Slow It Down
Vol. XVI of P9 Reflections and Recommendations
Happy Sunday, friends.
Welcome to this week’s Path Nine Reflections and Recommendations. Each issue aims to enhance your thinking, lifestyle, and work by sharing distilled reflections and recommendations from the past two weeks. If you missed last week’s issue on Munger's Laws you can find it here.
Don’t feel like scrolling? Here’s the tldr version:
Reflection: Slow it down.
Rec: Product, Tool, or Framework: 15 Minute Hourglass.
Rec: Watch: "The Art of Slowing Down in a Fast-Paced World."
Have a calm, productive, and creative week!
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“You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
◎ Slow It Down
Patience is a funny thing.
When we need it, we don’t have it.
When we have it, it feels like we don’t need it.
Like trying to force ourselves to sleep, forcing ourselves to be patient often just makes us more anxious. Or at least that’s what happens to me.
I won’t pretend to be the type of person who is always in a rush. I wasn’t in a hurry to get anywhere for most of my life. I felt relaxed and patient with the way life unfolded. Part of that feeling came from a general sense of internal contentment and a lack of time anxiety.
Now, as I feel myself aging past the days when I can say “oh, I’m still so young,” the pressure to move quickly seems to have crept up on me.
Where I used to feel comfortable sitting and just reading a book, I now feel pressure to go create, make something, and “be productive.” When someone asks to hang out, I think about whether or not that’s the best use of my time.
But this sense of urgency and question of productivity robs me of a real authentic sense of accomplishment, a kind of slow productivity.
There are different versions and definitions of productivity. Sometimes, it means cranking through every task on the list as quickly as reasonable. Other times, it means sitting in a chair, staring at the wall—leaving space for your brain to work it out.
Knowing which type you need is half the battle.
It takes some fundamental rewiring of our brains and body to understand what it feels like to enjoy slowness and operate at a different pace.
Instead of trying to brute force my way to being productive, I’m learning to live with the idea that being unproductive is a form of being productive. Sometimes, to go fast, we must first slow down.
You waste years by not being able to waste hours. - Amos Tversky
In the last year, many of the people I know have felt the unpredictable nature of the world closing in on them, creeping into their minds and manipulating their bodies. For some, it’s as though time is moving through us, not the other way around. The rapid pace of change has been jarring, to say the least.
Where we used to find time around the holidays and New Year to rest and recover, many felt a sense of continuity, a lack of pause. For all our pleading, the world seemed uninterested in our pleas to stop time.
And though we may wish to stop it, we cannot.
But maybe we can take some control. Maybe we can find a way to adjust our pace, and in doing so, live a little better.
Like eating a great piece of cake, work requests not that we speed up but that we instead slow down and enjoy it, for every bite is worth savoring. We aren’t robots, and we shouldn’t operate like them.
✪ Rec: Product, Tool, or Framework
From Pomodoro, to 90-minute sprints and time-blocking, there are a lot of different time management techniques that people enjoy. I’ve tried most, and they’re all useful in their own right. But sometimes, you need a simple, analog way of doing things. Ugmonk makes some fantastic products for slow productivity, but their 15-Minute Hourglass is one of my favorite pieces. Like all of their products, it seamlessly blends form and functionality into an artful, tasteful piece worthy of placing on your desk.
✪ Rec: Reading
The slowness movement always sounded silly to me. As I alluded to above, the idea of slowing down feels so counterproductive. But Honoré changed my mind.
Honoré critiques the modern obsession with speed and argues we all need a more balanced approach to modern life. Having worked in tech for over a decade, I know that most people I interact with daily struggle to create balance and space. They struggle to turn off their work brain.
Every deadline: urgent.
Every project: overdue.
With every passing day, the work just continues to grow, and all we want to do is race to catch up.
And if you’ve every felt this, it’s time to read Honoré’s book.
✪ Rec: Watching
This talk delves into slowing down in a culture obsessed with speed. It provides a compelling perspective on the pitfalls of constant optimization without considering the broader implications. As noted above in my reading recommendation, In Praise of Slowness encourages readers to reconsider the value of speed in their lives and offers practical insights into how adopting a slower pace can lead to a more fulfilling and meaningful existence. Honoré's narrative combines research, personal anecdotes, and examples from various cultures.
✪ Rec: Listening
Productivity advice can be incredibly useful, or entirely useless. It can be filled with insight, or lacking any at all. Cal Newport repeatedly comes to play. His assessments and analysis of the modern-day worker repeatedly hits the mark. Further, he doesn’t just accept things and move on. He rethinks traditional notions of productivity, particularly in knowledge work, and highlights the importance of social skills, technology integration, and continuous adaptation to changing work environments. If you want to be more productive, without falling into the overly optimized path of r/productivity, listen to this podcast.
Fellow Pathfinder hype links and shoutouts.
The Clearing - Katherine May - a writer, a thinker, and someone who I imagine would either intellectually or naturally support the idea of ‘slowness,’ Katherine’s work is creative, inspirational, and calm. Her newsletter is filled with insights and tidbits from her journey as a writer and creator. Whether you’re looking for a thoughtful journaling prompt or an inside look at how a writer starts a new book, her work is worth your time on the path to slow creativity. Check it out ↗︎
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And, just in case you missed it…
Here are some things that I’ve written and shared that people enjoyed.
Until Next Time!
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Thanks for reading, and see you soon,
— Kevin K. (@kkirkpatrick)