Hello everyone! Today, I wanted to share my experiences bringing slow living or intentional living into my work day.
I’ve mentioned before that this is the aspect I’ve struggled with the most for slow living. In general, work has such a “hustle” culture that slow living is the most unnatural match for the work day.
Back when I worked in an office, everyone strived to be “busy”. To the point that a lot of my coworkers would eat lunch at their desk and were confused when anyone else, myself included, would clock out and take a seat in the break room instead. On top of that, early in my career I had a lot of down time. I naturally pick things up quickly and so when I finished a task I would simply take a bit of a breather. Or later on, I would have periods of time when I was crazy busy preparing for deadlines and then periods of time when the work lagged. Whenever I would slow down to recharge in between those more hectic times, the manager I had would lecture me about how I needed to instead offer to help others and try to find more to do so I didn’t have down time. That was crazy to me! Of course people deserve to have “slow” periods! For me, that was always when I had some of my best ideas and would work on side projects such as creating a new work document, plan a website redesign to create a better user experience, or even just strategize what I could do differently and experiment. Without that time, I would not have been as successful!
I’ve also worked in retail, and it made no sense to me why the managers would freak out if we were standing around chatting when there were no customers around. They would struggle to find enough work for us to do to stay “busy”. But if there were no customers, five people scheduled in the women’s shoes department, and no mess to clean up (because there were no customers), then there wasn’t really anything we could do!
Other types of work that I don’t have experience in but have heard about would involve warehouses where employees have strict and high quotas to make, tech/start ups where people are expected to basically “live” at work, and then those really tough firms like legal or financial companies that expect their employees to work 12+ hours a day.
Basically, everyone struggles to show their worth at work and status in life as “busy”. By rejecting that, I feel that I am in the minority but that is nothing new to me! For anyone else that wants to bring a slower or more intentional mentality to work, and also struggles to find ways to do it, here is some tips that I’ve found works for me!
Slow Living at Work
Now, I’ll admit, these tips are focused on desk jobs, simply because that is my experience! Hopefully anyone in other types of work can take inspiration from these anyway though!
This idea can be easy to plan but hard to carry out. For a long time, I was scheduling breaks out in my calendar because if I didn’t put it in there, someone would schedule a meeting over my planned lunch/break time! After too many instances when I couldn’t get a lunch in at a reasonable time due to back-to-back meetings, I created a reoccurring “appointment” in my Outlook calendar so I would not show as available at lunch time anymore.
I would highly recommend this for sure! If something does come up I can still move the appointment but otherwise I find that most internal people who can view my calendar do respect it, and I show them the same curtesy. Plus, I work with people in multiple time zones now. Usually I’m the only CST person with a lot of EST and PST folks. It’s helpful for everyone to see that I’m just not available at a time slot instead of trying to do the calculation to what time it is or just not realizing it because they’re trying to just find a good time!
Now, something else I’ve done is create the appointment as a “tentative” or “free” appointment instead of busy. It does help show that it’s a place holder item instead and feels more flexible as people trying to schedule something will not see the reason for the appointment, only that status. If someone does send me a meeting request then I can still just move my lunch time and plan accordingly!
If you’re scheduling meetings, there’s some other stuff you can do too. I haven’t done this, but I have heard of people scheduling meetings to start about 5 minutes after the “traditional” start time for meetings. For example, if you want to schedule something for 11:00am, instead schedule it at 11:05am to give people a quick break in between meetings. I love that idea! I also always put in a note saying “if this time doesn’t work for you, please feel free to propose a new time” so that way people know they can always request a time change. Of course, that one probably isn’t a great idea if it’s a big meeting as then a new time may not be easy to find anymore. But for smaller meetings of 2-3 people it’s likely a good idea.
Strategize Your Tasks
I always try to schedule my “admin” tasks or more independent work for early mornings or late afternoons. Again, I work with many different time zones so if something could require someone else’s help, I prefer to do the task in the middle of the day when it’s a greater probability that the people I need are around. Plus, then the admin work is a nicer, slower start to my day and a slower wind down at the end of it too.
Plus, having to switch tasks will create a natural pause for those 15 minute breaks too!
Take the Time for Socializing or Yourself
This one is more for the work from home crowd! Work from home has a reputation of people zoning into work and then working much harder than they would have in the office. I know I fall into that all the time! At the office, I was such a social butterfly and would always have people stopping by or calling over to me or I would go see them! In general, it was easier to get to know people and be friendly.
At home, having those conversations is a more conscious choice. Many times, people don’t reach out because they can’t see if you’re busy or not, or show up to meetings exactly on time (especially if the meeting host doesn’t open the meeting early). In smaller meetings, we try to at least check in with each other. And when I started my job, I tried to have one on one meetings with a lot of people that I knew I would work with often which went a long way with getting to know people and starting to create that good working relationship.
I would also say things like taking the dog out for a quick break, doing “quick” chores like a load of laundry or watering the plants, or other small things would be fine. As many others will say, these things take the place of those quick “hellos” from the office, or taking a trip to the break room, or other things like that! While not everyone will agree that those actions are fine, I do think that they make sense and can help give your brain a quick break too.
So those are my tips to build slow/intentional living into your work day. The point is not to slow down to a standstill, but rather to just be more mindful of yourself and not overloading yourself in your day-to-day. Hopefully these tips help!
Thanks for reading!
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