Skip to content

Episode 11 — The Art Of Going Slow

Subscribe using your preferred service

About this episode

Are you in a hurry? Then slow down. That’s right, going slow actually gets you to your intended destination sooner. In fact, it helps ensure that you get there at all. If you want to be less stressed, more successful and live longer, slow is the way. In this episode we deal with how to slow things down in an effective, replicable way.

The Practising Mind is available here.

Hosted by Dr. Nick Oswald featuring Kenneth Vogt of Vera Claritas.


Share this to your network:

Sponsored by

Listen now

Watch Now

This is an automated transcript and may not be 100% accurate.

Intro/Outro (00:08):
This is The Happy Scientist podcast. Each episode is designed to make you more focused, more productive, and more satisfied in the lab. You can find us online at scientist. Your hosts are Kenneth Vogt, founder of the executive coaching firm, Vera Claritas, and Dr. Nick Oswald, PhD, bioscientist and founder of Bitesize Bio.

Nick Oswald (00:37):
Hello and welcome to The Happy Scientist podcast from Bitesize Bio if you want to become a happier, healthier, and more productive scientist, you’re in the right place. I’m Nick Oswald, the founder of, where we provide bio-science researchers with help for improving their technical skills, their soft skills and their wellbeing. And in this podcast, we will be focusing on the latter of these three areas. With me, actually, the driving force of this podcast, it’s Kenneth Vogt. I have worked with Ken now for over seven years with him as my business mentor and colleague. And I knew that his expertise could help a lot of scientists, which is why we started this podcast. In these sessions we’ll hear mostly from Ken on principles that will help shape you for a happier and more successful career. And along the way, I’ll pitch in with points from my personal experience as a scientist, and from working with Ken. Today, we will be talking about the art of going slow. In episodes one to nine of this podcast, we talked about the foundational principles of human needs, core mindsets, and charisma factors, which we’ll be referring to in this and all future episodes. So if you find this episode useful, please go back and listen to episode one to nine, to get an understanding of these life changing concepts. So let’s bring in the man himself. Kenneth, how are you today?

Kenneth Vogt (01:58):
Doing great. How are you Nick? So I wanna, I want to give a little shout out to Nick here about this topic. I’ve got a fire hose of topics that I want to cover in the podcast, but this is one that Nick brought up -the art of going slow. And if you only knew? Nick is a guy who just is naturally running with his hair on fire. So he said, I want to talk about the art of going slow. I definitely knew we needed to talk. So seeing as Nick is so used to going a hundred miles an hour all the time. I just was really intrigued when he said, well, we need to talk about this topic, the art of going slow and I thought, well, since it’s important to him, it’s going to be important to everybody else too. And there’s really it might be a thing where you’re thinking about go slow. Why would I want to do that? But there’s actually a number of

Kenneth Vogt (03:00):
Good reasons why you should slow down a bit. And we’re not saying that you should drag your feet or you should goof off, or you shouldn’t accomplish much. That’s not the point, but it’s about watching the pace that you’re moving at. So that, that you’re actually operating in your optimum. So if you can actually get control of the speed of how things are happening around you, there’s a number of things that will happen for you. One of the first things is you’ll get more clarity. I’m sure you’ve all been in a situation where you are moving so fast. You didn’t realize you’re going down a dead end row. You know, we’ve all had this happen to us and you don’t get to where you want to go. If you don’t have a moment to stop and think about, wait a minute, where am I going? What what’s happening here? And if you get caught in a, in a process where you’re confusing activity with accomplishment, well, it can be very frustrating because you can expend a lot of energy, spend a lot of time, put in a huge amount of effort and get little or nothing for it. So I will, I will poke Nick here right now and say, what do you think about this idea of getting more clarity by going slow?

Nick Oswald (04:27):
Yeah. I, I mean, the way that I look at it is that when you think you’re going quickly and when you think you’re progressing quickly, it’s kind of an illusion because really what you’re doing is you’re just creating a lot of noise for yourself. And, and you’re, it’s almost like a semi panic when you, well, that’s the way I experience it is when I feel like I’m really pushing hard when I’m pushing to try and get things done or, or to get somewhere, then that creates a semi panic and which is easily confused with striving to make process. And when you slow down, you actually become much clearer and then more effective and one, I like metaphors, one metaphor that really hammered home to me, that I, realize it while it was happening. This is what it was, was, I’m a terrible swimmer. If I start, if I go in swimming, it’s like, I’m trying not to drown all of the time.

Nick Oswald (05:27):
It’s like a sprint when I swim and get really tired quickly and just generates its own kind of panic. And I just thought that, okay, that’s just me. I’m just not a very good swimmer. And then what my daughter is 15 now, when it must have been when she was about eight, when she could swim alongside me for the first few times that she swam alongside me and she was swimming slower than me. And so I slowed down to swim with her and suddenly swimming became easy and actually enjoyable. And I was shocked that I thought my, the way that I was swimming was how, what I had to do to stay afloat and what I had to do to, to that was just the way that I swam and when I slowed down, suddenly it became much easier. And then that moment I realized that that is what I kind of do day to day. And I’m not saying that I’ve nailed it. I still have a tendency to try and do things too quickly or to, or to to create, speed in the way that and to create, to create fast forward momentum. But I always just have to keep trying to pull myself back to this, just slow down.

