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Slowing Down to Go Faster

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Slowing Down to Go Faster

Last year I took up ParkRun. For those who have not heard of ParkRun, it is a free community event held each Saturday morning in locations around the world where participants run or walk 5km. It’s fun and I highly recommend it.

When I started ParkRun I had a goal to run the whole way and preferably get a PB (personal best) each week. For context, I have reasonable fitness but hadn’t run 5km in about 12 years, so was coming off a fairly low base.

One day, about six weeks into my ParkRun career, as I was slogging through the last couple of kilometres, an experienced ParkRunner in his 70s had a chat with me on his way past (yes I was being overtaken by people 30 years my senior). I told him I was determined not to stop running and he said, “maybe you’ll finish more quickly if you walk a bit.” Hmm, how could it be possible? How could I get a faster time if I stopped running? Considering that by this time I hadn’t got a PB since my second week, I thought I’d give this odd piece of advice a try. The Result: 3 PBs in 3 weeks and I was enjoying myself more. Success!

This got me thinking about work and what would happen if we all slowed down a bit. Take a look around at your co-workers and think about who contributes the most to the goals of your organisation. Are the most productive people in the office those who eat lunch at their desk whilst working on the next urgent thing on their to do list? Or is it the person who gets out of the office each day for a walk around the block? Is the person who stays until the cleaner turns off the lights getting more done than the person who leaves at 5pm and doesn’t log back in until the next morning? How many times a day do we get distracted and check our phone or email rather than move away from our desk for a short physical and mental break?

If we all slowed down a bit and took breaks when we get tired would we get more done? It’s well known around the LGP office that I have my best ideas while I am out walking, not when I am sitting in meetings. I am also less distracted and finish tasks more quickly if I get up from my desk regularly and take a short break even for two minutes. Personally, my productivity improves significantly when I am well rested, not when I am slogging through a never-ending list of things to do.

So, as things start ramping up for another busy year, I’d like to encourage you to think about your work patterns. Could you improve your productivity and enjoyment at work by slowing down a little bit?

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