3 Minutes, 30 Seconds
Written By John Marx
Our lives today run at a blazing and rapid pace. As a society, we have put ourselves here with technologies like text, email, and phone. We are now more used to the instant gratification lifestyle. That doesn't mean we should be in a rush. In fact, by slowing down I actually will get more done than I would if I rushed. It took me twenty years to come to this realization. I've had many bosses over time explain this to me. Many times, I listened just to appease and shut them up as I thought I knew better than what their experience was trying to teach me. It is only in the past four months that I have truly started slowing down and "enjoying life" the way it should be. It's truly hard and I am going to cover the core areas I am focusing on and how it's helping me get more done in the same amount of time.
The very first step for me to do this was to evaluate areas that were forcing me to work faster rather than efficiently. I needed to get rid of everything in my life that I knew was holding me back from slowing down. This was actually a few of our clients that ate up too much of the company's time and didn't provide any value. This took over twelve months to complete. Not until the last one was gone was I able to start slowing down which happened in October of 2017. That was the hardest decision as a company to make as those companies brought in 80% of our annual revenue. The wonderful thing is in just four months we have not only brought back that revenue but we are a stronger company because of it.
Now that the first step was completed I am now able to solely focus on truly slowing down my life. What I have done is starting to eat breakfast and lunch and not working during that time. I was "multi-tasking" which made me feel I was accomplishing more. In fact, that created health issues from heart attacks to indigestion. During meals I still "work" but it is only reading or listening to music. It allows me to re-group and re-focus on my next task. This has been the biggest and truly hardest change. I still am not where I should be as I tell myself I need more time. Reality is when I come back from those meals I am more energized and actually work at a more efficient pace than if I worked through the meal. I have software on my computer that monitors my productivity within the developer tools that help me gauge my effectiveness in writing and building software solutions. This is a great developer tool but one that can quickly make you realize how much time you are wasting or not doing what you should be doing.
My next biggest place for inefficiency is with emails. Emails were a true time suck. For two weeks straight, every time I went into Microsoft Outlook I clocked start/stop on a timer. I was spending a minimum of four hours per day in email. I now check my email three times per day (from six), added rules to categorize, and reply only to the urgent ones with just a response that I have received your message and will reply later. This way people know I have received but will be replying later that day. For my non-urgent emails, I now reply between 7-10pm which has greatly increased my efficiency as I can reply at a slower pace and allows more research time.
Meetings were my next killer. I was averaging two hours per day in meetings. That is a quarter of my work day doing meetings. The key here was adjusting my meetings from being open-ended to keeping them to specific time frames. This has cut my meeting time in half.
With the above changes, I am now able to get an extra 2.5 hours per day writing and developing software. I haven't fully figured out the handling of walk-ins but know that as I continue to focus on slowing down I am becoming more efficient, my code is becoming cleaner, faster, and with fewer errors as well. It seemed counterproductive at first but now I am getting more done and I am able to spend more time with my family.
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