Not having enough time has been a problem since time immemorial. The Mind Gym: Give Me Time proposes some solutions to people who are always short of time and offers strategies on everything from how to get work done to making tiny time investments that deliver massive returns. It also tells you how to say “no" and be loved for it. Edited excerpts:


Slow down, you move too fast

We tend to assume that the way to get more time is to speed up. But speeding up can actually slow us down, as anyone who has ever accelerated out of the house only to realize that their keys, wallet, organizer, and baby son are sitting on the kitchen table, knows only too well.

The Mind Gym — GIve Me Time: Hachette India, 272 pages, Rs 595

And it’s not just our efficiency that is reduced. The quality of the experience suffers too, as we become less aware or ‘mindful’. Ever eaten an entire meal without tasting any of it? Closed a novel without remembering a word? Hurrying up doesn’t just give us less time; it can also drain the pleasure and benefit from the time that we do have.

For many of us, hurrying is a way of life. Some of us enjoy the buzz that it gives us whilst others are driven crazy by constant pressure and feel that their lives are speeding up to an unacceptable degree. Either way there are almost certainly areas of our life that could be enhanced by a little go-slow behaviour.

First, three tales where less haste has helped others save time and achieve more.

1. Take your foot off the gas. You might assume that if you drive faster you will get to your destination sooner. Not necessarily. At least, not if you are on London’s orbital motorway, the M25. This was the discovery made by a group of researchers looking at traffic flow.

Drivers on the M25 like most others tend to accelerate whenever they get the chance and then brake when they hit the traffic queue. In heavy traffic this creates a kind of concertina effect. However by introducing a slower speed limit on particularly congested parts of the motorway, as they did in 1995, traffic flow becomes more fluid. Drivers need shorter braking distances and therefore can follow more closely and because everyone is driving at almost the same speed the concertina effect all but disappears. People end up arriving at their destination sooner because they are driving more slowly.

Also See Are You a Rushaholic? (PDF)

2. No time for the gym? The Superslow movement in the US applies a similar idea to fitness training, promoting a message that all time deprived people have been wanting to hear for years: If you’re short of time for your workout, don’t do more—do less.

In a study held in 1995, 117 participants signed up to a weight-training regime. Participants were split into two groups. One group did their repetitions at what is considered to be a standard rate of 6 seconds, whilst the other did a slower version taking 14 seconds for a repetition and only managing between 4-6 repetitions per set. At the end of the eight-week training programme, it was a slow group which saw the best results.

3. How 3 minutes save your wallet. Why do patients sue certain doctors? Is it, as one might imagine, because of their past performance? Maybe the proportion of patients they cured, or their track record with patient mortality, or maybe it was the type of illness that they specialized in?

A study by medical researchers in the US revealed that it wasn’t any of these reasons.

The quantitative factor which most accurately predicted whether a doctor would be sued was how much time they spent with their patients. There was an unequivocal correlation between those who never had been sued and those who spent longer with each patient: On average three minutes more in the consultation than their colleagues who had been sued. The extra time meant that patients felt they were listened to and given attention, rather than simply being ‘processed’. As a result, they felt more satisfied and less likely to find fault with their treatment.

And the doctors who consulted for longer saved themselves months, as well as fortunes and their reputations, by staying out of litigation.

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