Slowing Down

Update: 2016-08-263


We're always asked to be faster and more precise. But what can we learn from slowing down — even procrastinating? This hour, TED speakers explore why taking it slow is crucial...for all of us.

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ago and you tuned in to the country's public broadcasting channel you'd have seen a train or actually not a trained with the view from the train's windshield and we see gliding down some tracks in the Norwegian countryside are the snow covered hills flowing by low yellow sun flickering in the matter the trees and the track stretching on a not right in front of you we hope to one camera in the trunks constantly filming looks you would see it as an engine driver to my shell and produced this video and we have two cameras pointing at one to left went to the rights to see the view Josh and his team added those three camera views into a single wide screen shot that's clearly trance fixing to watch and kind of peaceful like you were sitting in a glass bubble in front of the train kid wanted to watch this video shot from the front of this train traveling from the city of Bergen Norway to capital costs low for seven hours seven hours and fourteen minutes everything is there one heart is there and in the cool auction a haiku seven for the TV and watched that this was at one point two million No E Cheese the park to the US the experiment by Norwegian public broadcaster and RK was the start of what's come to be known as slow TV and it's become kind of thing which Thomas explained on the Ted stage how did we get there you have to go back to two thousand and nine when one of my colleagues got a great idea when you get the ideas in the lunchroom so he said Why don't we make radio program marking the day of the German invasion of Norway nineteen forty tell the story except time during the nights while brilliant idea except this was just a couple of weeks before the invasion Day so we sat in the lunchroom and discuss what other stories can you tell us that involves what other things takes really long time so one of West's come up with the train to Bergen railway had its hundred years anniversary that year goes from west in no way to eastern Norway and use x Actually the same time as it did forty years ago over seven hours and now we so yes we have a brilliant program for the two thousand and ten one point two in what's thought of this program is not like a quarter of the population of Norway fifth Third said it's because it's so slow I think it's like when you if you really stretch the time of it and go deep into something more and more interesting that people used to interest and the network to my short for an arcade has gone on to produce more slow TV like for national firewood night eight hours of the burning fireplace to show all about fishing and salmon fishing big deal in Norway was eighteen hours eighteen hours of just fishing people fishing it took three hours before we got the first issue three the first was cut they've done knitting almost nine hours for National knitting night yes cover to cover performance of a book of Norwegian hymns for sixty hours and most ambitious Lee a boat cruise along a famous Norwegian shipping route for five and after this so no interruptions no likely breaking news nothing more than five and a half day it was a new subway that put everything else away and gave us the Channel four for five and thus the the watching that vote leave the harbor and sailed for hours and hours and hours it's hard to remember that even though this is called slow TV you're not watching something slow you're watching something real something happening exactly as it did and we are living in times when I'm coherent its stories and context is somehow accepting the people are longing for some kind of connection or an unbroken story the show today on a show slowing down as social scientists is doing it can give you more original ideas a story about the lost art of letter writing and even master procrastinator all with ideas about life taking it slow is hard but important for all of us people cost me votes go to the US could this be done elsewhere in the world or are Norwegians particularly crazy and I don't think we are I think we have with the slow TV of death something that we act to need to get among people trying to tell a story in full length can be a window to the world and if you if you go in a train journey if you're going to both journey experience in the same slow way converts made me appreciate the slowness because it gives the viewer possibility take back some of the control you can watch all of my shell and talk at Ted icon and in answer whether slow TV is just for Norwegians not anymore Norwegians live TV is now available on Netflix why not take some time to check it out today we're talking about slowing down and this I can go as smooth is he wants is Adam Grant Wharton professor of medicine and psychology and author of Give and Take and originals your head like a slowed guy at all like You're like the polar opposite of that and I kissed and efficiency and so I tend to do things as quickly as possible without compromising quality standards in fact Adam hates inefficiency so much that he's a self described pre crash later as in the opposite of progress they are guilty as charged and in what is what is that by the way you know that panic you feel like couple hours before the deadline you're behind yet I feel that a few months before that big deadline so what happens when you can't get something done like way in advance like what happens to you I feel like I'm going to come bus really agonizing the K I read that you finish your college thesis for months before the deadline yes I did a year PhD finished it in in less than three years apparently tenured professor in your twenties guilty these