Look around, and you’ll see it: Elon Musk telling you to work 80-100 hours a week to be successful. Twitter Threadbois sharing how you can 10x your income in a week. TikTok churning out a new dance trend before you get a chance to finish doing the last one.
What’s worse? You listen to these messages and subconsciously buy into the hype. But nothing happens; it doesn’t work. You don’t achieve overnight success, you feel dissatisfied with your results, and are unmotivated to keep moving forward.
Sigh. No wonder you’re frazzled (and pissed at Dan, the ‘Twitter bro’, who promised this new routine would 10x your productivity).
The solution? Changing the game by slowing down.
What does it mean to slow down?
When you hear ‘slow living,’ you probably picture white marble tops in a cabin near the woods with artfully arranged silk napkins and freshly plucked ripe tomatoes from your backyard. But what about someone who doesn’t want to quit their job? Who likes the city? Who despises tomatoes?
Good news: The slowing down movement has a place for them too.
Slow living means different things for different people. For you, it might be making time for relaxation and mindfulness. For others, it might be moving to a secluded farmhouse and raising chickens. The key is having an intentional approach to life.
Slowing down is more about what you don’t do:
- You reject the idea of equating busy with important
- You don’t buy into the hustle culture mentality of rise-and-grind
- You discard the relentless pressures of modern life needing you to do & buy more, more, and more.
But isn’t speed better? If you’re not fast, are you even productive? Isn’t the purpose of the Internet to reward you with constant information and stimulation? Counterintuitively, slowing down will help you reach your goals faster.
Why not hustle: How slowing down can speed up your success
It’s tempting to assume working for long hours increases your chances of success. After all, being busy is a proud badge of honor — having a foot-long to-do list implies you’re important.
“It takes courage to say yes to rest and play in a culture where exhaustion is seen as a status symbol.”
— Brené Brown
But it’s time to end this madness. As ironic as it sounds, slowing down accelerates your happiness, success, and overall well-being. Here’s how:
#1: Slowing down clears the fog
You wake up and follow Bill Gates’ morning routine. If your boss asks you to work 55 hours, you clock 60. To follow the money-maker influencer’s protocol, you give up your weeknights and Saturdays to develop lucrative side hustles.
You’ve been doing this for months (if not years) at the expense of your social life, spending time with your family, your exercise routine, and your well-being.
And yet…you’re going nowhere. It feels like driving in a deep fog. Because that’s the thing about hustling: It creates the illusion of moving ahead, but when you pause and assess, you realize you’re at the same place. Or worse — falling behind.
Slowing down makes space for clarity. You think more clearly about what you’re doing and prioritize better. Make space for silence, reflection, and pause — and you’ll see the fog lifting.
#2: Slowing down improves your focus
A frantic mind can rarely sit still and get in the flow. You sit at your desk to finish the day’s first task, but you’re distracted by Slack notifications. Ding! There’s an important email, and it needs to be addressed immediately. There’s a looming deadline for an important project, but you can’t concentrate because there are a thousand other things to worry about.
Slowing down means you’re focusing on one thing at a time (multitasking doesn’t work anyway) and taking it step-by-step. You’re not allowing minor inconveniences and dopamine distractions to take over your schedule. The result? You’re better focused and able to get into the deep-work mode.
#3: Slowing down helps you enjoy the process
Hustle culture rewards speed. How many sales meetings can you take in a week? How many products can you deliver in an hour? How many cold emails can you write in a day?
And it’s fair: Who wouldn’t like to reach their goals sooner rather than later?
But it’s dangerous to rely on goal-achievement for true happiness and disregard enjoying the process. Why? Because the reality is, most worthwhile things take time. True mastery comes after years of hard work (at least 10,000 hours, on average).
Slowing down gives you the permission to savor the road as much as the destination. You forget the performance pressure and move at your own pace. Slowness is letting yourself have the luxury of enjoying the route to greatness. You’ll go slower, but you’ll also reach farther.
The problem? In a world that refreshes information endlessly, embracing slowing down is easier said than done.
4 ways to slow down in a dopamine-addicted world
Generalized productivity advice assumes all work is created equal. But hacks for, say, managing your team well might not apply to cleaning your room faster. Luckily, there are a plethora of ways to slow down. Nitpick the ones that suit your context the best from these five strategies:
#1: Shed and rewire the hustle culture mindset
The tricky bit isn’t slowing down, but the guilt and social comparison that comes with it. The rise-and-grind mentality rewards overtime and punishes setting boundaries. Always-on work cultures and working yourself to the bone have become the norm — more so in the pandemic.
There’s shame attached to getting off the hamster wheel. Research has even found that workers feel guilty for resting and not recovering quickly enough, even when they’re sick.
Naturally, the first step for slowing down is rewiring how we think about the nature of work and productivity. There are three primary myths to bust:
a) Working longer hours = Being more productive
It sounds almost cliché to say the number of hours you work isn’t tied to how efficient you are. What's difficult is putting the belief into practice. This statistic may help: Productivity per hour declines when you work more than 50 hours a week. What’s even more surprising is if you work 70 hours a week, you’re still getting the same amount of work done as those working 55 hours. Longer work hours don’t mean anything. Take that break without guilt.
b) Being busy = Being important
You’re crazy busy, right? There’s no denying you might be overburdened at work and home. But busyness, today, is also glorified. Being too busy to enjoy life is nothing to be proud of. The culture might tell you being busy is better than the opposite, but slowing down and resting every once in a while doesn’t feel so bad either. Drop the hysteria with busyness and embrace being still.
c) Multi-tasking = Getting more done
There’s no better way to say it: Multi-tasking, as productive as it feels, makes you worse at your job. It might impress your boss in the short term, but it isn’t doing much for your efficiency. Task switching makes you more prone to mistakes and eats up 40% of your productive time. Focusing on one thing at a time sounds easy in theory, but how do you actually opt out of the endless stream of dopamine hits? Wire your environment to push you to do one thing at a time. Put your phone on airplane mode. Log out of your email. Turn on Sunsama’s focus mode. Here’s how –
Rebelling against a hectic life starts with your mind. Sign in to play the slow game.
