The best things in life take time. You can marinate your food for a quick 30 minutes and pop it in the oven, but it won’t taste nearly as good as the one that was marinated overnight and has been able to soak up all the flavours.
We understand the importance of slowing down in most parts of our life. It doesn’t make much sense to hit the ground running if you’re running in the wrong direction. However, this is one understanding we haven’t been able to incorporate into our workplace yet. Microsoft’s latest Work Trend Index Survey revealed that 29% of Indian workers are facing increased burnout in the workplace due to remote working during the pandemic. Working from home has led to longer hours, increased communication, but fewer boundaries. It is no longer uncommon to have chats or calls at 11 PM. The work we are doing may be important, but not at the cost of our mental and physical well-being.
There is a lot to learn from the Dutch practice of Niksen- “the art of doing nothing”. While this may sound ridiculous to many because we are wired to always be on the lookout for the next opportunity, it’s equally important to understand the thought process behind this. The end goal is to do nothing with purpose, on purpose! We constantly engage our minds with what we have to do next, whether it's related to work or our personal lives. Niksen is supposed to act as a reprieve from societal expectations that permeate our culture. Unlike mindfulness which imbibes the spirit of living in the moment and being conscious of our surroundings, Niksen allows the mind to wander, in turn boosting creativity and reducing stress. So next time, instead of scrolling through social media during your break, reconnect with the simpler activities that give you joy.
Imbibing the spirit of Niksen and slowing down at work can boost productivity and help ease employee burnout. There are multiple benefits to slowing down, the first one being the quality of your output. While working faster definitely allows you to finish more work, going slower allows us the opportunity to ensure that we are doing the right thing in the best possible way rather than just trying to speed through a list. Our actions tend to be more intentional and focused when it comes to decision-making and execution. Furthermore, constantly pushing oneself to work faster or cover more ground has serious repercussions such as being more prone to illnesses due to stress. Having realistic schedules and goals that one can keep up with leaves space for mental downtime and self-reflection which is far more sustainable in the long run.
Despite what research may indicate, many organizations and leaders negatively associate slowing down with laziness. There is definitely a balance to be maintained as being idle all the time is not a feasible option either. A certain level of trust and understanding between both employer and employee can help create that balance. This allows employees to work to the best of their abilities while still slowing down and maintaining efficiency, maximising the benefits of Niksen.