Your FitBit wakes you up at 5:30am. You grab the remote with one hand and your phone with the other. Simultaneously you are watching the news and checking Twitter. Then you switch the TV to ESPN and your phone to email. Quickly you respond to the most urgent items, then turn on Spotify to listen to music as you jump in the shower. During your shower you hear 3 different types of notifications, which you check as you get dressed. Within a few minutes you’re out the door, listening to your favorite podcast on your satellite radio in the car. While you sit in the Starbucks drive-thru, you look at your online calendar for the day’s appointments, then pay for your coffee with your phone. You walk into the office and your FitBit vibrates to alert that you’ve hit 1,000 steps. It’s 7:30am.
Now let’s go back in time just 30 years ago. That same 2-hour period would have looked completely different. The only similarities would have been the alarm (via a clock,) the shower, clothing, and coffee (made at home). And perhaps a check of the morning TV news.
So which is better? Well, it seems that an increasing number of people are yearning for a more laid-back approach to life, commonly called “slow living.” This trend can be seen in the renewed interest in gardening, crafts, and clean eating. In her article Have We Forgotten How to Just Be? Jodi Gibson states,
We are programmed to use every spare second of time with purpose. We feel every moment should be productive in one way or another… When a small window of space opens up in our schedule, we rush to fill it with something productive.
This is today’s culture. Non-stop media, digital interaction, distractions and notifications. From the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep, our brains continuously toggle from one task to another. But is this doing us any good? A recent study of 1,200 people by Common Sense Media reveals the affect multitasking has on the brain. in a Washington Post interview, Michael Robb, the group’s director of research said,
Many people think multitasking does not hamper your ability to get things done. But multitasking can decrease your ability to get things done well, because you have to reorient. That causes a certain level of cognitive fatigue, which can slow the rate of work.
It isn’t practical to throw out our devices and delete our email accounts, so how do we embrace “slow living,” particularly at work? Here are three simple ways:
Reclaim the 5-minute break Did your conference call end 5 minutes earlier than expected? Don’t rush to fill that time with another task. Instead, take a quick walk outside… call a family member… or make a cup of tea.
Invest time in creativity It may seem wasteful to spend an extra day deciding on a logo or brainstorming new sales methods. But give your brain time to ruminate and ponder a decision instead of deciding too quickly.
Be the master, not the slave of technology Just because your phone buzzes doesn’t mean you need to check it. Just as you schedule your day to work on various tasks, schedule time to look at your texts, emails, social media and blogs. Be strategic so that you can be the master, not the slave of technology.
By finding ways to implement a slow and simple work life, you may soon find yourself not only being more productive, but also enjoying the process of working a great deal more.