There is a growing worldwide Slow Movement combating the cult of speed and the beliefs that more equals better and fast is good. By slowing down you can live a richer, more fulfilled life, but if you are used to the frantic pace of our modern society, how on earth do you start to slow down?
Below are 10 tips to get you heading in the right direction. These tips can be done in any order, however, I recommend you do the breathing and the posture tips first followed by the thought experiment, after that do the ones you fancy.
1. Don’t Slow Down Too Quickly
We are used to rushing at things and expecting instant result. Don’t. Don’t try and slow down all at once. All you will do is overwhelm yourself, get flustered and give up. Doing something simple to slow your life down for five minutes each day will be much more beneficial that doing it for 30 minutes once a week.
I don’t say that flippantly or lightly, we all, obviously, have to breathe but very few of us pay attention to our breathing.
By focusing on and controlling your breathing, you can calm yourself, focus yourself and energise yourself.
3. Check Your Posture
Relax, stand up straight, don’t waste energy. We gather all sorts of tensions in our muscles. We collect tension from our worry and our stress from our bad posture we rarely pay attention to our bodies and allow ourselves to slump or bend or slouch.
Relaxing isn’t about collapsing to the floor in crumpled heap. Being slow is about being calm and relaxed and as Phil Hine has observed “Confidence is about being relaxed in the present moment.”
If you relax, you will find yourself more energised and flexible, with less aches and pains, actions (and thoughts) will be less of an effort. Relax your body; relax your mind (those Yoga people know what they are talking about).
4. Do This Thought Experiment
Why do you want to slow down? And what will you get out of it? These are very important questions, you need to know where you are going and why you are going there, otherwise you will just drift.
Imagine tomorrow you have slowed down, someone has waved a magic wand and you have got everything sorted so that you have the space to be slow. What would you see? How would it feel? How would it sound?
5. Do Something Deliberately.
Pick something that you do every day, cleaning your teeth is a good one, or having a shower. Pay attention to the process, engage all your sense; see, feel, hear, smell and taste (be careful with the last one, don’t go licking things inappropriately). Notice all those stimuli and how it feels like it is the first time that you have done it!
Make space to be slow. How much of what do you do, do you really need to do? We collect baggage; old habits, thoughts and behaviours that we no longer need, but never discard. We find we do things that serve no purpose, but never bother stopping. Do a slow audit of your habits and see which ones you can start to discard.
7. Single Task
We consider multitasking as the pinnacle of our ability to be productive, doing more than one thing at once means we get much more done, faster. Right?
Wrong. Productivity experts are starting to recognise that multitasking makes us less productive, not more. Multitasking isn’t really doing several tasks in parallel; it is just constantly interrupting your self.
It is better to focus on a single task for its entirety, you will get more done, more quickly, to a higher quality and less stressfully than if you are trying to do several things at once.
8. Make The Effort to Connect with People
No person is an island and slowing down is as much about community as it is about the individual.
By being polite, well mannered and conversational with everyone you meet, it encourages you to remain calm, centred, mindful and observant.
9. Talk More Slowly
I don’t mean take like a record on half speed, I mean take the time to formulate your questions and answers, breath properly, leave gaps between word, plan ahead, don’t trail off half way through.
Don’t feel pressured to respond immediately, a response is not an answer and we often make mistakes in communication whilst rushing to get the words out. Take your time, ponder and consider the answer.
10. Notices the Spaces Where You Can Be Slow Now.
There will be times when you are waiting for something. Like on hold on the phone, or waiting for the kettle to boil. These are spaces where you can be slow right now.
When you find yourself in a space to be slow; relax, breath, maybe allow yourself to daydream, or lose yourself in a (nice) memory. You can’t do anything else at that moment. Why fight it?
Matt Caulfield is The Slow Coach. After 10 years running a successful motivational training and coaching company, he found he was unfulf