Jan 18, 2024 - Business

Axios Finish Line: The power of now

Photo Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Xisco Navarro/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Mike Allen, the hardest-working person I've ever met, never hesitates to move instantly on, well, basically anything he deems important, Jim VandeHei writes.

  • If he's going to connect with someone, he does it now. Apologize? Now. You wanna get lunch? How's tomorrow? Start a new health habit? On it!
  • If Mike can find time to move within minutes or hours, all of us can. This could turn Mike's superpower into your new strength, at work and away from it.

Why it matters: Speed has a force-multiplying effect. It eliminates festering problems faster and accelerates vital progress on important to-dos. This is the power of now. This is my personal mantra for the Axios executive team — and full company — in 2024.

  • Yes, there are moments for deliberation. Too often, though, that's a cop-out or excuse.
  • The benefits of speed far outweigh any episodic messiness of moving too fast.

Between the lines: Work and anxiety expand to fill the time we give it. Get it out of the way and you've freed up bandwidth — and liberated yourself from the dumb stuff we all do to avoid something hanging over our head.

  • If you plunge in, you realize instantly if you need course-correction or follow-up, instead of pushing the distraction or disruption down the road.

So what does this look like in practice?

  1. If something is important, do it today. Why wait until Monday to start eating healthier (one last binge!) or next weekend to call your parents or next month to start running again? Every hour you wait increases the chance you'll simply blow it off... again.
  2. Start with emails and phone calls. Most take mere seconds or minutes to answer. I personally get hundreds of emails per day. 90% of the time, I respond within minutes. My joke, which is actually my reality: "I will respond within seconds, or never."
  3. If you need to have a tough conversation with a friend or colleague, do it now. This is where everyone drags their feet too long, too often. The problem spreads and deepens. You prolong your anxiety about the tough talk. Every minute you dither is another minute of pain, and another minute that person is not spending fixing their issue — or solving yours.
  4. Same with compliments. Don't wait for reviews or in-person meetings or your next dinner. Do it today. Often, this will invigorate the other person and, if nothing else, make their day. (And, at work, cc their boss. Doubles the smile.)
  5. Bang out your critical to-do list now. Speed begets speed. If we wait to get healthier or connect with friends or up our game at work, we're robbing ourselves. One of my biggest learnings since taking this job: The moment you realize you need to make a change, move!
  6. Pay "now" forward. If you see the fruits of now, tell your friends and co-workers. Share this column. Set the tone. And give yourself — and others — the power of now.
  7. It can save your life. If you notice a blemish, or know you should get a test or exam, putting it off can be fatal. We know our bodies; we're creatures of habit. And if you suddenly feel funny or notice something worrisome, move on it if you're lucky enough to have care available. Sadly, just about every one of us has a loved one who regrets waiting.

This column appeared in Axios Finish Line, our nightly newsletter on life, leadership and wellness. Sign up here.

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