The birth of busyness
With the advent of the industrial revolution, time could suddenly be measured in
output as well as minutes and hours.
;ere’s little doubt that technology over
the last two centuries has made most work
easier, but the more recent introduction of
smartphones and tablets, in particular, has
rendered the term “o; the clock” nearly obsolete. However, unstructured downtime is
o;en when we do our best creative thinking.
“At every red light you [can] look over
and people are checking their email or texting
somebody,” says sociologist and Costco mem-
ber Christine Carter ( christinecarter.com).
“;ere is no such thing anymore as just wait-
ing, just staring into space.”
Carter, an author and senior fellow at the
University of California, Berkeley’s Greater
Good Science Center, is eager to let everyone
know that “if you want to be highly produc-
tive and e;cient, then there are ways to do
that and it does not involve working all the
Journalist Carl Honoré, who wrote In
Praise of Slowness (HarperOne, 2004; not
available at Costco)—which examines the
bene;ts of infusing every aspect of our lives
with slowness—o;ers insight into why people
stick with overloaded schedules.
Honoré tells ;e Connection, “;e world
Finding your slow
is this huge bu;et of things to do, and the natu-
ral human instinct is to want to have it all.
[However], if you try to have it all, you will end
up hurrying it all.”
Another reason, he says, is that slow “is a
four-letter word that’s a byword for lazy, stupid,
unproductive, boring—all the things that
nobody wants to be. And because of that taboo,
even when people can feel in their bones that it
will be good to put on the brakes, or they yearn
to slow down, they don’t do it because they feel
afraid, they feel guilty, they feel shame.”
;e last reason Honoré ( carlhonore.com)
cites is the physical nature of stress addiction.
“A high-speed lifestyle is like a drug; it’s where
we’re in ;ght-or-;ight mode. It changes the
chemistry of the body and the brain,” he says,
addressing how people become stress junkies.
Honoré’s wake-up call came when a book
of one-minute bedtime stories caught his
attention. His ;rst thought was, “Hallelujah!”
And then, realizing that he was looking for a
shortcut through what should have been a
treasured time with his son, he saw himself,
he says, “in sharp relief, and what I saw there
was ugly and unedifying.
“I have a before and a;er that is crystal
clear. Before, I just felt like every moment of
my day was a dash to the ;nish line. And now
I don’t have that feeling,” he says.
Honoré, who lives in fast-paced London,
is the ;rst to admit that the Slow Movement
isn’t about doing everything at a snail’s pace.
It’s about doing things at the right pace.
“I call it slow; other people might
call it ;ow,” he says. “You’re fully im-
mersed in the moment and you’re
at one, almost, with the act of the
;at ;ow is what Carter refers
to as the sweet spot, which
she describes as the
ease where a
the most re-
laxed and the
most productive. In
addition to strategically say-
ing no and refraining from
multitasking, Carter encour-
ages people to take an occa-
sional recess to help find
that sweet spot.
She says that, for her,
feeling overwhelmed is
the signal to step away
from what she’s doing, give herself 10 to 15
minutes to get outside, leaf through a maga-
zine or just stare into space.
“To everybody else it looks like I am not
working very hard; to me it’s a strategy for getting [everything] done,” she says, adding that
most people are skeptical about how taking
breaks can help with work. “;e irony is that
the best way to get your head in the game is to
actually fully take it out of the game.”
Because it’s di;cult to envision slowing
down without falling behind, Honoré encourages people to start small. (See “Slow down,
live better” on page 34 for more tips on adding slowness to your day.)
“It can be as simple as the next time you
make yourself a sandwich at home alone …
set the table with cutlery, plates and a glass of
water, and just sit there and eat it rather than
trying to do something else at the same time,”
Whether it’s a sandwich moment, getting
away from your desk or turning o; gadgets for
an hour each day, each act is a step in the right
direction. “It’s moments of silence … that can
start to open up all kinds of doors. You’ll get,
ironically, the fast payo; of the enjoyment, the
recharging, the replenishing of having a slow
moment,” Honoré says. He adds that most
people don’t apply it to just one aspect of their
lives; it starts seeping into all areas until it
becomes a state of mind.
“If you’re going to make the most of your
life, then you have to have the time, the attention, the energy to invest in what’s happening
right here, right now,” he notes. “You can never
A CALL FOR CALM
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 31