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Is slowing down the most efficient way to speed up? An investigation into how slow living is influencing productivity.
Contents 1.0 Introduction .............................................................................................. 01 1.1 Aim and Objectives .............................................................................. 04 2.0 Literature Review ................................................................................... 06 2.1 Introduction .......................................................................................... 06 2.2 Slow Living in a Fast World ................................................................... 07 2.2.1 Slow Living and Productivity ....................................................... 08 2.3 Anxiety and Stress ................................................................................ 09 2.4 The Burnout Epidemic ........................................................................... 10 2.4.1 Burnout in the Workplace ...................................................................... 11 2.5 Research Gap Analysis ......................................................................... 12 3.0 Methodology ............................................................................................. 14 3.1 Overview ............................................................................................... 14 3.2 Sample Group ...................................................................................... 15 3.3 Secondary Research ............................................................................. 16 3.4 Primary Research .................................................................................. 17 3.4.1 Online Questionnaire ................................................................. 17 3.4.2 Diary Entries ............................................................................... 18 3.4.3 In-depth Interviews ..................................................................... 18 3.4.4 Focus Groups ............................................................................. 19 3.4.5 Industry Interviews ...................................................................... 19 4.0
Chapter 1: Attitides vs Actions ......................................................... 22 4.1 Time: Most Wanted ............................................................................... 23 4.2 Life Unplugged ..................................................................................... 25 4.3 Go with the Slow .................................................................................. 27 4.4 Slow Down to Speed Up ....................................................................... 29 4.5 Key Insights ............................................................................................31
Chapter 2: Trend vs Timeless .............................................................. 32 5.1 Hey Big Trender .......................................................................................34 5.2 Longevity Lifestyle .................................................................................. 35 5.3 Case Study: Amazon .............................................................................. 37 5.4 Key Insights ............................................................................................. 39
6.0 Recommendations .................................................................................. 40 6.1 Time is a Friend, Not an Enemy ............................................................. 42 6.2 Teamwork Makes the Dream Work ..........................................................42 6.3 Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail ....................................................42 7.0 Conclusion ................................................................................................... 44 8.0 References .................................................................................................. 47 8.1 References ............................................................................................. 47 8.2 Bibliography ........................................................................................... 52 8.3 Image References .................................................................................. 60 8.4 Figure References .................................................................................. 63 9.0 Appendix ..................................................................................................... 64 9.1 Online Questionnaire ............................................................................. 64 9.2 Diary Entries ........................................................................................... 76 9.3 In-depth Interviews ................................................................................ 89 9.4 Focus Group 1 ........................................................................................ 98 9.5 Focus Group 2 ....................................................................................... 109 9.6 Industry Interviews .................................................................................. 120 9.7 Consent Forms ....................................................................................... 123 9.8 PESTLE ....................................................................................................128 9.9 Scenario Planning .................................................................................. 129 9.10 Gantt Chart ........................................................................................... 131
Time is our most precious currency: how are you spending yours?
With work and personal lives increasingly merging in a blur of motion, consumers are becoming slaves to time and schedules. Information is being streamed at a higher speed than ever and people are feeling as though their internal gear has only two speeds: fast and faster. Yet, a hurried and fast-paced lifestyle is not getting them anywhere sooner. Instead, it is prompting detrimental consequences on an individualâ€™s health, wellbeing, and productivity (Brady, 2017). Thus, intensifying societal concerns over these factors has triggered a seismic shift towards slowing down in this speed driven and digitally connected world. As a result, a growing number of consumers are desiring balance and contemplation, yearning for a life beyond the clock.
This report will critically investigate slow living in its entirety, considering the implications it entails upon society today. Adjustments in consumer attitudes and values will additionally be examined in order to comprehend the current shift from fast to slow. Furthermore, the report will evaluate and reflect on extensive primary and secondary research findings, as well as relevant theories and models, to effectively respond to the research investigation. Ultimately, a comprehensive analysis of the future of slow living will be considered in order to form conclusive recommendations.
1.1 Aim and Objectives This research investigation will explore whether an individualâ€™s mental wellbeing is altered as a consequence of slowing down, considering its implications on productivity both in the workplace and everyday life.