Kenneth Vogt (06:39):
Sure. And sometimes, sometimes you don’t realize that you’re spinning your wheels in the moment, because you’re going so fast, but there’s another side of this too. Sometimes you’re using that, that hyperactivity to make yourself feel better, that you’re, you’re telling yourself that you’re accomplishing something, even though, you know, you’re not, you’re, you’re saying, look, see how hard I’m working instead of, instead of recognizing, you know, I know that what I’m doing right now, isn’t really getting me anywhere. It isn’t really moving the project forward. It isn’t helping my career. It, you know, it’s, it’s just creating busy work. And so, you know, you got to see that

Nick Oswald (07:26):
You see whole comp companies and groups and things with that culture where it’s all it’s, it’s almost like a competition to show. You’re the one that is trying the hardest, that’s putting the most panicked energy in to to, to your work, if you like is panicked energy is the way that I think of it, that kind of, kind of, you know, that, that kind of forceful drive, but really what you want to be doing is just doing things that are, that will benefit without killing yourself. Really. It makes me think of what is that guy’s name, Ken? Mark Joyner, is that his name? And he talks about he runs a company called amongst other things. He has a website called Simpleology, it’s a kind of to do list thing. But it’s really good. But he talks about prioritizing tasks that are HINE as he calls an HINE – High Impact Minimum Effort. And that’s almost anathema in the modern workplace, isn’t it to minimum effort. And, but what he’s talking about is to get the most, the most benefit from the energy you put in. And so then that, then that informs what tasks you prioritize. I’m glad I’m reminding myself of this you know, instead of, you know, taking off  a hundred small tasks that make you feel busy, but didn’t really benefit anyone. You make sure you put in that

Nick Oswald (08:58):
At the top of your list, those things are easy to do, but will make some efforts or make some progress in the project or whatever it is that you’re doing. And then those get done. And that at least keeps things moving forward and with remarkably little effort.

Kenneth Vogt (09:13):
Sure. So I, I want to cover a little bit more about why you should slow down and we’re definitely gonna hit on a lot of, of here’s some things you can do to make this work for you, but I want to sell you on the concept first because I, I suspect a lot of you are sitting there going, yeah, go slow. That doesn’t sound like a great idea. I move fast anyway. I’m, I’m just naturally active and I can, I can, I can deal with it. I can hack it, but I want to point something out to you and you probably know people like this. There are plenty of folks out there that are going hard. They’re going too hard. And to put it crassly, you can’t hustle when you’re dead. There, there is a limit there’s only so much that, that you can do before you start breaking things.

Kenneth Vogt (10:08):
And you start breaking down in, and we’re talking about going slow here, not just in the lab or just on your project or just at your company, but I’m talking about your whole, the whole of your existence. There’s, there’s only 24 hours every day. And, and the stuff that you don’t do that time, you’re never getting it back. It’s never going to happen again. So there’s really no excuse to just blow through days and where you’ve done nothing to take care of yourself, nothing to take care of your career. You know, no time to cook a healthy meal, no time to, to get a little exercise in or to meditate or to do some journaling or do something, something supportive of yourself so that you can stay strong and able, and, and ready to face the next day with vigor. So it’s not that you have to go slow all the time, but you do need to go slow every day. You need to spend a little time at it every day where you just go okay, off the hamster wheel for a minute, take a breath and, and feel a different experience. And remember that the whole world doesn’t look like this, this death march of of whatever it is you might be working on.

Nick Oswald (11:37):
Yeah. It’s about realizing what’s important. Really isn’t it as well. So it’s, so you can get so kind of kind of focused on, on your career and on making progress in that, which is definitely important, but you can get so focused on it that you forget that there are other priorities as well, which are such as enjoying your life. You don’t get that time back, as you said.

Kenneth Vogt (12:06):
Exactly. So another thing to think about is as you’re working hard, and as you’re trying to do certain things and, and, you know, accomplish certain goals and, and finish certain projects, you’re having emotions along the way. You’re having feelings about that. Now, sometimes those feelings are very positive. You’re feeling, you know, you feel a sense of accomplishment that makes you feel successful, and it makes you, makes you feel worthy and it makes you feel it ups your self esteem. And then there are other times when you’re just feeling bad about it, you feel stressed and you feel like a loser and you feel like, you know, I should be doing better. And, and you, you, those emotions can start to just drive everything and people, I mean, literally get sick over this. And I don’t just mean they start having mental health problems. They start getting things like ulcers and headaches and migraines.

