I like to think I’m not a slouch in the bakeshop. That is, after nearly a decade, I should certainly hope I’m not. Between confidence in my skills, good time management, preparation, and prioritization I’m considerably faster at various tasks than the people I train.
All those things come with experience, but the one thing that I’ve had to learn and am still learning is that I can go faster if I slow down first.
My new assistant is young. She’s worked in several kitchens, always eager to find something to do, and is definitely no slouch. In one way or another, she’s been hustling all her life. She’s pretty quick, but that means she doesn’t think things through completely yet.
Yes, I’m glad that she learned to press pie crusts well after only being shown once. In her charge to do 24 in a shot though, she forgot that it gets warm in the kitchen. Some of her crimped crusts fell and I had to correct them so they could be used.
Not a big deal, of course. She’s learning, and she knows now to get the trays in the fridge as she finishes them.
One thing that she did rather stamp her feet over was the fact that she has to take a break during the day. Under Oregon State Law (and I think federal law?) any employees who work at least 6 hours must be given an unpaid 30 minute break sometime during their day. During that time, they cannot be engaged in any work or workplace responsibilities.
My new assistant finds this an irritation and a burden. That’s money she could be earning (she DOES earn it, the 30 min break is included in the time of her shift,) and she says “If I sit down during the day, I’ll wind up staying down. I’ve got to keep moving.”
I get it, because I used to say the same thing. “If I just keep moving, I won’t know how tired I am.” Here’s the problem though- your body still knows how tired you are even if you don’t care, and either you rest it or it will rest you.
At previous jobs, some of my most productive writing time was when I would type during my lunch breaks. I’d slam down whatever food there was and try to hustle through however many paragraphs of a manuscript I could before I had to get back on the floor. Yeah, I’d drag my butt home each day and I was drinking way too much caffeine, but look at how much I got done!
Of course, then mistakes started happening at work. Silly avoidable ones. I’d spend all my free time at home sleeping (or drinking more caffeine not to) and my wife asked if I got breaks at work.
“Well yeah, but that’s when I do my writing.”
”So… you’re working on other things during your break from work?”
”Well yes, but it’s MY things I’m working on.”
”… Take your breaks, hun. Take your time, take a walk, take a NAP, do ANYTHING but work more.”
Slowing down doesn’t necessarily mean you need to take more naps (although they have been shown to improve brain function.) Instead, taking time to think and be present with what you are doing will help you create and perform better.
Even more simple than that, slowing down lets you see what you are doing and what you need to do. Telling yourself “ok, just slow down, pay attention, and get it right” gives you permission to tweak your techniques and make mistakes. As my dad’s old fencing coach used to say “speed is smooth, smooth is controlled, control is slow.”
Take time to rest and to slow down. Your brain, your body, and your longevity in your career will thank you for it.