At the Speed of Chill

So….let’s talk about what happens when the trade show is over!

I often wish I could just set up a GoPro camera in a safe location of a trade show floor so you can see what actually happens when the bell sounds and the show is officially over! (And just so you know… I’ve never done this because there is NO safe location in which to do this during the takedown of a tradeshow)

That’s because it’s sheer PANDEMONIUM!

At one minute PRIOR TO closing time, its a pristine, beautiful show floor, but you wouldn’t even recognize the place at 5 minutes AFTER closing time. As a matter of fact, easily 1/3 of the vendors are generally packed up, loaded into their vehicles and on their way to their next destination at 30 minutes past closing time. To put it mildly, I would describe the mood on the show floor as… FRENZIED.

And let me tell you… the frenzy is SO contagious. Especially when you see the show floor starting to empty and you’re just barely 25% along. And once we added zippers and hardware to our display we found it was taking us 2- 2 1/2 hours to break it all down, pack it up, drag it all out to the vehicle and then get on the road. We tried everything to cut this time down to under 2 hours. We tried working harder and faster, we changed the order in which we broke things down, we reallocated who did what based on what each of us was good at and no matter what we did, we were always exhausted and ill-tempered when we were finally driving down the road and it STILL took us 2- 2 1/2 hours from start to finish.

It was SO frustrating!

So two years ago we decided to totally change things up and STOP HURRYING!!! Of course we still have a game plan, but instead of allowing ourselves to buy in to the CRAZY atmosphere of that room, we made a conscious effort to just work at a steady, reasonable pace. We agreed to take short breaks if we needed them & never look at our watches even if it takes 3+ hours to get out of there, and guess how long it took us to get done?

It took 2 hours & 15 minutes! WHAT?!? How can that be?

How could it possibly take the same amount of time as when we were HUSTLING! But guess what else? Instead of being near exhaustion, we actually felt pretty good! I figured it was a fluke. So we did the same thing at our next show, and the next, and here’s the thing… we STILL can’t break the 2 hour threshold…but on the other hand, we pretty much can accomplish the full take down in 2 to 2 1/4 hours without rushing.

So… I’ve done a lot of thinking since then and now when I notice that I’m all stressed out about something or driving myself to exhaustion, I try to remember to dial back my effort to “chill speed”. It’s been amazing how often everything gets done just as well and just about as fast, with what feels like half the effort.

And that makes me think that half of my effort really wasn’t effort at all,
but just unnecessary stress that made me feel like I was working faster.

My hope is that we can remember this as we break down our booth at Quilt Festival next week. It’s been so long since we’ve broke down from a show, it could be easy for us to “buy in” to the mass hysteria in the air at show’s end. 🙂

And now, it’s YOUR turn!

So what do YOU think about this idea? Have you noticed this to be true for you as well?

Or… are you willing to give this idea a try with some aspect of your life or work?

And remember, we love reading your comments and answering your questions too, so please feel free to leave either or both in the space provided below.

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  1. Pattie Fietz on October 22, 2021 at 5:20 am

    The Pennsylvania Dutch have a saying: “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.” I grew up hearing this and other “wisdoms” and try to remember it instead when I get frazzled. It’s true!

    • Kat on October 22, 2021 at 10:07 am

      Glad to know I’m not the only one! I wished I had tried this strategy sooner! 🙂

  2. Carolina on October 26, 2021 at 8:43 am

    Yep, calm gets you there just like frenzy will but in a better frame of mind! In a previous position I noticed my supervisor would get in that frenzied state as deadline came and it caused me to “shut down” even more, I learned to stay calm in his frenzy to keep us on track and actually finish without being at each other’s throat!