As a society, we have developed quite an appetite for speed.
We use our GPS to get to our destinations quickly (and get frustrated when traffic slows us down. Yes, I’m guilty as charged 👋🏾)
We have labour saving machines. They brew our coffee, cook our food, wash our dishes, wash our clothes, dry, or even press them for us.
In theory, this frees up time for us to crank out some serious amount of work.
But we’re not machines. Expecting to operate exactly like them is setting ourselves for frustration, discouragement and burnout. Our approach has to be a bit different. We have to take our time. Be diligent but not rushed.
Learn to make haste slowly.
Whatever your art or project, if quality is your first priority, you benefit in the long run.
The first time is a great time to lay a good foundation, do things the right way and avoid getting into bad habits. Prevention is better than cure. It may take a bit longer than expected, more planning and thought. Whether your project is a book, a new product, a podcast, look for best practices.
If quality is there from the get go, chances are that less time will be lost going back to correct mistakes.
But let’s face it, we rarely get things right the first time, so seek quality but not perfection. Keep it moving, don’t get sucked in analysis-paralysis.
Once the work has been done to a reasonable standard, the subsequent times we tackle a similar project, we will have learned enough to be quicker.
On the flip side, how long is our work likely to stand scrutiny if it’s been cobbled together in a hurry?
Even worse, it may be out there being ignored because of a glaring lack of quality.
Sacrificing quality for speed in an effort to be more visible but ending up invisible by the very choice… Tragic.
Feelings in check
Let’s get one thing straight: we cannot operate at our optimum if we neglect ourselves.
The same way we maintain our machines, we need to take care of ourselves, fueling our body and mind right, giving it the proper amount of rest and activity.
But that’s where the machine analogy stops. We are emotional beings. And our emotions may get in the way of our work sometimes.
It may sound counter intuitive but often, negative feelings are just given more weight than they should.
They should be a passing thing, a manifestation of our resistance, as Steven Pressfield calls it in his book The War of Art. It’s our self-sabotaging agent trying to preserve the status quo at all costs. It wants us to stay in our comfort zone so it uses any old excuse. Don’t listen.
If I’m in a funk as I tackle a project, I ask myself why. It’s not about suppressing the emotion but acknowledging it, understanding it, and if possible, respond to its prodding with the appropriate action.
If it lingers even after that, I force the channel to change by doing something physical that changes my focus.
Press ups usually do the trick. It can also be air squats, or anything else that engages my body enough so that my mind follows suit. Find your go-to activity.
But sometimes the funk is due to a deep seated belief, that no amount of exercise or other quick fix can address.
That belief has to be identified, dissected and debunked, over and over again because of course, it’s our default pattern of thinking. It won’t go away easily.
Here’s 3 of such beliefs
Probably because most of us are conditioned by the 9-5 mentality, we think that the longer we work, the greater our output has to be.
But it’s no secret anymore that this model isn’t necessarily the best for productivity, especially for a more cerebral type of work.
We overestimate what we can do short term and nderestimate what we can do long term.
We also underestimate how much more productive we can be by just working when we are at our peak.
Nobody is productive all day long.
Some people are the most productive in the morning, before the world wakes up. Ohers, it’s when the world is asleep, etc… As for me, it’s mid-afternoon.
Experiment to find out when during the day you are the most productive and capitalize on that.
When possible, instead of scheduling long working sessions only to need a long time off in order to recover from them, schedule daily short sessions.
Success story myth
We are bedazzled by stories of quick success. But they are far from being the norm or even the whole truth.
Behind any success story is often a trail of failures and adjustments. But these rarely make the news.
There is no GPS that can give you an accurate ETA for this kind of journey. There are too many variables.
Therefore, instead of being impatient with ourselves, we would do well to give our work time to blossom.
Instead of 3 months, maybe give it 6 months. Instead of 6 months, a year.
Things usually take longer than we expect.
Lastly but in no way least, there’s a myth we hold on to that can prevent us from even trying.
Some may appear to have unshakable faith in themselves no matter what, “faking it until they make it”.
But the reality is that most of us base our confidence on competence (as it should be, in my opinion). However, if we are just starting, we have no competence to speak of and be confident about.
So the aim is to build competence over time, then the confidence will come. We have to pay our dues, gain experience through the grind.
Of course, we can also borrow our confidence from others who see our competence and potential. But we can’t stay in our heads. We have to take up the physical journey. We have to face the reality of being a novice until we move on to mastering our craft.
Maybe we fear coming up with work that is sub-par , and attract negative criticism.
The reality is that it’s much more likely that we just won’t stand out. Criticism usually comes with some notoriety. So relax for now. Focus on what matters.
In conclusion, take your time, go after quality, build competence, grow in confidence.
Take the time it takes for building something solid. It’s an investment that will yield big in the long run.
Learn the art of making haste, slowly.
Reflect, redefine, Rise!