1. To comprehend the pressing burnout epidemic and its influence on mental health. 2. To understand consumer motivations prompting the integration of slow living. 3. To identify the extent to which productivity is influenced by stress and anxiety. 4. To assess the benefits and implications of speed on productivity. 5. To explore how brands will respond to a slower pace of life in the future. 6. To evaluate whether slow living is a sustainable way of life for future generations.
2.0 Literature Review
2.1 Introduction In order to understand the landscape of the proposed research investigation, it is fundamental to discuss what is currently presented in existing literature (Winchester and Salji, 2016). Consolidating academic studies within the field helps to fulfil the research objectives, whilst acting as a foundation for subsequent study to ensue. The extant literature is categorised into notable themes, each evidenced with a variation of significant and reliable academics, theorists and sources. This literature review serves to summarise and synthesise an unbiased narrative of relevant research, to ascertain potential gaps in knowledge that require further investigation (Booth, Sutton and Papaioannou, 2016; ParĂŠ et al., 2015).
2.2 Slow Living in a Fast World Over the last century, the pace at which the world operates has accelerated exponentially – synchronised with the technology evolvement. As a consequence, individuals no longer have to wait for information; it is ceaselessly accessible to them (Osbaldiston, 2013). The reality of this advancement has created a contemporary culture of immediacy and instantaneity (Tomlinson, 2007; Featherstone, 2007), which Agger (2016, p.3) believes has resulted in the concept of fast capitalism. From this perspective, “the boundary between personal and public life” is fragmented, suggesting that the variety of digital mediums incessantly available at one’s convenience makes it no longer possible for work and private lifestyles to be separated (Schor, 2010). This presents individuals with an inability to switch off, as the boundaries between work hours and non-work hours are increasingly blurred.
A common premise unites fast capitalism theory with a decline in wellbeing (Soper, 2007; Hamilton 2004; Honoré, 2004). Central to such principles are the pressures of time management, which prompt heightened stress levels. Osbaldiston (2013, p.4) maintains this is due to a growing discontent with the offerings of “fast and instantaneous consumer capitalism and the speed of modern life.” Based on this statement, it can be assumed that individuals are experiencing the need to explore slower lifestyle approaches. Many academics corroborate this paradigm, in that “materialist values” are being substituted for a lifestyle that enables “more time, less stress, and more balance in life” (Schor 1998, pp. 113– 114). However, Psychologist Guy Claxton argues that acceleration is second nature to humanity – he explains how societies have “developed an inner psychology of speed, which is getting stronger by the day” (cited in Honoré, 2004, p.3). This suggests that individuals are accustomed to concepts of acceleration and thus, may encounter complexities when advocating a lifestyle dislocated from the norms of fast capitalism.
o: Slo Th w do in w Us k dee n e le per ss ener gy
2.2.1 Slow Living and Productivity The conventional assumption that correlates speed and productivity has recently shifted to a state of flux. While Cottrell and Layton (2000, p.50) once alleged that the solution to being more productive is to simply “do everything faster”, it has since been belied by many academics that slowing down may be a more efficient alternative. For example, Parkins and Craig (2006) propose there is an increasing number of individuals who feel they derive minimised satisfaction from fast-paced tasks, and therefore accomplish less. This is supported by Wood (2002), who reports entities must consider tasks for longer periods of time, in a slower way, if they are to be more productive.
