Why you should do (almost) everything slowlyby mudlee - September 25 2014

Live fast, die young

I’ve heard this quotation frequently, and I think it’s deeply accurate.

First, I’m not good at slowing myself down. I just try to be good at it. I was living in countryside for almost 20 years, then when I moved to Budapest, I was faced with the „do it now!”, „is it done yet?” and „ASAP” mindset. I was worried about everything, I did everything quickly as I could. Worrying and rushing around all day harmed my physical and mental health. I developed problems with my heart and I had very high blood pressure, which I’ve never had before.

Then I found a method or a philosophy, which changed my thinking, and my habits. Now I try not to rush. I try to focus on only one thing at a time. I try to consciously think about what I’m doing, and why I’m doing it. And yes, it’s a terribly hard thing to do.

Why is it better to slow down?

There is a quotation: „patience produces roses”, which means good things come to those who wait. If you’re not patient about what you’re doing, you likely won’t produces good things, but bad. It’s like this because when you rush, you cannot focus correctly. It’s like when you want to do 10 things at a same time. It’s impossible.

  • If you do something in a rush, you cannot observe the details. How can a painter paint something amazing if he doesn’t notice the details? A more general example: how can you drive safely, if you’re not watching out for the details (e.g.: the traffic, others).
  • People in a rush cannot produce something of quality. If something was made in a rush, it’s rarely a high quality product. For sure, in some cases the quality was not the goal, but the quantity or the time we spent.
  • It’s a heavy source of stress and it’s a way of burning out. I think, stress is not based on only one problem. Stress is about lots of problems usually. But one of them is rushing all day long. And it’s a big one. You’ll be burned out mentally, then physically. I was.
  • You’ll lose your concentration. If you rush for a long time, after a time you won’t be able to concentrate on anything (it was also my experience). When it happens, how can you enjoy a conversation with your friends or your spouse, when you cannot pay attention on the moment? Actually I couldn’t, because I was thinking of everything during conversations with people.

Where does rushing come from?

Rushing and hurrying are the same, but I think the source – and the base problem – is hurrying. Rushing is just the effect, the real problem and the real cause is hurrying.
The difference between rushing and hurrying is important here. You can hurry calmly, but you can rush only when worried.
The point is, why should we rush then? Well, because your boss told you; you may miss the bus, if you don’t; the TV show is starting; etc. The world we live in doesn’t teach us to how to do something slowly, and carefully. Do everything as fast as you can (ASAP!), do a lot of it – at the same time, make a lot of profit quickly. As I said: hurrying is just the effect.

The biggest issues, why you’re so impatient

  • Media. Obviously. What do you see, when you turn on the TV? It varies. One image after another. Before your brain can process how good that dress the woman is wearing, the next image shows a totally different something. I watch TV maybe 3-4 times a year, when I flick-through all the channels, then I turn it off. During this „trip”, sometime I pause for 1-2 minutes and watch what is happening on that channel. What I see is that for instance the cartoons are not just stupid, but vulgar, and increasingly faster paced. OK, in my childhood I saw some similar cartoons, but now children don’t have any other options. Every movie/cartoon is fast. If you look at any movies, there are a lots of things happening during that time. Why? Because people may turn off the TV, if they don’t see anything interesting in each second.
    These problems also noticeable in newspapers, and on web-pages (that’s why be-zen is so clean). Flickering, ads, short articles. Fortunately, books are my last refuge. And also some movies are good such as the movie called „Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring”. It’s much slower in pace.
  • Profit-orientation. How many times have you heard this phrase: it doesn’t matter how it will be made, what matters is that it will be made quickly.
    I’ve heard this many times. Lots of people in their job are taught to be quick and hurried… because of a deadline and money. I used „taught” because if you do it at your job every day, you’ll do it everywhere else too. At home with your children, or your spouse. Even when you’re driving or eating.
    I always hate being hurried, and doing something just before the deadline, but unfortunately I have done, and was really stressed.
    Another important situation is that when somebody says: „the quality is most important, the deadline doesn’t matter”. I’ve also heard this many times, and sometimes it’s just not true. It’s like when a kid does something wrong, then he/she says: „it wasn’t me, really”. Be careful with it, and don’t be too naive.
  • Multitasking. We want to do a million things at the same time. Women can do a few, but allegedly men cannot. So if you’re a man, and you’re forced to do more things at the same time, you won’t be able to concentrate on everything, trust me. What will be the result? You’ll be in a rush and hurry, and the product will fail. And your health also.It’s very big issue to do lots of things. When you’re at the wedding altar before the big „I do”, are you worried about project XY’s deadline? No, you’re not. Or, if you’re at a romantic dinner with your spouse, what should you do? Worry about deadlines, or anything else? No, it’s just about you and your spouse.
    The other thing is, when you work on something, you usually receive emails, sms’es, or calls. Lots of things that may interrupt you. A colleague asks you something. A boss tells you to do something ASAP! A Facebook friend writes to you.
    I’ve realized not so long ago, why I’m much more productive when I work from home. I think, this is because while there are such things that I mentioned. The most important thing is that I can’t be distracted. And I also don’t check my emails, just once an hour (it should be once per day). I don’t accept every call. I don’t surf the internet without a purpose. I don’t use Facebook. Etc. Not distracting yourself is the key here.
  • Wanting to be perfect. If you not good at something that you have to do, it can be a big issue. But, it has to be done, quick as you can, so you do it anyway. If its not as good as you thought, it can be stressful. You think you’re not good enough. That’s not true, by the way. You and your boss’s expectations are just too high.
    My very relevant example is that I’ve always wanted to use Linux, at least for work. Because it’s free, built by a community, etc. I’ve tried many times to use, but I wanted everything immediately. That’s not the way to learn Linux. In this case I always said: stupid Linux, why is it so bad? I forget to think in this way: the problem is with me, not others. I didn’t have enough patience.
    That was a big thing I realized, that I can’t be perfect. With things I don’t know, I should start learning first, with some humility. Yes, it was a very IT specific example, but I think you have lots of similar examples in your life! :)

