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Speeding up to Slow down

[fa icon="calendar"] 4/29/22 1:29 PM / by Deb Cullerton


Close-up of a hand timing a blurred young womans run on the running track


"She must have that backwards!  For years she's been teaching us to slow down to speed up and now she says it’s the other way around?"

Every day I ask people to invest in themselves and their process improvement.  This requires slowing down, learning, tweaking, changing process, and changing behavior so that they might accelerate their growth and results. 

Today it occurred to me that people are not always truly leveraging their results to move the biggest rocks.  Learning to triage and process email twice as fast has very little impact if you use the time saved to do low priority items.  Only by taking that extra time and using it to slow down will you truly achieve quantum leaps. 

How do you slow down?
By slowing down I mean taking the time required to work on hard things.  Things like relationships.  Complex problems, systems and strategy vs tasks.  Taking the time to really understand what will move the dial and then using the extra time to make those things happen. 

In 2016, Cal Newton changed my life with his book, Deep Work.  It was the best summer reading I've ever done because the simple concept of carving out time to think and work deeply was simply not a point of consciousness for me.  Since then, I've built in "focus time" almost every week, month and quarter with the duration increasing as needed for the most important work. In fact, I used it to write this blog today.  This practice simply would not be possible without an equal and opposite practice of moving very quickly through the things that do not require intense focus.

So how do you speed up?
Take the areas of work that do not require intense focus and begin to streamline, automate and develop a practice of rapid triage!

Rapid Triage Method

  1. Clearly identify all the inbound sources of work.  email, chat, meetings, calls, your brain, CRMs, etc.
  2. Develop a clear understanding or your sort choices for any inbound source.  Here's mine:
    • Delete or let go
    • If less than 2 mins, take action right away
    • If action needed, Stage it (Outlook Task or Calendar)
    • If recall needed, Store it (Teams or OneNote)

By being crystal clear about the choices and the locations of where things will go, I can move my pace into double time. I've come to love the day after a Focus Day or vacation week because I can plow through a massive amount of inbound work and traffic in a very short period of time. 

Next, you need to add some automation wherever possible. How can you start using email templates, rules, quick steps, quick parts, search folders to take your triage to warp speed.  If these seem overwhelming, join us in our next WorkingSm@rt + Outlook program for a little help navigating. If you're interested please feel free to contact Gene Venuto at evenuto@pmaphil.com.


Topics: Organizational &Talent Development, Productivity for All

Deb Cullerton

Written by Deb Cullerton

Managing Partner at PMA and passionate about developing leaders