These ideologies could effectively be applied to the workplace; Clements-Croome (2000) suggests that slowness and deliberative contemplation could benefit employees who are often under pressure to think and act quickly. Similarly, Chang and Groeneveld (2018) researched productivity in its entirety and concluded that employees who slow down “go deeper into achieving their objectives whilst using less energy.” From this perspective, it is assumed that productivity is a relationship between output and input – where output is the task achieved and input is energy. However, consumers are currently experiencing a productivity paradox; they contribute a high input in the form of time, effort and energy, but are not receiving any reciprocated outputs in the form of achievement. This suggests decelerating may be a more efficient solution to productivity, although literature cannot definitively confirm this. 08
2.3 Anxiety and Stress Traditionally, concepts of wellbeing have been borrowed from Aristotle’s idea of ‘eudaimonia’ (Dodge et al., 2012), and have since been linked to wealth and economic progress (Jackson, 2009). At present, wellbeing is viewed as a multi-dimensional construct (Diener and Ryan, 2009), illustrating diversity in academic definitions. This, in addition to the ever-increasing intricacy of factors affecting one’s wellbeing, has meant no single definition is entirely accepted in literature. Yet, across all age categories, anxiety and stress are among the most prevalent mental health conditions affecting an individual’s wellbeing (Alonso and Lépine, 2007; Simpson et al.,2010). Whilst Parkins (2004) suggests this is a consequence of the aforementioned ever-accelerating culture, contrasting literature illustrates it is in response to the pressures of modern society. McGregor and Smith (2019) indicate individuals are experiencing a strenuous burden of expectation to achieve in all facets of their lives; Jones (2018) corroborates this claim as he suggests intense pressures could instigate an unstable state of mind. Tempany (2009) proposes that importance of anxiety and stress has increased in recent years, owing to mental health care being a significant priority once basic needs have been met. This is supported by Maslow’s (1943) Hierarchy of Needs, which displays how safety needs are fundamental in achieving self-actualisation (see figure 1). Safety needs encompass a healthy lifestyle – physically and mentally – as well as freedom from fear (Poston, 2009). This implies that those struggling with anxiety or stress are unable to fulfil this need due to having an unbalanced lifestyle, ultimately preventing them from reaching self-actualisation.
Similar to Parkins’ (2004) perspective, Moen (2013) suggests that the declining state of mental health correlates with the inclining speed of everyday life. This is especially true for university students and employees, who are required to work at a greater pace, under greater stress and for prolonged periods of time (Kessler et al., 2005). Furthermore, Austin, Saklofske and Mastoras (2010) believe factors such as anxiety and stress can lead to poor academic performance. This demonstrates that students are acquiring anxiety and stress due to the pressure derived from their studies, which is thenceforth having adverse effects on their performance, possibly leading to a further deterioration in mental wellbeing.
2.4 The Burnout Epidemic
The term ‘burnout’ was first described by Herbert Freudenberger (1974, p.159) as a “state of mental and physical exhaustion” caused by excessive demands on “energy, strength, or resources”. This definition has since been deliberated to comprehend its validity in the scientific and academic fields, with many clinical psychologists continuing to question whether burnout is an advantageous diagnosis (Kaschka, Korczak and Broich, 2011; Roberts, 1986). Palamara, Linzer and Shanafelt (2018) argue that this is due to most studies focusing on the causes and associated factors of burnout, without discussing the usefulness of an official diagnosis in a wider clinical context. This therefore inhibits criteria by which burnout would be classified and treated, as well as hinders the ability for a diagnosis to be tailored to individuals.
Today, burnout is still disregarded as an official medical condition by the World Health Organization and numerous academics (Heinemann and Heinemann, 2017). It is, however, addressed as an “occupational phenomenon” by the World Health Organization (2019). From the perspective of Cohut and Collier (2019), this is due to the ever-increasing number of people experiencing symptoms of burnout globally. However, Borysenko (2019) believes this recognition is a consequence of its considerable economic significance. Burnout is a frequent explanation for medical notes in the workplace, and thus, unexplained mental health sick days currently cost the British economy 1.4 billion pound per year (Walker, 2019). This highlights the severity of the burnout epidemic, and the implications it encompasses across multiple sectors. Despite the lack of clarity from substantial research in the domain, the burnout phenomenon still remains pertinent in today’s society (Westfall, 2019). 10
In a world that habitually faces major challenges, there are elevated pressures in daily life â€“ particularly in the workplace. Maslach, Schaufeli and Leiter (2001) propose the theory of job burnout, described as a chronic response to emotional and interpersonal stressors caused specifically by a job. As a consequence of this, employees are likely to suffer from prominent signs of burnout, such as work-related stress, fatigue and a lack of enthusiasm (Ahola et al., 2010; Langelaan et al., 2006). Although previous research by Alarcon (2011) alludes to burnout transpiring where there are particularly high job demands and low job resources, Swider and Zimmerman (2010) suggest neuroticism and perfectionism also play a significant role in the development of workplace burnout. These individual characteristics could predispose employees to cope in the wrong way with their high job demands, therefore putting them at higher risk of burnout. Conversely, Maslach and Leiter (2016) believe workplace burnout can be defined by three dimensions: exhaustion, cynicism, and professional inefficacy. In this sense, exhaustion refers to depletion of oneâ€™s emotional and physical resources, whilst cynicism denotes an excessively detached response to the job (Bakker and Costa, 2014). These components result in reduced efficacy at work, as extra time and effort must be invested, meaning individual performance is compromised (Cooper, 1996). Additionally, Roe (2007) proposes burnout could also subside collective performance in the workplace, as healthy employees spend time facilitating their burnt-out colleagues. This research convincingly demonstrates how the problem of burnout can commonly trigger a vicious circle (Gong, Chen and Wang, 2019), whereby job productivity declines, leading to impaired job performance. In this context, burntout individuals may distance themselves emotionally and cognitively from workplace activities, ultimately affecting organisational performance over time (Bakker and Costa, 2014; Sharma and Sharma, 2015). 11
