Exercise: Faster or slower

Is faster always better? Try this exercise, and see what you think.

Let’s say that you want to optimize some process to save time.

In many activities, you can take all the fun out of it if you hurry too much. For example, I used to be a hell-bent skier. This happens when you’re living in flat, snow-less Demark, and you only have the chance to ski for one week every year. By god, I wanted the most skiing I could possibly get! So I got up really early every morning, I took almost no breaks (except for a short lunch break), and I generally drove myself and everybody around me to exhaustion and desperation. Then on a trip a couple of years ago, I learned that by relaxing a little, taking a lot of breaks, I’d get less skiing done, but I’d enjoy it a hell of a lot more. Say 20% less skiing, 80% more fun! And I’ve found that this equation holds in many other activities.

So, what is it that happens when you try do something faster? Odds are, that beyond a certain point, the faster you do it, the less you enjoy it. Maybe it’s just more fun when you do it slowly. Alternatively, you may become stressed because you’re not doing it as fast as you’d like.

So this is the exercise: Find a process or action you’d like to optimize (it can be anything really, your morning drive to work, your evening meal or something you do at work), and then try to do it faster or slower. Keep a journal where you log the time it took and how you liked the experience. Then try to see if there’s a connection, and try to see if there’s an optimal “hurry level”, that doesn’t eliminate the fun.

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