Slow down to get faster

I recently caught some of the Formula One race in Monte Carlo on TV and something happened which stuck in my mind. The leading driver, Lewis Hamilton, got something in his eye, and this problem caused him to lose precious seconds at the head of the race, and to lose time repeatedly lap after lap. He was complaining about his discomfort via his on-board radio but he didn’t at any time slow down to remove the eyelash – or whatever it was – nor did he take a pit-stop. If he had used some time to rectify the situation, he would have got faster again (his car was the best on the track) and could then have won more comfortably in the end, instead of risking his own safety for the sake of maintaining his speed (which was counter-productive anyway).

Sometimes, you just have to slow down to get faster. Slowing down gives you time to remove the hurdles, take the jumps and produce better quality in the long-run.

Take Sir John Franklin, the Arctic explorer, and the fascinating subject of Sten Nadolny’s book “The Discovery of Slowness”. In his book*, Nadolny portrays how a seeming disability enables Franklin to wait, because he must wait, and apply “slowness” to all things. As a consequence, he attains unimaginable victories which astonish the more ‘hurried’ multitude around him. His slowness is the secret to his success.

So, focus on the task at hand (although I’m NOT advocating perfectionism here!) and don’t multi-task, slow down in your work and see what happens – I’ll wager better quality, better nerves and a better sense of time overall.

Furthermore, if you’re building your business, take a pit-stop from time to time. You’ll find that the ‘breather’ you award yourself will pay dividends in the long run. You’ll be more refreshed and creative when you go back. This can be a short break every hour, or a full day off a week when you remove yourself completely from your work activities.

Beavering away like a power house might fit with your own perception of what it means to be a successful entrepreneur but sometimes, slowing down can be a chance to savour and enjoy the ride.

After all, life is a journey, and so is running your own business.
Have fun – and slow down!
Louise

*“The Discovery of Slowness” by Sten Nadolny: Original title die Entdeckung der Langsamkeit, translated from the German by Ralph Freedman, 1983 Viking Penguin

Are you really making honey? – A common business dilemma

You probably all know the term ‘busy bee’ and associate it with people you know who are always on the go, constantly active and living life in the fast lane. In the animal kingdom the bee is a worker, completing a specific task and contributing to the whole. There are measureable and tangible end-products; i.e. the contribution it makes to the environment through pollination and, of course, delicious honey for our morning toast.

If you’re an entrepreneur I suggest you stop and think for a moment. Think about how often you use the word ‘busy’ e.g. “I’ve been really busy this week.”, “I can’t make the meeting, I’m too busy”

When you’re busy, are you really being productive? Are you really ‘making honey’? Is your ‘busy-ness’ having an efficient and effective impact on your “busi-ness”? Or are you getting side-tracked and distracted by the sheer volume of things to do?

If we find ourselves accumulating hours and hours of overtime, it might be because we have refused to delegate some tasks or are conducting time-consuming administrative jobs at peak times of the week, rather than reserving for them for a quieter time, like Friday afternoons. Once you are up-and-running with your enterprise you will get a feeling for which times are ‘quiet’ and when you can afford to allocate space in your schedule to certain regular tasks like invoicing. ‘Schedule’ is the magic word here. Plan your week ahead of time – don’t randomly decide what you are going to do when you enter your office each morning!

The best tip I can give you is not to have your email in-box open when you are doing anything that requires concentration. Incoming emails are a constant distraction. Checking emails apparently gives us an adrenaline shot, that’s why some of us do it every couple of minutes, but it can slow you down considerably when working through your tasks. Opening, reading, deciding if important, deciding to answer later – not to mention the time involved when you finally do answer later – will add hours to your week.

If you want more advice on optimizing your activities I highly recommend the late Stephen Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, if you haven’t read it yet. His ‘Time Management Matrix’ is unbeatable, in my opinion.

For a recent take on this subject also check out the following blog post by Vered Neta: http://www.balancedbusinesswomen.com/blog/5-strategies-in-creating-content-without-losing-your-sanity

It contains some great ideas on how to smarten up your act.

Vered also once recommended setting an alarm when using Twitter – another valuable tip along the way!

And now this bee says: “Thanks for reading and good luck with the honey, everybody!”