2.4.1 Burnout in the Workplace
2.5 Research Gap Analysis The preceding literature review has exhibited evaluations and synthesis of existing literature, in order to identify opportunities for further exploration. While the review has successfully comprehended the current landscape surrounding the topic of slow living, it has additionally evidenced notable inconsistencies in literature regarding the relationship between slow living and productivity. Thus, supplementary research will be conducted to explore the interdependent connection which exists between the two, whilst additionally considering the role of burnout, anxiety and stress. This will amalgamate the themes discussed in the literature review with primary research, in order to form cohesive findings and respond to the project investigation sufficiently. 12
3.1 Overview In order to acquire a profound comprehension of the research area, an extensive selection of both primary and secondary research has been executed. The research adopted a mixed-methods triangulation approach, whereby quantitative and qualitative data was collected and analysed, allowing for breadth and depth of understanding (Bowers et al., 2013; Creswell and Clark, 2011). Furthermore, methodological triangulation has been found to be â€œbeneficial in providing confirmation of findingsâ€? (Bekhet and Zauszniewski, 2012, p.2), helping to transcend the limitations of each individual method (Graham, 2005). The following methods have been specifically chosen to aid the accomplishment of the identified objectives, whilst constituting a credible research design. 14
3.2 Sample Group The primary research sample group examined university students, those in part-time employment and those in fulltime employment. Due to the nature of the research investigation, it was deemed necessary to study and compare findings between these three determinants, in order to demonstrate an extensive and balanced view. This meant that the sample encompassed both males and females aged between 18 and 64 years; ages outside of this bracket were not considered due to ethical confinements and time limitations. The non-probability method of convenience sampling was predominantly chosen for this research study, in which â€œindividuals who fit the criteria were identified in any way possibleâ€? (Emerson, 2015, p.156). Participants were selected when an opportunity arose, primarily due to time, cost and resource 15
restrictions. Although this method may be considered biased due to being unrepresentative of the population (Farrokhi and Mahmoudi-Hamidabad, 2012), this was overcome by ensuring participants were chosen from a range of geographical and socio-economical backgrounds. Students were selected from a broad array of universities and included both undergraduate and postgraduate students. Equally, it was ensured that participants who were categorised by employment had a variation of careers, including both high-speed and slower paced jobs. Furthermore, social media and emailing were utilised to source participants for some of the research methods; this technique goes beyond sampling the individuals personally known, reducing bias further (Zadrozny, 2004).
3.3 Secondary Research A multitude of secondary sources have been collated and presented in the form of a literature review in order to gather a broad scope of research and comprehend the key themes within the field. This was a crucial stage of the methodology as it allowed for new knowledge about the topic to be generated (Torraco, 2005), and helped develop a cohesive foundation for further primary research. The secondary sources primarily consisted of credible books and journals which have had significance in the areas discussed, as well as reports, articles and academic studies. These sources allowed for a deeper understanding of each theme, as well as the related debates and statistics surrounding the subject matter. Reviewing current literature permitted access to insightful findings which would have been unattainable to achieve through primary research due to time and resource confines. However, this meant that it was unfeasible to guarantee the conditions in which the data was collated, leading to potential inconsistencies in findings. To reduce this, peer-reviewed journals were studied to regulate the prospect of bias (Chiang and Knight, 2011). Additionally, researchers and publishers were scrutinised to ensure reliability and credibility (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2009). Moreover, to fathom a deeper perception of the literature, a variety of podcasts, documentaries, social media posts and blogs were explored. Although these sources often offer subjective opinions with a lack of established data, they tend to address social and cultural considerations well, and thus are still relevant. This is supported by Hewson and Stewart (2016), who suggest that if non-academic sources are combined with other types of data, especially primary research, it is possible for biases to be counteracted. Therefore, this type of data was predominantly used to support primary research, to demonstrate the generalisability of the findings. 16
3.4 Primary Research 3.4.1 Online Questionnaire As Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2015, p.718) state, an online questionnaire is a â€œdata collection technique where respondents answer a set of questions in a predetermined order, without an interviewer being present.â€? This method was used to initially bridge gaps in secondary research and help ascertain the behaviours and views of the target groups. These understandings subsequently provided direction for further primary research to materialise and were explored in additional detail later in the research process. This approach was elected due to its ability to collect a vast amount of responses from people with common characteristics in a concise time frame (Bachmann, Elfrink and Vazzana, 1996; Taylor, 2000).
