How To Slow Down a Tempo That’s Out of Control

One of the top trends in society and culture is that everything is “speeding up.” You can blame computers, email, the Internet, globalization, mobile devices, low cost travel, whatever you like. The result is 24/7 access to goods and services, multi-tasking, meals in minutes, hectic households, microwave moms, meals on the run, insecurity, and individuals (and organizations) that want everything tomorrow. The result is stress, anxiety, a lack of sleep, a blurring of boundaries between work and home, work-life imbalance and, conversely, an interest in slowing things down.

So, how do we slow things down?

1. Develop the art of savouring the moment.

As we strive to meet the expectations of speeding up we also need to stop focusing on the ‘doing’ bit and ask ourselves to focus on the ‘being’ bit. This means being present in the moment. This simple act provides a welcome release of tension and clears the head.

2. Celebrate the small victories along the way.

How often have we worked hard and fast on a particular project or assignment, whether for work or personal goal and never stopped to celebrate our progress? The very act of celebration and acknowledgement at milestones can help us to release stress, savour the moment and build a more positive outlook about the work ahead.

3. Consider the unanticipated consequences of speeding up before rushing in.

Before we rush to work harder and go further we may want to consider the consequences of this action. Will it generate what we mean it to? So often, we rush to make changes to achieve specific objectives such as cost savings and end up with a consequence we didn’t anticipate such as reduced quality, which may trigger unanticipated consequences such as something that is not good for us and that we don’t really like.

4. Give yourself the gift of time to refresh and rejuvenate yourself.

As we rush around to execute the endless list of tasks in our daily life we need to think about our most precious resource on earth—time. We all realize that time cannot be reclaimed; once it is past it’s lost forever. But how seriously do we take this fact? It’s amazing what positive effects can be gained by giving yourself, routinely, a gift of time—time to refresh and rejuvenate without any agenda at all. So give yourself a day or even an hour or two each week of unstructured time to relax and wind down. You’ll find it a spiritually lifting experience.

5. Simplify things.

When life gets too complicated it’s time to simplify our life’s structure and process and also our culture and mission. We may need to re-assess our priorities and just do what is absolutely necessary to stay in control. Or, we may want to simplify the way we’re trying to get things done.

6. Take responsibility for your own choices.

Owning up to our own choices is a liberating action. If you fear that others may hold you back, recognize that you have created that “truth” and given it strength. In reality, your belief can hold you back but no one else can. Why blame others? Take responsibility for your own choices and life situation. You are here because you have a lesson to learn. So let go of the blame and relinquish it to a lesson learned; you’ll find it a great stress reliever that slows down your heart rate and simplifies your mind.

Our obsession with technology and efficiency, whether it’s right or wrong, is a fact of life. To maintain a work-life balance it’s important to do what we can to slow things down so that we remain both sane and healthy.

Sally Stanleigh

Sally Stanleigh is a senior partner in Business Improvement Architects and the Chief Operating Officer. Sally manages the operation and develops and implements communications, marketing and promotion programs. She is also responsible for spearheading and managing the company's corporate research projects. Sally has a background in marketing and communications and previously worked as a senior product manager with multi-national corporations such as Colgate-Palmolive and Phillip Morris before founding Business Improvement Architects with her husband and partner, Michael Stanleigh.

On occasion, Sally is asked by clients for help with business planning. She facilitates the planning process as a consultant and helps clients with the development of their marketing plans and programs. She has also presented to professional groups on such topics as: customer feedback systems, employee motivation, development of incentive programs and trends.

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