To make sure I get good results in my projects, I don’t start them instantly.
During my years working in marketing, I have both purposely sought out and been unwillingly bombarded with ongoing productivity advice attacks, which have destroyed the realistic notion of what can be accomplished in a day and left in return a feeling of disconformity with my performance.
Every piece of advice says roughly the same thing: “Sit down, work quickly, and ship even before your project is ready. You’ll feel fantastic afterward”. I have received similar instructions while working on a project, such as “Don’t think too much about it; just do it,” which gets my hackles up.
Though I can see the value in “Eat the Frog!”, “Don't be a victim of Parkinson's Law,” “Use the Pomodoro Technique,” etc., and the systems they promote, I find myself mostly taking my time to perform. And that time I take for myself makes me do good work.
But because the world is high on immediacy, delaying something has the same appeal as a life sentence.
Outstanding Results vs. Immediate Action
When considering delaying, it’s essential to understand which element is critical to the project: time to respond or getting remarkable results.
When the latter is primordial, taking our time and even delaying could be the right way to approach the project.
By delaying, I give my brain time to mull over the task and devise a plan according to the results I want.
I’ve learned that when doing the opposite and acting right away, we tend to address the first problem we come up against, which is usually the most superficial one, instead of the actual or more profound problem.
It’s like when someone is experiencing financial difficulties and goes straight to brainstorming ways to increase their income without stopping to address their spending habits or debt.
There’s an error in that methodology.
Many of us have been through hustle culture, the trend that glorifies overworking and constant productivity.
“Act Now” is a predominant narrative there.
That call to action is like a stained window, preventing us from clearly seeing through projects and tasks.
But what would happen if we change our mindset and, instead of deadlines, keep in mind the assignment of doing good and impactful work?
The Power of the Pause
Pausing and delaying our responses can give us time to gather more information, seek opinions or advice, reduce impulsiveness, find better timing, and ensure we are not acting out of strong emotions. It can actually move us forward by letting us stage our projects orderly.
We live in a world of immediacy, and waiting has become so alien that we no longer know how to do it. Cars pick us up in minutes, wherever we are, whenever we want. We have the answers to every question on our phones. We can deliver the most specific food type to our door in an hour. So it's unfair to compare the immediacy those systems provide to what humans can produce in the same amount of time.
A thoughtful pause may be the key to good results. So don't act right away, take a day to respond instead.
Productivity strategy that involves tackling your most challenging or unpleasant task first thing in the morning.
This principle states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion.
Method that involves breaking your workday into 25-minute increments with five-minute breaks in between.
I love this approach, Catalina. I used to have a friend tell me that I was a slow stew, when referring to my process of thinking on ideas or sitting with something before responded. At first I felt insulted, but later I realized that was the perfect description. A slow stew cooks the food properly and gives time for the flavors to cook in.
I love this, specially nowadays when it's so unusual to have someone tell you to slow down for a minute and take a pause.
We are becoming more and more used to immediacy and it's easy to believe that we have to perform at that same speed, forgetting that sometimes taking our time might even bring a better outcome!