A little quicker, self, if you please.
April 1, 2008 9:26 PM   Subscribe

Help me be faster...at everything.

All my life, I've tended to be a little more deliberate than other people I know, working slowly, eating slowly, exercising slowly....I'd like to be faster. It's not really a question of energy or physical limitation...I can have an espresso quad shot and still be slower than some others. The only time I've really been lightning quick was when I felt in danger, but I'm not really sure I want to visualize that all day. Any suggestions, Mefi?

(P.S. Please no illegal drug suggestions.)
posted by StrikeTheViol to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
How about setting a timer for certain tasks? Start with something mundane like washing dishes or vacuuming. Set a timer for, say, 20 minutes, and try to beat the buzzer. Challenge yourself: "I bet I can clean the bathroom in under 15 minutes!" and then try to do it. Keep trying for a lower time, while still staying within the bounds of doing a decent job. Then move on to other, more important, tasks.
posted by amyms at 9:29 PM on April 1, 2008

In my early years in business, I was slowed by my reading speed. I could read fine, I just wasn't a fast reader. I took a couple speed reading courses that were offered by my employer, and while I didn't become a blazer, I was definitely able to pick up the pace. Being able to read faster seemed to help me perform other technical tasks quicker as well.

A second thing to consider is time management. I you have more tasks to complete than time to do them, you need to learn to prioritize and schedule. Again, a lot of employers will offer brief courses or DIY training about how to better manage your time. Of course, these tools can also be applied to at home activities.
posted by netbros at 9:36 PM on April 1, 2008

I appreciate that you take your time. As a hyperactive person, I know that I whip through things too quickly and am unable to be more deliberate in my actions. That being said, I can only share with you one place where I'd like to be faster too: running. You might be able to use this as an analogy for other areas where you'd like to speed up.

I run 4.1 easy, slowish miles on Tuesday.
I run 4.1 fast, heart-ripping miles on Wednesday. I make sure my heartrate is extremely elevated and I run at a speed that I cannot talk at and am breathing pretty heavily. Alternatively, I'll do a speed workout at the track, running 4x400 at about 80 - 90% VO2.
I run 7 miles of hills or a flat course (alternating) at a moderate pace on Friday.
I run an easy 3.1 miles on Saturday, nice and comfortable.
I run a moderately-paced longer run on Sunday, between 8 and 10 miles.

I am getting faster overall by sneaking in a super hard, fast run in the middle of my week and running slightly faster than normal twice a week.

Catch my drift? Good luck!
posted by cachondeo45 at 9:39 PM on April 1, 2008

I think that some video games might encourage speed. Also, if you can join an improv class (comedy or otherwise), sometimes you can develop speed in that kind of setting, and since it's very different from video games, it could be an interesting avenue to explore.
posted by amtho at 9:43 PM on April 1, 2008

Seeing as your a fan of Vivaldi, why don't you keep in mind that he wrote 500 concertos, 46 operas, and 73 sonatas among other works and died at the age of 63.

Next time you find yourself doing chores just think "how fast would Vivaldi be washing these dishes?"
posted by pwally at 9:48 PM on April 1, 2008 [2 favorites]

What is it that upsets you about this deliberation? Some aspects of life are much more fulfilling when savored. You can exercise fast and eat fast, but what is the point? I agree with netbros that if it is a matter of not having ENOUGH time, then you need to prioritize. Otherwise, savor the things you enjoy and learn how to be efficient in the tasks you don't enjoy. Just remember that speed does not equal quality. Sometimes speed just takes experience and repetition- the more you do a certain thing the faster you can accomplish it.
posted by ISeemToBeAVerb at 9:50 PM on April 1, 2008

There's a law similar to Moore's law of computing that says "Tasks expand to fill up available time". If you have a 15-minute task, and you have 25 minutes alotted to it, you can easily spend an extra 10 minutes going over and making sure it's correct - turning a 15 minute task into a 25-minute one.

