Fast, Not Rushed

Earlier this week I encountered a situation that has been relatively infrequent over the summer – an empty house and a few low-impact tasks to complete without anyone underfoot. There was a batch of muffins to bake with over-ripe bananas; a load of laundry to start; general tidying of living spaces.

I knew the clock was ticking before everyone was going to converge back at our house. I told myself there was no rush – there wasn’t! – but I could feel an underlying nervous energy to get everything done. Sometimes it feels really good to check off the boxes (especially without anyone else in the house).

Nothing required perfection. I’ve made these banana muffins hundreds of times and no longer consult a recipe. I wash all our clothes together in cold water. There was no point in deep-cleaning the bathrooms with nine people in the house (over 50% of our houseguests are either in diapers – or barely out of them – and couldn’t give two hoots about the cleanliness of counters).

There was no rush and no external pressure. But I went ahead and put on loud music and went about completing my jobs. Fast.

Like running and sliding down the hallway gives me a mental and physical jolt, that same fun intensity can make knocking items off my to-do list more pleasant. I ran towels to the closet. I raced to see how quickly I could load clean dishes back into the cupboard.

I appreciate the fine art of dawdling (or lollygagging, as one reader puts it). But it’s okay to go fast, too, when it feels right.

If I hadn’t managed to get everything done it would have been fine. But guess what – I did get it all done, had my heartrate pumping (in a good way) and enjoyed the process far more by going fast.

Hopefully no one looks too closely at the floors or my folded laundry. I’m suspecting they won’t…

Your turn. Do you sometimes enjoy powering through chores quickly, racing against a clock in a low-pressure challenge?

Header photo by Saffu on Unsplash

18 thoughts on “Fast, Not Rushed”

  1. I do not take this approach or at least I can’t think of a time I have! I will really focus on getting through a list of things to do and will go from one task to the next very quickly and accomplish a ton in a short amount of time. That only happens when I am alone in the house and not working, though. And that rarely rarely happens! But I do love the feeling of looking back on a day and seeing how much I got done! I just don’t feel motivated to really race the clock when I’m working through the checklist!

    1. I don’t do this regularly (it doesn’t count if I legitimately feel rushed – say when unloading the dishwasher in 5 minutes before I have to leave for school pickup), but every once in a while, I really enjoy the process of “racing” – when I don’t have to. Something about competing against the clock, without anyone watching and with no risk of failure, feels fun to me!

  2. Sometimes I purposely do things fast to make a game out of it. Like… can I unload the dishwasher before the timer says my tea is done steeping? Or… my husband texts to say he is on his way home (his office is under 10 minutes away) — can I do XYZ task before he makes it in the door? I do this for my kid too — we race to see how many of the items on our to-do list we can get done in a specified time. Not only does it make the task a little more enjoyable, it gets it out of the way more quickly!

    1. Love it! I also have tried to complete certain tasks before my tea steeps!!
      Sometimes I’ll try to “beat” a song or certain playlist. If I’m doing this with the kids I like to use upbeat rhythms like Everything Is Awesome which make us happy and naturally propel us through our task quickly.

  3. Hmmm…I am quite clumsy and I feel like this is a recipe for me to injure myself, like I’d drop a knife on my foot or fall down the stairs carrying laundry. I will occasionally write a very ambitious to do list for the day/weekend and try to power through as many of the things as I can, but it would rarely be a set number of minutes. Whenever I find myself rushing around for one reason or another, I often find myself saying “haste makes waste” because I’ll drop things, forget things in another room, or whatever when I am under time stress. People are so different in what motivates them! I’m glad this works for you (sometimes) and it does sound like it would feel really amazing to see so much accomplished in such a short time.

  4. definitely, when I am doing things I don’t enjoy so much, i try to focus and get it done quickly. for things that I enjoy the process like cooking/baking, I use it as an active meditation so I don’t like to be rushed as the outcome is the end goal, but rather enjoy the slow process.

    1. Hmm. Interesting.
      When I’m not “rushed” I really enjoy most home tasks (cleaning – expect the bathtub – laundry, cooking).
      For me there is a distinction between being rushed and going fast.
      I LIKE to make muffins and typically make them at a normal pace, but sometime it does feel fun to kick things in to high gear!

  5. Actually, when it comes to cleaning the house, I do my best work under pressure. All it takes is someone coming over for dinner, and I become a whirlwind. I agree it’s not fun to feel rushed, but it sometimes feels good to be fast and efficient. I do enjoy puttering around, but it can be hard (for me) to get a lot done that way. Interesting how everyone has a different style!

    1. I find most jobs take the amount of time I have to fill. I can deep clean the house in 2 hours if I have to…or I can spend 6 hours doing the same thing.
      I don’t particularly enjoying feeling rushed, so again this thought of doing things quickly almost for the fun of it is a slightly different (subtly, but importantly different) distinction.

  6. I’ve never intentionally done things extra “fast” just for the sake of doing them fast, exactly, but there are times that I catch myself dawdling, or getting distracted, and taking WAY too long to complete a group of tasks. When that happens, I have done things like set a timer on my phone for 20 minutes and have told myself I cannot do anything else except the task at hand until it is done. Especially when straightening up the house or cleaning, sometimes I get bogged down in some small task that “feels” productive….but it’s maybe not that important and is more acting as a distraction from the real task at hand! haha. (example might be- sorting through a file basket and running across a stack of old photos. Then proceed to stand there and casually flip through all the old pictures…instead of setting them aside to maybe look at later when I’m actually done with my “work”, instead of basically using it as a convenient distraction from cleaning.)

    1. This is such a tough, one, for me – your example of the pictures. I think I fall into the trap of not allowing myself the flexibility of stopping to look at the photos because I’ve set a time limit on my jobs. Sometimes I need to be “unproductive” and then sometimes I really would be happier overall if I stayed focussed until the end.

      I don’t do my “fast” approach that often, but occasionally I really enjoy employing this approach to get things accomplished in a way that, to me, feels fun in an odd way?!

  7. I don’t necessarily do chores quickly, but I usually tend to try and get them out of the way, e.g. I cannot really concentrate on a project or even something fun, if I know that I have lingering chores for the day. I’d rather power through them in the morning and then have the rest of the day “off”.

    1. I can so relate. I have a hard time resting/playing until I’ve gotten everyone on my to-do list crossed off. This is a problem as I get older (especially since becoming a parent!) because there is literally always something good/necessary I could be doing. I’m trying to get better about leaving things undone for the sake of “choosing the bigger life”.

  8. I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve ever done this intentionally, for fun. I’ve tried to “beat the clock” in doing chores/etc. but don’t frame it the same way. For me, it’s pressure to meet a time deadline. This was actually my pre-COVID-bus-riding life – every day I had to “beat the clock” to get home from the gym, showered, dressed, and out the door to my favorite early bus. It wasn’t fun, most days. (Thank goodness that’s no longer my routine! COVID was good for some things…)
    But this actually appeals to me on some level – and the idea of not making it a time-pressure thing but more of a… goal? like, you have this much time, see how much you can get done! Not, you have this much time, and if you fail, you have to wait even longer for the next bus! I do worry my klutziness would make itself known, though… 🙂
    And seeing Kae’s comment and your reply – I’m in the same boat. I cannot “rest” until the to-do list is completely, well, done. I am baffled, actually, by people who can. Completely foreign to me!

    1. I know – and as an adult the list is NEVER done. Sigh.
      I know we’re supposed to practice radical self-love, but sometimes I wish it was a bit easier to pick and choose on certain nuances of our personality!!

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