(Soft) Skill of Slowing Down
My job at Amazon has given me tremendous opportunities to consciously work on a variety of soft skills. When I walk into work, I often ask myself: "How am I going to focus on ________ today?".
Amazon is a fast-paced and constantly-innovating company. It is exciting. Within four short months of my start date, my department implemented two completely new processes. So while I was still getting acclimated to the multiple facets of the work, I was hit with more things to learn, more problems to solve, and more results to drive. Simultaneously, I was spending more time freelancing and sharpening my skills as a designer outside of work.
I am never static, and there is a very fine line between excitement and exhaustion in dynamic lifestyles like mine. In trying to understand that line, I found myself filling in my blank with a very atypical soft skill - recognizing when to slow down.
Just as our bodies need sleep, our passionate side - the part of ourselves (or if you're anything like me, you may feel like it can be your entire self at times) that is constantly driving towards a great future - needs permission to breathe, rest, and slow down. This allows ourselves to give our highest contribution to the world.
I used the word "permission" intentionally. We need to give ourselves this space strategically, respectfully, wholeheartedly, and without guilt.
Some highlights of my time at Amazon and as a freelancer came when I dissolved pressures of time, listened to myself, and gave myself that space. I...
1.) Put the laptop down, and took the notebook out. To some, including myself, going digital equates to moving faster, iterating quicker, and ultimately saving time. Digital = efficiency. However, because pen + paper is an inherently slower platform, it enables the mind to be more carefree and creative. Now, when I think about a problem, I let my pen find the solution.
2.) Actively tried to weave moments of mindfulness and presence into my entire day. This is especially important for freelancers, because all awake-hours can turn into working hours very quickly. Lately, I try to take breaks at work. I invest extra minutes in talking to my associates and building relationships. At home, I pay attention to things like the smell of my face wash or the sound of vegetables frying in my pan. And on days when my mind is running too fast to slow down, I try again the next day.
For me, systemically diverting my focus from what I HAVE to do actually helps me achieve more in the long run. I never thought that slowing down would be a soft skill to use in the workplace, and recognizing when to slow down really is an art that I am trying to master.