This world we live in always seems to be telling us to hurry. Time is a finite resource we cannot get back, but if we rush through life trying to do everything as quickly as possible, we will miss opportunities for growth. I am notorious for trying to cram as much into a day as it could conceivably fit. Most days I end up achieving only a small amount of what I have put on my to-do list. Quality, not quantity, is what this tells me I should focus on. For many of us, being present where we are, giving ourselves completely to what we’re doing and the people we’re with, is the important focus.
In my current job I work in the fundraising team. Anyone who works with money knows it is important to be accurate. My role does not contain anywhere near as much number crunching as an accountant’s does, but it is important. Ensuring the money people donate towards the worthy cause of helping stroke survivors and their families is important. So, I take my time with every task, to minimise the possibility of mistakes. It may look like I take longer to finish tasks than others, but that’s only when looking at the task itself and not the time any mistake might add onto it. If I do make a mistake it has the potential to cause issues down the line, for me, or worse, people outside the organisation. Thus I actively seek to avoid mistakes wherever possible, even when this takes significantly more time than it might otherwise, so time can be spent on projects which are less urgent.
A little bit of extra time the first time, and there’s no need for a Plan B.H. A. Thornton
Recently I started the process of editing my novel manuscript. It requires focus. It requires being ruthless to the words I have painstakingly put on the pages. When I rush through a section, without giving it the due diligence it deserves, I do both myself and the possibility of what this book could be a disservice. When this book is published I want it to be the best it can be. That requires taking time with every chapter, every paragraph, every word, to discern whether it is the best it can be. Of course there is the temptation to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite the same section over and over again. This lies at the other end of the spectrum to rushing and can stall progress. I am still working on finding my happy medium, and contrary to my own belief I’m really enjoying working it out.
One thing I struggle with is knowing when to stop writing. While working, particularly at writing a song or story, I set a target I think is practical to achieve in my current session, based on the pace I’ve been working at. Usually I bite off more than I can chew. This is initially ok because it encourages me to work hard. What I am not so good at is stopping at the time I scheduled I would, telling myself, ‘OK, I’ll come back to this tomorrow.’ Instead I continue on until the arbitrary end point I set myself, often to my detriment in terms of sleep or mental energy. A better decision would be to remind myself how much I am enjoying the process, actively stop, and get back to it the next day!
This is most readily apparent if I arrive at a difficult section of whatever I am writing. The lead riff and chorus of a song may have written themselves but the verse might be a struggle. The scene I was working on may have been filled with description and speech which I find easy to edit, but now I’m at the transition into an punchy action sequence. I can sit for hours rehashing the same section and get no closer to finding the solution. I’ve mentioned this before on my blog and it is something I constantly need to remind myself.
H. A. Thornton
Sometimes, no amount of brute force is going to help us find the solution. What we need to do is stop, put it to the side, let our subconscious work away, and come back later.
For me this is a reminder I need to give my mind time to rest.
It can be difficult to go against the grain, and just stop. To enjoy a sunset by simply basking in the warmth of its rays, without letting our mind drift off to what we should do. Sometimes doing less is more, it’s beneficial for tomorrow’s progress. Reinvigorate yourself by being thankful for the gifts you have. Spend time in silence. Pray. Spend time with family or friends away from the proximity of screens.
Like me, do you struggle with feeling like you need to be doing something to be productive? A follow up to start flipping the mindset: what can you do to reinvigorate yourself and recharge your batteries?
Thank you for reading and continuing on this journey with me. Peace.