are not the signs of a person who belongs in a show called slowing down a deputy to fish underwater exhibit interesting Lee Grant has worked really hard to prove that slowing down even though it's harder for some of us than others can be really good especially when it comes to creativity is heretical to me at first and yet have to simultaneously excited about the possibility of being wrong and also deeply disturbed by the implications of it on the Ted stage Adam told the story that sparked this idea and it all started a few years ago when he was teaching a business class if it came to me after you invest in his company he said working with three friends and work to try to disrupt the industry by selling stuff online and I said OK guess the whole summer on that's right no we'll take internships just in case it doesn't work out right but you're going full time once you graduate not exactly we've all lined up backup jobs six months go by it's the day before the company launches and there are still not a functioning website so I obviously declined to invest yeah like all the scenes were signs of these guys weren't taking it very seriously as a low hobby as a game of his idea you know it's this give around and see what happens and you feel like they're going pretty slowly like they weren't moving fast I thought they were way to say I mean day they came to me with the idea in August it's February the company is supposed to launch the next day we still do not have a functioning website and it's like looking at them thinking the company is a website there's nothing else it's just a second vote that would mean doing for the last six months and turns out they spent six months just arguing about what they should name the company and I thought he kind of productively considering over two thousand different names like who cares what you name the company you know I've said or else you don't have a company read that the company were B Parker the face of glasses online the they were recently recognized as the world's most innovative company is valued at over billion dollars and now my wife handles our investments why was I so wrong to find out I've been studying people that I come to call originals by originals are not conform Aceh people who not only have new ideas but take action to champion the original drive creativity and change in the world that the people you want that and they look nothing like I expected the A few years ago I had a student who came to me and said I'm most creative ideas when I'm procrastinating I was like That's cute where the four papers yummy know she was one of our most creative students and as an organizational psychologist this is the kind of idea that I test so I challenged her to get some data she goes into a bunch of companies she has people to fill out surveys about how often they procrastinate then she gets the boss is to rate how creative and innovative they are and sure enough the procrastinators like me who rush in and do everything early are rated as less creative so I want to know what happens to the chronic procrastinators gotten out in thought Mr. B The The The and there is this lawless beautiful inverted you where you know people who waited till the last minute like the chronic procrastinate hours they had to rush ahead with their simplest idea because they didn't have enough time to work out the creative ones procrastinators like me were also less creative because we tended to rush ahead with our first ideas which are usually most conventional and we also made mistake of thinking in very structured linear ways we as people started early and then put away for awhile and then came back to it they were much more likely to do divergent thinking in incubation and that actually boosted their creativity and ran some experiments to show that in fact forcing people to procrastinate are enticing than ever fascinated could boost their creativity is lies they didn't wait too long the grant again just a minute with the story of another experiment about the value of procrastination where he was the subject that and more ideas about slowing down and die rise and you're listening to the Ted Radio Hour from NPR the oral o Hello Everyone I just wish thanks to two of our sponsors who help keep this podcast going first to stamp the calm mailing and shipping can seem like a no win situation trips 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were hearing from business school professor Adam Grant described how a few years ago some students in a class of his really opened his eyes to the value of procrastinating and taking the time to work through a new idea so he began studying people who came up with great new ideas and he called them originals by the time to accept the story from the Ted stage the I was starting to write a book about originals and I thought this is the perfect time to teach myself to procrastinate while reading a chapter on procrastination so I may procrastinate and like any self respecting procrastinate I woke up early the next morning I made it to do with the steps on how to procrastinate and then I worked diligently toward my goal of not making progress toward my goal I started reading the procrastination chapter and one day I was halfway through I literally put it away in mid sentence for months it was agony but when I came back to I had all sorts of new ideas as Aaron Sorkin put it you call it procrastinating I call it fifty along the way I discovered that a lot of great originals in history were procrastinators take Leonardo de Vinci he toiled on and off for sixteen years on the Mona Lisa he felt like a failure he wrote as much in a journal but some of the diversions he took in optics transform the way the mottled light and made him into a much better painter what about Martin Luther King Junior the night before the biggest speech of