I think I’ve finally discovered something that everyone, regardless of age, race, religion, or political affiliation, can agree on. Our world today is moving at a maddening pace that compromises our efforts and ability to enjoy it for what it is … and it doesn’t look as though there are any major changes in sight.
I was recently in southern Florida for a dual keynote presentation and popped into a major chain store to pick up a few office supplies to prep for my program. I was shocked to see a vast display of Christmas cards displayed at the front of the store! I couldn’t believe my eyes! In was the middle of JULY in Florida! I chalked it off as an eager retailer trying to make a buck.
Upon returning to Michigan after the weekend, I had to pick up a few things to create a new prop for an upcoming seminar. I usually find everything I need at our local Hobby Lobby store so I headed there. The first thing I saw as I entered the giant store was aisle after aisle of Christmas products … trees, bulbs, lights, wall decor, and just about anything else you can think of. They had everything in full display. Further into the store I saw the full display of Halloween and Thanksgiving products. Over the next week, I found the same thing in our local mall and most of the major chain stores. Is it just me, or are we rushing things a bit promoting Christmas six months early?
While in high school, one of my favorite songs was a short but whimsical folk song first recorded by Simon and Garfunkel and later covered by Harper’s Bizarre. The formal title was the “59th Street Bridge Song” but most knew it as “Feelin’ Groovy.” You may not recognize the title, but if you heard the melody you’d recognize it immediately and, more than likely, start singing along. I still hear it on the Oldies stations every week. Years later I lived in Greenwich Village in a world of hippies and often visited the fabled bridge, known locally as the Queensboro Bridge connecting Manhattan to Queens.
I mention this song because of the opening line … advice so elementary and yet so compelling. I’ve never forgotten the soft, melodic, relaxing but uplifting words of the opening line: “Slow down, you move too fast ….” Regardless of the simplicity, you’ve got to admit these lyrics are certainly good advice for all of us. Change will continue at a rapid rate, things aren’t about to slow down, and the world will continue to be hectic and stressful. Most of our days are packed full of tasks and challenges. We’ve all got places to go and people to meet. The more the pressure builds in our lives the more we find ourselves rushing. However, that doesn’t relieve our pressure.
You’ll actually be more productive and less stressed by learning to slow down when everything around you is speeding up. John Wooden, the exceptional UCLA basketball coach who won an unprecedented 10 national championships, often told his teams: “Be quick, but don’t hurry. If you hurry you make mistakes.”
The only way to relieve stress today living in this hyperspeed world is to step off the fast-track, take a deep breath, give yourself permission to enjoy a little “down time” and try feeling groovy once again.
I’m not talking about taking a day off or going on vacation for two weeks. I’m talking about devoting a mere 10 minutes a day to “me time.” Take a short walk, sit in a park, meditate, take a quick nap, soak up some sun, read a little—anything that takes you out of your daily routine.
Now, before you dismiss this advice as ridiculous because you simply don’t have the time and can’t afford the loss of productivity—I speak from experience here because I felt this way for many years—consider the fact that focused research has proven the following:
- After the 10 minute “me time,” you will actually feel rejuvenated.
- You’ll also find it easier to focus when you return to work.
- You’ll be more energetic and less likely to make mistakes or miscalculations.
- You’ll be less stressed resulting in better health.
- As a result of all of the above, you’ll actually be MORE PRODUCTIVE.
Many organizations today are encouraging their staff to take more breaks, avoid taking work home, and striving for more balance. While that sounds very generous of the leadership, the true motive may very well prove otherwise. In those cases where employees have established “me time” successfully, productively levels have actually increased. Nuff said. Everyone wins.
While others may choose to welcome the Christmas hype machine in July, I struggle with the challenge to do so at a time when I’m sporting a decent tan and I can watch people water-skiing from my comfortable deck chair in 94 degree weather. That kind of dilutes the Christmas joy I’m supposed to feel when the holiday actually arrives. I’d rather relax a little and enjoy today for what it is.
When was the last time you were “feeling groovy.” Give it a shot. Enjoy the benefits that you and those around you will enjoy.