We live in a world that always seems to be moving forward at an incredible pace; one where technology, lifestyles, and even everyday tasks can make us feel like we are constantly running on a treadmill trying to catch up with a moving train. Often working under conditions with greater expectations and fewer resources, multi-tasking has become a way of life. And while this can lead to new and creative ways to increase productivity and reach objectives, it can also lead to missing important information, skipping steps, losing focus, and making mistakes.
Ever wonder why things so often seem to go wrong when we’re in a hurry? Even performing simple, everyday tasks like tying our shoes or climbing a flight of stairs can seem just a little off. When our minds are speeding, performance is proven to slow down. Highly valued characteristics such as patience, judgment, concentration, critical thinking, and decision-making often suffer as a result.
Slowing down doesn’t necessarily mean walking rather than running or typing fifty words a minute rather than sixty-five. What we must do is take the steps to think and act intentionally—and with purpose—as often as possible.
Smarter Rather Than Faster
We have all heard the term that it’s better to work smarter rather than work harder, and that same concept applies here. Speed doesn’t necessarily translate into better results or increased efficiency. Most often it’s simply having patience and allowing our thoughts to catch up with our hands and our mouths.
How often do we try to force too many different tasks into a single day? Is it better to do five things quickly, or three things well? How often are we involved in a conversation where we are so focused on how we want to respond or what we want to say next that we actually lose track of what the other person is saying, or miss important details that we should have been focusing on? Thinking through what we want to accomplish and determining the best way to go about it should be a consistent internal message, guiding our approach to everything we do.
Of course, we want to move and think with momentum. The point isn’t to be stiff or mechanical, but rather simply to be mindful and measured. Having a detailed plan isn’t necessarily the goal every time, but rather approaching projects, ideas, and even conversations by first thinking about our objectives and the best way to move forward. A more thoughtful mindset should be a consideration before we open our mouths or begin a task.
Better Said than Done?
Is it practical to think we can think through things before we act every time? Probably not—and none of us get it right every time. Changing habits and social norms have embedded a culture of velocity that encourages us to move, think, and act with speed. We live in a world where everything moves quickly, and change comes at us like a constant gust of wind. We work in a business where speed remains at a premium and every minute we lose can impact profits or our competitive edge.
But the ability to think on our feet is still a virtue, especially in a profession like loss prevention. Attention to detail must drive our investigations. Information and common sense must guide our decisions. We all want to be as productive as humanly possible, but how we get there can have a tremendous impact on our results.
A Final Thought
Slowing down isn’t just about how we approach our professional lives; it also applies directly to how we look at our work and life balance. Taking the time to switch gears and focus on the things that matter most should always be a priority. Setting boundaries and taking intentional pauses may help us to act with greater clarity and impact in our personal lives as well.
We can’t just flip a switch and slow down. It takes time to adjust our mindsets and how we live our lives. But you don’t have to rush the process. Take it at your own pace and enjoy the ride.