Save Time by Slowing Down!
Have you ever had the experience of being in so much of a hurry to get out the door that you dash out without your bag or your keys, and have to come back to get them? Or you’re in such a rush to get that email out, that you forget to attach that crucial document, and end up having to resend it. Did you ever bump into something, or trip, because you were in so intent on getting where you were going you weren’t paying attention?
There are countless examples of how rushing actually causes us to make mistakes, take longer (the opposite of the purpose of hurrying!), or even get hurt.
In Alexander Technique terminology this concept is referred to as “end-gaining,” and is used to describe that blinkered focus on the end result that takes us out of the present, so we’re not actually paying attention to the process of how we get there. To be honest, I think “end-gaining” is the human condition. Most of us are so driven this way, we don’t even realize we are operating like this most of the time. It’s only when the hurrying becomes extreme (when we forget something, bump into something, make mistakes) that we might realize we were rushing too much. Through our intelligence and awareness, however, we can consciously bring ourselves into the present, so we can pay attention to the process, ensuring we go mindfully through all the steps necessary to fulfill our goal.
The Alexander Technique teaches us to notice when we are rushing ahead, and how it affects our entire way of moving and coordinating ourselves – how, in that rush to just “get on with it,” we pull and push our body into all sorts of unnecessary contortions and tensions. Even the simplest of tasks, walking across the room to get a book for instance, can pull us out of shape in our unintended hurry to reach the book. We’re so focused on getting that book we might unknowingly tense our neck, jut out our chin or push out our chest in our unconscious effort to get to the book quicker. The Alexander Technique helps us slow down internally, pause, notice that pull to rush ahead of ourselves and consciously decide not to go with it. Instead we can choose to stay present and move as a whole as we walk across the room, no one part of us getting ahead of the rest. This doesn’t mean we can’t move quickly, but that we can remain present while in process, moving consciously as a whole person.
Next time you’re dashing around in a blur to get something done, see if you can take a moment to pause and give yourself time! Make a mental note of the tasks you have to do, and stay present as you do them. The concept is simple – the practice can be anything but easy. What do you think? Have there been times in your life when rushing has actually lead to taking more time than needed? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Coke used to have a slogan: “The pause that refreshes” Could be a nice title for a follow-up…
That’s a great one. I’ll keep a note of that! Thanks, Robert 🙂
Thank you for another thoughtful post, Imogen. The Alexander Technique was the first discipline that helped me to slow down and learn the benefits of a more measured pace. Tai Chi also helps me to stay present and not be swept up by the rush that surrounds us in our everyday world. In the Alexander Technique we say “I have time.” In Tai Chi practice we say, “There is no hurry in Tai Chi.” Both have enriched my life immensely. How delicious and rare it is to find a space of timelessness in a world chronically short on time.
Thanks, Jo Ann. There are many disciplines that have this concept, that’s for sure. Your last line is just lovely – “How delicious and rare it is to find a space of timelessness in a world chronically short on time” – and spot on. As the pace of life seems to be ever getting faster and faster, the ability to pause and slow down seems like a necessity to me!
A week ago today I tweeted: “This morning I noticed my mind racing and knew I had to slow down or I’d be late for my train. #Ihavetime #spinningmywheels”
That prompted a daylong rumination on slowing down, and I enjoyed repeating to myself, “I have time.” Every time I did, my rushing eased a bit or stopped completely.
My style of Alexander teaching is greatly influenced by a teacher who was also adept at tai chi, so we practiced moving quickly with awareness pretty often. Because of last week’s experience, I am also writing a blog post on this same topic. I’ll probably be ready to post it next week.
Thanks for your thoughts and insights, I have really been enjoying your blog. I agree that it is part of the story of being human, and it is absolutely dominant in our culture. I am happy to know the Alexander Technique, so I can become free of some of that conditioning.
It’s amazing how just a thought can change things, isn’t it! Looking forward to reading your blog, Amy.
This post is perfect for my Wife. I am definitely passing this along to her. She’s in a working-harder-not-smarter stage right now and this information will speak to her. Thanks very much!
Glad it was the right message at the right time 🙂
Thank you so much for this post. I need to focus on slowing down. I am always doing so many things at once and then I make mistakes etc. I am really going to try and stay in the moment.
Jane ~ mom to Nicole, 17 yo, VSD, PAH, Eisenmenger, BHJS
“If you don’t like something change it, if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”
Jane, glad you liked the post. I love your tag line – “If you don’t like something change it, if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” – that’s perfect!
The more I read about the Alexander Technique, the more I think it could be great for me. I’ve definitely noticed that I get more done – and feel more satisfaction – when I move more slowly rather than more quickly. Moving too quickly usually comes from unhelpful thoughts, whether feeling afraid (I won’t get something done) or frustrated (“this is too slow”) or unfocused. If I combine moving slowly with breathing, I get a whole new way of experiencing the world!
The Reflective Writer
Personal-Professional Balance Through Writing
Imogen, I had never heard of “end-gaining” or the Alexander Technique before. It makes sense. I had been experiencing almost daily headaches recently and I realized that I was unconsciously tensing my body as I worked online. Since then, I’ve been consciously trying to relax. It’s working and the headaches are practically gone. Thanks for sharing this. It’s great info.
I always try to give myself an extra 10 minutes so that I’m not running around at the last minute forgetting things ~ it still happens but not very often. I organize everything I need the night before or first thing in the morning.
If I write everything down ~ what I need to do, when I need to do it by, etc it helps keep my brain from racing around.
I had never really thought about it but you are so right and this has happened to me so many times and trying to get something done super fast resulted in it taking longer because I was rushing too much. I am a “ready fire aim” kinda person so it is difficult for me to stop and take a breath before jumping in but I am making a conscious effort to try to be more in the moment and to slow down and review the situation before i react and jump in with both feet
I used to be like this but many years have passed and I learned. I understood things don’t get done faster or better when I rush. And I never understood people who are constantly “running late”. Not worth the trouble!
But I stil trip over things once in a while because I am just a little clumsy 🙂 hahaha!!
Franziska San Pedro
Renewable Lifestyle & Art
Absolutely agree, Imogen! Sometimes I’m definitely that person who sends the important email & forgets the attachment! That’s when it’s time to breath… get away from the desk & do a few yoga poses or take a few minutes to meditate.
As the illustrious Ferris Bueller said “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Heidi & Atticus
“commentary to give you paws…”
I like “blinkered focus.” Thanks for sharing. Enjoyed also Robert’s “pause that refreshes” and Jo Ann Widner’s final thought
Glad you enjoyed the blog and some of the other comments, Marlene!
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