In today’s work environment, the best time to get things done is yesterday. Unfortunately, focusing on speed instead of quality work has its obvious drawbacks, namely an increase in mistakes and a decrease in real productivity. As the expression goes, you can have fast, good, or cheap — pick any two. Much of the time, cheap and good are the way to go.
There’s no better model for focusing on quality over speed than our famously slow-moving friend the sloth (either the two-toed or three-toed varieties). Today, in honor of International Sloth Day, we present a few more good reasons to slow down on the job:
- If you always give everything to a task, you never have extra for crunch-time.
If you’re someone who tries to give 110 percent, you could learn something from the sloth, who appears to instinctively understand that 100 percent is the most anyone can give. (And that’s grading on a curve. A sloth that’s really motoring along travels about 41 yards a day – less than half the length of a football field.)
If you’re always working at max output, you won’t have anything extra when the boss wants more. This isn’t to say that you should intentionally try to be lazy. Just understand that no one can work all-out at all times, any more than a marathon runner could run at top speed for an entire 26 miles.
- You’re part of a team, even if you sometimes don’t see it.
Sloths have marvelous adaptions to their way of life, including a slow metabolism that makes the most of their herbaceous diet and the ability to climb far away from many would-be predators. But one of their best adaptions is a happy accident: their symbiotic relationship with the algae that covers their fur and helps disguise them in the trees.
Even if you’re a star on your team, you’re not doing it alone. Remind yourself of that, when the pressure to succeed makes it seem like you’re the only person in the room. (And before your teammates read this and say, “Wait … does this say that I’m … algae?,” note that sometimes in working life you’re the algae, and sometimes you’re the sloth. The point is, we all have to work together.)
- Rest is important.
Maybe the best lesson to take from sloths is the fact that it’s OK to slow down once in a while. Probably, you can move a lot faster than our tree-dwelling pals, but that doesn’t mean you always should. Your brain needs downtime, for maximum creativity. Naps, too, can aid productivity — something that would hardly surprise sloths, who can sleep up to 20 hours a day.
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