Effectiveness in the digital age: why we need to slow down and take stock

Living life in the fast lane, in this industry, is not always rainbows and unicorns. In this ever growing digital world, we have fluid access to new tools, techniques, information and devices. However, at the same time many people operate like a scattergun in a constant, full-blast. This isn’t conducive to producing great work in an industry where you’re required to think. This year, I am utterly resolved to slow down. On telling people this however, their reaction has been one of bemusement. They don’t get it. So let me explain here, on this blog.

Slowing down and being present in the moment enables thoughtfulness, reflection and, in turn, insight. When you’re multi-tasking, worrying, hastening and being interrupted, it’s nearly impossible to think quietly, let alone enable a flash of brilliance.

Seems obvious right? So yalla, let’s do this… Now! Here are my top tips for slowing down:

Indulge your curiosity

Take the time to satiate your curiosity and go with that flow; let it lead you to places. Take the time to read, debate, get out and get amongst it. Be open to inspiration from anywhere. By way of example, one of the best books I’ve read on inspiring creativity, thinking differently, as well as developing team excellence is “A Day at El Bulli” by the legendary chef, Ferran Adrià.

Your attention is a valuable commodity

At work, you’re there to make a meaningful contribution to a team. Focus on satisfying this and don’t let distractions get in your way. Time-bandits are a major burden on focus and creativity. Banish them, especially known repeat offenders such as push notifications and manufactured emergencies. Turn your emails off for a couple of hours, practice Irish diplomacy. Here, in the Resolution content team, we are big believers in utilizing Covey’s time management matrix, which really helps us prioritize tasks and stay on track.

Exercise mental peace and quiet

Are you an over-thinker? Are you constantly planning for the future, running over lists in your head, playing over conversations? Exercise is a super effective and positive way of calming that mental chatter. Motivation, well… I’ll leave that one to you to sort out!

At night, your devices turn to vices

I can think of three friends, all technology and marketing thought-leaders who are having days whereby they are switched off and do not take technology to bed with them. I’m not there yet but I totally laud this – it’s been proven that checking screens before you go to bed leads to sleep deprivation, which can then lead to inhibited cognitive processes, impaired judgment and memory loss among other things. So whatever it is that’s bothering you, try not to lose sleep over it.

Practice mindfulness

To put it simplistically, mindfulness is the practice of existing consciously. By becoming self-aware, we can develop our day to day, habitual experience to become more wise, deliberate and skillful. With its roots in Buddhist meditation, the practice is poised to become the “next big thing”, according to this month’s Time magazine. Backed by a growing volume of neuroscience and research, the practice has made its way from Silicon Valley to Davos and into many parts of society, including mental health, education, medicine, military and business. It claims to treat everything from PTSD to psoriasis. My advice would be to do some research on this – consider how you can make this practice your own.

When I read the Time article, it really hit on a lot of things I’ve been thinking about and putting into practice over the past few months; some of the professional aspects of which I have tried to convey in this blog post. They lend themselves to enhance your ability to create, conceptualize and get things done in a more profound and effective manner.

I wish us all a future whereby we work deeper and smarter, not harder and faster. Best of luck!