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Slow Down, Don’t Lead So Fast

Slow Down, Don’t Lead So Fast

Speed is everywhere. Fast cars, high-speed Internet connections, fast food, quickie divorces, “The One-Minute Manager.” We’re constantly told that faster is better. “Instant” is added to product names as often as “New” and “Improved.”

Is faster always better? I doubt it, especially when you’re dealing with people. We may want to get our burger quickly, but who wants only a few moments of someone’s attention? Doctors, for example, are so rushed and overworked some now employ nurses to handle the time needed to get a patient history and discuss symptoms. Since people crave time and attention, alternative practitioners are increasing their impact, often simply because they can offer patients enough time to accompany their treatments. Some of the boom in life coaching is because of people’s need to experience encouraging attention. They’re paying for the coach’s time as much as their expertise.

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Leadership is obviously a people business. Yet today’s leaders are so burdened with other demands many of them find it impossible to give their staff what they want most: informal training, personal attention, time with the boss and careful thought about their needs. Good decisions also demand time for proper reflection and judgment. If there’s an instant answer available, that’s not a decision anyone in a leadership position should need to get involved with.

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That’s why I’ve decided to launch a new website devoted to helping leaders find ways to slow down and create the space they need to do their job properly. Like the movement for Slow Food that’s spread across the world, Slow Leadership is all about regaining the genuine flavor and enjoyment of being a leader. After all, if you’re going to savor your leadership role, you’ll need to feel you’re doing it well. Like instant mashed potato, instant leadership is an artificial creation with neither the taste, the texture nor the benefits of the real thing.

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What do you want from your leaders? The time and reflection needed to make sound decisions — or instant judgments using cookie-cutter thinking? Full attention, helping you develop your potential — or a quick appraisal interview once a year?

It’s time to fight back. Unless people stand up for what they need, the urge to cut costs by limiting time for “non-essential” activities like thinking, developing new ideas and building relationships might be come irreversible.

Adrian Savage is an Englishman and a retired business executive who lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his thoughts most days at The Coyote Within.

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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