Is the rat race running you ragged? You’re not alone, but multitasking and running at lightening speed aren’t necessarily the best way to run your creative business. In “Slow Down to Go Fast,” Peleg Top discusses how slowing down, cutting out multitasking and increasing mindfulness can actually make your business more successful. Read an excerpt from the article below or read the complete article in the 2016 Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market or on ArtistsMarketOnline.com.
Keep creating and good luck!
Tackling everything at lightning speed can actually stifle a designer’s most valuable asset: her creativity. Learn how going slower will help you achieve a clear mind and put you on the path to true productivity.
I suspect that at the start of your day, the first thing you do is reach for your phone. You might even do this before you get out of bed. From the moment your eyes open, the input begins. E-mail, Facebook, Twitter, texting, newsfeed—all pouring in like an electronic firehose aimed at your brain. From daybreak to sunset, it’s a nonstop, get-it-done overload. It started in the 1980s when FedEx changed everything by introducing overnight delivery. Soon thereafter, fax machines came along, followed by e-mail and now smartphones. We’ve been spoiled. We’re used to immediate results and, in return, we’ve lost our patience. We don’t like waiting and when we have to, it causes anxiety and stress.
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And for creative people, it’s even harder not to get distracted. We have many interests and options to choose from. Slowing down to actually experience life in its depth becomes the biggest challenge we face. Besides, “slow” in our society often means “lazy,” “slacker” or plain “dumb”—and those are the last things we want to be known as. We keep cramming things into our lives, always searching for the combination that will provide us the most pleasure, and we distract ourselves from the tough questions (the slow questions) about what’s really important: our values, beliefs, big-picture plans, goals and how to achieve them. Not to mention how this pace stifles creativity.
The No. 1 question I hear from creative business leaders isn’t “Why are we running so fast?” It’s “How do we keep up and stay ahead in this fast-paced world?” The answer is simple. We think that moving fast will help us keep up. But this only works when we do it with precision and purpose. And in order to so do, we have to slow down.
To move quickly with precision and purpose, however, slowing down is precisely what we need to do. Instead of running at full speed in all directions, we need to pause, think, focus, and then run in the right direction.
At first glance, “slow down to go fast” doesn’t seem to make much sense. Our brains tell us that if we pause even for a moment, we’ll fall further behind. So we go at it with more grit than ever. In order to move quickly with precision and purpose, however, slowing down is precisely what we need to do. Instead of running at full speed in all directions, we need to pause, think, focus, and then run in the right direction.
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Doing everything at once is neither effective nor efficient. You’re expending more brain power switching from one thing to another, which only adds to feeling rushed and incomplete. It can’t be done. Choose a single task, and slow down. Start one project and stay present with it until you complete it, and watch how much faster you’ll get your to-do list done.
Be Mindful in Order to Be Present
If your creativity seems to suffer and you’re having difficulty coming up with new ideas, then slow down. Don’t panic and step on the gas; ease up instead. Slowing down can be a tremendous source of creativity, which exists in the present moment. You can’t find it anywhere else. Taking our time ultimately helps us become more mindful. When we’re mindful, we’re able to create our best.
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Practice a Slower Pace
. . . . Nearly everyone I know is suffering in this age of distraction, never catching up and always feeling like they’re falling behind. It doesn’t have to be that way. We’ve come to accept distractions as a way of life. But life isn’t the problem; we are. We’re simply moving too fast.
Slowing down allows us to create in an intentional way and not react from fear, which is generally the root cause of our speed. Slowing down takes practice and mindfulness. It’s a way of being that requires focus, attention and work. To start this mindful pace, consider these tips for creating a slower life:
Disconnect. Set aside time to turn off your devices and e-mail alerts. Schedule a break where you don’t take or make phone calls, when you’re just creating, connecting with a friend, reading a book or simply taking a walk. And if you’re brave, go an entire weekend disconnected. I promise, you’ll be OK.
Practice mindfulness. Learn to live in the present rather than thinking so much about the future or the past. When you eat, fully appreciate your food. If you’re with someone, be with them entirely. When you’re walking, appreciate your surroundings, no matter where you are.
Eliminate commitments. Say “no” more often to non-essential commitments. Every “yes” is taking up space in your life, so slow down and reflect on every commitment and invitation you receive. Before you say “yes,” make sure it isn’t taking you away from your more important commitments.
Do less. Rename your to-do list as the much more gentle “All that I have to do today is …” list. Design a less stressful day that allows you to work in a natural, easy-going manner.
Single task. This is the opposite of multitasking. Focus on one thing at a time. When you feel the urge to switch to other tasks, pause, breathe and pull yourself back.
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Take a close look at how you function throughout your day. Are you rushing around everywhere without ample time to do anything because you “don’t have enough hours in the day”? Become the master of your own time, and watch your life change. Your days will start feeling longer and more satisfying, as you’ll live a more intentional and present life. You’ll begin to enjoy every moment of every day because you’ll be present to witness them. And, surprise, you’ll even get more done and find your creativity flowing.
Peleg Top is a leadership development coach and a business mentor to creative entrepreneurs worldwide. He teaches business owners how to create a profitable company while living an artistic, well-balanced life. www.PelegTop.com
Excerpted from the May 2014 issue of HOW magazine. Used with the kind permission of HOW magazine, a publication of F+W, a Content + eCommerce Company. Visit www.howdesign.com to subscribe.