The Power of Slow

Embracing time so you have more of it

Ten Ways to Live Time Abundantly

The amount of time you have is in your head.

The stack of books tumbled from my arms onto the floor. One look from the librarian told me I had better slow down or else. She even uttered the words. "Sometimes doing things slowly can actually be faster."

Should I tell her I wrote the book on it? I opened my mouth, then thought better of it. I had, after all, potentially damaged her property. What she didn't know was I was conducting an experiment. Depending on your perspective, I was either failing or succeeding. I had decided to see what would happen if I actually went against the principles of the power of slow. What if I left the house in a busy state of mind, tried to cram five errands into thirty minutes, and attempted to make it to the auto mechanic for my 11 a.m. appointment? The librarian's words proved the point.

You are more productive when you go slowly.

I breathed in the slow, releasing the cloak of busyness I had purposely donned, then drove the speed limit to the mechanic's. I arrived right on time.

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The power of slow says time is your friend, not your foe. When you embrace time with an abundant attitude, you actually have more of it. You can expand your experience of time itself simply through your mindset. Time savoring raises your awareness of what you have in the here and now. By enjoying the moment, you make decisions informed by that abundance. Time abundance, much like time starvation, is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

When asked if I would want one more hour in the day, I say "No. I have more than enough time." It seems like an odd-ball answer to a question most people answer with a resounding yes! The truth of the matter is time is a construct we designed. It is an organizing principle to help us make sense of our lives (and to meet up at the same moment at Starbucks). So if it's not real, why do we treat it like the monster under our bed? Oh right. He's not real either. Maybe, just maybe, time starvation is in our minds.

Our collective urgency, fear and yearning to stuff more into our day are merely symptoms of a much larger issue: how we relate to time itself.

Establishing a positive relationship with time is a lot like investing. You have to give something to get a return. Investing a little time on the front end can give you a surplus at the end. Here's how.

Stop multitasking. You've heard me say it before. In scientific terms, what you are really doing is task-switching. The brain cannot concentrate on two or more comparably difficult things at a time. Attempting to multitask is, therefore, not only inefficient. It's exhausting.

Set your priorities. Make a mental note of your top items each day. Remain flexible in case your priorities shift (leaving a burning building, for instance, is more important than finishing that report on your desk).

Exercise. Mental clarity can improve your focus, thereby your productivity. Take a brisk mid-day walk to get some fresh air and a new perspective.

Learn to say ‘no' with kindness. Agreeing to edit your friend's blog might be a nice idea, but if you are not in even exchange, it can be time-consuming over the long haul. Think of ways to realign your planning so she's saving you time, too. Otherwise, politely decline.

Get up fifteen minutes early to meditate or write in your gratitude journal. Your mental positioning is as important as your physical one. Bring your mind and your body into alignment with a quiet routine before your day begins. Stretch your muscles and your mind.

Get enough rest. Expanding your day by going to bed an hour later does not give you another hour over time. In fact, a non-rested thinker is a muddled one.

Manage expectations. It will save you hours of cleaning up the mess you could have prevented had you managed those expectations properly in the first place.

Check email at set times. Email begets email. The more you send, the more you receive. Train yourself to check email periodically instead of constantly. Close out of your email system while working on other projects to avoid distraction.

Unplug. Henny Penny may believe the sky is falling, but yours won't if you go off-line for a few days. Most cell phones are equipped with personalized ring tones. Set it so you can identify who's calling without having to even touch it. Or better yet. Turn it off altogether.

Embrace time-abundant thinking. When you realize you have more than enough time to do what is required to fulfill your ultimate purpose, the pressure is off. You stop engaging in activities that are not in alignment with that purpose. You spend more time on the things you love, thereby encasing you in even more joy and, yes, time!

Stress recedes when you are present in the here and now. As a matter of fact, now is all there really is.

 

Christine Louise Hohlbaum is the author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World.

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