There’s no denying we’re in an age of constant connectivity, and in many ways, we’ve found ourselves busier than ever before. Despite wading through this pandemic and making modifications to our personal lives and work environments, our schedules somehow still fill up and our responsibilities continue to beg for our attention.
As burnout becomes increasingly possible and common, the slow work movement has likewise become more relevant (and more prominent) around the world.
What is slow-work?
The idea behind slow work is to use your time in a meaningful and productive way, by taking controlled breaks throughout the day and committing your energy to individual tasks. Since slow work is centered around mindfulness, balance, and creativity, it also involves new routines and rhythms to help you step back from the hectic pace of daily life.
Benefits of a slow work mentality
Focus on mindfulness
For many of us, the workplace can be a fast-paced and stressful scene, and yet, it’s possible to thrive where we work if we make a conscious effort to slow down. Simply put, practicing mindfulness means not stewing about the past or worrying about the future, but instead being fully aware of the present moment. With mindfulness, we can observe what’s happening in and around us without evaluating, analyzing, or reflecting on it; we’re accepting of whatever’s going on, without passing judgment or becoming overwhelmed by the given situation.
When we work with a mindful approach, we can get out of our negative headspace and start to destress, which ultimately leads us to a happier and healthier lifestyle overall.
Better work-life balance
Slow work is really a facet of slow living, which teaches us to embrace calm and quiet, to be absorbed by our conversations and surroundings, and to form genuine connections with our peers and loved ones. Adopting a slow work mentality doesn’t mean completing deadlines at a snail’s pace, but doing everything at the right speed, without rushing or growing anxious. In other words, slow work is an attempt to do things as well as possible, rather than as fast as possible — to deliver quality over quantity, and to engage with our work in a significant way.
The work-life balance we gain from slowing down can have an incredibly positive impact on our mental and emotional wellbeing, as well as our relationships and time spent outside the office.
Ability to tap into your creative side
When we choose to slow down and quiet our minds, we have room to focus on something other than our achievements or the hours we clocked on a given day. Not only does slow work leave space to consider new solutions to our current challenges, it may also enrich our lives in some unexpected ways. By moving through life at a slower pace, we have more time and energy to devote to our creative side, and to explore ideas we might’ve left resting on the backburner.
For example, when we aren’t consumed by due dates and to-do lists, we have the opportunity to tap into a new skill or hobby, devote ourselves to passion projects, or take on other creative pursuits maybe we’ve only ever dreamt about.
How to incorporate the slow work mentality into your remote lifestyle
Create a timeline for designated work and leisure time
When you’re working remotely — whether it’s from home or a shared coworking center — it can get increasingly tricky to set up boundaries you’ll hold yourself to. That’s because it’s too easy to work evenings or weekends when we’re location independent, since we mostly feel accountable to ourselves. In order to truly slow down and avoid exhaustion, it’s important to establish a designated timeline for both work and play.
By blocking out hours in our day or week to savor some leisure activities, we’ll feel more at ease and prepared to tackle the responsibilities of our job once it’s time to log back in.
Determine your creative outlet
As mentioned above, slow work frees up a considerable amount of headspace to then offer our favorite creative outlets. When you’re working remotely, opening up to your creativity can be a healthy way to combat isolation (if you’re traveling alone) or a chance to get to know a new city you’ve just landed in. As you balance your time plugging away at your job and enjoying your hours outside the virtual office, slow work can help you determine a creative outlet that best suits your interests and specific skill set.
Place emphasis on quality
If you’re ready to take on a slow work mentality in conjunction with your remote lifestyle, an important step you shouldn’t skip is emphasizing the quality of your work versus the quantity you produce. Slow work is all about intention and effort, which often looks like handing in something you’re proud of, rather than rushing through your responsibilities as a means to an end. If you’re working remotely and struggling with how to stay afloat, concentrating on the quality of your work is a great way to slow down and give yourself room to breathe.
Practice being mindful
Working remotely can look an infinite number of ways, from posting up on a quiet beach somewhere, to plugging into a major international city, to secluding yourself in a quaint mountain town. Regardless of where you’re working, it’s always worthwhile to practice the art of mindfulness. But since mindfulness can also come in many different forms, it’s up to you whether you want to begin your day with ten minutes of focused silence, or take a midday break to calm your mind and collect your thoughts.
However you go about it, practicing being mindful makes it possible to feel at home in your body and more grounded in your work, especially when you’re far away from all that’s familiar.
Get in the habit of saying ‘no’
Like it or not, there’s really no way to maintain a slow work mentality without getting in the habit of saying ‘no’ from time to time. When we aim to please those around us by readily accepting every invitation or impending offer, we miss out on the chance to pause, and breathe, and offer ourselves some much needed grace. As you’re working remotely, be sure to pass on things that feel impractical, or unproductive, or outside of your personal bandwidth, and instead try to protect your wellbeing at every level.
A slow work mentality is a deliberate move toward being more present, exuding patience, and giving ourselves permission to simply be. When we opt for slow work in lieu of frenzied calls, and emails, and checklists, we inevitably enjoy greater emotional health and mental clarity, and can then pursue our best selves in whatever capacity we please.
Kelsey Reaves is the Director of Growth for OG Marketing and the founder of SiteSee – a clothing brand dedicated to creating beautiful, sustainable and functional pieces for digital nomads and female travelers. When she’s not geeking out on SEO and clothing design, she nurtures her passion for travel by exploring new cities and binge-watching Anthony Bourdain.