Slow Down: Too Much Productivity Can Be a Bad Thing
Our workdays are typically filled with one thought: get as much completed as possible. Whether you face an inbox filled with tasks or just a project or two, both our bosses and our inner workhorses encourage us to knock out as many tasks as we can each day. But is being super-productive the best course of action for our minds and our employers?
Though procrastination and laziness—both in the workplace and in other arenas—are detrimental and lead to problems, rushing through your daily tasks can cause negative effects, too.
According to Marty Nemko, a writer with Psychology Today, there are a number of reasons as to why individuals are slow workers. Some are born procrastinators, determined to save everything for the last possible second. Some simply work better under pressure, lacking inspiration until there's a reason to work.
Sometimes, however, it's a good reason to slow down our pace if we're unsure whether or not we've mastered a task. As Nemko writes, those who haven't quite practiced enough are better off taking their time: "For example, the surgeon who has practiced a particular surgery dozens of times will be quicker, which is great, but still shouldn't hurry—Despite being expert, hurrying could result in cutting the wrong blood vessel."
Rushing through assignments makes us more likely to slip up and error, which can lead to a greater overall cost in the long run. Taking your time and ensuring work is perfect, not simply fast, will help you return quality work—and, as we've all heard, quality is often praised over quantity.
Additionally, as Nemko notes, rushing increases our heart rate, blood pressure, and stress level. The more we pressure ourselves to churn out fast work, the more panicked we become.
There are a few benefits to working a little more slowly when you sit down at your desk. By moving at more of a steady, somewhat slowed pace, you can challenge yourself more and find more enjoyment in even the most mundane tasks—while still completing everything you need to.
In the same piece for Psychology Today, Nemko lists the benefits of slowing your pace. Not only will taking each task more slowly allow you to approach your work in different ways, but you'll also feel your job is more rewarding and satisfying. He uses the example of a grocery bagger to illustrate just how much slowing down can change your mindset: "You're a supermarket bagger. Yes be quick about it but it takes just a fraction of a second longer to place the items in bags to maximally protect the crushables, a process you might enjoy if, instead of hurrying, you approached as a puzzle to solve."
Even the most mind-numbing tasks, like entering repetitive data into spreadsheets or filing document after document can become mentally invigorating if you take a moment to rethink your approach. Spend a little extra time seeking out patterns, puzzles, and new ways to master your work, and you'll see what's before you in an entirely new light.
Slowing down your workplace speed certainly sounds like a less wise route to follow. We, too, have shown readers how to pick up the pace and find ways to boost their productivity through mind hacks and even scare tactics—but sometimes, it's best to slow things down and challenge yourself in a different way.
If you're looking to gain more of a challenge at your job, or perhaps even change your typical viewpoint, try slowing your pace for a day or two. Your stress levels will certainly decrease, and your quality of work assignments might even grow. (And don't forget to take your breaks, too!)