The Blog.

What’s your optimum speed?

19 Jan 2015 | Work Life Rhythm

I was chatting to a lovely VA last week, who said that she knows she has capacity for more clients when she finds herself taking longer to do everything.

She finds herself procrastinating, idling, skirting around decisions, spending all morning doing something that frankly would only take 20 minutes if the heat was on. She was craving the deadlines, the urgency, the challenge of juggling multiple commitments and clients asking her to bail them out of a tight spot at the last minute.

Having just spent several days with another client who was feeling quite the opposite, this made me smile.

I wonder if we each have an optimum speed at which we do our best work – when we get our best output, satisfaction and enjoyment from our work?

When we’re going too fast, it becomes overwhelming, unsustainable and unenjoyable, but when we’re going too slow, well that’s hard work too.

Like a car that’s stuck in between gears. Going slightly too fast for one gear, but not quite fast enough for the next. The revs are a bit too high, the engine’s chugging away, and it’s an uncomfortable ride.

It takes effort to keep going at that pace. More effort, and probably more fuel, than putting your foot down a little bit more and taking it up a gear so you can cruise along.

Going slow doesn’t always make things easier. 

Going too slow can be lethargic and draining. It can take more effort to get started and keep going – like trying to start a weak car battery on a cold day (oh how I’ve been learning about that one this week!)

Going too slow can be deceptive and distracting. As soon as you think you’ve got plenty of time, it’s too easy to notice the endless world of shiny things, little jobs, nags and thoughts of “I’ll just…”

Going too slow can keep you in zombie mode, where you don’t feel up to doing anything creative, complex or outside your comfort zone, stealing your motivation, confidence and decisiveness.

If you feel stuck in a place where you’re going too slow, perhaps it’s time to step up a gear.

Challenge yourself. What if you could get your work done in 3 days instead of 5? Or six hours instead of 8? What would you love to do with the other 2?

Take on a new project? Ramp up your business? Start that ambitious thing you keep putting off? Do something fun? See someone you’ve been meaning to see for ages? Do something wholly and wholeheartedly good for you?

Have a play with your speed this week. Where are your slow and sluggish zones? What could you do to step it up a gear? Let me know how you get on!


  1. Richard Tubb

    Great article Grace, and one I agree with wholeheartedly. The old adage “The work will expand to fit the time available” is true, as I found when I experimented with working a 4-day work and taking Friday’s off. The surprising thing was, I was getting as much done and being as effective working Mon-Thur as I was previously in a 5-day working week. That experiment of taking Friday’s off is now my new normal — I’m getting all my work done just as well in four days, rather than five!

    • Grace Marshall

      That’s brilliant Richard, and what a great way to experiment! I love that Fridays off is your new normal 🙂

  2. Catherine Poole

    This is very timely for me, Grace, as I have been starting to observe more the time spend faffing and fannying around, and being a lot more conscious of, a) the time it takes to get a piece of client work done, and b) the time spent on other stuff. When I become observant like this, I am more productive and less time is wasted!

    • Grace Marshall

      Great strategy Catherine. The more we become aware of something the more we bring it to our conscious mind and that’s the place where we can do something about it!

Image if author Grace Marshall

About Grace

I coach, train, write and speak on productivity. I help people adopt new ways of working and thinking about their work to replace stress, overwhelm and frustration with success, sanity and satisfaction.

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