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Could You Slow Down For a Bit?

Bruges coffee breakHave you in the past six weeks

A.  Complained about “so much to do, so little time…”
B.  Thought, “We should be spending more time on this…”
C.  Realized you rushed through a book, article, conversation, or ___, and aren’t sure what it was about…
D.  Felt a strong desire to sit still. Very still. Very far from that always-buzzing smart phone…
E.  All of the above?

While you probably don’t have full control of your life, you are constantly making choices. And those choices may be rushing you as well as those you teach or lead. Here are three good resources for slowing down just a little.

Live More Slowly

IF your life requires a drastic slow-down, In Praise of Slowness  is filled with wisdom. Separate what is being done to you from what you are doing to yourself and pick a couple ways to reclaim life at your own desired pace.

My advice? Start small, with a change that interests you and that you know is doable. As you experience the space that slowness creates, use the bliss to motivate another small change. Here’s one of my favorites, just a tweak in how I think about my after-lunch square of dark chocolate.

At a seminar I attended last weekend, someone pointed out that eating chocolate (accompanied by coffee or red wine or milk, depending on personal taste) can be a mindful meditation experience. Pay attention to the now. How long can you make one little square last? How does it feel on your tongue? At what point does the solid turn liquid? Can you detect the hints of salt? Bitter? Sweet? Let the taste linger as you savor it, eyes closed.

Master Meetings

A friend called me recently to share how wonderful working from home had been while she was on a medical leave. “Not being sent to stupid meetings is so wonderful. I’m so much more productive!” Meetings simultaneously rush us through the day while often being unbearably long. Check out this article on taming meetings. If you don’t act on some of the suggestions it contains, or start the conversations around balancing meeting time and individual productivity, who will?

Become a Slow Reader

There’s a group of us over on goodreads.com, all prolific readers, who are reading novels by Charles Dickens slowly. Just one chapter a week. If you’d lived 150 years ago, that’s how you would have experienced their serial publication. Four chapters a month–and then a wait for the next little folio before you could learn the fate of Pip or Oliver or Little Nell.

Okay, all of us are English majors, English teachers, prolific readers, speed readers–and we are stunned at how these books morph into something totally different when we go slowly. Bleak House in a week for a college course is not the same book as Bleak House a chapter at a time. Ask to join our “Dickens as Writ” group. Check out our discussions to see the insights we’re gaining regarding the content and the process of slow reading. Or, on your own, see what Les Miserables or Middlemarch or even Moby Dick has to offer if you go slow.

And I’ll end on that note. What are we doing to students, employees, our children, our spouses, to those we serve, if we insist on going fast? Try it. Go slow. See what happens. If you’ve already slowed down, let the rest of us know what’s working!

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Jane Kise

Jane Kise is a consultant and executive coach. The founder of Differentiated Coaching Associates and author of over 20 books, she works with schools and businesses worldwide to help create environments where everyone can flourish.

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