Slow Down to Speed Up

Longer hours, greater pressure and a pace of life that would be at home in Usain Bolt's training plan would be a familiar description to many executives of what life in 2012 feels like.

True leadership effectiveness starts with you and the balance you apply to mind, body and soul. Long hours don't make for smart hours, poor diet and lack of exercise contribute to fatigue and not finding time for you ultimately won't create the conditions you need for that next big business breakthrough.

Innovation is key in today’s market. Agility, pace, speed to market, collaboration and globalisation being key themes. But is burning the candle at both ends the right thing to do, to be at your best?


    As a regular road cyclist, I discovered a great secret about getting faster and stronger on the bike. You ride slower. Yes, you slow down and ride in heart rate zone two, burning fat and building an aerobic engine to last you all season long.

    The same works for business. Slow down, preserve more time to think and get out of your "busy being busy" mode. Spend more time creating, than reacting.

    It's no accident that your best ideas come to you in the shower, out on a run, or for me, out on the bike.

    When you are doing those things, particularly exercising, you access a different part of your brain. You unlock a whole new area for processing and thought. If I have a work opportunity or challenge, I jump in the saddle at the weekend and inevitably always find the answers.

    So, if you want to more actively manage your work life (or wife) balance, I'd recommend these tips:

    1. Don't be a slave to e-mail. Read it two or three times a day and become accustomed to logging out if it at all other times to allow non-distracted focus to other tasks.

    2. Diarise thinking time. If all you do is do, that is all you will ever be. To be your best, break the cycle and preserve more time for the big picture.

    3. Exercise more. I ride a bike, for about a hundred miles a week (eight hours or so). You will think more and increase your energy levels.

    4. Get a non-work interest. I write two blogs, one business and one cycling. It affords me a creative outlet to stimulate new thoughts and "turn off" from the business.

    5. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate. Quality delegation is like bungee jumping. The initial fear of the fall soon subsides and you bounce back. Review all the things you do and see if someone else is capable enough to take them off you or train them to do so.

    Whatever you do, do something. Most people who have a poor work/life balance complain a lot but do nothing about it. Words are just words without action. I may see you on the road sometime.

    Phil Jones is UK Country Head at Technology brand - Brother UK. A former NW IoD Director of the Year, he writes two blogs at (business and leadership) and (road cycling).

    You can find Phil on Twitter @philjones40 (business related tweets) and @roadphil (cycling related tweets).

    Photo credits:
    Some rights reserved CC by-SA 3.0 by Dave Gingrinch (

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