This is so central to my life and my business that I had a poster made for my wall that says, “Slow down, get more done.” There are any levels to this advice.
The simplest one is that sometimes you are so intent and frustrated in your work that you cannot make progress. For example, if you’re working on something intently, your head’s down, and you’re pounding against the computer. You are trying and trying and trying, but you just cannot solve the problem. Then, you take a break, splash some water on your face, walk around the block, you sit down, and suddenly you solve the problem right away.
This is because you’ve let your brain relax, and you’ve taken a little timeout.
Here’s another example. Let’s say one of your customers has an emergency. Should you immediately jump in the car and drive over there? Probably not. It is usually better to take stock of what your resources are. Who else has equipment like that? Who else can work on this problem? Which is the best technician? How far away are they? What kind of warranty coverage does the client have?
Slow down, get more done.
You’ve heard your entire life that you should think before you speak. We need to take a breath before we act. If you’ve ever had kids, you know the deal. Many, many problems are solved by taking a deep breath before you start talking or moving.
A couple years ago, I was talking to an Uber driver. She said the best lesson her father ever taught her about driving is to pause one second when the light turns green. Just sit for one second before you go. She said it has saved her from more than one accident over the years. Ever since I heard that advice, I do the same thing.
One of my favorite old humorous work complaints is: “We never have time to do it right, but we always have time to do it over.” Slow down, get more done.
Planning, Strategy, and Quiet Time
Perhaps the most productive way to apply this rule is simply to sit in a chair and think about your business. You can read a hundred books on business success and find that ninety of them will include this advice: Take time to think about your business.
That might mean taking quiet time every morning to set your intentions for the day, or planning out the three things you hope to accomplish. It might mean strategy sessions with other people. It might mean creating a “mastermind group” you can participate in.
However you let planning and strategy time manifest themselves in your business, you must do something. There is lots of advice along these lines that sounds like a bunch of clichés—but that doesn’t mean the advice is bad.
- Before you start climbing the ladder of success, make sure it’s leaning against the right wall.
- If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.
- My favorite is a book title by Sylvia Boorstein: Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There.
Time spent thinking about your business is never wasted. Even if you decide not to make any changes, you will have affirmed your current course. But, more often than not, you will spend the time improving your business, whether that’s developing new marketing programs, deciding which products to sell, or restructuring your org chart. It’s all good work.
Too many entrepreneurs fall into the false belief that the only productive activity is something that looks productive to others. So, they dig into computer-work or fidgety labor rather than sitting in a chair with a tablet of paper and just thinking about tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year.
They confuse busy-ness with business. It’s as if you get extra points for looking busy, even if you’re wasting time.
There is a thing called “Type A Behavior” that is known to kill people. It is highly correlated with heart disease, high blood pressure, and all kinds of stress-related health issues. And guess what? The people most likely to exhibit Type A Behavior are entrepreneurs! What does it look like?
Type A Behavior includes things like working long hours, well past the time when you have stopped being productive. It includes choosing caffeine over exercise or restful sleep. It is typified by believing that no one will do the job as good as you, so you end up working more and more.
That’s an amazing irony, isn’t it? As a business grows and hires more people, the owner is very likely to put in more hours and more hours, half-delegating, and ultimately being responsible for more and more.
Until his heart explodes.
The real irony is that you will be more productive, your company will be more productive, you will make more money in the long run, and you will enjoy a higher quality of life when you learn to let other people do the jobs you hired them to do.
It’s okay to go home. It’s okay to recharge your batteries. It’s okay to relax and enjoy your success.
Again, I know it sounds cliché, but there’s truth in the observation that some people work so hard that they forget to develop a real family life or hobbies. And then they retire, have no idea what to do with themselves, and die before their time. It happens all the time.
I have known more than one person who was afraid to retire because they had no hobbies—and didn’t know whether they could spend all day, every day, doing “nothing” for the rest of their lives.
Slow down, get more done.
Build your business and your life with intention. Create a beautiful balance that you can enjoy forever. And, oddly enough, you’ll discover that it’s much easier to give it up if your business is so successful that it works well without you.
And who knows? You may never need to give it up if your business is a delightfully balanced and integral part of your life.
In case you haven’t read it yet, I recommend you take a look at my book Relax Focus Succeed: Balance Your Personal and Professional Lives and Be More Successful in Both.
Consider all the places where your business can benefit from slowing down just a little and getting more done in the long run. Once you start learning to apply this, you’ll see opportunities everywhere.
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