How to slow down & increase productivity

by Abigail Ireland

One of the most common misconceptions about productivity is that it is all about doing more. In fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

True productivity is about making the best use of time, and this doesn’t mean having a jam-packed schedule. It means doing the right things at the right time, including taking a break or having some downtime so you feel refreshed and restored.

“Going at pace” is often a term used in business to describe fast-moving and competitive organisations. Again, pace and haste need to be distinct from one another. There is no point fast-forwarding through your days, only to end each week not really sure where you spent your time and wondering if you made any progress. Pace has to be sustainable and this involves slowing down enough that you can intentionally spend your time in the best possible way and recharge effectively.

Counterintuitively, when you want to get things done, it pays to lean into slowing down. In fact, Carl Honore, author of “In Praise of Slow”, talks about slowness being a superpower which we all could benefit from.

Here are three simple ways to slow down immediately.

  1. Be fully present in every moment. The quality of how we spend our time is more important than the quantity of time we dedicate to something, so being fully present and focused on what we are doing automatically slows things down mentally for us. Enjoy the journey, don’t just rush for the destination.
  1. Stop multitasking! We know this doesn’t work as the brain has to constantly jump back and forth from one task to the next. By single-tasking, we preserve energy and also achieve results faster. By multitasking, we may make progress in a few areas but not actually complete anything properly or with satisfaction.
  1. Carve out intentional breaks for rest and recharge before you need them. Taking time out to recharge our batteries is crucial for productivity and sustainable performance. Watch a silly movie, take a nap, or take time out to play a board game or complete a jigsaw puzzle. If we don’t stop from time to time, we end up depleted and drained, and everything can take a lot longer to accomplish than when we are refreshed and energised. Professional athletes and performers build rest into their routines and so should everyone else.

By slowing down and taking pride in our ability to do so, we’ll soon notice an uptick in energy, productivity and overall contentment as we approach our days with better clarity and intention.

About the author

Abigail Ireland is a Peak Performance Strategist and founder of Understanding Performance a leadership and training consultancy specialising in enabling ambitious executives and teams to achieve excellence on a sustainable basis. Abigail is a qualified Chartered Banker, NLP Practitioner, Executive & Leadership Coach, Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach.  Combining this skillset and her experience working in high-performing teams in Private Equity, Acquisition Finance and Strategy, Abigail is well qualified to assist her clients.  She is not an advocate of short-term superficial tactics and her comprehensive approach gives leaders and teams achievable ways to enhance productivity, energy and focus for sustainable, high-impact results.



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