Productivity and GTD
How Taking Things Slowly Can Help You Become More Productive
What’s the life of a modern man or woman like? George Carlin said it well: “A cutting edge, state-of-the-art bi-coastal multi tasker and I can give you a gigabyte in a nanosecond.”
Many studies showed that people can give eight reliable working hours per day. The crunch mode simply doesn’t work. It means you’re pushing yourself to be more productive, but you’re going beyond the limits of your mental and physical capacity. The “more hours of work makes you more productive” approach is a myth.
The world is hectic. Society pushes you towards a lifestyle of over-achieving. You’re too busy, so you have to multitask. You have to be more productive, so you’re cutting down on relaxation for the sake of achieving more. Is that the right approach? Not necessarily. Surprisingly, if you want to get more productive, you might want to slow things down.
1. You’re More Focused When You Don’t Rush
What happens when you go to vacation? You take things slowly. You feel relaxed and you’re able to experience everything around you. You feel like the day lasts longer. That’s because you’re focused on the moment.
On the other side, jumping from one important task to another is exhausting not only mentally and physically, but emotionally as well. University of California, Davis professors conducted research that showed how doing necessary, but strategically simple tasks gave people an ability to take over their schedules. With “slow work,” we’re able to align our priorities on personal and professional level. That’s what makes us calmer and more focused.
2. When You Slow Down, You Improve the Quality of Your Work
Let’s say you have an essay or an article to write. There’s a deadline, but you keep convincing yourself you have other important things to work on and there’s more than enough time for writing. The last day before the deadline, you push yourself to go through the research and writing stages as quickly as possible. You don’t have time to pay attention to the details; you just want to write the content on time.
If, on the other hand, you start working on the project early and you give yourself several days, you can conduct more research. You’ll be focused enough to take notes and make an outline. By the time you start writing, you already know what the project will look like. Since you’ll be focused, you’ll practically eliminate the need for revisions. The editing process will be simple and the overall quality of the work will be better.
It makes sense, doesn’t it?
3. Working Slowly Means You’re Not Getting Tired Quickly
Research showed that when night shift air controllers were taking a short nap during their shift, they showed much better performance on tests measuring reaction time when compared to the group of air controllers who didn’t take a nap.
When you give yourself time to rest, you refresh your entire system. You’re not getting tired quickly, so you’re able to achieve better results.
4. Your Brain Doesn’t Like Multitasking
You think you can get more done when you’re tackling few tasks at the same time? Think again! Multitasking makes you unproductive. Instead of completing two tasks at once, you’re actually switching from one task to another. That means you’re confusing your brain and making it less focused.
Multitasking can even affect the volume of the brain’s gray matter, which is related to decision-making and memory functions.
Slow down and focus on one task at a time. That’s how you’ll get more productive.
5. When You’re Forcing Yourself to be More Productive, You End Up Doing Unnecessary Things
What happens when you always complete your tasks sooner than expected? Will your boss allow you to leave work early? That’s not going to happen, unless it’s the company’s policy. There’s a more likely scenario: you’ll get more tasks. You’ll end up completing other people’s work.
If you keep up with that rhythm, it will soon lead you to a burnout. That’s a big problem when everyone expects you to do more work in a shorter period of time.
Look at your tasks and priorities. How can you arrange your time to complete them all? If you notice there’s more than enough time to cover the tasks, take it slow. You’ll be more focused, you’ll achieve higher quality, and you won’t waste your energy doing unnecessary things.
There’s nothing positive about workaholism and perfectionism. These are extremes. When you want to achieve balance between your personal and professional life, you can’t go to extremes. Try taking things slow and you’ll notice a huge difference. You’ll be more relaxed, that’s for sure. However, to everyone’s surprise, you’ll also get more productive.