Promising Practices Promising PracticesPromising Practices
A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

Take Control of Your Day With This Slow Down Exercise

ARCHIVES
Image via Chris Pole/Shutterstock.com

There's a rule in life I often forget: You can only do one thing at a time. For as many directions as I get pulled in a given day, I'm never truly "multi-tasking." When I take on multiple tasks at once my attention toggles between tasks quickly, though I'm never actually doing two things at any given time.

Studies show that this divide and conquer approach to accomplishing competing tasks can actually disrupt brain function and slow you down. As Dr. Edward Hallowell, an ADHD specialist, told Health.com, "It's like playing tennis with two balls: Your game's not as good as it would be with one ball."

No doubt, taking on many things at once is a necessary part of being a federal manager. With the expectation that more be accomplished with less, it's key to getting by. But sometimes you need to slow down, if not for your own sanity then for your ability to focus and recharge after a busy couple of hours.   

Leo Wildrich, co-founder of Buffer, wrote about a slowdown technique he learned from Paulo Coelho's book The Pilgrimage. It's called the Speed Exercise:

It is very simple. You pick a route to walk and you walk at half the speed that you normally do. You do this for 20 minutes.

Doing this exercise was very difficult for me at first. In such a busy place like Hong Kong, where everyone is rushing through the streets, you get a lot of impulses to just speed up again. But after the first five minutes I was ok and in a good rhythm...And after those five minutes, things changed a lot. I started to look around. I started to see things I have never seen before—small side streets where people where finishing their day's of work, piling boxes on top of each other, loading them on a dirty truck...Everything seemed different during those 20 minutes. I could feel my head getting a lot heavier and then all of a sudden lighter. As if every step made me lose a few pounds. I felt extremely happy.

You can read Wildrich's full post on his blog or at Lifehacker.

When you're feeling burned out during the day, how do you refocus and get back in the game?

Update: If I'm going to write about "promising practices," I'm of the mind I should take most of them for a spin. So, coming back from lunch today, I gave the Speed Exercise a try--and boy does it work. I felt the burden of work lift and I think it was the longest I've gone in quite some time without looking at a phone. I took in flowers, noticed things I hadn't seen before and stopped to talk with co-workers I saw on the street. When I got back to work I felt energized. Fair warning, you're violating a social norm here, people may look at you like you're crazy. Small price to pay for a bit of renewed focus. Give this a try and share your experience in the comments. Last tip, be careful if walking slowly across the street...  

(Image via Chris Pole/Shutterstock.com)

Want more Excellence in Government? Follow us on Twitter | Facebook | Google + | LinkedIn

Mark Micheli is Special Projects Editor for Government Executive Media Group. He's the editor of Excellence in Government Online and contributes to GovExec, NextGov and Defense One. Previously, he worked on national security and emergency management issues with the US Treasury Department and the Department of Homeland Security. He's a graduate of the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs and studied at Drake University.

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.