Most of us are always looking for shortcuts. We like fast food, and instant news, communication and gratification. We want to do everything with the least amount of effort and use the least amount of time in any situation. However, always trying to use the least effort and the fastest manner is not always to our benefit.

By always taking shortcuts, we miss seeing opportunities to refine how we do things, to learn to do them better – more smoothly and efficiently, or so that our activities or actions benefit other activities or actions as well. Always looking for the fastest way to do things often causes us to miss the beauty around us or inherent in any activity, and the subtleties and the bigger picture of situations.

What is a long-cut?
The alternative to shortcuts is to occasionally – not always – take long-cuts. A long-cut is taking the time to evaluate or improve your actions, to sometimes consider not the shortest or fastest way of doing something, but the best.

Long-cuts help us challenge our habits, shake us out of our ruts, force us to put our brain cells to work figuring out how to deal with a new situation.

Here are some examples of long-cuts:
- taking a slightly different route home to better explore the neighborhood or to look for and appreciate the beauty around you
- carrying out familiar actions in slow-motion to learn how to do them while keeping your posture straight or your smile in place
- doing a routine task in very small segments to explore where there might be inefficiencies or opportunities for improvement, evaluating where tasks ‘stick’, that is become harder to do, seem less intuitive, or don’t ‘flow’ as well so that you can see how to make them easier, better, and, yes, faster
- doing tasks with mindfulness and stopping when mindfulness slips

When to do long-cuts?
We all need a regular dose of long-cuts. You don’t need to do every task using long-cuts, although for mindfulness purposes, you might want to, at least for a while. Look for appropriate long-cuts whenever your tasks seem clunky, your perceptions stale, or your senses dull.

How to do long-cuts?
Here are some examples:

The benefits of long cuts
Judiciously applied, long-cuts offer the opportunity to see our world with new eyes. By deeply appreciating the beauty all around us, we reduce the need to depend upon things that harm us (such as unhealthy behaviors or habits) for pleasure. Truly appreciating what we have makes us more content, less needy, and more capable of gratitude which makes us more emotionally healthy.

Long-cuts force us to become more conscious and aware because we cannot rely on our automatic responses. Good habits are a very useful mechanism for accomplishment and consistency, but even they have the downside of dulling our perceptions, of allowing us to ‘tune out’ how, why, and often even what we do. Even good habits are subject to a ‘telephone-game’-like effect in that, over time they mutate and become less beneficial, so all habits, even the best, need a periodic tune-up.

Long-cuts are even effective with bad habits. Slowing down or doing them differently allows us to see underlying mechanisms, the ‘what, how, why, when, where’ of our behavior, so that we can evaluate whether we might want to do it another way or not at all. As long as we are unaware of our behavior, we stand no chance of making improvements.

Long-cuts can help us do routine and even new activities better and more productively, to reduce stress by showing us how to make our tasks easier. Indeed, the level of consciousness that long- cuts promote helps to reduce the power of negative thoughts and emotions, leading to greater emotional health and improved ability to manage our lives.

© Gloria Valoris, 2013

Previous | Next

Articles Index

Home | Newsletters and Articles | Services | Workshops | Resources | Contact

Office Organization | Time Management | File Systems | Hoarding