Learning to Stop

We go. From first thing in the morning to late at night our lives are all go. It’s time to learn how to stop.

Go Go Go

Digital and mobile technologies have sped up our world of work and expanded the channels of communication. We are in continuous contact with work colleagues, customers, the community, family and the world. The outcome of our new connections is a new pace of work and the world. There is relentless pressure to connect, to understand, do more, do faster, to solve problems and to keep going.

We have come a long way in learning how to work and live at this pace. We have learned how to filter or at least how to rely on algorithms to filter for us. We have developed new tools and ways of working that make possible the dream of working from almost anywhere there is a signal. We are even rethinking how we organise and manage work.

Learning to Stop

Speed doesn’t equal productivity. Speed simply enables us to go faster in the wrong direction.

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.

Peter Drucker

We also have a major adjustment to our work and lives as we adapt to the need to manage a global pandemic. Travel, events and other gatherings are being cancelled. Schools are closing. Quarantines and lockdowns are coming. Advice on working from home is everywhere. We are going to have to stop more.

Wired up on the dopamine hit of our globally connected fast-paced economy we are going to have to unlearn our addictions to connection, activity and speed. The Wall Street journal has been widely criticised for an email about working from home that demands journalists are always on and always responsive. The approach exemplifies the lack of trust, excess of control and focus on speed of response of our modern work. This will have to change.

We are likely to have to go cold turkey on some activities that feed our need for achievement, status or purpose. There are others like social media that might offer dopamine distractions but used poorly will adversely affect our sanity. We can’t turn our isolation into an acceleration of needy connection.

We need to start learning to stop. Don’t answer the message immediately. We need to sit more with our own thoughts and slow them. Meditate if you can. Read a book or listen to music. Have a conversation with those round you. Tackle an old hobby. Be present.

We need to make careful choices now of where we spend our time and how we work. Carefully choosing how we spend our time and with whom is an important contribution to how our communities make it through this experience stronger and healthier. Stopping is the new and urgent learning challenge.

The next while will strain our physical health, the health of our relationships and our communities. Importantly, the challenges are going to put pressure on our mental health too. We don’t need our dopamine addictions and viral emotions crashing that complex mental adjustment. Taking on these challenges will demand we are as present and centred as we can be.

We need to learn to stop because we need to better know the person we find when we do.

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