The Wisdom Of Slowing Down

Dirt Track Racing

How much time do we really save by rushing?

It was March of 2013, and I had finally had enough. The exact same scenario was being repeated over and over again: after speeding down a highway and passing many slow cars, I would take an exit and hit a red light, where all of the slow cars would catch up to me.

All of my “assertive driving” and “skilled maneuvering” was just not paying off. People going both slow and fast reached their destination in a similar amount of time.

I decided to do some research on just how much time I actually saved by speeding. Here are two charts that break it down:

Chart #1 – How long does it take to go 10 miles?

Miles MPH Time (in mins & secs)
10 55 10:55
10 65 9:14
10 70 8:34
10 75 8:00

Chart #2 – Time saved every 10 miles:

65 instead of 55 1:41
75 instead of 65 1:14
75 instead of 55 2:55

By going 10 mph over the speed limit I had gained a whopping 1 minute and 15 seconds. Even if I got crazy and went 20 mph over the speed limit, I wouldn’t even have saved a full 3 minutes off of my time!

And what was I getting in return for those extra 1-3 minutes?

  • More stress and frustration
  • Increased chances of causing or being in a car crash
  • Increased chances of getting a ticket
  • Paying more for gas

The act of rushing didn’t make sense in driving, and it was soon clear that it didn’t make sense in other areas either.

I thought about going to the grocery store. I would watch a car drive around trying to find a spot that would save them less than 10 seconds of walking.

I remembered a day when I went to the park. I was experimenting with running as fast and as far as I could. When I started, I passed this older guy who was slowly power walking. “Move aside, old man,” I joked to myself. But sure enough, when I was done sprinting and was doubled over gasping for breath, that same guy passed me. I ran faster than he did, but his slow and steady pace would’ve beaten me.

I’ve come to believe that rushing in any area of life will produce similar results: you use up more energy but don’t really make it to your destination much faster.

Several years ago I was at a retreat and they offered these 4 tips to slow down:

1) Deliberately choose life situations that cause you to slow down and wait.

  • Drive in the slow lane – even if it’s at or below the speed limit
  • Park farther away at work and at the store
  • Let people ahead of you 

2) Do the tasks you normally do, but do them more slowly

  • Take your time walking to your car
  • Take your lunch break
  • Eat more deliberately

3) Speak less & listen more.

  • Resist the urge to share everything you want
  • Ask clarifying questions to help the other person feel heard
  • Focus on giving to them instead of trying to receive

4) Pursue periods of solitude.

  • Go to a place by yourself and do nothing for a time

What if we recognized just how little time we save by rushing and made a conscious decision to slow down in the future?

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