How to achieve more by slowing down

Career masterclass: Struggling to cope with a heavy workload? Here's how you can achieve more by slowing down.

by Lucinda Everett
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Daydream. Most of us favour our rational mind at work, as it quickly shortcuts to rules that will help us find a problem's solution. But who wants obvious? Your intuitive mind is playful, meandering and creative, and approaches each problem afresh.

Watch and learn. Contrary to economic mythology, the first to market rarely succeeds. Ditch your obsession with winning, sit back and learn from the pioneer's mistakes for a fraction of the cost.

Reclaim your mojo. Hurrying doesn't just lead to errors and mediocre results, it drains the pleasure from work. Boost enjoyment and awareness by asking yourself: what am I savouring about today's work? What could I do differently?

Guard your time. Always rushing between endless meetings? Stop. Decide how much time you want to spend with each audience, prioritising those useful to you (clients, mentors) over those you are helping (suppliers, direct reports). Stick to it. Listen for longer. Don't jump in with an answer before you've heard everything. Let everybody finish and then reflect before making plans. It will save you time in the long run.

Check your maths. Research shows we underestimate how long tasks will take us by around 20%. Look again at your to-do list and write a realistic version, reprioritising accordingly.

Choose important over 'urgent'. What would you focus on if your diary were clear? Next week, do only these things and ignore the rest. Others will pick up the critical pieces.

Break the pattern. Notice where rushing is causing you to slip up. Are your reports misspelled? Select a prompt (opening the report template) and use it to remind you to slow down.

Avoid the speed trap. Just because everyone else is rushing, it doesn't mean you should. Stick to a pace that produces exceptional results for you. Why flap when you can fly?

The Mind Gym: changing the way people think, feel and behave -

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