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5 Jan 2008 / Julie

Slow Down

I’m finishing up unpacking (and purging) boxes of papers and I ran into an article (“The Adventuress: My Elective Blackout.” Cynthia Kling. Domino Magazine. November 2006, pg 122-123) I’d been hording since I bought the mag… er… last year.

The author writes about her weekend without electricity. It had started as a green thing:

Recently, I got into a high-tech elevator and its small video screen flashed: “Have you made any personal changes to help stop global warming?” Not yet, I thought guiltily.

but it ended up being a lesson in taking time to just be:

…even though this started as a stunt, it’s morphed into a lesson in intimacy. I now know how my home smells at dusk… how many candles it takes to light up the mantelpiece (25). Like a shy, quiet, pre-electric creature, my house had invited me in.

It’s important to unplug, take time away from all the things that take your attention away from life- the cell phone with it’s many internet-accessing, text-messaging, phone-ringing, solitaire-playing features; the urge to check your twits, your email, or post to your blog. Do you feel frantic? Do you feel unbalanced? Take a moment to ignore the dinging and buzzing and beeping- walk away from the computer (when you’re done reading this) and sit and listen to the world for a while. You may find out something new you never knew- like that your dog whistles slightly when he breathes as he’s sleeping- or that the sound of your washing machine is melodic and can put you to sleep.

Oliver Blanchard (of the Brand Builder Blog) recently spoke about unplugging at work:

It’s difficult to break away from the rhythm of your workplace – putting out fires, attending meetings, sending emails, joining conference calls, managing projects, [etc]… will absolutely KILL your ability to grow your business and take it down exciting and profitable new roads if you let it. Every single day, find a way to unplug for at least 30 minutes. This isn’t lunch or smoke breaks. This is time for you to distance yourself from phone calls, emails, meetings, and all of the other distractions that work to keep you stuck in reactive mode.

In a book I was flipping through at the library the other day talked about balance and how we never seem to feel we have it and that it’s natural to think that we need to work harder to get it when, in reality, the less we do, the slower we go, the more balance we’ll have.

The safest way to get off the treadmill is to slow it down. Slow down.

We’ve all been there- we’re already running around frantic because we’re late or there’s an imposed time limit (you have .99 seconds to purchase those tickets before they’re sold out) and we end up forgetting something or messing something up. The faster I go, the less effective I am. My heart rate is also up, which, while that burns calories, makes my brain go a million miles an hour and doesn’t let me complete a thought.

If we all accomplish nothing else this year I hope that we can all take a moment- or lots of moments- every day to just be. Listen more, talk less. Watch more, do less. You’ll be less reactionary because you’ll be more aware of your surroundings and your place in them.

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