Slow Down To Go Fast

Tackling everything at lightning speed can actually stifle a designer’s most valuable asset: her creativity. Learn how going slower will help you achieve a clear mind and put you on the path to true productivity.

I suspect that at the start of your day, the first thing you do is reach for your phone. You might even do this before you get out of bed. From the moment your eyes open, the input begins. Email, Facebook, Twitter, texting, newsfeed—all pouring in like an electronic fire-hose aimed at your brain. From daybreak to sunset, it’s a nonstop, get-it-done overload. It started in the 1980s when FedEx changed everything by introducing overnight delivery. Soon thereafter, fax machines came along, followed by email and now smartphones. We’ve been spoiled. We’re used to immediate results and, in return, we’ve lost our patience. We don’t like waiting and when we have to, it causes anxiety and stress.

While technology brought convenience to our lives, it also brought a whole new set of expectations that soon became the status quo. Our world has become addicted to speed and impatience. Clients expect projects completed in ridiculous time frames and demand creative people to generate ideas instantaneously. Our over-connectivity has led to an avalanche of information that requires us to absorb far more than we ever did before. We’ve become a nation of anxious people who are always worried about what’s next—so much so that we forget to look at what’s in front of us.

And for creative people, it’s even harder not to get distracted. We have many interests and options to choose from. Slowing down to actually experience life in its depth becomes the biggest challenge we face. Besides, “slow” in our society often means “lazy,” “slacker” or plain “dumb”—and those are the last things we want to be known as. We keep cramming things into our lives, always searching for the combination that will provide us the most pleasure, and we distract ourselves from the tough questions (the slow questions) about what’s really important: our values, beliefs, big-picture plans, goals and how to achieve them. Not to mention how this pace stifles creativity.

The No. 1 question I hear from creative business leaders isn’t “Why are we running so fast?” It’s “How do we keep up and stay ahead in this fast-paced world?” The answer is simple. We think that moving fast will help us keep up. But this only works when we do it with precision and purpose. And in order to so do, we have to slow down.


At first glance, “slow down to go fast” doesn’t seem to make much sense. Our brains tell us that if we pause even for a moment, we’ll fall further behind. So we go at it with more grit than ever. In order to move quickly with precision and purpose, however, slowing down is precisely what we need to do. Instead of running at full speed in all directions, we need to pause, think, focus and then run in the right direction.

But most creatives (and, really, most people) don’t take the time to discern the “right” direction for themselves. We just start running. We say “yes” to too many things, fearing we’ll miss out on whatever surprise is waiting around the corner. We mistake being busy for being productive. We pretend to be masterful multitaskers, thinking we’ll get more done in less time if we do it all at once.

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