Kenneth Vogt (13:09):
And you know, this, these emotional things that are going on are signals. They are, it’s a feedback mechanism for you. It’s telling you, Hey, the environment is causing me stress, or the environment is fulfilling and it’s working and we’re in the zone. So you need to, you need to harness that. And if you don’t take a breath, every once in awhile, you won’t have a chance to see your emotions. And how many times have we been in a situation where all of a sudden we just, we got sick and it’s like, that’s it, I’m done. I have to stop. And then you start looking back about, well, yeah, I know I got sick. I’ve been working myself to death, you know, or you’re going along. And then you just break something. And I mean, whether it’s physically break something or, or, you know, whether it’s an intellectual issue and you go, what was then, you know, when you’re forced to stop, then all of a sudden you realize the recording of all these emotions that happened up until then, well, you don’t have to wait until something bad happens.

Kenneth Vogt (14:17):
If this is a, if you have it built into your, into your normal operation to have a slowdown period periodically, then you know, this is, this is one of the ways that, that you can get that done. And you can recognize that emotions are not this childish thing. They are not. They are not a thing, especially for the guys. It’s like, yo that’s real men don’t feel emotions, which is total baloney. You know, emotions are an important part of the human experience. And we need you to bring your humanity to your work. That’s that, that drives innovation. It drives ethics. It, it drives your ability to work well with other people. You know, it, it really, it really becomes important that, that you be able to harness the power of your emotion and being able to take some time to go slow. Occasionally will help you with that.

Kenneth Vogt (15:19):
So another thing that matters about going slow is it’s going to help you make better decisions. We all have to make decisions all day long. You know, even if you’re not in a, in a, in a labeled managerial position, you are still managing your own work. And so there’s a lot of decisions still to be made. And if you can’t take a breath long enough to make a clear decision, you know, what kind of decisions are you going to make? Nick said he likes analogies. So here’s one. Imagine your mind is like a car engine. You know, if you’ve got the pedal to the floor all the time, if you get that engine red line all with all the time, it’s going to overheat, it’s going to fail. At some point, you got to slow down, you got to rest. You gotta, you gotta lower your baseline for mental stress for, for some amount of time, even if it’s just a few minutes and when your mind isn’t racing, you’ll find that doing things like absorbing information is easier. You’re going to be able to see your circumstances more clearly, and you’re going to be able to make better decisions.

Nick Oswald (16:27):
And so, Ken, what about the, you know, when you talk about the the emotions, what about the emotions that drive people to try and, you know, it’s almost like you go fast because you’re compensating for emotional or try to overcome an emotion, like fear you’re scared of, of a negative outcome. And so you push and so you’re, then you’re basing your drive on fear or worry of what might happen or might not happen or what someone’s going to say, or rather than what you’re passionate about.

Kenneth Vogt (17:05):

Nick Oswald (17:05):
Is that what underlies in this whole thing?

Kenneth Vogt (17:05):
Yeah. There’s, there’s a couple of a couple of things to say about that first off in the moment. There’s, there’s a saying that I like to use then, you know, when you’re, when you’re up to your neck and alligators, it’s hard to remember that your objective was to drain the swamp. So if you’re operating on fear all the time, yeah. Fear will drive you, but it’s not a terribly powerful driver. And, and I know a lot of folks you’ve been, you’ve lived that for so long, where fear has been your major motivator, that you’re afraid to let it go. You’re afraid to give it up. Cause you know what, if I don’t have fear, I won’t do anything. I will just sit here and be inert, but that’s not true if you, if it gives you an opportunity to, to actually find your passion, to actually find things that positively motivate you, that, that when you’re interested in success and accomplishment and experience. Those things are far more compelling.

Kenneth Vogt (18:06):
They’re far more powerful. And you will find that if you will give yourself a chance to experience those things, you’ll choose it over fear every time. And, and every once in a while, if you find yourself slipping back into fear, you can realize, wait a minute, this isn’t, this isn’t good enough. And you think back to the, the days of being in school, and especially when we were young, you know, really young and, you know, say grade school and you’d get an assignment. And when did we do the assignment? Well we do it at the last minute. You know, we do it the night before. Why? Because we felt like we needed last minute panic, and we didn’t want to be disconnected from what we wanted to do. We wanted to play, you know, we wanted to do whatever our selfish motivations were, you know, childish motivations.

Kenneth Vogt (18:56):
But when you’re older, you start realizing, Hey, my motivations are no longer childish. Well, hopefully they’re not, you know, I’ve got motivations that are really compelling, that are, that are really great. So I can replace it with that last minute panic. I don’t need that anymore. I’ve got, I’ve got this mission in front of me, this thing I want to accomplish this, whether it’s something to get on your resume or it’s, or it’s a, you know, just a project that you’re proud to be associated with these, this allows you to get away from those negative emotions and replace them with positive emotions. And not just because positive feels better than negative, but because these positive things are more powerful than those negative things. Running away from something all the time is a crummy life and it will make for a crummy career and you will, it’ll, you’ll be stressed and you’ll be wondering, why did I choose this? You know, what, why am I doing this just for the paycheck? You know, it’s, it’s, it can’t be worth it and it’s not, but it doesn’t have to be that.

