How to Get More Done: Why We Actually Need to Slow Down
We’re all very busy. Whether you’re a teacher, a parent, or both, there’s always so much to get done. Too much, in fact.
And I don’t know about you, but the way I tend to deal with a mile-long to-do list is by charging through it as quickly as I can.
But that’s not always the best idea.
Because often slow is fast and fast is slow.
Why Slowing Down Is More Effective
- Because rushing through tasks causes mistakes. When we’re trying to get a lot done, rushing is never a good option. Why? Because rushing often causes us to make mistakes that they have to be corrected. Thus, we end up wasting more time than we save. Instead, when working on tasks, we need to focus on being efficient. If we use every second wisely while focusing on doing the task well, we’ll save time and avoid wasting it.
- Because rushing through conversations causes problems down the road. This is the one where I really struggle. When I’m buried in grading, I start counting every minute of the time I’m spending meeting with my administrator. Or when I’m trying to get dinner on the table, I really don’t want to pause to correct my toddler who’s gotten into something he shouldn’t have. But if I rush through a conversation with a child, a student, a parent, or an administrator, all I do is push the problem back to another day. It makes me feel like I’m getting more done today, but I’m not really.
As we discussed in my post How to Make Time for What’s Truly Important, the people in our lives are what matter most. And teaching and discipling them is actually our first priority, even if there are a million other things on our to-do list. When we rush through a conversation (or maybe avoid even having it in the first place), we not only miss the opportunity to fulfill our true mission, but we typically set ourselves up for more issues over the next few weeks or months.
Let’s say, for example, that you’ve noticed that a student who used to have a great attitude has started to become lazy and withdrawn. You might need the better part of an hour to sit down with the student and really get to the bottom of what’s going on, but if you take the time to get to the root issue now, you’ve not only have helped the student but you’ve saved yourself a load of phone calls, emails, discipline reports, and general frustration.
- Because rushing through life causes us to miss the joy of it. When we’re busiest and it feels like we’ll never escape the piles of grading (or laundry), sometimes that’s when we need to intentionally stop and take a break. To breathe. To rest. To pause and enjoy life. If we’re always rushing from one task to another, we miss the joy of the day, of the people around us, of the stage of life we’re in. Sometimes we just need to remember that all those things on our list really can wait a few minutes while we savor a moment.
We know some times are crazier than others. But while teachers pine for the upcoming break and moms of preschoolers wonder if they’ll ever breathe again, we need to avoid rushing through the time we have now. This day, this week, this year will not come again. We need to enjoy it. And sometimes that means we just need to slow down.
- Because we need to rest. Plain and simple, our bodies need rest, exercise, and nutrition. As busy teachers and/or parents, we often think we can’t afford to take time for theses things, but the truth is that we can’t afford not to take the time. If we are constantly running on all cylinders and don’t take time to rest and take care of ourselves, we’re going to run out of gas. And then we’ll get nothing done.
I can’t tell you how many times a 20-minute nap has allowed me to get way more done the rest of the day. Why? Because I now have the energy and focus to actually get something done. So take a rest when you need it.
Do you, like me, struggle with slowing down? How have you found that slowing down actually helps you be more effective?
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