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4 Lessons From the Summer Slow Down


My friend Phil and I tease our colleague Jean.

You seem to be working harder than ever, we chuckle during a chat with Jean.

She just switched from a grueling full-time corporate leadership role to a part-time position. Jean has been on the road more than ever, it seems. Moving faster, faster.

I spent last week-end visiting friends on Cape Cod. In a quiet moment I find myself thinking of a time when I lived the aspirational Manhattan life. Apartment in the city, house in the Hamptons. Dash out of Manhattan late on a Friday, drive back Sunday afternoon or in the wee hours of Monday morning. Looking to beat traffic. Avoid the crowds. Score a prime table at the latest “in” restaurant. Rush, rush, rush. Insanity.

Never learned the slow-down lessons back then.

You and I have just a few weeks left. Don’t think of this as end-of-summer time. Think of it as slow-down time. Learn.

Many Manhattan firms switch to summer hours. Short Fridays, long week-ends. When I lived in Trinidad and Tobago it was summertime 365 days a year. The weather knows. The body knows. You slow down.

Some of us slow down the second we exit a building, switch back to rush-rush mode the moment we’re back inside. Experiment with slowing down even when the air-conditioning says go ahead, keep rushing. Experience the subtle benefits of slowed-down time. A few thoughts on how to best experiment:

  • Walk Slowly

As you stroll down the office hallway to a meeting room or kitchenette, walk slower than you normally might. Less briskly, more calmly. You will be more keenly aware of the space around you. Less in your thoughts, more in the physical environment. You will suddenly feel considerably more alert. And that is tremendously energizing.

  • Speak Slowly

I have recently coached several smart, articulate, highly successful executives who talk fast. Really fast. All the time. Like they cannot wait to be done with what they are saying because they’re late for the next meeting. When I point this out I invariably receive two responses. Yes, I have gotten this feedback before. And This is my natural speech rhythm.

Related: The Zen of Getting in Sync

No, rushed is not anyone’s natural speech rhythm. A rushed speech rhythm is a learned habit. In some cases influenced by the culture in which we grew up. Often a reflection of scattered thought, anxiety, impatience, disregard for the receiver of our verbal communication. Have some fun slowing down the pace of your speech. Pausing a bit longer. Chances are, what you say will resonate more strongly with your conversation partner. Individual words will pop. Your pauses will allow for deeper absorption by the other party. The entire conversation will settle into a more purposeful exchange. That is energizing, too!

  •  Breathe Slowly

You likely don’t pay attention to your breath during a regular day. Understood. Why not pause once in a while for 20, 30 seconds! Observe your breath. Slow down and lengthen your inhale, your exhale. Lengthen it again. And again. Then return to the task you are performing or the phone call you are about to make. As our breath slows down, we heighten our conscious enjoyment of the activity we perform. Beneficial in so many ways. And truly energizing.

  • Perform Single Tasks

You know you can multi-task. You get things done. Chances are, by the end of the day you may not remember some of what you did. You had a highly efficient and regrettably unmemorable day. Choose to remember what you’re doing as you’re doing it. Single-task. Because it actually takes time the day after to recall all the details that you forgot. And that is pretty draining.

Surrender to summer slow-down time, not just during the final weeks of August heat. As you slow down, you will more vibrantly experience each aspect of your day. You will fritter away less time. You will be more mindful of each moment. It’s the slow-down paradox.

We actually get more done.


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