! It forces us to prioritize. By slowing down, we position the highest-priority items in our cue, spend more time on those few items and work with laser-focused intensity.
Because simplifying our lives means also simplifying our mental game, I've started performing certain tasks slower to see if I can cull the sense of rush and busyness that often leads to anxiety. Though I don't get anxious a lot, I definitely don't want to start. Here are five small tasks we can perform to act as speed bumps in our life and periodically slow us down.
What a beautiful thing, eating is. God could have easily created beings that didn't need any nourishment or intake. Or He could have made us like machines and we just refill our fuel tanks every 200 miles or so. But no! He made us dependent upon food and drink, and not only that, He gave that food and drink flavor and texture. Sweet, smooth, sour, chewy, bitter, crunchy, savory, tender. I can't help but see and appreciate the intricate system God built into our lives to be enjoyed. None of this meal-in-a-shake, flavorless sludge crap. Give me a smoking hot, well-seasoned steak with a loaded potato and some steamed veggies. Give me a soothing cup of tea. Give me a crisp apple. Give me a melt-in-your-mouth bite of chocolate. Give me a tall glass of cold water. I want to eat with intention, savoring each bite and being refreshed with each sip as opposed to stuffing my face in between meetings. Eat slower.
Honestly, this one is more out of sanity than enjoyment. But I think driving can be enjoyable too. I think back to when I returned from my travels and how badly I craved to get behind the wheel again. Maneuvering your machine at 70mph with the wind whipping through your hair and the tunes cranked up is a genuinely enjoyable experience. When we drive slow (and by slow, I just mean the speed limit), not only are we safer, we relax a bit. The speed demons flying past us aren't of any concern to us. Aggressive driving isn't even an issue because you're not worried about speed. Just sit back and enjoy the drive.
Consequently, when we make an intentional habit of driving slower, we begin to leave earlier. By default, we're required to give ourselves a bit more time on the road and thus expand the buffers of time between appointments which slows life down. Drive slower.
I don't know about you but I'm one of those fast walkers. I like to get places now because time's a tickin'. I'm the guy who walks way too close behind the people dragging their feet in the hallways, nearly tripping over himself as he looks for an opening to skirt by. You know the kind. Anyway, what if, like driving, we simply lengthened the time between appointments and tried to enjoy the commute? I think if we walked a bit slower, we'd discover things that add a certain beauty to life. Maybe then, we'd actually see and appreciate the simple things. Walk slower.
Start & End Your Day Slower
One of the best decisions I've made has been giving myself the morning. I wake up with enough time to shower, get dressed, make breakfast, read and otherwise just enjoy the morning before I leave for work.
I guarantee that the process of waking up with enough time to get your mind and body moving before starting your day is better for you than the 30 minutes of restless sleep you're trying to steal in between snoozes. Give it a try - your routine doesn't have to be complex. Just allow yourself the morning and evening to wind up and wind down. Start and end your day slower.
During that morning routine I just mentioned, one of my favorite parts is the shower. It's where I think clearer, dream bigger and let my mind race without distractions or boundaries. The whole "I got a great idea while I was showering" thing is totally understandable! I also find that the shower is a perfect place to pray and meditate as the hot water clears your sinuses and relaxes your body. So I take some time in the mornings to enjoy the shower and not rush through it. Bathe slower.
You don't have to change the chemistry of your life. These are little things spaced out across your day that you can intentionally do to savor life a bit more. Even if you don't think it's going to benefit you, it wouldn't hurt to give it a week. I don't think I'll be slowing the pace of my life anytime soon - I like moving fast. But sometimes, I need to press pause and not rush by too quickly. Join me?