Thinking Fast, Moving Slow

I talk about this concept a lot because I’m the type of person who thinks fast (note, it doesn’t mean that it’s good thinking) and moves fast. It’s not always the best combination because it ends in spills, hitting my head on things, and other unsightly mishaps that I’ve happened upon. Along with a lot of emotional ramifications that are unnecessary. Luckily, I get reminded every so often to slow down. I do often wish that I could learn it and stick with it, but new things to work on pop up quite often and I just let some things slip.

The most recent exposure has been coming for a few weeks. I was running into some minor problems with a project I was working on — some rejection, some mistakes to fix, etc. I received an email Monday morning about an issue while walking to my car after a swim workout — I read it quickly and realized I had some questions about how to solve the issue. I was irritated because I knew that I had a bunch of stuff to do first before I could get to it (like eating lunch). Even the thought of having to do all these things first before getting to solve the problem made me feel slightly sick to my stomach. I was further irritated that I wouldn’t be able to solve the problem immediately on my own, because I definitely needed confirmation from a co-author on a change I was making.

For whatever reason, though, I told myself I had to eat lunch before I got to the problem. I’ve tried to solve many a problem on a half-empty stomach before, and I probably will continue doing so, but at least this day, I recognized that it was a terrible idea.

Thankfully I did that, because while I ate lunch, I felt alright. In fact, during lunch I talked to myself about how it would be okay. I talked about how there was no rush to re-submit something that same exact day, especially since I was not entirely sure of what I was doing. I pointed out that part of the process is waiting for collaboration to occur, and sometimes it takes time, and that’s alright. The first step was simply reading the email, and then doing 100% of my situational best — at that time, it was making the changes I could do on my own. I also had to recreate a figure, but I needed feedback to know if it was done correctly because it was very different.

And that was all okay. And that was when I remembered, yet again, that moving slightly slower is alright as long as it means you’re doing the job well — and if moving faster would cause you to do the job not as well, especially if speed doesn’t really matter. There obviously has to be a balance, but within reason, quality > speed. It just feels extremely inefficient and almost incorrect because we’re taught so often that doing things faster means you’re more efficient, which means you’re a better human. Or maybe that’s just how I’ve been conditioned to see things.

I think this tells me that I’m goal-oriented, which is great, right? The only issue is that I gloss over the process, and I want to be done with an issue immediately. But oftentimes, the process is where you learn your lessons so you don’t make the same mistake again. I’ve luckily learned to embrace the process, but it seems to be something I have to do over…and over again. My natural tendency is to just get it done, I have to actively slow myself down, which means I have to recognize the need to slow down. Lots of fun.

I don’t want to demonize my desire to just get things done. It’s important, but I want to remind myself to slow down when it’s alright to slow down. I want to stop living my life a mile a minute, and I want to appreciate processes. I want to be able to think quickly — especially with decision-making, but I also want to be able to move slower and not feel bad about the “loss of efficiency” for the sake of quality. High-quality research, high-quality life experiences, high-quality friendships & relationships — that’s what I’m about.

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