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Slow ... Season

The [Input|Output]s of Mark
Slow ... Season
By Mark Askew • Issue #22 • View online
I could not pick a title for this newsletter, so I titled it “Slow … Season”. The other options were:
  • Slow is Fast
  • Slow Productivity
  • Slow with Intention
This is a continuation, if you will, from the last newsletter, “Doing the Work.”
Slow is Fast
Since reading the Lady Astronaut series, this phrase has resonated with me. The phrase is uttered to characters who become anxious and rush through complicated procedures and checklists. They are reminded that “slow is fast”, meaning (to) take your time and get it right as opposed to rushing, making a mistake, and doing it over.
Why it resonates so much is that we can all relate to it. We’ve all rushed through something, even if we were familiar with it, only to find that we’ve made a mistake and have to start from the beginning. 
How does this relate to writing? It’s my excuse for not posting book reviews or articles.
Slow Productivity
This is the focus of productivity over years instead of days. While my focus is to write, and I do, likely more than I actually think I do, I don’t publish often; my website is suffering a six-month content drought. This creates this anxiety within me to rush and publish something. Then I remember “slow productivity.”
The term was unfamiliar to me, but not the concept. Zooming out to look at posts over the next several years, six months isn’t much of a gap. Likewise, zooming out to look at my productivity over the next decade or two, spending a week or three working on something else, isn’t much of an impact.
Slow with Intention
The culmination of all the above is “slow with intention.” Perhaps it’s the same as all the above. On The Productivity Lab, we are often speaking about productivity being whatever you’re being intentional with in your time. If that is binging Squid Game, then you’re being productive. 
So, I ask, what am I being intentional with, and am I taking my time?
That doesn’t mean that nothing ever gets published, but it’s a better way for me to mentally process the things I want to do, the things I focus on, and the things I release.
Slow in the Season
Pulling further from the Deep Questions podcast was the idea of adding seasonality to your work. This was top of mind given that Refuse to Choose author, Barbara Sher, advocates for it to structure your work life. Her argument—to support affording things you want to do in life—is to find work that you can do for a season (or two) and spend the rest of the time doing what you prefer: the teacher’s schedule. 
Sher speaks of clients who would spend 6 months working on projects that generated income and then would take the rest of the year off to travel or do whatever they wished. Cal Newport talks about this concept on his Deep Questions podcast. He is a professor; therefore, he has seasonality embedded into his work life. Even if you aren’t a professor, you can add seasonality to your life by rotating your projects based on need or changing the flow of your productivity. If you just spent six weeks deep into the creation of a novel, you can spend the next several taking on lightweight projects.
As we near the end of 2021, this has become a natural time for me to slow down. My project time always decreases in September and stays that way until February or March of the following year. I don’t actively plan it this way, but it seems to be a sign for me to slow down.
One must not forget that your day job requires much of you. It takes from your existing energies. Some are left more than others by the end of their workday. You then put the rest of that energy stockpile into projects, family, or self-care. Seasonality, to me, can provide that pleasant respite you need so that you can gather yourself and not feel as if you’re constantly working. 
In closing, bring seasonality to your work where you can enjoy the cooldown before ramping up on the next task. Be intentional about how you spend your time and know that self-care is just as productive as creating that new thing. Understand that your productivity over the next decade will not suffer because you’ve taken the week off. And finally, take your time; enjoy the process, and know that being slow is being fast.

Infinite Jest: I am slowly reading through Infinite Jest. It is important to note that I am blazing through the audiobook. Why the difference? Two reasons: I listen to audiobooks at 2x speed—which I must say has fantastic voice performance; the other reason is that I am annotating this book. It takes much longer to read a single page while annotating than without. Honestly, I can’t wait to get into the annotation of the rest of the book based on what I’ve listened to. There is a lot going on, and I need the annotations and summaries to keep me focused. I’ll probably finish sometime in early 2022, if you’re wondering.
The Disruptors - The Truth
New on The Productivity Lab
Our (Strange) Habits – The Productivity Lab
** Book links are affiliate links.
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Mark Askew

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