In the digital world, we often aim to go faster, reply instantly and digest more and more information from a never-ending flow.
But as we try to keep up with the pace of the digital world, are we doing ourselves any favours?
Should we in fact, rather than trying to go faster, be focusing on ways to slow down?
Perhaps we need digital time out, rather than leaping to attend to our smartphones the second they beep. Perhaps we should pay more attention to the moment, and notice what is going on around us.
If you’re tempted to try the opposite of the faster, faster, faster approach, here are some tips on how to slow down.
Notice your pace
How quickly are you going today? One simple indicator of this is your breath. Check how many breaths per minute you are breathing. When you calm down, and slow down, check again and notice the difference. Our breathing changes depending on our state. If you’re stressed, your breathing will be quicker. If you’re calmly absorbed in a task, it will be slower. Notice what happens to your breath when you check email and social media – often, our breathing speeds up when we do these things.
Are you feeling impatient?
When we go into fast mode, we often get impatient with other people – whose pace might not match our own. We expect and demand instant answers. But other people may need time to think, or might be focusing on something else instead.
When was the last time you slowed right down?
When was the last time you slowed right down, to a lazy, carefree pace of life for a few days? When we do this, we tend to sleep deeply and feel rejuvenated. We all need to slow right down now and again. Going at a hundred miles an hour isn’t meant to be a permanent state. See if you can switch gears into slow mode for a day or two soon. (For more tips on work-life balance see my piece on 30 Time Management Tips For Work-Life Balance.)
Leaving lots of things part done or unfinished can make us feel harried and stressed. If we are constantly jumping from thing to thing, but not finishing anything, we’ll have a running mental To Do list of all the unfinished tasks. Complete each task one by one and you’ll feel calmer – even if there’s exactly the same amount to do.
Writing in an article in Psychologies Magazine, Roland Jouvent, professor of psychiatry at the Paris VI University and director of the Centre for Emotions at France’s Centre for Scientific Research, states that “We struggle to slow down because the speed of new technology – its images, words and ideas – removes us from the present. It’s addictive”. When this happens, bring yourself back to the present by using your powers of concentration. Jouvent suggests we can slow down our minds in simple ways. For example, “when walking, focus on each step you take, concentrating on the green colour of the grass”. When you focus on the present, notice the difference. You won’t feel so rushed or overwhelmed.
Frances Booth is author of The Distraction Trap: How to Focus in a Digital World. To get your free first chapter of The Distraction Trap, and for more productivity tips, join her mailing list here
This article was written by Frances Booth from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.