Remembering to slow down, even when things are crazy is, unfortunately, one of those lessons I have to continually relearn. It’s for that sake I share what happened this past week with you.
One week ago, we kicked off Season 3 of our podcast and to be honest, it’s been challenging.
Two days before the first episode went live, I got sick. Sick in a way that anchored me to the futon of our Portland AirBnB, while I threw up into a trash can for the next twelve hours and felt unwell enough to not eat for over 36 hours.
It was awful. My wife, Amy, had to finish pushing out the episode by herself, managing the details and taking care of things that were usually on my plate. The episode went out, and she’s basically superwoman for making it happen.
We were in Portland because I was doing the photography and leading a workshop for an event that weekend. It’s not often we’re in Portland, so we figured it was the perfect opportunity to record the majority of the new podcast season with locals and some other folks that were there for the event as well. In the six total days we were there, we scheduled eight podcast recordings with some incredible guests.
From the moment I got sick to when I was able to get going again, we had to cancel and reschedule four of them. We filled every spare moment from that point before the event started Thursday evening until we left Monday afternoon. After all was said and done, we managed to still get seven of the originally planned eight podcast interviews. Nothing short of a small miracle.
Back in Phoenix, I got working on the next podcast episode with Charlie Gilkey.
We had recorded Charlie’s episode in Portland the week before and agreed to turn around quickly for the launch of his new book, Start Finishing: How To Go From Idea To Done. Each episode usually takes about 20 or so hours to produce, edit, and publish. This episode was out in about 72 hours, so I started working hard and fast—but this was the first episode I’d fully worked on since Season 2 of the podcast, months ago. Not to mention that it was recorded in a totally new space, using a different setup than I’m used to, and hadn’t edited before.
In a rush to get going, I didn’t spend much time on the initial audio editing; just a few general tweaks here and there before pulling it into the video editor. I lined up the two audio tracks with the three video angles and got to work. Each episode is around 60-80 minutes cut down from a 90-120 minute conversation, so it’s a lengthy process any way you go about it. We’re cutting out gaps, changing between camera angles depending on who is speaking and keeping the conversation tight.
As I went through the edit, I started to notice some issues with the audio. There was some signal interference from a smartphone—not notifications or sounds—but the actual signal could be heard in the recording. There were also some issues with volume levels and a few other small things further into the recording, that likely could have been fixed upfront.
At this point, it was too late.
I had already chopped up the audio for the majority of the episode. Unless I went back and individually fixed each clip, I’d have to completely undo all my work. I pushed through, editing as I went and doing my best to clean everything up.
Things… just kept going wrong. It was issue after issue. We easily put 30-35 hours into getting this episode out, but somehow still managed to finish on time.
Looking back, it is likely that slowing down to spend a single extra hour on upfront audio processing would have saved 10+ hours of struggle.
All the issues caused even more exasperation, which led to other small, yet, easily avoidable mistakes—further compounding our frustration.
The greatest irony is that this podcast episode features amazing wisdom about taking on less, finishing what you start, and focusing on the process. I’m reminded of the quote, “If you don’t have time to meditate for an hour each day, you should meditate for two hours.”
It is when we feel the most rushed, the most panicked, that we actually need to slow down the most.
It is in those moments and on those days that slowing down holds the greatest benefit overall. Our adrenaline-fueled reactions likely helped us in the days of early humanity, and the instant reaction has been programmed deep within our brains.
Predator? Panic! Climb tree, problem solved. Simple.
Today, the processes needed to solve our modern day-to-day problems are not similarly built in. No amount of adrenaline or panic is going to help me figure out the best way to remove background noise from a 90-minute audio file. Similarly, whether it’s working at an office job, driving a truck, or teaching preschool—the majority of the work we do each day will not benefit from trying to do several things at once or rushing through in hopes of an earlier completion.
Here are three reasons why in 95% of situations, remembering to slow down is the right answer.
1 / The faster we go, the more mistakes we make.
It’s inevitable. We make more mistakes when we rush. Each mistake means going back and fixing something you already worked on, doubling the effort required. For video and audio, it means going back to fix the issue and exporting the file again, costing more time and energy. There is always an opportunity to speed up and optimize a process once it is systematized or well-practiced. But even then, balance is still helpful.
2 / When we rush, we multitask.
This is the ultimate productivity myth. Every job posting asking for a candidate who can “multitask efficiently” is not only doing a huge disservice to the company’s bottom line but also spreading a bare-faced lie. When we don’t give our full attention to a single task, we miss details and screw things up. Everything we’re trying to multitask on takes longer than it would otherwise.
It only feels faster because it feels like we’re doing a lot all at once. But realistically, multitasking only prevents us from getting into a powerful flow state on any one task.
3 / Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.
I remember hearing this for the first time as I clutched the oh shit handlebar in my friend’s autocross race car. He quickly navigated a parking lot full of construction cones while whipping me back and forth around the passenger seat. He looked over and said, “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.”
If you rush through things, you’ll overshoot the corners and constantly have to correct for errors. If it feels slow, you’re going smoothly, and if you’re going smoothly, you’re going faster than you think.
At a micro level, there are opportunities to slow down and get started every single day. Even if you’re feeling overwhelmed and overscheduled, don’t wait for something massive you can change. Just start with the small things, today. The things you might often do in passing, take a moment to do them fully. Even if it’s just for a single minute— because slowing down, means showing up.
If you’re looking to slow down and get more done, my conversation with Charlie Gilkey gets more into how to break down ideas into projects and much more.