Shortly after high school graduation (many moons ago), I moved from my hometown in Omaha, Nebraska to the “Wild West.” I was hypnotized by the towering mountains, the “lost” lakes, and the ever-steady pace of the Cowboy way. I rushed out to register for college courses, join clubs, find a job, meet new people, and cram every second full of tasks. I wanted to experience it all. It wasn’t until eleven years later, when my now husband, Matt, took me backpacking that I began to stop and “smell the roses.”
I was rushing. Rushing to grow up, to write my own stories, and to be a part of everything. Well, I grew up and I, certainly, have stories to tell, but I wasn’t a part of everything. In fact, looking back, I wonder if I was really a part of anything. This isn’t a woe-is-me tale but more of a reflection of how life can get busy and rushed.
Rushing can cause more than just missing out on personal experiences -- it can affect your health (mentally and physically), your relationships, and your work. For me, rushing causes stress, lack of sleep, and, most of all, mistakes. Lots of mistakes. Luckily, I am not a surgeon and no one is wounded by my mistakes, but I have no intention of repeating them. That is why I keep these five strategies to stop rushing in mind:
# 1: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” – Alan Lakein
Planning is my favorite part of a project. Defining the steps, organizing, and defining a timeline that fits perfectly into everyone’s schedule. No one will be sick, there will not be any Dentist appointments, no school snow days, no deadlines missed, I will live in a castle on the top of a mountain and it will be a perfect 72 degrees outside every day. It all sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? But it isn’t reality. Use your calendar to your advantage. Schedule dedicated worktime specifically for your top priorities before they are due. This will help you in the rush of things to know that you have dedicated time to work on the project. AND, if you finish the project early, you will feel rewarded when you gain that work-time back for other projects. If you haven’t read Brianna Johnson’s blog titled “18 Ideas to Become More Focused in 2018,” I highly recommend it for other time management strategies.
# 2: Get it out of your head!
When I begin to rush, I start to notice my brain going from one task to another saying, “don’t forget about…” or “remember to…” or “you have to do X, Y, and Z.” This inner dialog while trying to focus on a particular task is hurting your ability to produce quality work. When you begin to notice your mind running from task to task telling you to remember key details, write them down or record a voice note or video on your cell phone. Whatever it is, get those details out of your head so you can focus on the task at hand.
# 3: If you aren’t early, you’re late!
As a child, I was told “Being on-time was late and being early is on-time.” Out of all of the habits my parents instilled in me, this one I can’t shake and I’m thankful for it. Arriving late to a meeting leaves you flustered or with a heightened level of adrenaline and it also gives you the feeling that you have to play catch-up. Arriving 5 to 10 minutes early to meetings will allow you to hone in on the purpose of the meeting versus focusing on “what did I miss?” or “how do I catch up?” Getting to know your colleagues on a personal level as they trickle into the meeting is an added bonus.
# 4: Work out
I already mentioned that rushing through tasks and projects can cause stress. For me, working out has been an invaluable strategy to de-stress or slow down and I am not alone. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), “Sixty-two percent of adults who say they exercise or walk to help manage stress say the technique is very or extremely effective.” While many of the ConvergenceCoaching team relies on yoga or running, I prefer a high-energy 1990s step aerobics class to work out my stress. Whatever you choose as your form of exercise, make the time - even if it is a one-mile walk around the block.
# 5: Meditate
The benefits of meditation have been overlooked for years. However, studies are beginning to show the many benefits of meditation, including a decreased level of stress. As a person who considers herself a “Type A” personality, I struggled with accepting meditation into my life. I have to admit, before I began practicing meditation, I thought it was a gimmicky cure-all similar to snake oil. Oddly enough, as high-strung as I can be, I look forward to my daily meditation. Meditation can take any where from 4 minutes to 45 (or more) minutes. I prefer the short and sweet “Quick Meditation for the Workplace,” but an internet search will also produce numerous meditation resources of varying lengths.
Slowing down is not my forté, but I am learning to put the brakes on my inner roadrunner to fuel my success and to minimize mistakes. What strategies do you use when you are feeling overwhelmed or rushed? What new strategies will you introduce to “slow your roll?”
Love to hear your thoughts on slowing down,
P.S. I was lucky enough to return to that same spot that made me push pause on my life a few years later and snapped a photo of my youngest dog, Parsley, not rushing off to do his job of chasing squirrels or protecting the campsite, but instead sitting, taking in the moment. Not rushing.