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Rushing? Look up. Look out.

Feb 23, 2019

Rushing? Look up. Look out.Everything rushes by so fast.

The train. The cars. The meetings. The emails. The slack messages. The cities. All the people. The queue for coffee. (Okay that one maybe doesn’t move so fast cos we don’t have our coffee yet.)

In the past week I’ve had a lot of opportunities to rush.

Today, I was reminded of how easy it actually is to make a plan to slow down.

I needed to be in Edinburgh for some meetings, including seeing some of our friends at FreeAgent…and a podcast recording…and looking for ways we can help accountants and bookkeepers better.

The original plan was to have my morning meetings at home, rush to Edinburgh, have all the meetings, and rush back home.

And then I thought about it.

What if this meeting was delayed? Or that one gets moved? One little shift and my rush day could turn into whirlpool, tornado day.

So instead of rushing, I decided to go into Edinburgh early. I figured I’d have my video calls in a coffee shop, then my other in person meetings, and maybe even pop into my favourite tea shop afterwards.

I found my favourite Starbucks – the one that looks out on the castle – and got a massive mug of strong black coffee and sat down in full view of the strong, grey, bulwark of a castle. And instead of two very hurried, rushed meetings with one eye on the clock, it felt like I had all the time in the world.

I met with one of the PF team and we talked about systems, and processes, and Traction (the book the whole team is reading, which I highly recommend by the way). We were able to discuss some hard things and some good things and things with potential. It reminded me of how important it is to talk – really, actually talk – to my team, not just ask if they’ve done this or meet with clients and then move on. It reminded me of how my company will be the better for that one conversation being added to the mixture.

Then one of the Client Marketing Managers and I met up early, before our next call, and because we had extra time we chatted about what her dad does and what retirement actually means and the video we got today from someone who wants to work with the PF team as a content writer.

And together we spoke with an accountant who is considering some brand changes. Is the current firm name the right one? Will it be the right brand to take them into the future? What about training – will he bring another team member (from another office) into the 12 week coaching course that starts next month?

We left him with some options to think about and it was about time to move on to my next meeting…. but guess what. I still had some time.

So I finished editing the official Marketing Tip that goes out on Fridays (poor Jenn…sometimes I’m a little late on getting that to her, and sometimes I’m really really late), and sent that off.

Still some time.

Remembered I’ve just started these short Notes, and I needed a sketchnote. I looked out the window – actually looked, really looked, at the Edinburgh castle. Decided to sketch that. See the little line of coloured dots at the top left? Those are all the people, all the tourists and the children and the guides and the city dwellers and the randomers, standing on the ramparts, looking out at the city on this mild February day. I could see the colours of their jackets. I saw green grass over to the right. And the sun was glowing over it all from above.

I finished that, and went on to FreeAgent. Good food, brilliant meetings with some very enthusiastic people, great discussions on how to help accountants and bookkeepers better with their marketing, recording a podcast on how and why I started PF, had some champagne with them to celebrate their 12th birthday, and then it was 4.30 and the day was winding down. Did I want to get to the train station to beat the rush, Kev asked me?

No, I thought. I don’t.

I want to wander.

So I found my favourite tea shop, but went to a different location than I usually do. I popped into a charity shop and bought something called “story cubes” which are like dice for telling stories. (Next PF team meet will have some creative storytelling!).

Found the tea shop and in chatting to someone named Paul who was extremely knowledgeable about these things, learned about Oolong tea (how it’s sort of between green tea and black tea in terms of oxidisation, how some oolongs are more like a green and some more like a black). Bought far more loose leaf tea samples than I can possibly finish.

Walked back towards the station by means of the meadows and the snowdrops and the daffodils and the beginnings of spring, and popped into my favourite Harry Potter shop on the way there.

Written out like that, it sounds like there was so much quiet, so much rest, so much slowing down.

But in actuality, the only difference between my original rushing-plan and my revised with-pauses-plan was the grand sum of about two hours. An extra hour at the start of the day to get me to the coffee shop; and an extra hour at the end to do some wandering.

I really enjoy traveling and meetings and podcast recordings and video calls and writing. Most days I enjoy the constant rush. It keeps me motivated and inspired and moving.

But what stands out most of all is what those rearranged two hours got me. I remember with most clarity the times I stopped to breathe. To look around – at the shop windows and the loose leaf teas and the daffodils. To look up – at the castle, at the people in their coloured jackets, at the sun.

In all your rushing, take some time to look around, and to look up.