by Tim Walker
Life is busy. Especially if you’re trying to work and juggle family at the same time. Recently, my wife and I went out to dinner for our anniversary. It’s one of the few times that we get to go somewhere without a toddler in tow. Most of our restaurant visits function only with well-oiled battle plans. Who’s got the bib? Who’s got the toys? Let’s look at the menu ahead of time and plan our meal selections so we can get in and out as fast as possible!
This time, however, we decided to go to The Melting Pot. Just the two of us. The Melting Pot is a fondue restaurant, which means you cook all of your food at the table yourself using skewers and a pot of hot oil. It’s a fun concept, but it’s not fast food. While we were sitting there eating, my wife paused and said “it’s really nice just to slow down and take our time.” Eating dinner this way had forced us to slow down and it was great.
At work, professional task managers, productivity monitors and a whole host of other products and software aim to help us save time every day. Not to mention an entire cottage industry built around self-help books and life coaches. It’s almost as if we’ve built an entire economy on top of the idea that none of us have enough time to get things done.
It’s true, Americans work a lot. As a whole, we spend 47 hours working each week. We pride ourselves on being multi-taskers. It’s not just work either though. We spend about 20 hours each week watching TV. Overall Americans spend about 38.5 hours each week on leisure activities (including TV). And we haven’t even accounted for sleeping yet!
This overload can creep into all aspects of our lives. Raise your hand if any of these sound familiar:
- It’s frustrating when websites don’t load INSTANTLY.
- Why hasn’t my friend texted me back 15 seconds after I asked him a question?
- I wonder what’s new on Facebook? (30 seconds later) I wonder what’s new on Facebook? (30 seconds later) I wonder what’s new on Facebook?
- Naps are for lazy people. I’ll sleep when I’m dead!
The phenomenon has even carved out its own spot in academia. It’s called Time Poverty. The idea is that as we’ve gotten richer in dollars (by working more), we’ve gotten “poorer” in time available to actually spend that extra dough. But there’s no consensus among those who study these things. Some insist we are too busy
, while others believe there’s proof that we aren’t as busy as we think
Work is important. It gives us value. But it is not THE most important thing. Here at M Force, one of our four key values is to “Keep it Simple.”
It’s tremendously valuable to both our clients and employees to keep our business simple. Complicating the process only serves to add stress and decrease productivity. Why shouldn’t this also be the case in our personal lives? Here’s the truth, when my wife and I are sitting in a nursing home someday, we won’t be talking about how we worked all of those extra hours in 2015, or how I’m so proud that I crammed that extra appointment in on a Friday afternoon. What we will be doing is talking about our kids and our family. We’ll never regret slowing down and taking the time to make more room for the important things.
The idea of simplicity has helped make minimalism popular again. Websites like the International Institute of Not Doing Much (slowdownnow.org) and becomingminimalist.com promote a simpler lifestyle. In some ways slowing down can help us accomplish more. Instead of multi-tasking, what if we MONO-tasked? Focus on one thing, accomplish it, and move on to the next.
Slowing down and simplifying our lives probably seems like a complicated task in itself. I think it’s probably something that relies on will power to break bad habits. So, if you’re feeling like life in the fast lane is a little too speedy, fire up the fondue pot and start to slow down!