Slow is Fast and Fast is Slow

Slow is Fast and Fast is Slow-it’s really true and I’ll show you how.

First a little from David Allen’s “Speeding up by slowing down…

I want to talk about one of the more mysterious best practices in Getting Things Done®: the art of speeding up by slowing down.

For me, increasing productivity means getting a result with as little effort as possible,” he says. But if what we’re getting to here is how to truly access more and more of that refreshing, rewarding, and fulfilling aspect of ourselves, is “working harder” required to get there…? No.

One of the subtlest ways that positive energy leaves us is in our busy-ness:

We lose perspective in trying to control everything: finish it all, fix it all—all at once. It shows up in ways like Getting Things Done out of frustration instead of inspiration, or helping yourself and others out of compulsion, not compassion.

One of the greatest lessons I have learned, he says, and continually must practice is that in order to really be in control, I must surrender. In the martial arts things must be held lightly. Grabbing too tight in life, whether it’s my muscles, my ego, my trowel, or my lists of projects and actions, can be dangerous and ultimately ineffective. I must at a moment’s notice be ready to let go, walk away from it all, and do nothing, says David Allen.

And I find that so true myself. Why the rush if you miss things in the process? What we want is Relaxed Control. And along with that, situational awareness is a benefit and a skill that can and should be developed for reasons outside of personal defense and safety. Situational awareness is really just another word for mindfulness, and developing mine has made me more aware of what’s going on around me and more present in my daily activities, which in turn has helped me make better decisions in all aspects of my life.

Optimal situational awareness is a state of being Relaxed and Alert. So that means without tension or rush. It’s another way of saying slow down and notice what’s going on. It aids clear thinking and decision-making. Instead of a frenzied pace, it’s you at your best. Rushing about may delude us into thinking we’re getting a lot done, but is it the quality of life and work that we want?

Sometimes we may think we are saving time when we hurriedly talk with people, or even cut off a conversation. And there certainly are times and people with whom we can occasionally get away with that. Sometimes there are situations where we must move on, and people often understand that.

But we’ve probably all had experiences of trying to save time with people which were regretted. It may have been with a co-worker, a child or a spouse. We sometimes become impatient, focus only on what we need to get done —but at what cost? And with what result?

It relates to the difference between efficiency (performing tasks in an organized and capable way, without waste) and effectiveness (causing the desired or intended result).

Stephen Covey wisely said, “With people, if you want to save time, don’t be efficient. Slow is fast and fast is slow.”

It is neither efficient nor effective to create human relationship problems. And even if they don’t surface immediately, they can affect the ability to work with others and get things done. How much time is invested in trying to solve relationship problems? It’s like that old “ounce of prevention being worth a lot more than a pound of cure”.

Taking time to listen, helping the other person feel heard and valued, reflect back what was said, etc. may take a few more seconds or minutes than the hurried approach. It may not seem as efficient, but it is much more effective. Immeasurable time is saved by strengthening relationships and avoiding counterproductive hard feelings, backbiting, and diminished results—as well as long meetings about them!

Certainly there are some who talk endlessly, and are oblivious to our needs. Sometimes we may need to be pleasantly assertive when we need to do other things. But taking the time to consider the people-side of “getting things done” will help keep life moving along much more effectively—and actually save a lot of time in the long and short run.

So remember, slow is fast and fast is slow.

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