I’d just finished writing an article and looked forward to settling down to my tasty stir-fry leftovers for a quick lunch before our big supermarket delivery was due to arrive. I hadn’t received a text saying exactly when within the hour they were likely to come. Alas, in usual Murphy’s Law fashion, I had just taken the first bite of the spicy dish, when the doorbell rang. Drat.
‘Oh well’, I thought, ‘I better just unload everything quickly so I can settle down to eat afterwards.’ As I unpacked the vast amount of items (there was practically no food left in the house), I engaged in a little small talk with the delivery guy. I apologised for ordering so much stuff and said I’d try to hurry up, knowing that the drivers have several deliveries to fit into their daily schedule. His laid back response stunned me…
‘No hurry’, he said calmly. ‘Take your time.’
‘But won’t you be late for your next delivery?’
‘There’s no point worrying about that, I just take my time. And you just make mistakes when you rush.’
I relaxed, emptying the boxes a little less manically.
The young employee explained further: ‘All the drivers get really stressed and talk about it in the canteen at work. They all moan about how hard the job is and how they have to rush around to get the deliveries done on time, but I’m just not that bothered. They say to me ‘Aren’t you worried about being late?’ and I say ‘Nah, I take my time’. I end up making the deliveries on schedule most of the time anyway, and there’s nothing you can do about a customer being slow to unload, or a traffic jam en route. The others tend to make mistakes ‘cos they’re in such a rush.’
I slowed down some more, deciding that after putting away the food for the fridge freezer, everything else could wait until I’d eaten my lunch.
I couldn’t get that line out of my head. ‘You just make mistakes when you rush.’ How true – in so many areas of life. I thought about the couple of typos in my novel (hurriedly checking the final proof before it went to print); I thought about the times I’ve left something important at home or at work, because I’ve dashed out the door without checking my bag; I thought about missing a crucial email after hurriedly scanning through my inbox.
Rushing makes us feel as though we’re being productive and using our time well. Ironically, the converse is true: rushing often slows us down, as we have to go back and remedy the errors or mistakes we make. Rushing also robs us of a calm, relaxed demeanour. Instead of simply getting on with a job or task at hand, we’re constantly looking at the clock or feeling on edge. The young man delivering my shopping was able to work efficiently at a moderate pace, without letting his job get him down or stressed.
Slowing down as we work certainly has its benefits: A relaxed attitude, a cheerful manner and a more pleasant individual for others to work with. The many health benefits of living stress-free have also been well documented by researchers. Slowing down doesn’t mean being lazy or inefficient; it simply means pacing yourself and working consistently, often allowing you to achieve more than if you had hurried.
So I’m going to purposefully implement this laid back philosophy into my work ethic and family values. Rushing, quite simply, isn’t worth it.