In this issue ~~
No one would argue that we're living in a world that's getting faster every day. Everyone I know is running on all cylinders trying to keep up with it all. Most of us spend time figuring out how to slow things down, to avoid the constant overwhelm that many of us experience. Why would we ever consider speeding things up?
When Vince Poscente's book, The Age of Speed, fell into my hands, I – a self-proclaimed Tortoise in a World of Hares™ – was duly skeptical. But as I began reading the book, I discovered that Poscente makes a great point: It's not about applying speed across the board, but choosing where to use it to your advantage.
With so much on our plate, there are certain things we *want* to do quickly. If we can spend less time on routine, insignificant tasks, it gives us more time for the things that really matter. A few years ago, I went to a talk given by Carl Honoré, the author of In Praise of Slowness. One of the things that inspired his book was when he realized that his life was so jam-packed that he was reading 2-minute bedtime stories to his young son. Time with loved ones is one of the things that you *don't* want to speed up!
We can restore the quality of our lives by using speed selectively. Many of my clients want to pursue a new career path, a passion or a fabulous relationship, but they can't find the time to devote to it. By being more efficient with necessary, but repetitive tasks, we can make more time for the things that warrant our full attention.
Makes sense, right? The problem is, when we do clear up some time, we tend to fill it up with more insignificant tasks – email, surfing the Web, watching reality TV. Our society puts a high value on productivity. When we're doing something that's personally satisfying, but doesn't forward our career, we feel guilty and soothe ourselves by just keeping busy.
We need to prioritize the things we both need and want to do. Begin by getting clear on your authentic purpose. This is a whole conversation in itself, but start by taking some time to explore what you want to both give to others and experience for yourself as you live your lifetime. Based on that insight, what activities will benefit most by receiving your full focus? Which tasks can you automate or multi-task without sacrificing enjoyment?
Speed doesn't mean compromising quality. By automating your monthly bill-paying or cleaning the house while listening to beautiful music, you're not losing any value. And by accomplishing those tasks more quickly, you'll open up valuable time for doing the things that are meaningful to you and require your full attention.
Speed is here to stay. Rather than fighting it, why not use it to your advantage to create time for the things that really matter to you. Learn to ride the wave, and you'll find the overwhelm of speed beginning to lift.
Make a list of all the tasks you do during a typical week, as well as activities you would like to add to your life. Which ones would benefit from your full attention? Which ones could you speed up without losing quality? Look at the second list and see how you might automate those tasks. Then, schedule time for meaningful pursuits into your calendar.
"Speed is scarcely the noblest virtue of graphic composition, but it has its curious rewards. There is a sense of getting somewhere fast, which satisfies a native American urge."
"Efficiency is doing better what is already being done."
"One trouble with developing speed reading skills is that by the time you realize a book is boring you've already finished it."
"I took a course in speed waiting. Now I can wait an hour in only ten minutes."
(click on the book to see a description at Amazon.com)
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