I’ve been a huge fan of productivity – and by productivity I understand “the art of doing more stuff in less time”, a definition which supports the assumption that “the more you do, the better you are”.
In some ways, I’m still a fan, but with a few twists. We may talk about them some other time (if you’re interested, just leave a comment below), because now I want to talk about something else.
Namely, about slowing down.
And by “slowing down” I mean almost the opposite of the productivity. Like in doing less stuff in the same amount of time. In a world where “being busy” is more often than not a mark of a successful life, slowing down may be perceived as a recipe for failure. It’s not. Just like “being busy” is not the mark of a successful life, but a mere consequence of misalignment.
During the last 3 years, I’ve been slowing down a lot. You can easily see that by looking at my blog, which barely had a dozen of posts per year, lately. But, surprisingly, this slowing down didn’t mean my life slowed down too. On the contrary. I completely switched careers (I pay my rent now by being a programmer by day, while still remaining a personal development hacker at night, or at any other time other than the day). I moved to a new country – for almost a year now. I am meditating and doing yoga on a regular basis.
And all that happened, partially, because I renegotiated my relationship with productivity, and, overall, with the “performance” metric I was attaching to my projects, to my actions, and, to a certain extent, to my entire life.
So, without further ado, let’s dive in.
1. Assess Energy Better
A frantic pace means you’re having less time for assessing what’s going on. A very important information from this “what’s going on” mix is your energy. And by that I mean not only physical exercise, or the amount of sleep you get, but also your mental energy, your ability to focus and to maintain focus.
If you take things slower, there’s more time available. You can assess better how empty or full are you feeling, how much time you need to internalize certain experiences and how much time you have available for starting new ones. It’s not like you’re doing less, on the contrary, but it’s like you’re doing more on the vertical dimension of the world, going deeper in the essence, focusing and immersing more into whatever you’re doing.
2. See More Of The Scenery
Imagine you’re driving constantly with 100 km/h. You may get to places faster, that’s very true, but at the same time, the image of the world you hold into your mind is very schematic. You simply can’t spot all the details, you can’t get in every little thing you’re passing by, so you resort to approximations. If you go fast, the world has a thinner structure.
If you go to the same places by bike (or, if you’re like me, by a combination of running and walking) you’ll be seeing a completely different world. One that is more solid, maybe more vivid and contrasting, and certainly more fulfilling. At the end of the day, you’ll still arrive somewhere, but even if you’re not the first to be there, as some social engineering may have washed your brain to believe it’s worth doing, you’ll get there more relaxed and with a stronger, more thicker sense of the world.
3. Take Decisions After Longer Analysis
The frantic pace at which our lives tend to unfold in the modern world means our decision making process was drastically shortened. If we go fast, we simply don’t have time to assess thoroughly every single decision we make. So we’re just snapping decision after decision, hoping we’re going into the right direction. Alas, most of the time it’s not a fast forward journey, but more like fast “back and forth” as many of our decisions prove to be not very effective, specifically because we didn’t have time to properly assess the whole context.
If you decrease the speed, there’s more room to maneuver. There’s more space to move around and that creates more angles from which you can tackle any situation. A decision will still have to be made, that’s true, we cannot escape the process, but any decision you take from a space of calm and relaxation will be a bit sounder and more solid than the ones you rush by fear of being taken over.
4. Take Time To Incorporate Past Experiences
If you want to go fast, you’ll have to keep going. And going. And going. And very seldom will you have time to properly incorporate whatever happens to you, whatever roadblocks you overcome or whatever serendipitous encounters you’re bumping into. Because you will simply not have time for this. Predominantly, your time and energy will have to be spent in this fast, correct, unstoppable race forward.
Whereas if you do have the patience to take it one step after another, if you slow down, then all your experiences will find the necessary spaces to imbue your life, to blend into your knowledge baggage, to build a better, more detailed model of reality, one that will support even more enriching experiences as your travel unfolds.
5. Change Social Environment
As counterintuitive as it may sound, if you slow down, your social life will tend to be richer. Not only there are more people around you, but you will have more time and availability to actually interact with those available. In an exact, over-disciplined and ultra-fast life, there’s simply not enough people around you. You’ll meet a lot of them in this type of journey too, that’s true, but they’ll be probably entangled in the same way of living, with just as little time for socializing as you.
Some of the people you encounter in a slower trip through life may be just lazy. Some may be incapable of pushing faster for other reasons, like lack of resources. But most of them will offer you enriching, deep and long lasting experiences.
(image source: Pixabay)