Slow Down to Spark Innovation

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Slow down to spark innovation

As I was building my business on top of my full-time job, I found myself really stressed. I’d work 40+ hours then do my side business. I was headed toward burnout.

A few years ago, I started a habit on Friday. This is actually an ancient tradition that all major religions do in some fashion. Also, top business performers and innovators find ways to intentionally slow down. I began taking a sabbath. 

Every Friday, I stop. I stop emailing. I stop social media. I stop thinking about work. From Friday until Sunday, I do my best to intentionally step back from business. I’ve observed three phases that happen during slowing down: purging, practices, and presence.

How to Slow Down: Purging Habits 

During the week, I try to optimize my time. So when I have a free moment, I might email, brainstorm ideas for a podcast, or think about marketing ideas. So when I slow down over the weekend, I naturally grab my phone to check social media. Or I open my email app. Throughout most of Saturday morning, it is still a push and pull between my work habits and my slow down practices. 

Practices and Boundaries

As I’m going through this purging process, it’s the boundaries and practices that move me from compulsively looking at my phone. For many of my consulting clients, these are things like putting their phone in airplane mode for a few hours or not checking work email. It could be going for a walk with their partner every Saturday. Maybe it’s attending a yoga class, reading a book, or playing with your kids or grandkids. 

For these things to happen, you often have to plan ahead, have someone as a back up at your business on the weekend, or communicate with your partner. 


Researchers of happiness continually find that people are happiest when they are fully present. If I’m frequently thinking about the past, I will think about what I did wrong and feel bad or when I did right and wonder if I’ll live up to that in the future. When we’re present, we experience life with our senses. That doesn’t mean we don’t plan. Also, it does not mean that we can’t learn from the past. It means that we allow our brains to slow down. 

Lastly, top leaders of the world like Steve Jobs and Winston Churchill had strong habits of slowing down so they could spark innovative thinking. Steve Jobs would do diets that consistent of only carrots to slow down his thinking about food. Churchill famously said his nap was a non-negotiable. 

When we slow down, we allow our brains to spark innovation. That’s why our best ideas often come when we’re in the shower or driving. When we turn off our conscious brains, it allows us to work out puzzles and ideas. But this only occurs after we have purged our bad habits, practiced setting boundaries, and allowed our brains to be present. 

So next weekend, consider a work-tech sabbath so that by slowing down you can arrive back at work ready to spark innovation!  

joe-sanok-private-practice-consultant-headshot-smaller-versionJoseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a business consultant that is hosting a conference in 2017 named “The Slow Down School”, where entrepreneurs, helping professionals, and small business owners will slow down to spark innovation. To apply and get first access go to