Rushing through something intentionally as a planned exercise has benefits--it can teach you to be more forgiving about and move past your mistakes, for example. But most people don't rush with control, instead letting stress get the best of them as they feel the pressure to do more in less time. When the temptation to speed through something in the moment climbs, these strategies can ground you so you don't unravel.
1. Prioritize and delegate.
The urge to rush is generated in part simply by the number of total tasks and opportunities on your to-do list--it can feel like there are an overwhelming number of fires to control and put out.
Run through your list and say no to anything that isn't 100 percent in line with your vision or goals. Then hand off what you can to qualified people you trust so you know you have a little more time to devote to real priorities that only you truly have the expertise or experience to handle.
2. Identify risks, benefits and the big picture.
Rushing often happens because the job isn't particularly interesting or aligned with your personality--it's a simple mechanism to avoid or dismiss what isn't all that pleasant and get to the good stuff.
By clarifying what's at stake and what you have to gain, however, you remind yourself that the task is in fact important enough to approach with diligence. Reframing the job in terms of how it gets you closer to your goals--that is, connecting with the "why"--can help you see the job for its real value and enjoy the process, too.
3. Remind yourself of the kind of worker you want to be.
In my personal opinion, there's a big difference between doers, who knock out a lot of jobs that have very little if any influence, and true achievers, who give everything to a few key items that will be notably beneficial and disruptive.
Think about which type of worker you want to be and commit to quality over quantity. Tell yourself that your responsibility is to do your absolute best with whatever is in front of you, including allowing yourself time and not cutting corners. Techniques like looking for specific details or quickly identifying what you can notice in the moment (e.g., what you see, hear, are feeling in your body, etc.) can keep you centered in the present for this purpose.
4. Organize yourself.
If you have what you need for all your tasks around you, you constantly have visual, auditory or other sensory input reminding you of everything else that needs your attention.
Put away everything except the tools and documents required for the job immediately at hand. This includes keeping unnecessary apps and browser tabs closed so you stay out of the weeds.
5. Get into the right environment.
A typical worker gets interrupted roughly every eight minutes, with 80 percent of those interruptions rated as having little or no value. Even worse, it can take significant time--an average of 25 minutes--to really get your groove back after a distraction, and distractions can up the odds you'll make a mistake. And the more you're interrupted and mess up, the higher the temptation can be to rush to compensate, get back on schedule and fix what went wrong.
Set your status as away or engage an auto-response on all platforms, and keep your phone in another room. Then close the door to your office if you can, or dip into an empty conference room or designated quiet space. Then pay attention to simple elements like the cushioning or positioning of your seat. Grab a sweater or your favorite earbuds and playlist, whatever you can to make the space comfortable and conducive to work so you don't want to bail early.
6. Break the task into timed segments.
When you see a job for the total time it takes, it's easy to feel like you simply don't have all those minutes, and to try to squeeze down what you're doing to fit a preconceived notion of the time you do have.
But if you break the job up into parts, you can easily tell yourself, "I only have to focus on this hard for five minutes". Giving yourself a break also is motivating, as your brain can see it as a reward to anticipate, and every time you take a break, you can meditate on and reconnect with the big picture "why" behind the task.