While watching fireworks I flashed back to a prior 4th of July when my then four-year-old daughter shared a key strategy to minimizing stress. We were attending a party with a few hundred others at a friend’s coastal home. The view was outstanding, but their home only had one bathroom. When my daughter and I made it to the front of the long restroom line, she quickly popped up on the “potty” but then got chatty. She discussed the upcoming fireworks, what fun she was having playing, and several other random topics – all while attempting to “take care of business.” 

Picturing the endless line of people on the other side of the door waiting for relief, I squatted down and looked her directly in the eye. “Sweetheart, you need to stop talking and focus as there are many people waiting to use this bathroom.” With the clarity and wisdom of an old soul, she returned my steady gaze and said, “Mom, some things you just can’t rush!”

Are you always in a rush? Flitting from task to task feeling more frazzled as the day goes by? If so, you may have “hurry sickness” which is a mixture of anxiety and restlessness, often accompanied by a continual feeling of urgency brought on by today’s non-stop demands and overwhelming expectations. No surprise recent research from Deloitte found, “Eight in 10 respondents are struggling to improve their well-being, with a heavy workload and stressful job topping the list of obstacles they face.”

The solution? We need to slow down in order to go fast. Sure, it sounds counterintuitive, yet if we do each task calmly and carefully, we will get it done quicker with much less stress. 

Personally, I’ve noticed that when I’m rushing, I’m not really present. Rather, my focus is all over the place as I race against time. Angst follows which is my cue to slow down on purpose, to be mindful and present. I remind myself my most creative ideas and quality content doesn’t surface when I’m feeling the pressure to produce, but rather when I allow myself the space to be creative. If driving, I take a breath and remind myself it’s better to be a few minutes late than punch through a yellow light at top speed risking possible injury.

Need more reasons to slow down and be present? When our focus remains in the “now” we make fewer mistakes that cost us and others additional time, energy and sanity. C’mon, who hasn’t rushed through an email, hastily responded only to realize later your response was incomplete? Or, ever hit SEND before attaching a necessary file? In your hurry to get out of your home or office, ever leave behind a much-needed item that forced you to backtrack or suffer the consequences? 

Do your colleagues, clients, family or friends feel brushed off when you rush off? When we slow down and give our full attention and focus to others they feel heard which only deepens their trust and connection.  We also increase our ability to retain important takeaways, leading to greater insight and clarity.

And for those of you reading who share my need for speed when it comes to walking through airports, counter service or even email responses, you can’t rush people, either. Yes, it’s easy to feel like you’re maneuvering in a population of snails. Yet, the amount of mind time you invest obsessing or being frustrated at another’s speed or lack thereof is not going to hasten the result. Instead, accept their limitations and adjust your expectations. You’ll be happier, trust me.

It takes courage and commitment to slow down in our fast world and take one moment at a time. Yet, it’s the best strategy to get more done with less stress. And hey, what’s the rush anyway?