Christine Louise Hohlbaum is a recovering speedaholic who recognized the power of slow while one day eating ice cream with her then three-year-old daughter. Life is in the details. Don’t let it whiz by.
Christine’s new book, The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World is being released this week. She was kind enough to make time in her schedule for an interview. This is a heavily edited version, you can read the entire interview on my website, Raw-Art-Journals.com
Quinn: You are the mother of two school-age kids. “Slow” is not something I associate with busy moms. What made you decide to write the book?
Christine: Ironically, I dedicated my book to my two kids because they were my first teachers in slow. It is no secret that life changes when children arrive on the scene. They taught me that life can go at a slower pace and still be equally effective and productive. You see I am a recovering speed demon who used to think fast was the only tempo there was.
Quinn: Tell me what “slow” means in your world.
Christine: Slow means mindful living. It is embedded in the wisdom of choice. When we engage in the power of slow, we unleash shackled energy we have wasted stressing, rushing and worrying about things at a pace that obviously does not work for us.
Quinn: Most of us have to work to pay the bills and feed the family. How can we establish boundaries at work without losing our jobs?
Christine: Years ago my husband took a vacation, then lost his job right after. It was a frightening experience. It is important for employers to get on board with the notion that a well-rested worker is a productive one. Learning to say ‘no’ with kindness and clarity is something I talk a lot about in [the book]. When we say ‘no’ to others, we say ‘yes’ to ourselves. I find formulations such as “Here’s what I can do” and “I have an idea that might improve this even more” help sustain your boss or client’s listening far better than a flat-out ‘no’. Offer alternatives and constructive advice.
Quinn: Women are often the caretakers of both young children and older parents, squashing their time into ridiculous expectations. What advice do you have for the “sandwich generation” of women?
Christine: We women are indeed pulled in many directions at once. Learning to take ‘me-time’ is mission critical when you are a caretaker. Celebrate the ‘ma’, a Japanese term referring to the space between things. Plan your activities such that you have ten or fifteen minutes between them. Back-to-back action is often draining and over the long-term will wear you down. Bring back the ‘ma’ in me.
Quinn: People seem to take some pride in being “crazy busy.” Any danger in that?
Christine: I have noticed that ‘busy’ is the new fine. What I mean by that is people respond to ‘How are you?’ with ‘busy’ or ‘crazy busy’ much more often than the old stand-by ‘fine!’ Busy implies you are successful, but I would caution that activity does not always equal productivity.
Quinn: Are there any rules worth breaking in the standard time management advice? (Keep a to-do list, prioritize it into A, B, C-level tasks, tackle all the A-level first, etc.)
Christine: Oh, how I LOVE this question! Surely, the Eisenhower principle that helps you discern urgent from important tasks is a key strategy, and I talk about it in the book. Fundamentally, however, it is about your personal relationship with time itself. I do not believe in time management. First, time is an organizing principle we established to make sense of our live so it is a construct based on mutual agreement. Second, we cannot manage or control time. We can only manage or control the things we do within the time that we have.