Hurry Up And Wait

time management boredEverything I know about life I learned in my college marching band…

OK, that’s not entirely true, but it makes for a good opening. (Spare your “one time at band camp comments. I’ve heard them all. Twice.) In band, we had a saying: “Hurry up and wait.” It was amusing because every time we had a performance, the staff ran around urgently telling people to get ready quickly…only to sit around for 45 minutes afterwards while we waited for the performance to start. I’ve had this phrase on my mind a lot lately as I’ve thought about the overall pace of my day. Here is what I think it means to me now…

My Mentality

I realized that I live by the “hurry up and wait” mentality. It’s better to be 20 minutes early than 1 minute late. That philosophy has served me well, however, I’m realizing that it can be taken to the extreme.

“It’s better to be 20 minutes early than 1 minute late” only matters when there is a consequence for being late. When being late means missing an important deadline, an airplane, or your best friend’s wedding…rushing to be early matters. However, when being late is not a problem, rushing just for the sake of rushing is stressful.

Does Everything Need a Deadline?

I realized that I do this. Sometimes I set arbitrary deadlines for myself because that’s how I operate best. Then I hurry hurry hurry to meet the deadline, when in reality, being a few minutes (hours, days, etc…) late wouldn’t really matter. I end up stressing myself for no good reason.

Do you do this too? I talk about how setting your own deadlines can be a good motivator, and that’s true, but I’m going to be careful about what types of tasks I set deadlines for.

Not everything needs to be done in a hurry. This week, I’m going to try to be better about slowing down. Or next week. Whenever I get around to it.

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Hurry Up And Slow Down

When speaking of time management, people are always looking for ways to get things done faster. While it may seem counterintuitive, sometimes the best way to do things faster is to slow down.

I’m not talking about the metaphorical, “take time to smell the roses” kind of slow down. I mean to physically stop moving so fast.

 The Daily Rush

The other day, as I was bounding out of my car to get to my evening class, (coffee, laptop and books in tow,) I stopped myself.  Why in the world was I racing as though trying to catch a train? I wasn’t late, and the classroom wasn’t going anywhere without me.

I realized that I do this a lot. I go quickly up the stairs to my office, I switch lanes frequently in traffic trying to find the fastest one, and I get frustrated trying to navigate past “slow moving” people while running errands. I know I’m not the only one who lives my day in one giant rush.

We can tell ourselves that this haste is necessary to save time, but really, it’s not. The 5 seconds that you save by rushing to get somewhere are canceled out by the extra feeling of stress that rushing causes. There are three negative side effects of the stress of rushing:

1)      Sloppiness

2)      Forgetfulness

3)      Un-focused work

Move Purposefully

Instead of rushing around, slow down and embrace the calm notion that you’ll still get everything done today without the need to hurry from place to place. Don’t think of it as moving slowly. Think of it as moving purposefully. You have goals for your day and you’re not going to dawdle, but your daily life shouldn’t be akin to the 50-yard dash.

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Technorati Keywords Time Management, Efficiency,

Photo Credit: Michelle Meiklejohn