Obviously, I have to start by addressing just how long it's been since I last wrote a blog post. I mean, it was September LAST YEAR. 2018. That's NINE MONTHS.
It's ironic really, as I've spent a lot of time in the last two years running workshops where I tell people why regular blogging is beneficial for their business. But because I've been so busy doing that, as well as networking and writing for clients, my own blog has suffered. (I daren't look how far down Google I've slipped.)
Anyway, I'm pleased to have finally got around to publishing this post and I'm also fairly optimistic that there'll be another one along in a week or two. (But don't hold your breath.)
I'd already started writing a post about my new home office and the delights of finally having a proper, grown-up space to run my freelance writing business from, but I've just had a really interesting conversation with somebody and it got me thinking so, instead, I'm going to talkabout the benefits of
G O I N G S L O W.
Like so many others, I spend my week days rushing. There's breakfast, then the school run, then juggling my freelance writing with shopping, housework, networking, meal preparation (oh, the never-ending drudgery of planning meals, buying ingredients for meals, cooking meals...aaaargggghh) before Small Boy returns from school and I try and snap out of work mode and back into being a parent. Then it's racing to help him get homework, reading and spellings done, making and serving tea, washing up, getting him upstairs to get ready for bed and then doing a second dinner sitting for my husband who gets home later.
And I take for granted that I'm permanently in a hurry, that I'm always fighting time to try and get somewhere or do something, so by the end of the day I'm exhausted. This, I'm sure, is the same for a great many of us.
And so it was that I found myself in a really interesting conversation in Fetch'em From the Cupboard, Ashtead's amazing plastic-free refill shop (more about the joy of slow shopping there in my next blog post), about finding ways to decelerate from time to time.
(Image by Minke Wink from Pixabay)
The obvious way is to spend a lot of time on holiday (or hide yourself away with a good book) but I'm taking it that most people reading this will be in the same position as I am, i.e. with all those aforementioned responsibilities to take care of on a daily basis, and so this isn't really an option. I'm more interested in finding ways to slow down during my everyday activities.
Put the brakes on your banter
I don't know about you but I am not very good at handling gaps in conversation. I have a permanent panicky urge to fill any pauses with inane chatter, which often leads to all manner of peculiar utterances spilling out of my mouth without, apparently, being vetted by my brain first.
However, I've been hugely inspired by a mindfulness coach that I heard speak at a networking event a month or so back; somebody who, despite admitting that she felt incredibly anxious whenever she spoke in public, emitted an aura of calm, poise and elegance. And she achieved that by using mindfulness, a buzzword that is used so often nowadays it's in danger of losing its impact, but a practice which she used to great effect on this occasion.
She would speak and then, when she got to a natural break in her subject, she'd stop and sit quietly. At first you could feel an uncomfortable tension ripple through the audience. Had she forgotten what she was going to say? Had she had some kind of medical episode? Eventually it became apparent that these pauses were deliberate, she was using them to think slowly, and carefully, about what she wanted to say next.
It had two outcomes. The first was that everything she said was meaningful, without a single extraneous word. And the second was that every single person in front of her sat spellbound, hanging on every one of the words she did choose to say. It was extraordinary powerful and something I'm trying to harness for myself. Obviously if you stop me for a chat after I've had a caffeine hit then you'll see I still have a long way to go but the power of slow speech made a profound impression on me.
Fight against fast food
Anybody who cooks regularly for family or friends will recognise the twin emotions of pleasure and irritation when their guests have wolfed down their plateful while you've barely had a chance to take your apron off. It's lovely to see appreciative faces when a dish has been enjoyed but when you weigh up the time it took them to clear their plates versus the time you spent in the kitchen creating it, it hardly seems fair.
And eating fast isn't healthy for us either, leading to poorer digestion and hydration and making it harder to control weight gain. Eating slower means that not only does your body get to use the nutrients in your food to greater effect but as it also takes about 20 minutes after you've started eating for your brain to acknowledge that you are full, you are less likely to take on more calories than you actually need.
Plus the fact, eating is one of life's great pleasures (it is for me, anyway) and I know that I definitely get far more satisfaction from my dinner if I pay attention to each mouthful, rather than gobbling it down without a thought.
(Image by Philipp Meeh on Unsplash)
Think about the here and now
Multi-tasking is often heralded as a good thing, but as most of us already know, the more things you try to do at once, the harder it is to complete anything well. (I'm talking mainly about your business here, as I happen to think that anybody who has to get reluctant small children from one place to another within a certain time frame is usually pretty hot at managing several things at once.)
I'm very guilty of this: manically starting three or four things at once and then failing to complete any of them. But taking it slow, however counter-productive that might feel, actually brings much greater benefits.
You'll improve your concentration by focusing on only one thing at a time. When your mind tries to race off (as it invariably will) you can practise bringing it slowly back to the present and to the task in hand.
A slower approach will also mean less mistakes and greater attention to important details.
Slower = calmer = better decision making!
Slowing down allows you to engage with what you're working on - and what's the point of attempting anything that's important to you if your mind is elsewhere?
So my mission now is to find more ways to embrace a more sedate lifestyle: I'd love you to get in contact if it's something you're trying to do too!