Last week I talked about how high performers should take regular breaks away from work to bring their best into their work. This week we will consider the advantages of workflow pauses for high performers.

Over the last few weeks, I have had several speaking engagements that were within driving distance. To help make them as stress free as possible, I made sure that my luggage was packed 48 hours before traveling. Over the years, I have forgotten many travel necessities by hurriedly packing too close to my departure. Packing earlier, and using a checklist, has all but eliminated this problem. I’ve also tried to give myself extra travel time to account for anything unexpected. When I am at the event venue, I have been early for my appointed meeting times with my client. I double check hotel reservations and communicate with the team setting up the meeting room the day before. Anything that I can do the night before my speech is taken care of to reduce the last-minute stress of trying to get everything done. This includes laying out my clothes and presentation materials.

Since I have traveled a lot by car recently, I have been more aware of signs to encourage me to slow down. A rest area sign, that I would have driven by in the past, was a reminder to stop even for a few minutes to break up the monotony of the highway. I have had a lot more quiet time in my car instead of always filling it with music or a podcast or audio book. To have more thinking time, I haven’t turned on a TV in my hotel room and I request restaurant seating that is out of view of a television screen. Finally, I changed the screen color on my iPhone to gray to remind me that life is much more colorful and interesting in the real world. Less time staring at a screen is helpful in focusing on things that really matter.

Other content ideas for how to slow down at work include:

Slowing down to prepare for an important phone call. Take some time to prep for a call just as you would for an important in-person meeting. Write down objectives of the call and anticipate questions you might be asked as well as any objections that may be expressed.

Reread your emails before you send them. Check for understanding and clarity in what you write. Make them as brief as possible and limit the number of people who are copied on your emails. Advise the reader if you need additional information with a reasonable time frame for them to respond.

Really think before you speak. Be as brief as possible when you do and include questions to others and repeating their key points to check for understanding.

Thomas Merrill, a recent 2nd place finisher in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, says that in order to go faster, you need to go slower.  Taking time to slow down some of the things that you do will ultimately mean you’ll be able to stay in the race longer and perform at higher levels.

It’s been busy the last few weeks to be sure. Slowing down even while I am working, has given me the gift of freedom from high stress and created higher quality work. It can do the same for you.

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