Slow Down To Be More Productive

As a whole, we are one of the busiest, yet most unproductive groups of people. I see it all the time, we run around like chickens with our heads cut off, attached to our mobile devices, emails, calendars, and to do lists. We wear “busy” like a badge of honor and boast that one of our best skills is “multi-tasking”. This way of living may be thrilling for a while and you feel the “hustle” and “grind” become a part of your identity as you push towards your goals, but ultimately, this type of living isn’t sustainable.

2017 was my year of “busy” and it burned me out! I was stressed out often, never took time for myself, my relationships and friendships suffered, and I got sick often. At the start of 2018, I was still dealing with the residual effects of the previous year’s grind and hustle — I ended up leaving my work bag on a bench, lost my checkbook, $400, my keys, and my journal all because I was in such a hurry. In that moment, it hit me…SLOW DOWN, ALLISON!

I took a step back and realized that I wanted to feel and do things differently, because I couldn’t have a repeat of last year. So, I decided to take my own advice, for a change, and found that by slowing down my pace I was actually more productive, more efficient, and less stressed.

Here’s my plan of action:

  1. Be Prepared: Each night, I take 30 minutes to prepare for the next day. I pack my meals, then place ginger, lemon, and honey in my travel mug and add fresh water to my kettle. Next, I lay out my clothes for the next day and pack my work bag and gym bag and place it next to the refrigerator. Lastly, I look over my calendar and create my to do list for the next day. Being as prepared as possible for the next day, allows me to wake up with more ease and I don’t have to rush in the morning. I found that if I started my day with chaos, it sets the tone for the rest of my day. What can you do tonight to help you prepare for your day tomorrow?
  2. Be Proactive: In 2017, I was more reactive and felt like I was always putting out fires or running against tight deadlines. One thing that I do each morning, is take 10 minutes and prioritize my to-do list by a rating system. I first rate each item with a 1, 2, or 3, with 1 being the most important. Next, I rate each item with a 1, 2, or 3, with 1 being the most urgent. Then I multiply the numbers for each item. The items that come out to 1 (1x1), are what I focus on first in the day, as the most important and most urgent. From there I work my way through my list. This helps me to ensure that I am not wasting time on trivial (or the easy, yet unimportant) stuff. What tasks should you priortize to get done today?
  3. Be Present: This was the hardest part for me, because my mind would always race — either lamenting over the past or stressing about the future. When I’m prepared for the day and have set proper boundaries to stay proactive, it allows me to be present and intentional with my day. When I’m working, I use Power Hours, where I set a timer for one hour, cut out all distractions and get laser focused on the task at hand. If am with friends or family, I try to stay engaged and present, and definitely not do anything work related while I’m with them. I also make sure to spend quiet time alone, to reconnect with myself. In all of those moments, the goal is to be present and embrace whatever is going on in that moment. What can you do to be more present in your work, your relationships, and your alone time?

Ultimately, learning how to slow down has been a real game changer. I now have more time to spend doing things that I didn’t have time for last year, like taking dance classes and actively blogging. I’ve also found more time to try new things like Yoga and start a new business venture. Personally, I am less stressed, I sleep better, I’m more pleasant to be around, and I have more energy for the day to be present, creative, and inspired.

Allison Tibbs