Productivity and efficiency are both such attractive topics to me. I love the idea that work can always be done better. And, I know people who are both more productive and more efficient than I am, proving it can be done.
In my notebook I have anonymous quotes that caught my eye:
“He had no wasted motion.”
“Things happened coming and going.”
In many ways I have been afraid of rest (and rust). I don’t like to waste time. Rest often seems like a waste and can look very lazy to others as well.
However, I have found in practice that always trying to do things as fast as possible is very stressful for me. I prefer to relax and enjoy what I am doing rather than race against time or a schedule. My temperament is high strung and anxious. Doing things quickly, under stress, is actually less productive for me.
For example, I stress to pack the family for the trip to Disney, we rush out the door to leave at the appointed time, and one hour into the journey I remember the tickets are home.
When overly stressed I forget things, lose or misplace important items, and sometimes lose my patience when a more paced procedure would actually save me time.
I now think that rest is important for all people. We need to punctuate times of high stress and activity with low stress and rest periods. But, especially if you are high strung like I am, the counterintuitive slow method might actually work better for you.
The navy seals have a saying that “slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.” This is a different way to look at efficiency.
But, how do you go slowly and still do things fast? I am not sure I have the answer to that question. Many tasks seem to take as much time as you give them. And, I have never been good at estimating time.
Ways that do work for me:
I set my own deadlines early with a couple of days grace period in case I get behind or life surprises me. That extra planned cushion relieves stress and allows me to focus on a task without the distraction of worry.
I plan in larger chunks of time with fewer transitions. I have never done well with a minute by minute schedule. It makes me feel like a robot with no freedom, and if anyone even speaks to me it ends up making me late like dominos all throughout the day. I want to talk to people. I want to be a person who has time for other people. I feel the world is harsh enough without all of us too busy to even be human to each other. I don’t feel like myself when a routine task seems to be more important than a precious person. This is a personal value betrayal. So, I have to have grace time within my life if at all possible.
There is an old latin phrase, “festina lente” which means to hurry slowly. I like that.
I like being the hare not the tortoise. So I need to pace my pulses and pauses in such a way that I’m not too active or too slow for too long. Like setting the wavelength of a beautiful wave, I think each pattern might be individual. My husband, for example, likes a steady pace (and he usually will beat me).
So, I’m giving myself permission to not only rest, but trust myself that I will get up and go. I do. I enjoy working hard and making a difference every day. I am thankful for that motivation.
I just can’t run off so fast that my rest is a collapse. Instead, I am going to practice hurrying slowly.
DarEll S. Hoskisson