How to Slow the Heck Down When the World’s Speeding Up

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“Move fast and break things” was the motto of generation Zuck.

And while we’ve seen notable progress from this mantra, we’ve also been left with a ton of broken sh*t. 

The biggest casualty? Ourselves — and our teams.

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Change Whiplash is Real

Before we dig into how to slow down, it’s important to recognize why we’re feeling the way we are, AND — most importantly — that the readers of this post are absolutely not alone.

In 2022, 72% of employees across industries reported feeling overwhelmed by change in their workplace. Since then, things have only accelerated. 

When digging into specific industries just this year, we discovered that 80% of marketers say their field’s changed more in the “last three years than it has in the last 50.” Additionally, continuous research into industries like sales shows how entire roles are pivoting in this new era of AI transformation.

Meanwhile, entire generations are wanting to slow down time. Just recently, 17m+ TikTokers made “the Millennial skip” go viral. This phrase refers to feel like you’ve dramatically teleported from one era of life to the next due to COVID-19’s multi-year blip. (And, while this hit millennials going from young adult to married with kids pretty hard, other generations certainly weren’t immune.)

Source

Yes! It feels like time is moving faster than ever before and like there’s no way to catch up. But, in truth, you don’t have to sacrifice progress to slow things down. 

In fact, a more thoughtful approach can expedite success through vision alignment and enhanced productivity on the tasks that actually propel you forward. Here’s how.

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How to Slow Down While Speeding Progress

1. Tackle One Task at a Time.

We suck at multitasking and lose up to 40% of our productivity when we try to convince ourselves we don’t.

Just. Stop.

“You can do two things at once, but you can’t focus effectively on two things at once,” says Gary Keller, author of The One Thing

Companies need to consider rolling out high-level organizational change one initiative at a time. 

We get it — the pandemic forced most companies to pivot like a drunk figure skater, but this is your friendly reminder to finally take a breath.

While you determine the best way to slow your roll on the organizational front, these simple daily tactics can inspire more focused work from your team:

  • Calendar blocking: Encourage team members to block off chunks of their calendar for specific tasks, or simply to focus. Let them know they don’t have to be available for meetings and collaboration all the damn time.
  • Shared priority lists: Ask team members to share their top three daily priorities and focus on them before tackling anything else. This helps folks support, rather than distract, each other.
  • Single-task days: Assign different days of the week to focus on different aspects of the business (e.g., client service, product development, etc.). If an entire day isn’t feasible, divide it into morning and afternoon sessions.

2. Take a tech timeout (or two).

It’s time to hit pause on the relentless ding of notifications, y’all.

Bill Gates swears by his annual “think week,” where he retreats to a cabin in the woods to reflect and focus on creativity.

OK, we don’t all have a bougie cabin, but there are other ways to implement this practice.

Digital detox sessions: Schedule regular intervals where team members unplug completely for an hour or two to focus on non digital tasks. 

Remember: in order for this to work, they can’t be overloaded with digital tasks in the first place, else they’ll just be pissed at you for shortening the time they have to get work done.

Notification management: Encourage employees to manage and customize their notifications to minimize distractions, especially during focus times.

Mindful meetings: If you have the luxury of seeing your team IRL, conduct meetings where tech is banned — just minds melding and ideas flowing.

3. Embrace purposeful pauses.

Rest periods are just as vital as work periods. Research published by Microsoft shows that even a 10-minute break between meetings can significantly reduce stress. 

Don’t believe it? Take a gander at these brain scans.

This is your brain. This is your brain on relentless Zoom calls.

microsoft study of brains with tech breaks and brains without breaks.

Source: Microsoft

Stress leads to poor decision making, so beyond simply being a considerate gesture, it also makes great business sense to give people rest between meetings.

Other ways you can inject intervals of calm into your team’s workflow include:

  • Meditation: This might sound super crunchy, but we do it ourselves and it works. And here’s a secret: meditation is really just a brain nap.
  • Mindful eating: Encourage team members to enjoy leisurely meal breaks away from workstations (which means no eating at your desk for WFH-ers either!).
  • Flexibility: Take a note from Patagonia’s leaders. Allow for personalized schedules where you or your employees can incorporate calming routines, like a short afternoon walk or a break when surf’s up.

Final Thought

Instead of “move fast and break things,” let’s go forth to “move purposefully and build things.”

For more content like this, subscribe to Trends, our free business builder newsletter!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in our Trends Newsletter in October and has been repurposed for HubSpot Blog readers. In this process, some light edits were made to add new information, emerging data, and additional headlines for blog-platform reader experience.

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