Nick Oswald (20:01):
It’s interesting. What you talk about there that is, you know fear versus enjoyment as a driver or verus passion as a driver and fear I associate, and I’m pretty sure everyone else does. Fear, I suppose, is associated with speeding up and trying to, you know, panicked, movement, if you like. And, and if you enjoy something, you tend to sit back and relax and enjoy and slow down. And so that, there’s the, there’s the kind of right there of where are you on that? Where is your motivation? What are you allowing to motivate you? And,you know, basically what are you allowing to drive to,uto drive your life. And that’s why slowing down is such a powerful lever it’s because basically to slow down, you have to relax. And so you have to move yourself back into that zone of, okay, if I’m fearful, it’s really difficult to slow down. So you have to slow down is in one way, stepping out of the fear.

Kenneth Vogt (21:08):
Right. Yeah. Part of this has to do too with the time of life, perhaps for you, when you’re younger, you’re often very motivated by, by a lot of energy, you know, a lot of adrenaline and a lot of testosterone in the case of guys, but yeah, oestrogen too, in the case of women, it’s definitely motivating. But I’m thinking back to something that happened to me when I was in my early twenties and I was one of those crazy people that was just going with his hair on fire all the time. That was my normal mode. I used to say, I lived on, on adrenaline and caffeine and, and I loved it that way. But if a friend invited me to go camping in the woods and, and I thought I’m going to go sit up in the woods and do nothing. I don’t know that I can do that.

Kenneth Vogt (21:58):
I, I, I, don’t know, but it kind of intrigued me because I thought, you know, he’s also a young guy and, you know, he was, he was an energetic person too. I thought he wants to go. And I’ve never done this before. Yeah. What the heck, I’ll try it out. And I just couldn’t believe how much better I felt. I mean, it didn’t take, but I wasn’t there for an hour or two. And I calmed down something. I didn’t think I could do. I thought it was physically impossible for me. And you know, it was a week long trip and it was delightful and it changed my outlook on the world forever.

Kenneth Vogt (22:43):
No one told me to go slow at that time. I kind of wish somebody had told me to. It was just accidental that this friend had invited me camping and it never crossed his mind that I needed a break. In fact, that never crossed my mind that I needed a break. I didn’t think I did need a break, but I did. And it really made a difference. And so, you know, you might find yourself kind of backing into some of this stuff you might say, well, I don’t know if I need this, but my suggestion is, try it, try it anyway, take, take a shot, watch the sunset tonight. You know, do, find a moment to just say, you know what, I’m going to turn everything else off. And I’m just going to be still for a little bit. I’m going to sit in the backyard, I’m going to sit on the patio. I’m going to take a walk around the neighborhood, you know, whatever it is that you can do, where you’re no longer beholden to your phone or your computer or the television or the internet, or, or, or people clamoring for your attention.

Nick Oswald (23:45):
Yeah. It’s an interesting point that, about, you know, it’s often said, isn’t it that with increase of technology, then, then life speeds up in a way, because the information that’s firing at you it’s is much faster or it can be. And so that’s an interesting thing to step back and and, you know, disconnect yourself from that and and allow things to slow down. As I do that once a year at the moment as a kind of three, four day walk with just me and at tent. And it’s really the change of pace really helps and kind of gives you a calibration of, okay, this is slow. So, and then, you know, what fast feels like. So try and get somewhere in the middle.

Kenneth Vogt (24:40):
Still like it. So, you know, I know we have an audience that’s around the world here. And of course, you know, Nick is in Scotland and I’m in the United States. And, and there, there are some differences between the cultures of the us and Europe and something that I found out the hard way. It’s like I found out that Europeans actually take vacations. You take, take time off of work. That is a wonderful idea. A lot of the folks who are listening to this, who are Americans are going, yeah, I haven’t taken a day off in forever. Like, well, maybe we should be following the lead of our European brethren and do that. Take it, take some time off some time and really take it off. You know, this, this notion sometimes of, yeah, I’ve taken it off, but I’m checking my email four times a day and I’ve got my phone at the ready at every moment for, to take a call from anybody who wants to call me and, and know, actually take some time off, take a moment.

Nick Oswald (25:39):
I mean, this, this is a really good, a really good illustration, actually, whether you are managing yourself, you know, like how you’re looking at what was good for yourself as a, as a scientist. And so how am I going to make the, allow myself to be the best scientist or enable myself to be the best scientist that can be, or whether you’re looking at your group and thinking how you, if you manage a group of people, how can I set up an environment that allows these people to be the best scientists they can be. And then, and then look at the thought exercise. Is it better for them to have the pedal to the metal all the time? Are they going to be able to bring the most creativity to their, to their work? If, if I max out their hours or by coming back then from, you know, and just allowing some light in there and allowing some space and allowing some downtime and encouraging that kind of genuine downtime, you know, that that’s where the creativity comes from and where the ideas come from. And so how do you want to set up for yourself? And that idea that if you maximize the number of working days in the year, for example, then you’re maximizing productivity is not true,

