Is rushing slowing you down?

Stress - business woman running lateAre you a rushaholic? Sure, we all want to be efficient with our time – it’s our most precious commodity. But what if it’s more efficient to do things slowly? What if going faster actually slows us down?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, as we are going through a renovation at our house. There have been many instances where rushing has cost tradespeople more time and money. For example, there’s the installers who put down brand new hardwood and, rather than taking a moment to place a piece of board down to protect it, dragged our old fridge out the kitchen doorway and gouged the floor. They had to come back, set up their equipment, chip off the damaged boards and put down new ones. The cost: 3 guys, half a day and another box of wood flooring. Not to mention an unhappy customer and lost referrals. (To the credit of the flooring company, at least they did come back to make it right).

Take your time. Get it done right – the first time.

Rushing Wastes Time

I don’t know about you, but I find I frequently forget things when I’m rushing, and end up wasting more time than I saved. Like the time we were rushing to get my parents to the airport and it wasn’t until we got there that we realized we left one of the suitcases behind. The funny thing is that there was no reason to rush in the first place – we had plenty of time; so much time in fact, that we drove the half hour back to the house, picked up the suitcase, and got to the airport with time to spare.

We get so hooked on the habit of hurrying that sometimes we rush needlessly. (I guess that’s why they call us the human race.) Have you ever been in a car with someone that constantly speeds, tailgates, and runs through red lights – even when they have plenty of time to get to where they are going? (I’m sure none of you are guilty of that). Efforts to get to our destination a few seconds sooner often backfire. Being pulled over or getting into an accident would cost more time and grief than if we just took our time. Is our obsession to do everything in less time really worth it?

Time Management guru Harold Taylor, in his book, “Slowing Down the Speed of Life”, advises us to “Drive slower, walk slower, talk slower and work slower. The faster you go, the faster life seems to go.” I can tell you from my experience, once you can get past the initial feelings of panic and guilt (that you are not doing enough) and see the amazing results, slower feels better.

“Speed is the enemy of time management, not its ally.”

-Harold Taylor

Accidents Increase with Speed

When we rush, there is more chance of making mistakes. This can impact our stress levels, our finances and our relationships. Yet we associate doing things slowly with inefficiency and perhaps even laziness. And we glorify speed. This is a perception that is outdated. Just look at the benefits of slowing down and see if that shifts your view:

Benefits of slowing down:

-increased creativity

-decreased stress and anxiety

-fewer mistakes

-more opportunities

-more productive

-experience more joy

-improved communications and better relationships

-longer survival rate (The Body Clock Advantage, Matthew Edlund)

And if you’re still not convinced, here’s something you can try. Whenever I find myself rushing to get more done, I remember the famous chocolate scene from the old I Love Lucy sitcom. Through humor, it illustrates how speed reduces productivity.

Are you addicted to the fast paced life? Or have you tried taking it slow? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.

Share this:

This post has 10 comments

  • Twila Gore Peck says:

    I’m like Mr Rogers, I Like to Take My Time. It’s not always possible, but it’s like a little vacation in a busy day.

  • Jane says:

    I am apt to forget things as I twirl thru my day. So, knowing ‘me,’ I sit down and PLAN! I write out every item to go on my Thanksgiving Table, i.e. dishes, of course, but also, what serving plates/bowls/dishes, and their accompanying utensil. I write out my complete menu, including water, cut up the menu and place the note IN the food dish. That way I (a) have the table, or sideboard, ready to receive the food, and (b) don’t forget that … the rolls are in the oven, the pineapple circles are cooling in the fridge, or milk for the coffee/tea needs to be poured into the creamer, etc.

    Same thing for travelling. I write out every move and what will be required: maps, brochures, reading material, jewelry, umbrella, underwear, scotch tape & clothespins to hold curtains tightly closed, Rx’s, comb, toothpaste….. No detail is too obvious to jot down in leisure. Then when its packing time…Wa-LA! Just follow the list. This has saved me worry and loss of time finding each item. Makes the event more enjoyable knowing I’m ready! : )

  • Elizabeth says:

    You’re right about the accidents – the most frequent way my kids hurt themselves is rushing! Yesterday my daughter was running through the kitchen (to bring a Band-aid to her dad who had – while rushing – cut himself) and cut a corner too short – OUCH!
    My parents always had that expression “More haste, less speed” – meaning that rushing to do things doesn’t get it done right or quickly. 🙂

  • Sherry says:

    I can’t stand to be late for anything, so I set my watch 10 mins ahead, so I have time to spare, my husband& son, on the other hand need constant reminders, so I always say “1/2 hour before we have to go”, then 15 mins before we got, etc., so we’re out the door on time;)

  • Maureen says:

    I would agree that as we do things faster – we tend to make more mistakes. That old speed versus accuracy in typing tests. And the mistakes can sometimes be very costly. I try as much as possible to plan well – so I avoid last minute crises. But they can still happen – as we can not control everything in life. So doing a methodical check of actions and outcomes is always valuable.

  • Lorraine says:

    I choose to be slower and more methodical than fast, even though fast seems to be the preferred mode in today’s lifestyle. I used to cringe when I would see employment opportunities advertised as “fast-paced environment,” and used to joke half-seriously that I was looked for a slow-paced office to work in! I’m glad to see that time management experts are now advising us to slow down, enjoy it more, and do it right the first time.

  • Karen M says:

    Funny yet totally true, why is there never time to do it right, but there is always time to do it twice… What a waste. We’re always rushing not just at home, but in the workplace, wish employers could see the waste for what it is, and not laziness, sometimes expectations are not realistic.

  • Elisa says:

    I agree with Lorraine about job advertising a fast paced environment. I will not apply for that job at all. Haste always make waste.

  • Jamie says:

    The best way to avoid the last minute rush is to not procrastinate! This is one of the things I am working on in my own life. I tend to put off doing something I don’t want to do, then the deadline looms it’s ugly head and I, and my employees, have to drop everything and finish that task. This costs my time, employee time and salaries, sometimes extra material, and quality of the finished product!
    I think this is where Priority plays an important part in the planning of each day or project. If we put the important or multi-task project to a higher priority we could get it done well, with time to spare, and still have time to do the smaller jobs.

    We can read a bunch of email “after” the project is finished… while we take a well EARNED break with a cup of tea.

  • A quote from the reflections of poet and Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore goes like this-

    “The butterfly counts not months but moments and has time enough,” to alight and explore each flower in the meadow or garden.

    In comparison, we humans with the promise of an average lifespan of six scores and ten years have scarce a moment to spare for the little and rare things in life. That which slows down our breathing and heart rates and brings peace into our lives and a smile on our faces. Not to mention big health benefits!

    When was the last time that we really cared to listen to our loved ones (or the songbirds in the backyard) and shut off the TV or the smartphone? When did we take a detour returning from work just to watch a spectacular sunset? Or when did we decide not to drink the cuppa on the go and instead sit down and savour a cup of tea or coffee, with time to spare to be at the office on time?

    In today’s society, we have equated being busy and hurried with being productive. Which is not all bad if we can still make time to slow down, take a break, unwind and reflect on where we are going and where we want to arrive. Life will turn out a lot more meaningful if we do and we will have time enough to enjoy it too:)

    Check out my Reflection Series at