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Here’s How Rushing Really Fails You

Deeply, profoundly and systematically, self-imposed tight turnarounds are cheating us.

“A man running with a briefcase at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport” by Andy Beales on Unsplash

There’s a chronic need for speed that manifests itself in any number of ways in the time-crunching western lifestyle. At work, at home or in private. You rush to meet deadlines, you hurry to fit in errands, you speed through gym routines or you impatiently wade through social outings.

Work or play, you’re hurrying and rushed. Subtly or overtly, there’s something at the other end of the tunnel and you’re the steam engine, barreling down the tracks to get to it.

We rush. And then we pat ourselves on the back for making good time, for fitting “everything” in, for scraping through another day with a couple minutes to spare, only to wake up and do it again.

I’d argue this culture is celebrated (as many have mused that we champion being the busiest person we know) but it’s also insidiously harmful.

Photo by Florian Wehde on Unsplash

There’s a tension where there shouldn’t be. Sitting still and concentrating, really concentrating is near impossible. Those who have taken on the task of forming a habit of daily meditation or prayer can attest to this. You set your timer and gently chide yourself for wandering in your mind, checking the clock every thirty seconds to see if you’re almost over with your session.

As a consequence, whether you meditate or not, it’s hard to let things marinate. Thoughts get glanced at and cast aside in order to rush to the next. Picture that — our minds have become one year olds, ever fascinated by the next shiny thing down the hall, rushing to reach it on quaking legs only to abandon it a moment later.

Since you don’t let things cook and stew, thoughts come out underdeveloped. You react almost instinctively and more emotionally. It’s a struggle to arrive at deeply investigated logical conclusions because there’s no time.

This takes its toll on the decisions you make- we are forgetful and absent-minded. Yes, you made it to and from the store on auto-pilot with enough time to go out this evening, but you forgot a critical item you needed. You work on solving a problem but don’t come to the most efficient conclusion because you investigated two angles (or even just one) and called it a day.

It complicates our working relationships when we jump to conclusions, it compromises our personal wellbeing when we don’t consider why we’re doing something, and it strains our energy reserves when we just feel exhausted and constantly in need of a vacation (which we naturally rush through).

If you’re reading this and aren’t resonating with it at all, I envy you because this is my existence and that of many people I know. We just haven’t figured out how to chill and consider things fully. Even if we aren’t physically rushing or mentally aware of our tendencies to become impatient with being stationary, we’re still not reaching our potential in a myriad of ways.

The first time my dad told me to ‘work smart, not hard’ I was trying to clean our kitchen floor. In a rush to start the chore, I began in the least logical position of the room and, sure enough, cleaned myself into a corner. I had to basically do the task twice since I had to move furniture out and clean my way out of the room. If I had stopped to consider what I was doing and why, I could’ve reasoned the most logical way to complete the task and spent less energy.

Don’t clean yourself into a corner. Stop. Consider. The more you pump the brakes, the less frantic your mind becomes and the more efficiently you can complete what’s in front of you.