Slow Down to Speed Up

Most of us feel like we are at the mercy of our schedules, our bosses’ expectations AND our own.  We feel pressured to stay head’s down in our cubicles, in front of our computers all day.  Somehow meetings get placed on our schedule—last minute.  We deal with emergencies from clients, co-workers as well as from management.  Thus, we feel like we are putting out fires with no time to actually get proactive work done.  At the end of the day, we feel exhausted and stressed with all that is left on our plate.  So, we go back to our computers and work after the kids are in bed or lay awake worrying about all that needs to get done tomorrow. 

Taking a mindful break at the office

We feel like we have little control of our work-life.  But, in reality, is that really true?  Part of making changes is determining where our values and expectations keep us stuck.  Often times, it is necessary to look inside ourselves before we take action.  Otherwise, taking action without looking inside will rarely stick.  So, here are some questions to consider. 

1.   Is perfectionism an issue for you, and how does that affect your wellbeing and productivity? 

2.   How difficult is it for you to delegate tasks? 

3.   What keeps you from asking for help when needed?  

4.   Do you believe you have to volunteer for every project so your company will see you as invaluable? 

5.   And do you believe that you have to immediately answer every request made to you?

And just as important is determining why making these changes is important to you.  Connecting powerful motivators to your intent to change is key!  

Those are questions that may offer up insight into what beliefs you might challenge so that you know where you could start making shifts.  When you slow down to look at your day so you can be intentional about what you can realistically achieve, you can actually increase your productivity.  Hard to believe isn’t it?  But a little self-care can give you an energy boost!  And it can put you back in the driver’s seat.

Here are some ideas that give back way more than the time it takes to do them. 

1.   Schedule some brain breaks on your calendar each day.  5-10 minutes should do it.  Do some deep breathing, take a walk, visit with a co-worker, or get a drink. 

2.   Take a 15 minute walk during lunch.  Even better, go outside to get some sun. Sunlight and exercise, especially in the morning, can help those who struggle with lethargy and depression, especially in the winter.

3.   When you get urgent requests, give yourself time to pause for 5 or 10 minutes: take some deep breaths, feel your feet on the ground, get up and stretch, and then ask yourself, “Is this something I need to take on right now?  Is this something I need to take on, but can wait?  Is this something I need to take on at all?”  And, “how do I want to respond”?

4.   Change positions on a stressful phone call. Sit up straight, get up and stand. You will find that moving will give you a different perspective.

5.   Schedule time in your calendar for impromptu meetings.  Have a time period where your “door is open” to requests, consultations etc.  Block out time where you are unavailable so you can work on long-term projects. 

6.   Let your team know to book a formal meeting during those times you are available and not during those periods you have blocked out to do work. 

7.   Turn off your work phone and computer after a certain time when you are home each night. 

8.   If you need to get ready for your week, schedule in an hour or two on Sunday to go through your calendar and messages.

9.   Finally, check off the tasks that you have completed. It can feel incredibly rewarding to see what you have actually accomplished instead of focusing on what you haven’t!

So, give yourself the gift of a pause, a short break here and there, and allow yourself to slow down.  You will find that slowing down will enable you to speed up, and you will actually accomplish more, feel more energized AND be more in control of your day.

Photo by Dimitri Tyan on

Photo by Dimitri Tyan on

Author Bio: Sharon Burris-Brown is a stress and mindfulness coach who specializes in helping busy professionals and business leaders release stress and become more mindful and productive leaders. To find out more you can visit her Peace and Ease Coaching site and join her Free Facebook Group for support and information. You can schedule a call with Sharon right here.

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Yours in health,