We live in a busy, busy world. We are bombarded with information from all sides. The pressure to make quick decisions is intense. Sometimes we need to slow down in order to speed up. A common problem with amateur golfers is that they swing too quickly. They snatch at the ball. Their coach will often advise them to slow down their swing in order to play a good, clean shot. The same advice applies to our thinking. Here are some ways to help you to slow down.
Many people are keen to offer solutions before they have heard the full problem. They jump to conclusions and race to their preferred answer. It is better to wait, listen carefully to all the data, analyse and understand the problem and then generate many ideas. When you are in conversation with someone who is describing a problem or issue keep asking questions and listening carefully to the answers before offering suggestions. Your questions will help both of you understand the problem in more depth and therefore will help you frame more and better solutions.
Slow down your life
Just because everyone else is rushing does not mean that you have to. Allocate some time each day for pondering. Take a long walk at lunch time or in the evening and think about things. Clear away the clutter in your mind and think about some of the big issues in your life. Let your imagination conjure new ideas for tackling the big issues. Turn over the notions in your mind.
Prioritise your tasks and focus on the most important. We tend to focus on the urgent rather than the important and so we put off working on the main things in favour of smaller things. We should try to eliminate the really small items, or delegate them or do them quickly all together so that we have time for the important issues.
Remove the clutter from your desk, from your office, from your mind and from your life. Start with your desk. Remove all the papers and either action them, file them or bin them. Be ruthlessly decisive. Take some time to go through your filing and delete anything that is no longer useful or needed. Now look at your diary. How many of the meetings and appointments that you have made in the last month were truly worthwhile? Can you eliminate some activities that offer little real value? Are there some clubs or committees that you attend out of a sense of duty rather than out of any real interest? Try to make space in your life and time in your day. If you can find a free half-hour each day for quiet contemplation then you can develop the power of pondering.
Paul Sloane speaks and writes on lateral thinking, creativity and innovation. Book him for your next meeting.