How Slowing Down Will Actually Help You Speed Up

What’s your strategy for facing a busy day, or a busy life season for that matter? If you’re like most people, you instinctively speed up. If I can run a little faster, you think, I’ll get caught up!

Not so.

Running faster only makes you more tired in terms of productivity. It doesn’t make you more effective, and it certainly doesn’t reduce your stress level.

Oddly, the best way to beat the stress of a busy schedule is to slow down.

Here are five ways to catch your breath, adjust your priorities, and ultimately get more done.

  1. Plan Your Day the Night Before

At the end of a long day, you probably want to unwind and relax. The last thing you can think about is tomorrow’s packed agenda. As a result, you begin the next day in the hole, taking 20 minutes to figure out what to do next. Or worse, you just dive in on a project.

Take 10 minutes this evening to slow down, take a deep breath, and write your top three priorities for tomorrow on an index card or your smart phone. Then stick to them. You’ll be more relaxed and productive as a result.

  1. Stop for Lunch

When you’re especially busy, you’ll be tempted either to skip lunch or to eat on the run. But going hungry or multitasking eating and email are both counterproductive. Take at least 15 minute, preferably 30, to get out of the office, catch your breath, and eat slowly. And don’t schedule too many lunch meetings—no more than two a week. You need a daily break.

  1. Take a Nap

My longtime friend Thomas E. Hermiz lived to be nearly 90. He took a 10 minute nap every day at the office. So, take a cue from Tom and take a few minutes midday to close your eyes and drift off for a bit. If you keep it brief (10 to 20 minutes maximum), a catnap will refresh your mind and boost your energy. Odd, isn’t it?

  1. Single Task

Multitasking is a terrible way to do anything. Rather than making your more productive, it simply means you do more things poorly. Close the laptop when you’re on the phone. Turn off notifications when you’re working on email. Do one thing at a time, take your time, and do it right.

  1. Take A Day Off

Working seven days a week puts you on a short course for burnout. Always take a down day, even during your busiest season. If not, take the afternoon off and do something that’s less stressful.

Put a few of these ideas to work, and you’ll feel more in control and be more productive. And you’ll feel better!

That’s how I pace myself during a busy season. What works for you? I’d love to hear your answer on Facebook or Twitter!