Going slowly: Efficiency, Creativity or Revolution

When we want to get things done, it’s not just about going fast. Slowness has actually a role to play.


Slowing down at the right moment enables us to work better, learn better and in general to perform better. It’s not because we go slowly that we are unproductive. But in fact, by going slow we could also achieve great things. Some neuroscientists have studied the influence of speed on our brain activity. They observed that slowing down can have benefits on our mental state. When we don’t rush but take the time needed, we are less excited. The result is that we are more concentrated and aware of what we are doing. It improves our performance and work quality .

At a mental level, we can notice a transient hypofrontality which means a temporary reduction of the precortex activity. To understand better the benefits of that deactivation I had a look at Steven Kotler’s work. He explains that it shuts down our sense of self-doubt and our brain’s inner critic which instead boosts confidence and creativity. It is seen as a flow state. This state is found in hippie community but not only there. It is present in every altered state from dreaming and mindfulness to psychedelic trips. By losing the ability to assess past, present, future we are plunged into the deep now and the flow. Scientists start to explore the subject because it can sometimes result in higher efficiency.


Daydreaming is not about working slow but rather about letting your imagination go. Thoughts come and go in our mind. It’s natural, spontaneous and unexpected. Sometimes we don’t even understand the origin of our thoughts, it’s unconscious. One of the most famous daydreamer I heard of his Einstein. He spent hours looking out of the window in silence. And those moments have been source of inspiration and creativity, leading to ingenious ideas. The connotations attached to slowness such as laziness or boredom are not always accurate.

That’s why the idea of constant stimulation is being questioned. We should accept not to be restlessly in movement. Sometimes it’s beneficial to stop moving, to stop thinking and just be. We usually keep in our mind worries, duties, deadlines or homework and we stick to them. Even some kids do that. A study at Harvard revealed a positive impact on children when we give them time and space. It allows them to discover the world by themselves, work on who they are, think, reflect and even get bored. But as the child in us never really dies, it could also be applied to adults.


The slow food has been popular for a few years now, in reaction to the fast food. But the slow revolution actually goes further. I recently came across a talk about the International Slow Movement and I have been amazed by all the different fields tackled. It goes from hobbies to fashion and from travel to urban design. Some new trendy past time are colouring mandala, jigsaw puzzle or even knitting and slow cities are being developed all around Europe. When even speed yoga classes are being created, it seems that the world is obsess with speed. The slow revolution is a response to that. It promotes an alternative: instead of going even faster, let’s take our time.


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