With all the research and evidence on benefits of being methodical, why are so many top executives hares rather than tortoises? Here are five benefits of slowing down that will give you pause.
Many business leaders and entrepreneurs believe that the key to getting ahead is to go-go-go, work at a frenetic pace, and rush, in order to keep productivity high. They push themselves and their teams, to the limit or beyond, out of worry that doing otherwise will cost their competitive edge.
Yet for at least a decade, researchers and consultants have been telling us the opposite is true. You’ve heard the sayings: Faster is slower. Slow down to speed up. Slow and steady wins the race. That last one dates back more than 500 years to Aesop’s Fable, “The Tortoise and the Hare.”
We’ve been told that multitasking and task switching crushes productivity, and that stress, including the kind that comes from overworking, harms our mental, emotional, and physical health. You’d think by now the tortoises would be in charge and go-go-going would be a thing of the past, but that’s clearly not the case. Year after year, studies point to rising levels of burnout and attendant increases in anxiety and depression.
Clearly, hearing about all the negatives associated with racing around isn’t inspiring widespread change. When told to work smarter, not harder, many of us do both. What will it take to break the habit of hammering ourselves and our employees?
Perhaps the key is to focus not on what we lose by rushing and multi-tasking, but on what we gain when we slow down and take the time necessary to do each task well. In that spirit, here are five reasons why the key to workplace success is going slow:
- You eliminate errors and focus on quality. When you’re rushed, it is easy to make mistakes. But when you take your time and pay attention to detail, you are much more likely to produce quality work. Going slowly allows you to lay down a solid foundation and get yourself right every step of the way, so that when you reach your goal, it is absolutely correct and error-free. Studies have found this approach leads to higher sales and profits, and allows top teams to “deal more effectively with increased complexity and challenges — and use less energy.”
- You have more time to plan and strategize. Rushing headlong into battle without a proper game plan can be disastrous. By going slow and taking time to plan, you’ll be able to foresee problems before they arise instead of encountering them along the way. How many companies have rushed products to market that, with the benefit of hindsight, wished they had gone more methodically and planned a little better?
- You reduce stress and anxiety. When we feel like we have to hurry, our bodies release stress hormones like cortisol. This can lead to feelings of anxiety and overwhelm. But when we take our time, we give our bodies a chance to relax and rejuvenate. No one who rushes, suffers multiple burnouts, and finally crashes looks back at their hectic schedule and is glad they did it. Instead, adding self-care and stress-relieving activities such as exercise, meditation, and frequent breaks is a much healthier game plan for productivity.
- You build better relationships. By taking things slowly at first and building strong relationships, you are more likely to achieve your goals and create a productive working environment. Those who are constantly on the go have less time to create real relationships, and are more likely to see others as a means to their own hurried end. Slowing down allows us to get to know those we interact with, build lasting relationships, and find win-win scenarios.
- You can notice others’ innate abilities. Part of the benefit of getting to know the people you work with is having the opportunity to notice, identify, and tap into their innate abilities, strengths, and preferences. I call this tapping into their “Inner Genius Archetype,” and in order to do so, slowing down is essential. In meetings, deliberately listening to what sparks others’ attention, as well as the words they use, and the focus they have while communicating, allows you to identify their Archetype, whether they are the type who works best on their own or collaboratively with others. This gives you the ability to create better rapport, inspire higher levels of creativity and get the best out of both them and yourself and get them working in their Genius Zone.
Slowing down is crucial in our world of constant connection. It means setting aside time without interruptions so we can focus on one task at a time and do our best work, and giving our teams the time and space they need to collaborate and reach their creative potential.
In today’s constantly connected world, it’s up to us to make the time to be able to unplug and focus on a single task. Consciously committing to working at a slower pace and a deeper level is a key to getting into our Genius Zone.
Written by Catherine Mattiske.
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