Slow down to speed up

In a recent speech to graduating students at Tufts University, Anne-Marie Slaughter talked about the importance of slowing down. She said:

Celebrate idleness. Yes, idleness. (…) our greatest insights and discoveries come not when we are doubling down staring at a computer screen or into a microscope, but when we sit back, rub our eyes, go for a walk, read a book, or give our children a bath. Isaac Newton did not discover gravity in a laboratory. He was sitting under a tree. The physicist Richard Feynman did his Nobel Prize winning work when he was watching students spinning plates in the cafeteria. Often you must slow down for your mind to speed up.


You can read the full speech here – it is very good!

I am looking at my small garden. It has been very neglected – there is overgrown grass and weeds everywhere. Maybe I should pause work on this paper about co-creation, which is progressing so slowly that it is actually painful. I could tidy up the garden, instead. Who knows?! Maybe the paper will become unstuck if I stop thinking about it…

4 thoughts on “Slow down to speed up

  1. Oh, it very likely will. Running (which I don’t do as much as I would like these days), walking the dog, gardening, it all helps clearing the mind or structuring thoughts.
    And I like the idea of idling. But then again, what is idling? Is it taking a coffee break? Playing with your kid? Having a chat with a friend/colleague? Gardening? I don’t really think it matters, because the most important point, I believe, is that in the end, it’s not how much hours you work on something that counts, but what you produce. People tend to confuse doing much hours of work (or sitting behind a desk/being in the office) with productivity.
    Besides, your garden needs attention. You’ll enjoy it more, and you can create a bit peace of mind because once you done something, there’s an item less on your mental to-do list.


    1. I spent a couple of hours clearing the garden, yesterday. It is very far from complete (is it ever complete?) but I did enjoy spending time outdoors and, you are right, there is a certain peace of mind from knowing that I have tackled (some of) the weeds.


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