In school, I remember the professors reminding us before we started a big test or paper to “take your time”. I often wonder if they still use this phrase, since it seems so out of alignment with the pace of the world we live in today.
I find the modern pace of business exhausting. There’s a sheen of glamour to the “always-on” business or entrepreneur that we’ve painted on with our culture’s usual haphazard strokes.
I’ve even felt shamed for not being available (by choice) on nights or weekends. A raised eyebrow or an interesting turn of phrase that suggests my unwillingness to tuck into work at all hours is something novel or strange. As if taking my time is no longer in vogue.
This pushes me to rush, or at least feel rushed, when I want to prioritize being thoughtful. Could it be that some just wait until it’s too late to bring in my services, so they are rushed for results and turnarounds?
I recall one person sending me a job invite (when I still kept my Upwork profile on life-support) and when, within a mere 24 hours, I had not responded they retracted the offer. I was sent the offer at 2pm on a Tuesday, and the offer was retracted at 2pm the next day. Should I have sent a “got it, I’m looking at what it would take” message immediately to let them know they were heard? Maybe, but at what cost.
For every moment I spend being “super responsive” to messages, that’s a moment I can’t spend thinking deeply and doing thoughtful work–or more importantly, unplugged and writing exceptional copy for my clients. My best work never happens when my attention is divided, and I’m sure yours doesn’t either.
I take care to think slowly, to consider every option, and I often find myself wishing for a world that supported me not to be in a rush, rather than pushing me to go-go-go. Is this why my generation (Millenials) is earning the nickname ‘the burnout generation’? It’s as if we’re too gentle for the pace we’ve been asked to live at, and the constant connection we’re expected to maintain. This seems…faulty.
Honestly, I am not suited for a client who expects a same-day turnaround (unless they let me know they need it, and/or are prepared to pay a rush fee or full day rate). Yet, I know I do better work than the person who is quick on the draw and spends more time tuning their responsiveness than they do leaning into their craft. There are plenty of us out there too, my kindred spirits who are being dragged along by this maddening fast pace.
My one call to arms for the business world?
Stop the madness. Slow your pace, and take a moment to breathe.
As the world pumped the brakes in response to the pandemic, I felt guilty for my gratitude as the world around me slowed down. This decrease in pace came at such a great cost to others but I couldn’t help but feel that it was a welcome respite, and a silver lining for humans to take a moment to reflect on the blinding pace we sprint at each day. And hopefully, ask “why?” we do so.
Do people still say that someone was born in the wrong era? I know others like that, and in addition to “old soul”, I’ve heard it applied to myself. Maybe I am of the wrong era, meant for a slower time when being a thoughtful, contemplative maverick was positive.
This slower pace, the desire to consider everything for a moment (or hour, or day), may get you outcompeted by fast-twitch responses. As you consider all the options, the silence has already been filled or you’ve been talked over with the first solution while you contemplate the best.
These quick draw folks aren’t better, just faster.
And I think it will work out in time. The more contemplative folks aren’t jumping on the first offer, they’re waiting to consider all their offers, and professionals like myself have time to contemplate the best solution or response. That match of pace will allow us to find each other. The ones that needed something yesterday, they found the fastest response that can get started right away–never mind the opportunity cost of choosing the first rather than the best.
Slowing down means being a maverick, and going against the experts who say you must be quick to show clients you care. I’ve never thought someone didn’t appreciate me just because they took a day to respond, in fact, I may consider them more thoughtful since they took the time to sit with a response instead of firing off what first came to mind.
What’s holding you back from working at the pace that fits you best, a more thoughtful one perhaps…one that lets you do your best work rather than do more work faster? I think the time has come for us to slow down.
Just because we can operate at instantaneous email speeds, doesn’t mean we should. Live slow, and let your best work come out in the moments of calm and quiet that enable truly deep, reflective work.