Slow living’ is a term used to describe a way of life which gives you time to notice & enjoy the little things – those things which can often escape us when we’re buried deep in our busy schedules.
If you practice mindfulness, meditation or were swept up in the ‘Marie Kondo’ hype, you’re probably already trying to find a little more space in your life. But how about finding more space in your business? How and why might you do that?
Rushing your work leads to mistakes. An overcrowded diary leads to missing potential serendipitous opportunities. Hustling too hard leads to fatigue, stress and burn-out. If you’re unable to put yourself ahead of your business and clients, your business and clients will, eventually, be impacted. Slowing down gives you time to really look at what’s working, examine why you’re even doing what you’re doing and ultimately improve both your work and home life.
With stress at work still a huge problem (20% of us ‘power through’ stress as part of our organisational culture and a quarter of us compromise our health to get work done), the discussion around mental health has, thankfully, become more open. Whether you’re an employer or employee, doing what you can to make sure your job adds to your life instead of taking something away, is crucial.
9 ways to work slow
1. Make the most of the time you have
Instead of using your commute to answer work emails or finish that presentation off on the train, take ten minutes to practice some mindfulness. Look around you – what do you notice about the people or landscape around you? What are other people doing? How are you feeling – is your heart racing or beating steadily; are there any feelings of anxiety in your body? Use the time to check in with yourself.
In the office, work on one project at a time. It’s so easy to get distracted by emails or phone calls or social media, but having a solid to-do list you don’t stray from will stop the overwhelm and make work a far calmer experience.
2. Plan ahead
Take an hour each Sunday night to sit down with your phone, calendar and email. If you have a partner, make sure to involve them in your planning, both spending time together and making sure one of you has the kids covered if needed.
Firstly – What do you have coming up this week? Include both work and personal here – meetings, events, conferences, parents evening, gym class – anything which has a clear start and end time.
Second – what are the things you’d like to do? Work-wise, emails you need to reply to/want to send; time to work on your business, instead of in it. Personal – a friend you’d like to call; a holiday you’d like to book. How can you fit these into your calendar for the week?
Then each morning before starting work (perhaps after breakfast), go through your planner for the day in case anything has changed.
Knowing how your weeks are loosely structured and your days are more formally structured, seeing that you *do* have the time to do the things you both want and need to do, will really help you feel in control. There will be less stress because the chances of something unexpected or forgotten coming up lessens.
3. Schedule a boundaried work day
When making new plans, take some time before replying with a definite ‘yes’. Will this be a good use of time, pushing your position or business forward? Respect your time and the time of others.
Don’t forget to also schedule regular time out of work – long weekends, holidays etc. Set up your Out of Office and be strict about how often you check up on work. We recommend – not at all.
Finally – take a lunch break. Yes, every day. Out of the office, into some fresh air and notice that the world continues moving even when you’re feeling stuck on a work problem.
Marie Kondo is right: if something isn’t ‘sparking joy’, it’s taking up mental space in your head and stopping you enjoying the things that *do* spark joy.
Literally declutter your workspace (or home if you’re feeling really keen. After all, now is the time to spring clean!). Clearing your desk space/office/home (if you work from home) stops the classic procrastinating/putting off work mistake – tidying up. By taking the time, a few hours or half a day, to organise your work space, you also won’t be scrabbling around trying to find that important piece of paper.
In terms of your digital life, clear your desktop, organise your email folders, put in place clear processes for clients; invoicing; everyday tasks. Make your digital life work FOR you, not against you. All this will ultimately save time, gifting you with a clearer mind and extra time for life.
5. Reconnect with or discover a hobby or interest
We know that many people would now list Netflix as a hobby, but – it’s not. Would you like to take singing lessons? Learn to make a mug or a wooden spoon? Improve your rusty Italian? Again, it may seem you don’t have time – but you’ll wonder how that was ever an excuse once you start. Having something to look forward to that’s not work-related and which you regularly show up for will bring more creativity to your life which in turn will move over to your business.
6. Ask for help
One quick way to slow down your life is to eliminate the activities which take up your time unnecessarily. If you’re in a position to do so – get a cleaner, employ a dogwalker, put the kids in nursery. Employ a VA / social media manager / copywriter / sales person / PA. Do away with the guilt – this does not mean you are not capable of doing any of these things yourself – you are simply freeing your time up to work on the business, not just in it.
7. Look for inspiration, not comparison
Stop comparing your work and your job/career/business to anyone else. Everyone is in their own lane at different parts of the journey. Follow social media accounts where people are already living slowly – what can you pick up from them, how have they done it? Search #slowlivingforlife and #theartofslowliving for some inspirational accounts.
8. Think long-term
No one ever wants to look back on their life regretting the amount of time they spent working. So make the years you are working count. Make a business bucket list & tick one thing off every 6 months – a conference abroad you want to attend, a presentation you’d like to give, approaching a brand you’d like to work with. Ticking these things off will give you a deep sense of satisfaction and help you see your time is being put to good use.
9. Get a coach
Having someone objective look at your job and business from the outside is priceless. When you’re so caught up in the ‘how’s?’ and ‘if only’s?’, a coach will say ‘why not?’ and ‘what if?’ They will help you dig deep into your personal and business values; examine whether your daily work-life reflects them and help you see the bigger picture.
What other ways could you bring a bit more slow into your worklife?