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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Power of Slow: An Interview with Christine Louise Hohlbaum

Christine Louise Hohlbaum is an American author of several books, including Diary of a Mother and The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World. A frequent media commentator (NPR, New York Times, PC World, Redbook, Woman’s Day and more) and lively presenter, Christine is a proven thought leader in the area of time consulting. She often conducts speeches, corporate seminars and Webinars for ExecSense.com.

Christine also works as a PR consultant for various international companies and lives near Munich, Germany with her husband and two children. Occasionally, she appears in TV shows and feature films, playing smaller roles to satisfy her inner thespian. Writing and acting are her passion. Her biggest dream is to change the world through words, which is a dream I share.

Christine has been a wonderful supporter of my books through the years, and I was so thrilled to chat with her about her wonderful book, The Power of Slow, and the time crunch so many of us feel today.

Shelly Rachanow: Tell us more about your book, The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World.

Christine Louise Hohlbaum: The Power of Slow was borne out of my need to articulate what seems to be happening to our every day lives thanks to the technological revolution that is the Internet. Our relationship with time has dramatically changed as we can now perform things instantaneously that used to take days (such as ordering a book ~ have a Kindle? Download in seconds!). While we have raised the bar on productivity, we have left a lot of roadkill in our path, including our own personal sanity.

The Power of Slow serves to address our collective sense of urgency and offers solutions to work with the clock, not against it. After all, you cannot manage time, only the things you do within the time that you have.

Shelly Rachanow: On your web site, it says, “Christine Louise Hohlbaum is a recovering speedaholic who recognized the power of slow while one day eating ice cream with her then three-year-old daughter. Life is in the details. Don’t let it whiz by.” How did that moment transform your life?

Christine Louise Hohlbaum: It feels like just yesterday that I had that revelation! I was standing in front of a huge selection of ice cream with my daughter when I noticed how impatient I felt about her taking ‘so long’ to decide on a flavor. I mean it is one of the most precious moments in a child’s life when she gets to bask in the glory of 100 flavors! Yet I was pushing her along, as if I had somewhere incredibly important to go. Accustomed to the rush-rush of my former corporate lifestyle, I had yet to adjust to the pace of my children who were becoming more independent themselves as they explored their world on their own two feet. I realized that I could slow down to their pace and still have a happy life. It was a most liberating moment for me!

Shelly Rachanow: There’s another great point on your web site that I really agree with: “Everyone seems to be feeling the time crunch in today’s plugged-in, stressed-out world: businesspeople, moms and dads, even over-scheduled kids. Yet the desire to constantly do more—and do it faster—is actually eroding our productivity and quality of life.” Why do you think this is and, more importantly, what can we do about it?

Christine Louise Hohlbaum: First, let me just say I am not a technophobe. I thank the Internet, my cell phone and other devices for allowing me the flexibility and freedom to work and live as I do. At the same time, it has been scientifically proven that our pace of life has increased globally by 10% since the mid-90s. http://www.paceoflife.co.uk/. In some cases it has increased as much as 30% (Singapore). I attribute our faster pace to the technological advances that have placed us in a space of reactivity most of the time. It is harder to feel you are the master of your ship when you’re constantly being distracted by text messages, inbound IMs, phone calls and email.

The first step in addressing our collective time crunch is to slow down long enough to take a look at the Big Picture. We need to ask ourselves, “Why am I doing this?” Once we’ve answered that question, we can then probe deeper to ask ourselves, “What is most important to me?” Take a significant time of year, whether it’s the New Year, your birthday or anniversary to evaluate where you are in your life and where you’d like to go. The moment you identify your ultimate purpose is the beginning of your dropping those things that fill your time, but empty your spirit. When you follow the ‘less is more’ principle, you will begin to see the true power in slow. It is a most satisfying place to be because you dwell in time abundance versus time starvation.

In short, busy is a mindset. The Power of Slow requires that you shift your paradigm from one of lack to one of abundance.

Shelly Rachanow: These days, many of us, women especially, find ourselves multi-tasking a good portion of our day. How can we learn to be more mindful, especially when we are feeling so pressured or overwhelmed with everything that’s on our plate?

Christine Louise Hohlbaum: Great question! Multi-tasking for humans is a myth. Much like a lot of our behavior today, the term multi-tasking is informed by computer science and means to execute multiple tasks at one time. The human brain cannot focus on more than one thing at a time. In other words, it can task switch, but not multi-task. Nonetheless, women seem to have more neural pathways connecting the two brain spheres, making our ability to task switch more pronounced.

Having said that, I would say ‘Just because you can, doesn’t mean you have to!” Is it really necessary to respond to every request that comes your way? Learning to say ‘no’ is key here. Women are often taught to accommodate everyone else’s needs. When we place our oxygen mask on first, we can help others do the same.

Draw boundaries for yourself. Going back to question #4, look at the Big Picture of your life. Take the time to ask yourself what is meaningful to you? When you’ve identified one or two things, guard them with your life. So if salsa dancing keeps you sane, don’t even consider scheduling a Girl Scout meeting during your dance hour.

A simple mindfulness exercise you can begin immediately is the moment you wake up in the morning. Repeat a daily affirmation that reinforces what’s most important to you. Mine is “I embrace this day and all the possibilities it brings. And so it is.” As Marianne Williamson recently told me in an interview (Link: http://www.wowowow.com/life/shadow-effect-deepak-chopra-debbie-ford-marianne-williamson-audio-47514), how you start your day informs how the rest of it goes.

Another exercise I recommend is the time abundance exercise. If you feel you are going to be late to something, the natural response is to rush. Instead, take a deep breath, then exhale slowly. Tell yourself “I am going to arrive at the exact moment I need to.” You’d be amazed at how relaxed you are when you do arrive (safely, I might add!).

Shelly Rachanow: If there’s one thing you want people to take away from reading this to help them in their daily lives, what would it be?

Christine Louise Hohlbaum: I believe we all can embrace a positive relationship with time so we have more of it. We are all born into this construct called time and our lives are defined by two very finite time notations: the date of our birth and the date of our passing. What we do with the time in between is up to us.

You have a lot more time than you think. If you’re rolling your eyes at this point, think about it. How do you spend your 24-hours? Do you fill it with activities that truly serve you? What one thing could you do differently right now to get you one step closer to ‘yes’ in your life? Chances are it won’t take much of a change, but it will take something for you to see the possibilities for positive transformation.

Shelly Rachanow: And last, the 'If Women Ran the World Blog' question for everyone - What would you do if you ran the world?

Christine Louise Hohlbaum: On some level I believe we all run our own worlds. We are in charge of our attitudes, if not our circumstances. When we embrace our own personal power, we grant others permission to do the same. Imagine a world in which we all embraced 100% personal responsibility! It would change everything: We would no longer be stripping the Earth of its natural resources (see http://www.storyofstuff.com/) and we would give back to each other in a large pay-it-forward circle of generosity and care. The world would recognize the impact of its actions; people would truly see how important each and every one of us is; and we would all live our ultimate purpose in life: realizing all that we ever searched for has been within us all along.

To learn more, visit:

Web site ~ http://powerofslow.wordpress.com/ You can subscribe through feedburner at http://feeds2.feedburner.com/ThePowerOfSlow.

Email ~ christine@diaryofamother.com

Twitter ~ @powerofslow

Facebook ~ bit.ly/fanofslow

Youtube ~ http://www.youtube.com/diaryofamother

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