I often have to remind myself of past lessons I’ve learned. One of those lessons is the joy of slowing down.
Recently, I had the odious task of cleaning up my office space. This is a regular occurrence because I am terrible at cleaning up as I go along. After a while, my filing system becomes a piling system, my desk becomes clutter central, and a have this niggling feeling like something important is left undone in one of my stacks. Like I said, I intensely dislike cleaning up, although I love the feeling after it all is finished.
This time I approached the grind differently. I gave myself a little extra time. I allowed myself freedom to be a little distracted by those loose papers with something interesting on them. I turned on my favorite playlist, and I just relaxed with the task. Surprisingly, I kind of enjoyed the time. Because I wasn’t rushing to get to the next thing on my to-do list, I was able to chill in the midst of the effort.
Then I thought of something I wrote a while back: Slow Down to Speed Up. I realized that slowing down in this work helped me get more done in the same amount of time. This was at least partially due to the fact that I was present in the task rather than being distracted about the next thing ahead of me. The work was also more thorough because I wasn’t trying to just get by.
We miss joy because we are always living toward the next thing. Rushing and joy are incompatible. The worst part of rushing is that it is a lose/lose. We lose the possibility of joy in the moment, and we are less effective because we short-change the task at hand. Slowing down is a way to live life to the full.
My encouragement is to try slowing down today. Slow your morning down. Slow down as you eat a meal with family or friends. Slow down when you have a ridiculously large checklist to finish. Then see after you slow down whether it helped or hurt. You may be surprised. There is beauty in lingering; joy in slowing down.