his life to march on Washington he was up past three am rewriting he's sitting in the audience waiting for his turn to go onstage and he is still scribbling notes and crossing out lines when he gets on stage eleven minutes in he leaves his prepared remarks to utter four words that change the course of history I have a dream that was not in the scripts by delaying the task of finalizing the speech until the very last minute he left himself open to the widest range of possible ideas because the text wasn't set in stone he had freedom to improvise when the plow had no idea he was right next to last minute soap what happens in the period between when we put something away let's say because we succumb to our bed the laziest parts of ourselves what happens during that time has actually get gears in our brain working well very rarely are people lazy about everything all the time we look at as laziness is actually being discouraged by something being really difficult the psychologist in McGregor who has incredibly fascinating research on what he calls compensatory conviction which is when your face saying serious uncertainty what you do is you like you start fleeing in a different direction you develop all this passion for something else that helps you escape from the thing that you're trying to get out of your field of vision if you take that idea seriously what often happens when we're putting things off or procrastinating and you are pursuing other things that could potentially be combined with the things that you're putting off you end up testing out different kinds of ideas we're trying to solve a different problem and then sometimes they end up feeding right back into the thing your body in the first place I mean if you are constantly moving forward every single day that the opportunity to stop and just reflect or stop and do something completely different going to be limited right to be limited in what you're able to say or think you know the experience I had was while writing was so revealing on this I put off the chapter can get it worked out came back to it and all of sudden I remembered this research on the cigar take effect almost a century ago this German psychologist wrote about how we have a better memory for incomplete incomplete tasks so you finish something you check it off your To Do lists and raced in complete tasks they have to stay active said that you know we don't have to redo them we remember how to pick up where we left off it reduces getting into time and all the sudden I was like Wait so this is what's going on when you put something off instead of finishing it it stays partially active in the back of your mind and that allows you to keep going back to the well and ironically right I left the task incomplete and then I remembered his article fact about the benefits of leaving the task is completed canvases this is but I think that that is one of the things that really happens when you slow down inside you keep it active in your working memory and can be really good for the task that you haven't quite solved in the the the time says this is why truly original ideas are quick to start but slow to finish they take time and the people behind those ideas often have a lot of doubts and often a backup plan in case the original idea doesn't work out this is what Mr. four B Parker they have backup plans lined up and that made me doubt that they have the courage to the original on the surface a lot of original people the confidence behind the scenes they feel the same fear and doubt that the rest of us do they just manage it differently in the research I discovered there are two different kinds of doubt or self doubt and idea that self doubt is paralyzing it leaves you to freeze but I did doubt is energizing it motivates you to test experiment to refine just like a kid instead of saying I'm crap you say the first few drafts are always crap and I'm just not there yet so how do you get there about being the kind of person who takes the initiative to doubt that the fall and look for a better option if you do that well you open yourself up to the opposite of deja vu there's a name for it it's called The Day the days when you look at something you've seen many times before and all of a sudden see it with fresh eyes it's a screenwriter who looks in a movie script can't get the green light for more than half a century in every passed a version the main character has been an evil queen but Jennifer Lee starts to question whether that makes sense she rewrites the first act reinvent the villain is a tortured hero and frozen become the most successful animated movie ever so there's a simple message from the story when you filled out don't let it go what about fear originals feel fear too they're afraid of failing but what sets him apart from the rest of us that they're even more afraid of failing to try the they know you can fail by starting a business goes bankrupt or by failing to start a business at all they know that in the long winter biggest regrets are not our actions but in actions the things we wish we could redo if you look at the science are the chances not taken by the twenty know when he know that like the procrastination is productive and when and when you know that it's just destructive tomorrow I hope I think that probably the easiest way to think about it is to say it procrastination can become creative when you've actively grappled with the problem and that's why I like the idea of being quick to start and slow to finish being quickly beginning and trying to accelerate a little bit of progress as are generating lots and lots of ideas and trying to do that at a rapid pace that's good and that at that point you want to slow down give yourself access to lots of different new insights and then move back into productivity mode and getting still that are going