The trick is to make sure you only have 15 minutes for a 15 minute task. Set realistic but aggressive deadlines for yourself, that are granular enough to be achievable and enforceable.
posted by spatula at 10:39 PM on April 1, 2008

Could be that this is less about putting the pedal to the metal and more releasing the handbrake. In other words, maybe you're carrying physical and mental tension that's slowing you down. Sometimes it can be useful to be more deliberate as other posters have said, but it's also useful to learn how to let go of everything and just trust your instincts when you're feeling a need to go faster.
posted by tomcooke at 2:53 AM on April 2, 2008

An interesting book that may help you consider your need for speed is James Gleick's "Faster" - you don't want to catch any hurry sickness...
posted by meech at 4:42 AM on April 2, 2008

IANANeuroscientist but there is some evidence that simply imagining performing a task can improve performance and accuracy. I find that working things out in my head long before actually having to do them physically and going over possible complications and contingencies is beneficial in general. Certainly not having to think about something for the first time while doing it is bound to provide a speedup.

The trick, of course, is not to let mental practice turn itself into worry. There be dragons.
posted by Skorgu at 6:23 AM on April 2, 2008

One of the things you might want to consider is improving your efficiency instead of simply speeding up.

You can try to be faster making 10 separate trips to the refrigerator, or you cut your time in half by finding ways to duplicate your work. (carry multiple items, use both the TO and FROM trips to carry things, arrange your kitchen work area to ease access to the fridge)

Before you go to bed at night, spend a few minutes tidying up your bedroom and laying out your clothes for the next morning. That way all you have in the morning is pop fresh out of bed (or shower) and everything is ready to go.

When you are driving around to do errands, think ahead and plan your driving route to minimize "switch-backs" and "loops". In other words, schedule your stops in a sequence that minimizes driving and optimizes route efficiency.

Another way you can attack slowness----- for a week (or however long it takes), start making a mental list of EXACTLY the tasks you feel you are slowest on, and then start by attacking the slowest one. (where you will make the most gains in efficiency)
posted by jmnugent at 6:45 AM on April 2, 2008

Hey there, I happened upon your thread and was wondering about the nature of your speed difficulties. I myself have always had trouble with my efficiency.

I'm wondering if you also have trouble with remembering tasks or doing tasks in order. Do you find yourself going to do something in another room and forget what you're there for? Do you have trouble doing involved math or statistics problems?

If any of this sounds familiar, I strongly recommend that you take a look at this checklist for ADHD.

I'm not trying to put a label on you. In my case, I have always been extremely high functioning. Nevertheless, I found that there were some behaviors beyond my control, like impulsively blurting out answers in class (I was That kid), falling asleep while trying to read for my classes, or paying close enough attention in traffic (so That's why my premiums are so high).

Unfortunately, due to a variety of factors, my symptoms were overlooked until I essentially diagnosed myself during my master's program. I'm 26, so by the time ADD awareness had spread to my hometown, I was out of the prime diagnostic age.

As a female, I didn't display alot of the aggressive and physically hyper signs--I was more of the emotionally, intellectually, and verbally hyperactive/impulsive.

And because I was gifted, my impulsive answering in class, etc., was dismissed (or as I call it, disguised) as intellectual prowess and ambition. But it was still obnoxious and beyond my ability to control (honestly, if you asked me before why I couldn't inhibit my talking, I would say, "It didn't occur to me to wait.")

Now that I'm getting treatment for it (a low dose non-stimulant called Strattera), I can do things, like focus on tasks and attend to things more quickly, than I ever could before. I'm not saying that medicine is a panacea, but it's helped me be who I really am. It's opened doors that I never thought possible. Now I'm planning to go to law school. It's like giving my brain a brand new start.

If any of what I've just written rings a bell, I would encourage you to find someone (a counselor, social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist) with whom you can discuss your concerns and possibly begin working on a treatment plan. It may not include medicine, but if that is what you need, then I hope you'll be able to take advantage.

Good luck!
posted by mynameismandab at 8:19 PM on April 2, 2008

A tip for working out quicker, if that's a big issue for you, when you're working out instead of just hanging around in between sets, you can work a different muscle group. That way, you get two lifts done in the time it would usually take you to get one done. Other than that, I think the people who suggested timing yourself or consolidating tasks were right on.
posted by whiskey point at 1:34 PM on April 3, 2008

Hey mynameismandab. I actually went to my therapist and got a Strattera sampler...I've had anxiety issues for years, but never found something that worked for me, so I'll give it a shot and see how it's different, (or not) from what I've tried before.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 1:05 PM on April 4, 2008

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