Kenneth Vogt (26:47):
Right. You know, Google famously allows each of their full time employees to take eight hours a week to do anything they want. They can work on anything. They choose. Where no manager’s assigning it. They get to decide what they, what they’re going to do. And it can be a pet project. It could be out there, they can choose to work on something that’s already going on. You know, it’s a busy time, but, but the point is give some of that power back to people and allow them to have their own time to breathe too. You know? So whether that’s something that you’re doing, because you’re a manager and you have authority over them or where there’s something you’re, you’re doing by you know, creating an environment of, of where you’re pushing your peers all the time. Like, like it’s like, it’s a contest. Like it’s a race with everybody all the time. That’s not the most productive thing to do for anybody. And it’s not productive for you. It’s not productive for them.

Nick Oswald (27:44):
Yeah. I mean, I used to I had a couple of years working in Denmark in Europe and it’s not very far geographically, but culturally it’s quite different from, from the UK. And it’s a further step back down and being in a much more, at least where I was, it’s a further step back and even more relaxed environment that prizes. You know, downtime just as much as work time. And that was really educational for me going there. And I got a big shock when I came back to the UK and started working again in the UK of, of just how how much how pressurizing, that was actually the change in environment, the change in the, the deprioritization of, of relaxation time. I’m just glad I didn’t move from Denmark to the USA that might have killed me.

Kenneth Vogt (28:45):
No kidding. I was thinking, as you’re saying is, you know, I lived and worked in London for awhile and I just couldn’t believe how easy going everybody was compared to the Californians I was used to working with

Nick Oswald (28:57):
You go to Denmark for a while. It’s great. And yet their GDP grows the same rate or whatever metrics you want to use. They’re still productive. Small countries still have great companies. But the people are, there are, I don’t know if they’re happier or it’s just a different kind of, it’s a different kind of environment. I really enjoyed it.

Kenneth Vogt (29:19):
Yeah. Well, I think there have been studies done and Denmark is a happy country. So, so there’s that. So it is, it is interesting to sometimes look outside of our own bubble and say, Hey, you know, we’re seeing, Hey, this is the way we’ve always done it. And we’re thinking, this is how everybody always does it. And every company and every country. And when you to look more broadly, you realize that is not true. You’re the whole world doesn’t look like your little world and there’s some things out there you might learn some things that might benefit you.

Nick Oswald (29:53):
Yeah. And I think this is really important specifically for scientists because when you step into the arena of, of, of science, there’s a kind of, there’s kind of a culture. Again, we keep talking about this and again, this is my experience and it might not be yours, but my experience was there was a culture where this is important work, which it is, it’s specialized work. You know, there’s a, there’s a professional pride. And then we have to work our asses off is the most important thing. Or one of the most important thing is how hard we actually work in terms of how many hours we put in and how panicked we seem while we’re doing it. And you know, that, that was a really you know, that, that’s one of the, that’s what it feels like everyone around you is supporting. That’s what it felt like for me when I moved into working in the lab and I kind of was taken aback by that and tried to rebel against it and it caused me a lot of problems.

Nick Oswald (30:54):
But yeah, if you’re experiencing that, then it might be worth having a look at how you can, you know, is that the way that you want to work in? Can you step back just a little bit to give yourself some more space, to be creative and to be relaxed and to be enjoying things that are, you don’t need to go as far as I did, but but you can do just little bits to take a step back, but I just, that just sprung to mind, you know, talking about Denmark, there was a guy actually we were recruiting, the company that i worked for was just a small company and we were looking for a new lab head and everyone who was working in the lab got to be involved in the interviewing process. There was a guy who was technically amazing. And he was, but he came in talking about how, how you know, basically what we’re talking about here is basically that he works himself to the bone and that’s what he prides himself upon. And they didn’t give him the job because of that, because they didn’t want to wreck. They didn’t want to bring that culture into the company. And I thought that that was a great thing, actually.

Kenneth Vogt (32:06):
Yeah. There are people that are quite proud of their, their self destructive behavior.

Nick Oswald (32:13):
The guy was literally saying in the interview that I worked so hard. Sometimes I don’t have time to eat. You could see his name being crossed off the list.

Kenneth Vogt (32:22):
Yep. Well, I, your describing to me my, my twenties man, I, I, I, at the time I was computer programmer and I would, I really loved what I was doing. And every once in a while I would look up and go, when’s the last time I ate. I think it was Tuesday. Yeah. That’s just not healthy. It’s not the way to go.

Nick Oswald (32:50):
Yeah. So difficult though, because I used to think that when I was kind of like, what, what’s all this about, you know, why do I have to work 12 hours a day and work on Saturdays?, Which was the culture I was in, why, why, why do I have to do, I don’t want to do that. I like my job, but I don’t want to do that. And I thought that was because I was lazy and other people thought it was because I was lazy, but it’s not that it’s just, it’s just a different way of looking at things. And for me, that’s a more healthy way of looking at things in a more sustainable way you will get, and you will get more, you will get more out of it in the end and you will get more more productivity by allowing that kind of more, you know, by staying in that more relaxed zone.