How can we change?

I’ve been changing my habits for a long time. So the list below is not the Bible, it’s just a crutch that you can use, as I do all day. I’m not saying I use all the rules I write every day, but I try very hard!

  • Eat slowly. Chew each bite well, and enjoy your meal. Don’t do anything else during eating. Don’t read, don’t watch TV. Just eat.
  • Don’t hurry, don’t rush. Realize when you’re hurrying, and notice yourself, stop immediately, and relax. Do NOT continue what you’re doing until you’re calm again. Say to yourself: „what did you think, I wouldn’t notice? ;)”
  • Don’t think, if you fail that the world is going to end. Many people think that if they fail at something, that means their life is over, the world will end, and everything is just bad now. Yes, failures generate problems, but the most important problem that was generated is that you’re stressed. Your health has been degraded, again.
  • Don’t multi-task. If you read, just read. If you write, just write. If you talk, just talk. When you’re in a conversation with someone, ask them to not change the topic frequently. You might have to ask them to stop writing Facebook posts and focus on you and the others.
  • If you don’t finish something at a particular time, or if you’re late, or something happens not in a way you imagined, don’t panic! Don’t hurry, don’t rush. If something happens in a way that you don’t like, that’s not the end of the world, seriously. Actually, you can learn from these failures! Say thanks for the chance to learn something new. Yeah, saying thanks is the hardest thing to do, I know. „Thank you for crashing into my car, dude! I’m very grateful!”. Even the Bible says, remember: „If somebody throws a stone at you, throw a piece of bread back at him”.
  • Take enough time to relax, and just do nothing. Just sit and look out from your eyes. Turn off your brain. If you can, meditate. People think they always have to do something. Well, it’s not true. The media, the education say if you don’t do anything, there’s something wrong with you. You’re not useful. They are lying.
  • Learn to say no. It’s very important. People getting involved in situations they don’t want to be in, when they couldn’t say no. And it’s a way to be in an endless rat race you can’t escape. If you feel you don’t really want to do something, just say no. It’s your life, not others’, isn’t it?
  • Don’t pile up todos. I see when lots of people fill their calendar fully. They have no free time at all. Actually, they can’t get everything done (because they have no plan B), so they push the tasks to the next week. It’s crazy. It’s like a big, heavy rock rolling in front of you. And yes, this rolling rock is stress. These guys have no free time, they cannot relax.
    The solution is, you should select 3 tasks for the day that you really care about, and do these only. It would be best to pick only one, but let’s say you can select 3. If these 3 tasks are done, your day was OK. Every other thing is an extra. Give yourself free time when you can do nothing but sit and relax. Listen to the world around you. Feel it, watch it.
  • Learn how to be late. I like to be a precise guy. If I’m late, it really bothers me. But if you’re late, you can’t do anything about it. It has happened. If you can learn that there is nothing to fear about missing something, or being late for something, it would be a big step in your life. Actually, I’d like to learn, it’s very tough :)

I’d like to write a post about every single point above, and if I have enough experience, I will.

See all posts →