Slow Down To Do More: “Use a Surgeon’s Schedule” With Author Don Maruska

A successful approach that’s worked for me and the thousands of people whom I’ve coached is what I call the “Surgeon’s Schedule.” Surgeons succeed with laser like focus on the highest and best use of their talents in the time when they are at their creative best. Those are their surgeries. They bunch everything else into office hours, often juggling multiple demands as they catch up on patient visits, communications with colleagues, and office administration that don’t just line themselves up in simple serial order.

As a part of our series about “How to Slow Down To Do More” I had the pleasure to interview Don Maruska, the Chief Development Officer of Take Charge of Your Talent.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?

After founding and leading companies in Silicon Valley, I learned some key insights on how to help leaders and teams thrive. I focus on two important leverage points for success: making tough decisions and growing talent. From decades of research and experience, I wrote a book on each of those topics and now enjoy serving as a Master Certified Coach to help others succeed.

According to a 2006 Pew Research Report 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 several fundamental reasons. First, the exponential flood of information. There’s simply more information and things to attract our attention. Second, we have devices that make us aware of that information flow. Third, responding to the flood of information is addictive. We are like pigeons pecking corn as we tap out our instant replies on our devices 24/7 for the satisfaction of being connected with and valued by others.

Based on your experience or research can you explain why being rushed can harm our productivity, health, and happiness?

We lose focus. We become driven by the voices in the crowds. As a result, people chase other people’s paths rather than their own deeper guidance. This is profoundly disorienting.

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 had a client whose favorite phrase was “The slower I go, the faster I grow.” He knew that slowing down helps our minds sort through what’s really important versus what’s not. We also absorb and comprehend information more effectively and connect more deeply with others who can share their wisdom and help us move forward.

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?

  1. A successful approach that’s worked for me and the thousands of people whom I’ve coached is what I call the “Surgeon’s Schedule.” Surgeons succeed with laser like focus on the highest and best use of their talents in the time when they are at their creative best. Those are their surgeries. They bunch everything else into office hours, often juggling multiple demands as they catch up on patient visits, communications with colleagues, and office administration that don’t just line themselves up in simple serial order.
  2. From front-line employees to busy C-suite executives, setting up a few “surgery times” each week yields a huge boost in productivity and personal fulfillment. It takes planning and discipline to implement this approach as you need to get your work ecosystem aligned to support successful “surgeries.”
  3. As my first activity when I get up, I journal. First, I note several things that I’m especially grateful for that day. Then I capture what my mind has been considering. I simply write what comes forward. This helps me become centered on what’s really important to me before I start responding to the world.
  4. I do morning exercises — the Five Tibetans — simple exercises that the Tibetan monks who live to 100 or more do each day. This provides a centering and calming pace.
  5. Then, I go swimming. My best ideas come when I’m swimming. I don’t try to go faster than my body allows. Instead, I target being in the flow of the water, my body, and my mind. It’s joyful and restorative.
  6. I practice reflective listening to hear and acknowledge what others are saying. This keeps me in sync with them and helps me avoid rushing headlong with my rapid fire thoughts.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“It’s never too late to let go of who we are for who we can become.”

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. :-)

The movement that I have been inspiring is how people can be their better selves. That is, how they can guide their own thinking and their interactions with others to bring forward their best thinking. Many people operate primarily from fear. While this is self-protective it doesn’t enable them to do their best work and sustain a healthy life. So, I help people focus on their hopes and why those are important them. This enables them to go deeper and tap the wellsprings of insights and

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!