Slow Down To Do More: “Being rushed can mean that you lose your energy, your creativity, your ability to take a step back and sum things up and take a balanced view.” with Caroline Macdonald and Ashley Graber
Being rushed can mean that you lose your energy, your creativity, your ability to take a step back and sum things up and take a balanced view. You start to lose your sense of fulfillment and contentedness. From my own experience, I constantly feel as though I am not as productive as I want to be, but that’s why I have a team. It’s the nature of life that there is always other stuff that I should be doing, and I never get to the end of what I plan that day!
As a part of my series about “How to Slow Down To Do More” I had the pleasure to interview Caroline Macdonald, founder and MD of OggaDoon. Caroline founded OggaDoon in 2012 after convincing herself that there was another way to do communications and marketing: Guerrilla communications focuses on creating reach, generating impact and amplifying brands — with great content. Caroline cut her commercial teeth working both client and agency side, and turning a loss-making wine bar round to profit in a year.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?
A chip on my shoulder! In all honesty, it was partly a desire to do things my way, and not someone else’s way. I had felt for a while that there was a different way to do communications and engagement, and the delight that can bring. Founding my own company enabled me to make sure that what I do is tied to my passions and has positive impact: whether that’s contributing the right way to society and culture, or to the planet.
According to a 2006 Pew Research Report, 26% of women and 21% of men feel that they are “always rushed”. Has it always been this way? Can you give a few reasons regarding what you think causes this prevalent feeling of being rushed?
There are some people who are naturally active, who feel rushed because they always have something on the go. For them, dwelling and a more pedestrian pace isn’t natural to them, and they could feel that life is passing them by unless they are busy.
Sometimes it is because you are genuinely busy! I am a working mum of three school age kids, which can be quite something.
But has it always this way? No. I think it’s become this way because of the need, in many family situations, for both parents to be working. The costs of living and housing are so high, but alongside that — and I can only speak from a woman’s perspective here — we are still waiting for chore equality at home, which is a big issue.
It’s also impossible to ignore that the rise of technology and connectivity, although they bring benefits, do now mean that you are always available. Technology panders to our human tendencies for stimulation all the time, and that can be extremely negative.
Based on your experience or research can you explain why being rushed can harm our productivity, health, and happiness?
Being rushed can mean that you lose your energy, your creativity, your ability to take a step back and sum things up and take a balanced view. You start to lose your sense of fulfilment and contentedness.
From my own experience, I constantly feel as though I am not as productive as I want to be, but that’s why I have a team. It’s the nature of life that there is always other stuff that I should be doing, and I never get to the end of what I plan that day!
On the flip side, can you give examples of how we can do more, and how our lives would improve if we could slow down?
I think there should be more ‘slack’ time for people, particularly for female founders/business leaders: and what I mean by that is not official holiday, but also not working. Someone not with your team. About twice a year I go up to Scotland for a week with the family, and during that time I am officially working, but I don’t have any direct deliverables for that week. It enables me to think more long term, more critically about what’s gone before, and what our goals are for the future.
I am also a firm believer in slowing and stopping at work, even when it feels counterproductive. Yes, that task is very important — but could it be solved quicker and better if we take time out, discuss, even talk about something else and let our unconscious dwell on the problem. It’s why we have colouring books in the office, and we’re thinking of getting in a travel scrabble and some puzzles. Just switching off our conscious minds allows our unconscious mind to get to work.
We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed. Can you share with our readers 6 strategies that you use to “slow down to do more”? Can you please give a story or example for each?
- Don’t skimp on holidays. I enforce holiday take up with my team, and I always ensure that I take holiday myself — even if you feel too busy. Having time away enables you to come back with fresh creativity.
- When with family, I try to switch everything off. It’s easier said than done, but it makes a huge impact.
- Have a great team around you to take the strain/worry. When you can trust on them to pick up the slack, and you can trust yourself to delegate effectively, that is a gamechanger.
- Be aware of the time that you’re spending. It’s partly self-awareness, partly common sense. If you never seem to have enough time to do something, but you spend 30 minutes a day just scrolling through social media, you’re not being aware of your time.
- Be aware of your two streams of consciousness. We all have the daily/ongoing awareness, but there’s a deeper heartbeat of who we are, how happy we are, how satisfied we are with life. Most of time, don’t allow that to be acknowledged, and when you have that balance, that’s when you get objectivity and happiness. When you wake up, have a minute of just thinking and feeling, not picking up your phone. This positively resets your thinking for the day.
- Do something that you love, just for the love of it. That doesn’t necessarily mean ‘me time’ (a pet hate!) though it can be. It can be with other people, as long as you have no responsibilities towards them. It’s choosing something you love and then doing it, having fun. For me, it’s my Running Club.
How do you define “mindfulness”? Can you give an example or story?
I prefer mindlessness! Not in the destructive sense, but more not purposefully thinking about anything, and allowing your mind to wander. Like those ‘oddly satisfying’ videos that you find on YouTube, or going for a meandering walk with no planned route. Even taking a shower or bath, walking around a garden centre — just a mindless task, preferably one that gets your body moving.
Can you give examples of how people can integrate mindfulness into their everyday lives?
Enter into a church or an art gallery: whether you are religious or not, those are spaces of calm and quiet. They are vast and in the midst of them you can pause and take a moment just to consider yourself, and the place you hold in the universe.
Do you have any mindfulness tools that you find most helpful at work?
I enjoy going for a run in the middle of the day, and I have a meditation app which is calming to do. But if I really want to turn off my brain, then just going for a wander often helps, whether inside and chatting to other people in the office, or outside enjoying nature. And sometimes, I enjoy watching a bit of trash TV on my lunch break to really switch off! And of course, eating out: at OggaDoon, we have a bring and share lunch once a month, and lunch out on the business once a month. Getting together to talk over food is so revitalising and refreshing.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to use mindfulness tools or practices.
For me, it’s more about my own self-awareness. I’d much prefer to look at nature than at a ‘thing’: from people watching to seeing nature happening, and just taking a moment to consider what I’ve seen. You don’t need to purchase a tool for mindfulness, it’s all given to us — we just got to do it, start to sense what’s out there, and grasp life.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I have two. ‘It’s not a dress rehearsal’, which is how I live my life. I live each day that way because I know that I will never have that day again. It’s something that I’ve always had in me, but it was more reaffirmed when my mum died. And secondly, ‘Be kind’.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I’d love to inspire more women to become heads of state or presidents, because women don’t naturally go to war. What a difference that would make to the world.
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!