Most of us live our lives in a constant state of mental agitation. We have work to do, bills to pay, errands to run, children to tend, homes to maintain, food to prepare; and in each moment our minds are running at full speed, juggling the perpetual decisions to be made, schedules to be organized, and running list of things to do. In addition to this, we multi-task at just about everything. Just driving the car is a multi-tasking experience: we drive, listen to the radio, talk on our cell phones, and get lost in our thought-chatter as we try to mentally navigate our way through the day’s activities while simultaneously paying attention to the traffic lights, overwhelming signage along the road, pedestrians, other drivers, where we are going... phew. It isn’t surprising that we’re in a constant state of mental agitation.

The benefits of meditation to still that chatter are well known, and if you have managed to maintain a consistent meditative practice, your mental agitation may not be running full at full throttle. However, while meditation does have overall, cumulative, long-term benefits, such as lowering blood pressure, many of us still get caught up in the busy-ness of our daily life.

It may sound counter-productive to suggest that one of the most effective ways to be more productive is to slow down. Slow down—not just in a general way, but literally. First of all, slow your speech. If you really want people to pay attention and listen, you…deliberately…speak…slowly…and…evenly. Try it for yourself and see what happens.

Secondly, slow down physically. There is a Zen mindfulness practice of pausing each time you move through a doorway. This reinforces awareness of our movements and intentions, and being present in the moment. If your day is spent largely at home, this is an excellent practice to try.

You can also slow down physically by literally taking your time with each task you do. For example, let’s say you are working in an administrative capacity in an office. You have phone calls to make, paperwork to read, emails to initiate and respond to, and a file to deliver to a co-worker. First of all, slowly get each tool you need out and ready on your desk: a pen, a notepad, the specific paperwork, and so forth. Taking your time, carefully place each item in front of you. Open/ turn on your computer with a slow hand, and take your time getting to the application you need. Begin with one task—perhaps reading and replying to the emails that have arrived. Read each email slowly and reply immediately, but mindfully, to that email if it needs a reply. And so on. When you are finished with each task, carefully put away the tools you no longer need. Any time you feel or think that you must hurry up, or that you are taking too long, simply renew your commitment to the exercise for the period of time you have designated.

You might think that you would get far behind in your work, or feel as though you are taking extra long to get things accomplished, but what really happens is that when you deliberately move out of the mind-generated hurly burly, you enter into the timelessness of creative flow. Your thinking becomes clear and efficient, your tasks are easily attended to, and stress-related anxiety is non-existent.

There is a story that the Dalai Lama, on learning from his aide that he had a very busy day ahead of him, with many appointments, meetings, and tasks to complete, replied, “In that case I shall meditate for four hours instead of two.” He understands that although we cannot see principles, such as the principle of slowing down to be more productive, we can see (and experience) the tangible results of those principles.

Author's Bio: 

Julie Clayton is the Reviews Editor for New Consciousness Review, a showcase for books and films about spirituality and inspiration, new science, self-help and enlightened living at http://www.ncreview.com. Julie is also a writer and developmental editor for new consciousness books, and can be reached at juliekay@sacredwriting.com.