For some of us, rushing all the time is such a part of our nature that it seems almost impossible to stop. We are so used to multi-tasking, cutting people off, and blowing by (if not blowing up at) interruptions. We might not feel like slowing down.
But as my mom would tell me, “Emotion follows motion.” Act out your decisions and the desire will follow.
So here are so practical ways we all can slow down.
1. Stop multi-tasking when you’re talking to someone.
This is just basic politeness that many of us (myself included) have lost. I’ve found that the most effective way for me to do this is to put my gadgets away. Amazingly, my life doesn’t fall apart despite not checking my social networks every two minutes.
2. Smile at the person who interrupts you.
Just smiling at someone makes us feel less impatient with them. I have to be reminded of this because when I’m not mindful, I look like I’m frowning all the time. So I made it a habit to just smile at interruptions, even for no reason. It felt fake at first, but eventually became a habit. And it’s better than presenting people with a frowning face.
3. Give the person your full attention.
Besides no multi-tasking, this also means full attention in body language. My coworkers used to have to coach me – “Head phones off! Turn your head! Turn your whole body!” When you do this, don’t forget your feet! When your feet are pointed away from the person you’re really saying, “I can’t wait to get out of here!”
4. Stop and ask someone who you see regularly how their day is going.
There are people we all see on a daily basis. But do we really know how they’re doing? Stop and ask someone about how their day is. Use your body language and tone of voice to indicate that this isn’t a quick hi-hello. They’ll appreciate the thoughtfulness and you’ll be surprised what you’ll learn.
5. Choose the longest line.
This was one of the most effective ones for me. Instead of choosing the shortest option, choose the longest line at the grocery, fastfood counter, or the bank. The waiting will seem like death at first, but when it eventually doesn’t kill you, you’ll realize a lot of the rushing is unnecessary.
6. Cut back on your activities.
Sometimes we rush because we’ve crammed too much into our schedules. So instead of enjoying every stage of our day, we run through it all, constantly focused on whatever’s next. I used to cram in three or four events a night for ministry and socializing until I realized I had accomplished little in every place and was more tired. Look at your schedule this week. Cut back on the good but unnecessary stuff to make time for the best stuff.
7. Apologize to people sincerely when you are impatient with them.
This is the real zinger. Apologizing involves reflection and thought. The shame is good for you. When you are embarrassed by the act of apologizing, you’ll become more conscious of your impatience next time. I still remember the day I first did this when I lost my temper while playing basketball. I was so embarrassed to be apologizing for something so shallow, that it permanently changed my temper when I play.