between those two modes is probably what ultimately gets the best balance of creativity and productivity yes I mean it makes a lot of sense but the world we live in today requires instant feedback because everyone seems to have have that information available at their fingertips now that that we actually live in a much much faster world than ever before and if that trajectory is just moving in one direction like it'll be faster and twenty years and faster in forty years yeah I think that's a serious risk that we're facing is that the faster we move the less carefully we tend to reflect on things I think about it in some ways as you know the difference between being smart and being wise being smart is all about the speed at which you can process complex information and you actually may get it right a lot of the time but if you never take a step back and cause and ask What if What if this isn't really what if all my assumptions are going to be wrong then you end up winning a bunch of battles and losing war's Adam Grant he teaches at the Wharton School of Business he wrote a book about the IDF it's called originals you can see his entire talk at Ted that kind so for all that and grants research about procrastination and slowing down there's a right way to do it and the wrong way can you introduce self policed him yeah I'm Tim Urban Thames a blogger whose blog is called weight but why and ten blogs and all kinds of topics the cool thing about that as I can kind of switch it up based on whatever I'm interested in and like any other job being a blogger comes with responsibilities in fact Tim has a list posted on his website so my responsibilities are passionately underestimating how long each post will to do pacing around in his underwear hitting himself on a major responsibility is thinking If only I were doing that other topic it would be so much easier and you consider yourself to be a procrastinator right yes a chronic troubled progress in areas like or struggle the core struggle of your life yes soon actually Tim started to blogg about procrastination I've now done three posts in procrastination and I've got more e mails regarding those three posts than the other day the postman combined one thing about these posts that seem to resonate with people is this visual ten came up with to describe what goes on in his brain when he's procrastinating imagines these two cartoon characters fighting over control of his mental steering wheel a picture inside your brain there's a wheel like I was picture one of those um wheels on the boats another big thing with a bunch of the Steamboat Willie wheel right yeah yeah those those big octopus wheels yeah here's ten on the Ted stage want to explain to the non procrastinators of the world what goes on ahead to procrastinate is why we are the way we are by hypothesis that the debris the procrastinators are actually different than the brains of other people both trains have a rational decision maker in them but the procrastinators brain also has an instant gratification monkey uh what does this mean for the well is the gratification monkey does not seem like a guy you want behind the wheel he lives entirely in the present moment has no memory of the past no knowledge the future you like yours but two things easy and fun now we have another guy our brain the rational decision maker who give us the ability to do things no other animal can do we can visualize the future we can see the big picture long term plans and he was sick all of that into account any worse just have us do whatever makes sense to be doing right now now sometimes it makes sense to be doing things that are easy and fun like when you're having dinner or going to better and doing well earned leisure time sometimes they agree but other times it makes much more sense to be doing things that are harder and less pleasant for the sake of the big picture and that's we have a conflict so the rational decision maker will make the rational decision to do something productive with monkey doesn't like that plan to hit you take the wheel and he says actually let's read the entire week a peep into the Nancy Kerrigan Tonya Harding scandal but just remember that happened the the Democratic over the fridge receives anything new in their sins ten minutes ago the site that said I think that's an interesting Wikipedia page about Tonya Harding Nancy Kerrigan oh my god it's so amazing and lots of things to link hyperlink close riveting oh god so I read the whole thing read for the articles that I got to hold Tonya Harding spiral read about her husband was an amazing character but her husband her husband's associate this is the nightmare so I'm doing this and the whole time the Russian decision makers screaming at the top stop and think What the are you doing you have so much to do right now this is makes no sense and so so so than me actually having fun I'm really really upset while doing this it's insane behavior and if the self defeating kind of habitual behavior a habit to let the monkey kind of take over how do you like that ever get anything done as a progressive mayor is another character called the panic monster the the and and the panic monster was dormant almost all the time that emerges in a frenzy when there's some external deadline because the only thing that scares the monkey only thing can overpower the monkeys and monster and this entire situation with real characters this is the procrastinate or system it's not pretty but in the end it works well turns out that there's two kinds of procrastination there's deadlines the effects of procrastination or contain me to the short term because the panic monster gets involved but there's a second kind of procrastination that happens in situations when there is no deadline so havoc
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Slowing Down