Implementing slow living concepts in our professional lives can prove challenging because we have less control over the environment. Still, there are plenty of ways to benefit from slow living in the corporate world. In this article, I share my favorite ideas for creating a productive slow work environment in the office.
Slow Work? Yup, slow living at work is possible with some creativity.
Some companies are better than others in the freedom they provide their employees.
You can learn how to apply slow living to your work environment with creativity and patience.
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From working smarter to organizing your day to save time, we can apply the slow life in our professional work as much as our personal time.
7 Slow Living Practices For The Workplace
I used these slow living concepts while working in the corporate world, and I hope you find them helpful.
1. Define Your Value
When we practice slow living in our personal lives, we work on being present, focusing on what is most important, and taking the time to do something well. We do this because we find value in the process.
However, this does not always port over well to our work lives.
Many companies try their best to make their employees understand their role in the company and feel wanted and needed, but some do not.
Take it upon yourself to define your value in your own mind.
Spend time thinking about your personal values and the company’s needs, and try to connect the dots on how you can merge the two.
For example, in slow living, we focus on doing one thing at a time and taking the time to do it well.
So stop trying to see how many tasks you can finish in a work day and prioritize the most critical tasks needed to be done. Then take the time to do a much better job.
Employers and managers are different, but I’ve been around the manager block a few times. I’ll take one quality project done right the first time over 2 half-assed projects that still need more work to finish every time.
Companies love it when employees show they are accountable, pay attention to detail, keep their promises, and bring a positive attitude to work daily.
Define what you believe is valuable for you to have in your professional life and what you think is beneficial to the company. Then do your best to merge the lists into daily actions at work.
Usually, when a person works to prove their work is valuable, the company will tend to agree. When this happens, what used to be a job can become a fulfilling career.
2. Stop Multi-Tasking
There was a time when I thought multi-tasking was an excellent thing to do. I thought it proved I was smart and a good worker who works long hours.
That kind of logic is still out there, but more and more people and companies are starting to realize it is antiquated thinking.
My last gig in the corporate world was VP of marketing for a sporting goods company, where I managed a group of people.
I understand there are times when you might have to juggle a few things at once, but this should be the exception, not the rule.
Slow living is about focusing on one thing at a time, doing the thing well, and then moving on. The same pattern is used at work.
Here are some ways I applied slow living principles to my work day and stopped multi-tasking.
- I set specific times during the day when I held meetings and fulfilled managerial obligations. Then I set other times during the day to do my head-down work and did not want to be interrupted.
- When I spent time working on something, I would not look at emails or take phone calls. I focused on what I was doing at the time and did not jump from task to task.
- Before starting a new task, I would take a short break to refocus my mind. Just a few minutes, I closed my eyes, breathed, and let myself calm down mentally before starting a new task. I also did this if I was interrupted (which happens), and I found taking just a few minutes before restarting my work helped eliminate errors.
- I found ways to say no more often (in a professional way), significantly reducing interruptions and daily scheduling conflicts.
- I stopped micromanaging, and this helped reduce the number of tasks I had during the day, which made not multi-tasking easier.
Your mileage may vary depending on your job and work, but give it some thought. When you can focus on one thing at a time and take breaks to reset your brain, you will be amazed at your productivity and work quality.
3. Create Work Routines
I love slow living routines in my personal life because they require me to spend less time thinking and therefore create more free time in my day.
Routines are equally helpful in our professional lives for the same reasons.
Use your judgment on what would make a good routine for you, but any simple and repetitive task is a potential routine.
Here are a few of my favorite routines for the workplace:
- When I arrive at work, I go to the bathroom, grab a coffee, then go to my office to start my day.
- I start my day by answering voicemails and emails before starting main tasks (I believe this helps reduce interruptions during the day).
- I take a 10-minute walk every two hours around the office or outside. You can also do short walking meetings; ever watch West Wing?
- At the end of the day, before I leave, I make notes for tomorrow morning and organize my workspace; it’s ready to go in the morning.
Routines are helpful and a slow living cornerstone.
4. Use A Slow 80/20 Rule
We are all aware of the 80-20 rule, which famously states that 20% of our work makes up 80% of the result. But did you know this can be used in practicing slow living?
Slow living is about figuring out what is essential and not worrying about the rest. Then, work on one thing at a time and spend the time necessary to produce a quality result.
So let’s expand on both concepts and create a slow 80/20 rule.
Assuming the 80/20 rule is true, let’s focus on figuring out the 80% of tasks that only make up 20 % of the result and spend less time working on what matters less.
Now that is slow living in the workplace!
And I mean every word of that. The worst thing for a business is to pay for employees working on something that is not important or will never be used, yet it happens all the time.
It is terrible for the company, and the employee doesn’t like working on things they feel are a waste of time.
Let the slow 80/20 rule begin!
5. Make Slow Decisions
There are times during the work day when we need to make fast decisions that don’t have to be perfect. Examples may include what color staplers we should buy and what color our call to action button should be in today’s email.
That said, some decisions require more thought because they will have long-range impacts on things like income and growth.
This is where slow living concepts can help our decisions making.
- Much like we daydream in slow living to envision the lifestyle we would like to live, mentally think through each decision metric and try to visualize its impact on the result.
- Physically write down (and rewrite) decision logic using pen and paper. Computers are great tools, but have you ever stared at a computer screen wondering what to do? Physically writing something may very well trigger ideas and thoughts not otherwise captured.
- Take breaks often during the decision process. Frequent breaks are used in slow living because it helps reset the mind and prepares it for the next task, so these mental breaks also help in decision making.
- Do not try to multi-task during the slow decision process. For all the reasons I mentioned earlier in the article on multi-tasking, interruptions and distractions should be avoided to make better decisions.
- You may not think about it much, but being well rested will have a significant impact on being able to make the best decision. Everyone thinks better when we are not tired.
Give the slow decision process a chance. It works.
6. Limit Peer Socializing
Slow living is not about avoiding making friends at work. It is about focusing on what is essential to be done and figuring out how to increase our free time.
Within that context, limiting the amount of time socializing around the water cooler will definitely reduce the time we need to spend at work and make us more productive.
Work relationships are great. They are fun and build a team spirit, but try to limit the social time at work to coffee breaks and lunchtime and leave the in-between for heads-down work.
This will also lead to less time needed at the office because you’ll get your work done faster.
7. Consider Remote Work
Some people enjoy the office culture, but working from home may be the answer for others looking to slow down yet still get everything done. Think of the time savings not commuting every day.
Working from a home office gives you more control over what you focus on, there are certainly fewer interruptions, and you can take meaningful breaks between tasks.
Most of the benefits of remote working align with slow living practices.
Although remote working is more common since COVID, only some businesses allow this. However, you can ask or find a company that will.
But, if you want to bring slow living to your workplace, then being able to get your workplace to your home is the best way to do that.
Some ideas mentioned in this article may not apply to your situation; hopefully, they serve as kindling for your own ways to include slow living in the workplace.
With some creativity, the slow lifestyle can provide value in the workplace and new meaningful solutions to your work.
Start with a few ideas and go from there. The results may surprise you.
Thanks for reading.
P.S. Below is some footer stuff to consider.