Probably every person in this world want to complete everything very fast. However, in some cases it’s better to do your work slowly. This is especially important for creative and innovative work.
When you build a habit of doing a small amount of work on a project, you give yourself incubation time in between sessions. The innovative work that you could have never figured out how to accomplish in a single session, becomes quite easy to produce over time.
In many cases, it’s tempting to push yourself to your limits, but with Slow Work, you have to trust that progress is being made, slowly, over time.
I once joined a dancing classes, and got a free training session with a personal trainer. She spent 90 minutes coaching me through step after step, pushing me past exhaustion, assisting a couple last reps into every step.
This is called over training. I was so sore for the next week, I couldn’t straighten my arms. I didn’t take any more classes with that professional dancer, and it was awhile before I could bring myself to go back to dancing.
You’ve most likely over trained on a project before. You sit down, and try to write a book, or even just a blog post. You don’t have a plan for how it will get done. You just want to get it done.
In the end, you burn out. You can hardly bear to take in consideration that project anymore. You associate it with too much pain. The Resistance is too strong.
You were enjoying it at the point where you had given 80% of your potential effort. It was that last 20% that gave you the terrible taste in your mouth.
The world-record-breaking Russian power lifters of the 60’s — 90’s didn’t train until exhaustion. Rather, they lifted regularly, gave themselves lots of rest between sets and left the gym feeling they had the energy to do more and more.
As the strength coach Pavel Tsatsouline describes, “working out” is a terrible word. It says that you are going to exhaust yourself. Rather, it is a “practice.” Do many sets at 70–80% of your maximum effort, and, over time, you just get stronger.
Also, Ernest Hemingway is famous for stopping a writing session while he still had some in the tank.
I over trained when I was writing for my first blog. I just tried to power through each article. I spent 12 hours a day banging my head against the wall, just to get 10 minutes of flow, wherein I would complete an entire day’s worth of writing. I started staying in bed until noon, because I feared to get up and write again.
Finally, I figured out the power of Slow Work. I split my writing up into segments, based upon the mental effort required for Prioritization, Generation, Research, Exploration, and Detail. After, I built a habit of working through those components.
In Stephen King’s On Writing, he suggests that you write the first draft of your book, then hide it in a drawer for 6 weeks. Your second pass will be better if you give it time to marinate.
When you allow yourself an incubation period between sessions, magically, everything becomes clearer. If you give yourself time between sessions, suddenly, you’ll make connections where you didn’t see them before.
Here are some ways you can start using Slow Work to improve work with less exhaustion.
1.Think in “Layers.” If you’re writing, you don’t just sit down and write. Researching, outlining, or just exploring related material are all different “layers” of thinking. If you switch between them excessively, you’ll exhaust yourself. Try to stay on one layer. If you’re writing a draft [put facts in brackets] instead of stopping to Google.
2.Build the habit first. Attempting to work until exhaustion is not essential, but consistency is. Focus on building a habit with a ridiculously easy goal first, then build upon that. If you’re a blogger, publish a 100-word Medium article at the same time every day. Sounds easy? That’s the point.
3.Work with your energy cycles. Through enough practice, you’ll recognize the peak time of day—or peak time of week—for the various components of your work. Arrange your work according to that.
If you build an enjoyable and slow practice of working, you will get stronger, and the work will come easier.