Executive Education

Health at work: slow down in order to speed up

By Karen Meager and John McLachlan, co-authors of Time Mastery (£12.99 Panoma Press)
Executive Education
Published: 10 November 2017

For many people, fast pace is part and parcel of the average day at the office. Some find it a great motivation, while others struggle with the pressure it puts on them, but managers often maintain that it is an important ingredient for productivity. Do you ever give thought to how slowing the pace could positively impact your work? Certainly, there are some advantages to fast-paced working style, but it has its negative consequences, which often come as a result of too little time and attention being devoted to individual tasks. This inevitably requires the job to be redone, which wastes time, money and energy, and in the long run is an unproductive and corrosive working style. Working toward a steadier pace in the workplace allows for jobs to be given the treatment they need, minimising the likelihood that they will require further attention later on. Here are some tips for slowing the pace for better productivity in the workplace.

When setting goals:

  • Try to think up a few different approaches you could take to reach the same conclusion; one should be the simplest or most direct way of getting there, which should lend some perspective to how much better your result will be when given proper focus. It will also give you an idea of how much to put into a task – see how much more you can get done with minimal extra effort, and keep an eye out for the point at which you feel you have reached overkill. This effort will help you to work more efficiently in the future.
  • Go away and come back to them. Many jobs can benefit from taking a break and returning with a fresh mind and attitude, as spending too long on one task can cause your brain to freeze up. Taking a break will allow your ideas to flow more freely and prevent any ‘lightbulb moments’ occurring after your deadline.
  • Consider what the goal, once achieved, looks like. When you imagine it, is it how you had initially hoped? If anything is different, what needs adjusting in order to make it match what you wanted to achieve? Keep this visual at the forefront of your work from start to finish, and check back with it periodically to see how well your achievements match up to it, particularly when you complete the task. Is the end result how you imagined it, and if not, where do you think you went wrong and what could you do differently next time to achieve a more like-for-like outcome?

Think carefully about the ‘why’:

  • Why have you chosen to take one course of action, and disregarded others? Did you base this decision on any particular past experiences, and if so, what do you hope to bring from that previous experience to this task?
  • How is this course of action relevant not only to your goal, but to what the company represents? Are you adhering closely to the company’s established style, or choosing to stray from the path slightly? If you are trailblazing, what do you hope to achieve from doing so?
  • What would happen if you were to follow an alternative course of action, and how does that result match up to your ideal? What would compel you to choose to do things a different way?
  • Would any actions in particular cause undesirable results, and what steps can you take to avoid such consequences?
  • Are there any alternative strategies you could use that would significantly affect the end result?

Although ease may tempt you not to, it is important to consider these points as honestly as you can, as willful ignorance will only cause you problems later on. Ask your team for their input on these points and collect as many ideas and opinions as you can – the more perspectives you consider, the less likely you are to forget anything major. Adjusting your working pace, especially in the early stages at which you make your plan of attack, is a very worthwhile practice. Once you begin to slow the pace routinely, you will begin to notice just how beneficial your new working style has been, and can continue to be.

About the authors
Karen Meager and John McLachlan are the co-founders of Monkey Puzzle Training (www.monkeypuzzletraining.co.uk) and co-authors of Time Mastery: Banish Time Management Forever (£12.99, Panoma Press).

Karen and John take the latest scientific and academic thinking and make it useable in everyday life. Both have successful business backgrounds for over 20 years, are clinically qualified in psychotherapy and hypnotherapy and two of only a handful of NLP Master Trainers in the UK.

Karen and John have a unique gift in helping people both in their business and personal lives to move beyond Time Management to become ‘Time Masters’, allowing them to develop an approach to time that is efficient and fits in with their unique personality. Too often, people are controlled by other people’s priorities so Karen and John help people to take back that control, by understanding how their own preferences, style and interests impact their use of time.