Kenneth Vogt (33:37):
Right? So hopefully we’ve, we’ve put this idea in front of you that going slow could be beneficial for you. And hopefully you’re going, you know, okay, alright, you got me. I I’m willing to try, but how am I supposed to do this? And now we’ve mentioned a few things along the way, but I want to call us a couple of things specifically that that can really help you. And, and it’s going to start with before you even show up at work, I want you to wake up slowly. So instead of bolting out of bed in the morning and just leaping into life, set your alarm clock for 10 minutes earlier than you typically would get up any day. So you’re going to have 10 minutes, the chest, you know, do a little stretching. Even you’d have to get out of bed to do that. Then you can get up and you can make your bed and you can, you can go drink your glass of water and, and you can, and you can just cut all this rush and noise and panic to start your day.

Kenneth Vogt (34:38):
Because when you start your day, that way you set the tone for your day and that’s how your day will be. But if you start your day and at a pace, that’s where you can breathe, where you can think where you can actually see everything around you, you have a moment to observe your environment, then you’re going to have a different experience. And I want you to think about giving up some of the things you typically do in the morning. Like, do you really need coffee? Is this an addiction? Is it something you’ve always told yourself? Is there a way you could perhaps get free of something like that? Do you really need to watch the morning news and get agitated about what the politician said today? And where the latest catastrophe is happening? Is that really critically important that you know, up to the second, everything that’s going on there, or could you let that go for now?

Kenneth Vogt (35:36):
Or do you have to just dive into that abyss of email before you can even get your breakfast cereal down, you know, or can you, can you take a moment just to get awake, to just get into your body and into your mind again, so that, that you can be fully prepared for when you’re going to attack the day? So what I’m going to ask you to do is to make that change in your morning routine for seven days, that is get up 10 minutes earlier, get rid of all of the agitating things you do in the morning. The like, like checking the news and jamming into your email. If you’re using something like coffee, that, that, you know, that to, to just, you know, shoot juice into the system, why don’t you give yourself a chance to come up at your natural pace? Why don’t you allow yourself to wake up instead of force yourself to wake up and see how that might not change, how you experience things. And you will see a change throughout your day as you go at it this way,

Nick Oswald (36:46):
I think we’re going a bit too far here, no coffee? I don’t know.

Kenneth Vogt (36:51):
Okay. Well, I, it’s just a suggestion and it’s something to try for some of you, you’re going to hear this and go, Oh, no coffee, forget that. I’m not doing that. And others you’re going to go. Yeah, I know I should have quit that a long time ago. If that’s you, you know,

Nick Oswald (37:05):
It’s interesting to challenge yourself to see if you can do stuff like that though. Go back to it. Yeah, yeah,

Kenneth Vogt (37:11):
Yeah. And it’s, and again, I’m not not saying anything is bad or good here. There’s no moral judgment going on here. I’m not saying you’re a bad person because you check your email before you even make it into the bathroom in the morning. It’s fine. But you know, there are things you’re doing in, in your morning routines that are stressful. So I want you to remove those things and I don’t care what it is, you know? And there may be things that I haven’t mentioned here, but make your wake up process, easier on you. Instead of this wrenching you from the warmth of your bed and the comfort of sleep into the, you know, the rat race.

Nick Oswald (37:53):
Well, that’s a shock, isn’t it? You don’t need to do that to yourself and all for the sake of an extra. Well, for me, it’s all for the sake of an extra 15 minutes in bed, suddenly everything becomes chaos.

Kenneth Vogt (38:04):
Yeah. Well, and you know, something I used to do, I would set my alarm for the last possible second cause to my thinking was I want to stay asleep as long as I possibly can. I need that sleep. But I actually found out that I was better off to get up a little earlier or actually to wake up a little earlier, but not necessarily get up. If I could, if I could have five or 10 minutes just laying in bed, getting ready to get up was so much better than this alarm launch out of bed. You know, find myself standing in a cold, in a cold bedroom you know, staring at the dark walls, wondering what just happened to me, you know? And it’s a hard way to start your day and you don’t have to, you know, that’s the, that’s the thing about it. So many of us, we did that because we thought it was what you’re supposed to do. That’s what adults do. That’s what mom and dad did. You know? That’s, that’s what everybody I know does. No, it’s not that you, you think they’re all doing that, but they’re not, not all of them.

Nick Oswald (39:10):
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I still do a lot of these things and just have to keep reminding myself not to check the email on the morning thing is in absolute killer. Got, if you’re going to look at your email, you’ve got to be constantly, you should only check your email. If you’re prepared to accept the consequences of a really something bad being dropped in your email, you’re not ready for that. Don’t look!