#2: Reflect, plan, and prioritize
You dread sitting to work because you have crammed over 25 items on your to-do list. It’s overwhelming to begin crossing off tasks. Overwhelmed, anxious, and confused, you distract yourself by playing the next episode on Netflix or scrolling on Instagram.
Two hours later, stressed by all you have to do, you force yourself to get started. At the end of the day, you barely get anything done. But tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow, you’ll do it all.
Weight loss is hard. Trimming the fat off your to-do list is harder. But massive to-do lists inherently aren’t the problem; it’s the lack of prioritization that screams trouble.
There’s a simple (but not easy) solution: Make time to reflect, plan, and prioritize.
How did today go? Did you assign too many responsibilities for today? What could you have done better? Reflecting is an act of slowing down. Pausing to check how things are going ensures you don’t repeat mistakes, tweak what’s not working, and learn better about your own productivity patterns. Sunsama’s daily shutdown gives you the space to write down your thoughts about the workday — and maybe even share them with teammates if you want to.
Some people function better with a weekly tasks list. Others prefer to know what they need to get done on a daily basis. You do you. While jotting down your list, take a moment to slow down and pause: How much time will this task take you? How does crossing off this item take you closer to your goals? Can it be pushed back, delegated, or deleted?
Be conscious of how much time and bandwidth you have — you’re only highly efficient foraround three hours every day. Pick three high-priority tasks for each day and focus on accomplishing them. Did five tasks instead? Be proud of yourself. Could you finish the three? It's still a productive day. Adding these three steps to your working routine might seem like a waste of time (and more work!). Not to mention: Slowing down and assessing your true goals can be uncomfortable too. But in the long run, these rituals save you time. Slogging like a dog is useless if all you’re doing is chasing your own tail.
#3: Make time to disconnect and niksen
The modern storm of information only ceases when you’re asleep (if you’ve turned your phone off). It’s becoming dangerously difficult — and all the more critical — to sit still and think.
Niksen is a Dutch concept for doing…absolutely nothing. Stare out the window, go for a walk, or sit still without purpose. No phones – no scrolling, no typing. It’s your time to just be.
“In today's rush we all think too much, seek too much, want too much and forget about the joy of just being.”
— Eckhart Tolle
It might seem lazy, or like you’re wasting precious time, but being idle has plenty of benefits chalked up to it. Research from the University of Central Lancashire has found that daydreaming makes us creative and better at problem-solving.
You can pocket moments of niksen throughout the day or schedule it at a stretch for a Sunday afternoon. Regardless, don’t forget to pause at regular intervals from your work daily — breaks help you reduce stress, steer off burnout, and improve mood.
There are three types of breaks:
- Micro-breaks: These breaks last a few minutes after every stretch of work. If you use the Pomodoro technique, you work for 25 minutes and take a 5-minute micro-break. If Pomodoro isn’t your jam, take 10-minute pauses every hour or so to unclench your jaw, walk around, and grab a snack.
- Meso-breaks: Take an hour for lunch or go to the gym in the afternoon. Even better, schedule time for your hobby early in the evening. Meso-breaks last one to two hours and, like micro-breaks, are taken in between your workday.
- Macro-breaks: These are the big ones — taking several days off every month (more than a weekend). Go on a trip or visit your family. Disconnect from work completely for a long stretch of time — don’t check “important” emails or doomscroll.
Most importantly: Know when to stop working. Set a hard deadline of 5 p.m. or stop when you clock six hours. Sunsama encourages you to enter how many hours of work you plan to do each day and prompts you with a message “Done for the day” when you should stop working.
#4: Embrace slowness in all areas of your life
Slowing down isn’t just for work. It’s a lifestyle to incorporate into all aspects of your life — personal or professional. Here are some ways you can inject slowness into your non-work life:
- Food: When was the last time you ate mindfully? Be more present with your meals — observe the texture, chew slowly, and let the taste sink in. The best part? Slowing down may make you healthier – studies have found slow eating reduces hunger and calorie intake in healthy people.
- Conversations: Saying healthy communication is important for your relationships sounds trite. But it’s true. Give someone your undivided attention without rushing to the end of their story, waiting for your chance to speak, or thinking about emails. It’ll make your conversations much more empathetic, understanding, and enjoyable.
- Mindfulness practices: Make rituals that urge you to slow down. It might be making dinner with your spouse or meditating every morning. Perhaps it’s just sipping your coffee slowly in solitude. What area of your life can you be more intentional in? Have habits that force you to incorporate slowness into your everyday life.
What’s the rush?
Slowing down is more challenging than ever. And yet, it’s the most valuable habit you can opt for. Like all good things, it’s worth the discomfort and hassle.
The modern workplace pushes you off the ledge to hustle, grind, and run. But you can take a step back.
The same technology that produced tools working against you also releases software working for you — like Sunsama. Everything in our productivity tool hypes up slowing down. Try it for free for 14-days and see for yourself. If you aren’t ready yet, no problem. There’s no need to hurry.