A Slow Down Day blog
Slowing down from time to time is essential for our wellbeing and productivity.
Slow Down Day gives us the opportunity to intentionally slow down during an often busy time of year – both at work and at home. It’s about taking a step back from the chaos, giving ourselves room to breathe, and enjoying the moment rather than racing to the next.
If you’re at work on Slow Down Day, here are some ideas to help you slow down:
Allow yourself plenty of time in the morning so you don’t have to rush Imagine your perfect, relaxed morning routine... what does it look like? Some gentle yoga before your leisurely morning coffee? A cooked breakfast whilst reading a book? A long shower and taking the scenic route to work? Now think about what you can do to make that a reality. Maybe you can get everything ready and prepped night before to save time in the morning. Or go to bed and wake up half an hour earlier. Set yourself up for an unhurried morning and enjoy taking your time.
Take ten minutes at the start of the day to plan and prioritise your to do list Having set objectives can help you to stay on track and feel more in control of your workload. Work on the most important thing first so you know it is getting done, and save the not-quite-so-important things for later. The goal is to put in the planning time now, so that you’re not caught out and rushing to get things done later in the day.
Work on one thing at a time The days of multi-tasking are over, and todays experts say that the way to be most productive is to focus on one thing at a time. This allows you to give each task your full attention and can help you reach ‘flow state’ where you are absorbed in your work. This also means your mind is not busy flitting from one thing to another, but instead moves slowly and purposefully between tasks.
Turn off your emails and only check them at set times Minimising distractions helps with our previous point. Unless your primary job is to respond to emails, it can be helpful to shut them down whilst you’re concentrating on a task. Most things can wait for a few hours, and if something is really urgent, you’ll get a phone call. You could even set up your automatic replies to let people know that you’re ‘offline’ until a certain time. If you are really strict you could pledge to check your emails only two or three times a day at set times and have them off for the majority of the day.
Set an alarm to remind you to take micro breaks The pomodoro technique suggests you work for 25 minutes and then have a 5-minute break to keep you productive although this might not be for everyone. Choose a pattern that works for you, maybe that’s a 3-minute break every hour or a 15-minute break every 2 hours. Maybe it changes through the day with your fluctuating energy levels. Think about what times of the day you work best, and how long you can work productively for before your mind starts wandering and plan your breaks accordingly.
Evaluate your working practices and workload Dedicate some time to look at your work practices objectively and identify whether you can cut out any unimportant tasks or do things differently to give you more time. The objective here is not to fill that time saved with more things, but to allow yourself more time to complete the important tasks. With more time to focus and reflect you can produce better, thoughtful results, and perhaps have some time for an extra coffee break.
Arrange a coffee break with a colleague and talk about ways you like to relax Keeping the slow down mentality fresh in your mind while you build new habits is key to making it stick. Getting your colleagues on board and joining in with your mission to slow down is a great way to stay motivated, and talking about ways to relax can inspire new ideas.
Value thinking time Not all work is hands on, and the work we do in our minds – critical and creative, planning and analysing - could be, arguably, the most valuable work we do. We seem to measure productivity by output, but are we looking at the quality of that output? If your company prioritises quality over quantity, then allowing ourselves dedicated time and space to think can help us produce higher quality work.
Take ten minutes at the end of your working day to take stock of what you’ve achieved It’s easy to move onto the next item on your to do list without giving the work you’ve just finished a second thought. It’s amazing what you realise you’ve accomplished in a day when you really take the time to think about it. Take some time to reflect on what you’ve achieved each day and give yourself a pat on the back, and remember to acknowledge quality as well as quantity.
When planning mico breaks, choose the most productive pattern for you
However you choose to slow down at work, the important thing is to give your mind and body a moment of respite from the usual stresses of life, and do something to help you recharge.
For ideas about how to slow down at home, see How to celebrate Slow Down Day at home
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