Kenneth Vogt (39:35):
I heard some comedian that this is it’s great that it was comedian because this guy could have been a management consultant. You said, so I want you to answer this question, honestly, do you check your email before you pee? Or while you pee?

Kenneth Vogt (39:53):
And I’m like, Oh man, that’s brutal. You know, but it’s it’s yeah. It’s what people do are just in such a, such a rush to get started and you don’t have to be in such a rush. Yeah. So you’ve started your day. Now it’s happened. You’ve got everything you’re going to do for your morning routine done and you’re off. And you’re, you’re at the office. You’re in the lab. You’re, you’re at work. You’re ready to go. So I want to recommend an interesting book called the Power of Less by Leo Babauta. And in it, he recommends choosing the three most important tasks for the day. That’s step one. And step two is do them first. So this, you know, I know we have our to do lists and often there’s 93 things on them. But what he is saying is, look, you’re not going to get to 93 things.

Kenneth Vogt (40:47):
You know that everybody else knows that. Stop kidding yourself. But what you really, really, really need to do is what are the three most important things that have to happen today and do them. And don’t wait. Don’t like, well, I got these other, these half a dozen other things that are easier, or I can just, I can just bang them out, you know? And then I’ll feel like I accomplished something as it. Yeah. Where they among the most important things to do for the day. No. Well then you didn’t accomplish much. Do the three most important things you need to do and get it done.

Kenneth Vogt (41:26):
And I realized there are some things like most of the most important things I can do is to go to that meeting at 1:00 PM. Well, obviously you can’t do that till 1:00 PM, but, but you can be prepared for that meeting at 1:00 PM. You, you can take steps to what can I do in support of this thing. That is the most important thing for me to do today. And when you start realizing that I’m only going to do this many things, cause if you, if you have a list and here’s 12 things on it and it’s causing you stress and pain and you know, there’s no way I’m finishing those 12 things that have to get done today. Well guess what? They must not have to get done because you’re not getting them done. And, and when that’s happening every single day, you know, well, what is the standard I’ve been applying to saying it has to be done today. Stop kidding yourself. Start seeing things as they actually are and recognize this is something that has to be done today. And this other thing, even though it’s important, I’m not calling it unimportant. Doesn’t have to be done today. Well, I’m not going to put my thought of that. I’m going to put my full thought into this stuff that has to be done today. Now, if you get done with your three things that have to be done today by three o’clock and you’re still going to be there till five or six, Cool, do something else,

Kenneth Vogt (42:45):
You know, find the next, most important thing. The thing that would have been the most important thing to finish tomorrow but really dial yourself in and give yourself a checklist, a to do list that you can actually complete each day. When you have to do list, that’s just a running list of tasks. You’ve never actually gotten clear on what has to happen today. And sometimes it’s critical for you to know. You need to know what has to happen today, and you got to stop distracting yourself with stuff that isn’t important today. Not that it’s unimportant ever, but if it’s not important today, it shouldn’t be getting into any of your brain cycles. It’s wasting time. It’s wasting effort. And it’s part of the reason why you’re going so fast all the time, because you’ve got this extra consideration of something that doesn’t matter happening on a regular irregular schedule here, and probably multiple things like that. So instead of the three things you should be focused on today, they’re the 12 things you’re focusing on today. And so you’re cycling through all 12 of those over and over again. And that means that nine times out of those 12, you were wasting time. It’s not helpful. So dial it in, you know, really, really get simpler about it.

Kenneth Vogt (44:07):
Now, one of the things you can do then is you can reward yourself for that focus. Then you may find yourself, Hey, you know what? I can take a walk at lunch. You know, I can, I can take a break and read something, edifying, something useful or something entertaining. And, and, and something that’ll take me away for a minute. If you have the environment you can do so. I’m a big fan of taking naps. Naps are beautiful things. A 20 minute nap can totally change your day. And, and you might think, Oh, that’s 20 minutes of wasted time. No it’s stopping you from wasting time. It, it, if it can clear the brain fog, all of a sudden, the next 10 minutes, will get more done than you would have got done in an hour when you just weren’t clear. So, you know, this is, this is a great method and recognizing

Kenneth Vogt (45:01):
I can cut down this list because it’s reality. And I don’t care what your number is. There is a point when you just can’t add another task to the list for the day. Everybody knows this is a finite list. Well stop telling yourself that that finite number is this big number because it isn’t it isn’t. And if you look in truthful honest assessment of what your typical day’s like and look at, what do I actually accomplish? You’re going to find it’s a lot less than you to do list. Well, then stop calling that your to do list for the day. Cause it’s just not.

Kenneth Vogt (45:37):
Then I want to give you one more thing. And this is, this kind of feeds off of that. You got to dump your fear of missing out. Here you are. You’re thinking, Oh man, if I, if I don’t have tasks four through 12 on my to do list, you know, there might be something that I won’t get done and some benefit I won’t receive. Well, you gotta stop worrying about that. We are missing opportunities all the time. It’s fine. There’s only so much we can do. You can, you have to pick. I like something that Ray Dalio says. He says that you can have everything. You can have anything you want in your life. You just can’t have everything. You’re going to have to pick. What’s important. What’s valuable. What’s worthwhile. What am I willing to commit my time and resources to, what am I willing to hang my hat on?

