I drive past an elementary school every day on my way to work. It sits on a very busy, four lane road. For whatever reason, I hit the spot everyday this week when the school zone lights were flashing. The traffic is supposed to slow down from its usual 45 miles per hour. And what I noticed was that even in the rush hour craziness, people really were slowing down. There is a moment of realization when you see the five, six, seven years olds, this week bundled in coats and hats and mittens, hurrying down the sidewalk. A realization that no meeting, no conference call, no presentation is worth the danger you pose if you are not safe. There is nothing you need to do that is as important as their safety. And people, for the most part, slowed down.
It’s not easy. Life is fast-paced. We go, go, go all the time. But that go is not always good. It does not always result in our best choices, our best work.
A friend reminded me this week of the importance of slowing down. I was moving too fast, doing too much, making mistakes. She said, “Slow down.” And she was right. It is important, especially in our craziest moments, to slow down. Pause. Take a deep breath.
I can multi-task with the best of them. I move quickly. I am fast on my feet. But that is not always a good thing. Time for reflection and time to really evaluate the situation is essential in order to make the best decisions.
What helps you slow down?
For me it’s always been movies and TV shows. I lose myself in a great episode of The West Wing. I refocus after two hours in a movie theatre. Taking some time to play with the kittens, listen to music, or walk on the treadmill helps me slow down.
We are entering some of the busiest months of the school year. We’re living in two school years, finishing the work of this year and planning for the work of the next. It is exciting and energizing and exhausting. It can be easy to move too fast, do too much, make mistakes.
Find what works to still your mind. Pause and reflect and take some time to slow down. Realize that work will always be busy. There will always be too much going on in your life. But none of that is more important than your peace of mind.