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Better work slow.

As the pandemic drags on, many of us are under more pressure than ever before at work. Perhaps your company was operating at a loss during the first few months of the pandemic, and now half a year later it’s regaining its footing and you’re juggling multiple new projects. Maybe your team laid off workers, and you’re forced to pick up the slack. Or maybe you’re trying to get a new side hustle off the ground.

These fluctuations at work are stressful. And even pre-pandemic, there was already a tendency to view overworking as a thing that needs celebrating. A more lenient time of year like this Christmas season can help us re-center and clarify what goals we want to achieve when we’re back at our desks. The “slow work” movement prioritizes meaningful and measured productivity, alongside dedicated time for breaks. The work style places importance on concentrated work, especially on individual tasks. jumping from assignment to assignment is not part of the slow work philosophy. However, wiping the slate clean, so your schedule is less packed, is a key part of slow work. To try out this work style, find time for activities you enjoy. Build in concentrated parts of your day for passion projects that require you to use your hands and not just your thumbs, swiping across a screen. You can more easily get to a place where your mind is uninhibited and free to wander, perhaps even allowing you to reach a breakthrough. Our normal way of working, where you’re constantly operating under high-pressure situations, may feel motivating in the short term, but excessive strain is terrible for us. Most likely, you’re already turning to unhealthy workflow habits, such as task switching, which unnecessarily tax your brain and throw you off course. If you find yourself toggling between a video call, an email exchange, and a frenzied read-through of a report, your brain is most likely buckling. The end result is your brain gets wiped out and your work suffers. We need downtime to get back to a healthy level of productivity. Committing yourself to leisure time is something that may not feel productive, but it can lead to a more balanced and thoughtful output. Further, when we slow our thoughts down, the more trustworthy our intuitive impulses become. We don’t need to second-guess if our harried minds are reaching for the easiest option. Our thoughts are innately clearer. One way to incorporate slow work into your life especially during a time of increased stress and isolation is with a new hobby. A hobby that requires your hands, encourages focused work, and celebrates a meditative, un-frenzied process encapsulates the merits of slow work.

Clean up your workspace (and maybe the rest of your home) Just like slow working can improve the likelihood of completing your work in one go, no corrective action required, refining your living and workspaces can free up your home from clutter, and it can also streamline your headspace. If you’ve been working from home and are still dissatisfied with your remote setup, the Christmas break is a good time to overhaul your desk. Clear off old notes and dried-up pens; wipe your space off and create a clean slate; detangle electrical cords and replace batteries in wireless devices; and finally, take the time to get a solid desk chair, for the sake of your back. You deserve to be comfortable and prepared to focus for the months ahead. Although many of us now organize our lives through inboxes and digital files, our homes are typically still filled with outdated documents and excess paper. These piles of distraction can wreak havoc on our minds, elevating our stress levels, and upending our sense of control. Take time this winter to purge your home of outdated papers; maybe even spend a few hours to scan your most important files to a cloud platform. Without the normal Christmas craziness of parties and gatherings, you may have extra time to tackle a digital detox, including unsubscribing from services and deleting apps you don’t need.

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