Busy, busy, busy - The Power of Pausing

Murielle Machiels, Academic Director "Leading Authentically in Digital Times" at SBS-EM, Founder at QiLeader 05/03/2019 Leadership

A couple of years ago, life was slower.

The requests for your time and attention came from fewer communication channels and were less frequent. Our work was more delimited; we often knew when a project started and when it was finished. The need to collaborate was not as high because projects were simpler and the technology that allows us to be connected 24/7 was not yet mainstream. We had to bring physical files home if we wanted to work. People had to call us or come over if they wanted to reach us.

Those times gave us plenty of room to pause, even if we didn’t plan for it. Delivering everything that was expected from us was possible and led to good grades in school and promotions at work.

The good old “slow times” days are over

Unfortunately, today, the speed of change has accelerated. Most of us have to handle more requests, and the tasks are less delimited and often more complex, requiring collaboration to be solved. On top of that, 24/7 connectivity doesn’t give us “natural” pauses anymore.

We have been taught in school and at work to deliver everything that is expected from us. We have been trained to finish our work first and only relax afterwards. But what happens when the work is never finished, when new requests keep coming at all hours, from everywhere? What happens when aligning to get things done takes all our time, when a project always has another, better, solution?

We end up being busy, busy, busy. We work even harder, still trying to deliver everything. We start sacrificing important things. We are constantly running, and it’s easy to get exhausted. And despite our hard work, our organizations still do not adapt fast enough to all the changes. We all get busy, busy, busy.

We need new business techniques and leadership habits

The reason why so many leaders are working so hard for so little impact and why organizations don’t adapt fast enough is because they are using business techniques and leadership habits from slower times in fast-changing digital times. What served us very well yesterday doesn’t work anymore. We need to adopt new business techniques and new leadership habits if we want to be impactful and peaceful these days.

One of the habits we should learn to adopt in these fast-changing digital times is PAUSING—pausing to manage our energy, pausing to step back, pausing to think about what is important to us, pausing to learn new skills and habits, pausing to let our creative brain be active, pausing to listen to each other … or just pausing to do nothing.

Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Jeff Weiner from LinkedIn pause regularly. They understand the power of pausing, and research confirms that taking regular breaks increases productivity and creativity.

Slowing down and pausing can be really hard

You probably already knew this, but you’ve experienced that it is really difficult to pause when you’re under pressure to deliver. Your rational brain understands the benefits, but your body can’t seem to stop. Here you will find some very useful tricks to help you succeed in slowing down and pausing.

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