Kenneth Vogt (46:32):
And just pick those things. Don’t worry about all the other stuff that you’re not doing. And we’ve all seen people like this. They go to a restaurant and they order something and you order something. They go, Oh man, I should’ve ordered what you ordered. It’s like, well, you still can or worse yet. You’re eating yours. Like, Oh, yours looks so much better than mine. It’s like, why don’t you enjoy what’s on your own plate? You know? Why not? Why not see that and, and be present to that. So what do you think about that, Nick?

Nick Oswald (47:04):
Well, it’s just, it’s just a matter of focus really. Isn’t it, it’s back to that thing about realizing that time is probably the most precious resource that you have because you can’t get more of it. So so what are you be aware of wasting it really and choose what you want to focus your time and energy on and and not taking that cue on what you should focus on from other people choosing it for yourself,

Kenneth Vogt (47:35):
Right? And don’t be deluded about how much you can focus on you can focus is by definition, taking you down to one thing, you know, you can’t focus on multiple things. That’s that’s anti focus.

Nick Oswald (47:52):
Well, yeah. I’m not even going to mention multitasking, Ken, cause I know what you think about that.

Kenneth Vogt (47:58):
We will have a whole episode on that one. I promise you and, and folks, you, if you haven’t figured it out, I’m not a fan. Well, so this was all about the art of going slow. I hope we’ve convinced you that it’s worth, it’s worth taking a shot at and giving you some ideas. So start your day, slow, get your to do list down to a very small number, three would be great for the day and stop worrying about missing out. And if you do those things, you’re going to find, you’re going to have a less stressful day. You’re going to have a more successful career and you’re going to feel more accomplishment in the work that you’re doing.

Nick Oswald (48:41):
I think that I think at some point we will have an episode about managing healthy, to do list management, which I think is a big thing, especially for any professional, actually, especially nowadays with all these inputs that we have.

Kenneth Vogt (48:58):

Nick Oswald (49:00):
I just want to also you mentioned The Power of Less, which is a great book about, about slowing down. One book that I love in that in this area is called, let’s see, what’s called, it’s called the practicing, The Practicing Mind. And it’s by a guy called Thomas M. Sterner. And it’s very interesting. This guy is a professional piano tuner of all things. And he talks about in the book, how he how he is in, how he is over in his career. He’s been in pressure situations. Where he has, you know, you have he tunes, pianos and you know, for orchestras and things. So the piano’s delivered the the performance is tonight and he has to tune this grand piano to perfection for the performance and it’s time pressure. And he talks about all around how, the only way he can cope with that, that he’s developed to be able to cope with that pressure. And to be able to work with such precision is to slow down, regardless of how little time he feels like he has or how pressured he feels, and it’s a really great read. So The Practicing Mind by Thomas Sterner, that’s my recommendation.

Kenneth Vogt (50:17):
Oh, there we go. All right. Well, that’s a wrap for this episode and I think Nick has a bunch of things to tell you about besides that.

Nick Oswald (50:28):
Um tell you about are the normal housekeeping things. If you’ve been listening to this podcast if this is your first episode, then it’s the first thing you’ve heard it but um regardless housekeeping is please join us at The Happy Scientist Club Facebook page. If you want to hear more things like this, it’s If you want to see the show notes for today’s show, then you can get them at And this is episode 11. So if you go to episode 11, you will find the show notes where we will provide links to the books and some other stuff that we talked about today, and there was one other thing. And that is to, if you, if you haven’t done so already, and you think that this, you can, you can benefit from the, you know, the sort of content that is in this, in this podcast, please go back to episodes, episode one and listen to one through nine.

Nick Oswald (51:30):
It’s quite a lot of content to just, you know, just give yourself, go approach it slowly and just take that you take your time and and go through it. But that contains a lot of all of the foundational principles that will, we will be addressing throughout this podcast. And however long it goes on for. Those foundational principles of human needs, core mindsets and charisma factors, which are just different ways of looking at yourself in the world, different frameworks that you can use to, to to improve things for yourself and think that these are frameworks that Ken has created. And I have personally found them very useful. So I think that wraps up for then again, thanks again for another great insight, Ken,

Kenneth Vogt (52:17):
Thank you, Nick.

New Speaker (52:17):
And we’ll see you all next time.

New Speaker (52:20):
Alright. Bye now.

Intro/Outro (52:26):
The Happy Scientist is brought to you by Bitesize Bio, your mentor in the lab. Bitesize Bio features, thousands of articles and webinars contributed by hundreds of PhD, scientists and scientific companies who freely offer their hard won wisdom and solutions to the Bitesize Bio community.

Hosted by Dr. Nick Oswald featuring Kenneth Vogt of Vera Claritas.

Scroll To Top