In total, the survey gained a reasonably high response rate of 144 responses, meaning there was increased confidence in the findings (Wiersma, 2013). However, considering only 19% of respondents were aged 25 and over, it is not possible to deem this an accurate representation of the surveyed consumers, which were aged 18-64. The online questionnaire compromised of 106 females and 38 males; the imbalanced gender ratio suggests the research topic appeals more to the female population, as it proved difficult to gain male responses. This disproportion limits the generalisability of data to the entire sample group due to being predominately female focused (Kumar, 2014), yet males were studied later on in the research process to overcome this.
3.4.2 Diary Entries A two-week diary study was conducted with three males and three females, with the objective to understand how slow living could be implemented into an individual’s lifestyle and the influence of this. This helped identify whether slow living activities positively or negatively impacted an individual’s level of productivity in response to their emotional state. The justification for this research method was to gain honest reflections of consumer attitudes and behaviours. Recording data for the diary entries on various days was useful to demonstrate patterns and address questions concerning process and change (DeLongis, Hemphill and Lehman, 1992). However, Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2019) suggest that structured diary entries could cause participants to approach the entries how the researcher expects them to, increasing the risk of researcher bias. This has been surmounted by encompassing qualitative questions as well as quantitative, urging participants to express their thoughts and provide validity to their answers.
g one ornin k e We nday M Mo
3.4.3 In-depth Interviews Two semi-structured interviews with a part-time employee and full-time employee were utilised to harvest a deeper understanding of the preceding diary entries. This involved the interviewer using a “schematic presentation of openended questions” (Jamshed, 2014, p.2), in order to allow participants freedom to express their views in their own terms. The in-depth interviews obtained a more detailed explanation of the consumer’s thought process during and after the study, allowing for conclusions to be drawn on the influence of slow living.
Additionally, one structured email interview was conducted with a female student for an equal purpose. However, compared to faceto-face interviews, where the interviewer can probe explanations of responses, this technique may have allowed for ambiguity and misinterpretations of the questions exchanged (Chen and Hinton, 1999). Moreover, email interviews give participants time to consider the questions, meaning responses could be logical and articulated more carefully. Nonetheless, this was overcome by conducting the face-to-face interviews, which encouraged an automatic cognitive response from the fast and intuitive system one (Kahneman, 2011). 18
3.4.4 Focus Groups Two focus groups were carried out to discuss the online survey results further and collect detailed qualitative data. Furthermore, this method was used to â€œuncover peopleâ€™s perceptions and valuesâ€? (Nyumba et al., 2018, p.21). The sample constituted of both males and females, including students and employees, to identify contradicting opinions between the varying lifestyles. The first focus group, which encompassed 4 participants, was presented in a semi-structured format, to encourage guided discussion and highlight themes briefly mentioned in the online questionnaire. The second unguided semiotic
focus group used images to help participants consider the benefits of slowing down and the complexities associated with this. Leung and Savithiri (2009) suggest that a drawback of this method is that opinionated individuals could hijack and dominate a discussion, supressing the remarks of more reserved participants. Thus, it was indispensable to ensure that participants were directly addressed and questioned for justification to maintain an equal dialogue.
3.4.5 Industry Interviews Two industry interviews were conducted to aid the research investigation. Experts in the topic area were contacted to secure an alternative perspective, which allowed for potential anomalies in findings to be identified. The first interview was with slow living advocate, Kyle Kowalski, who recently founded the online blog, Sloww. This enabled scope into his personal experiences and the key societal hindrances associated with a fast-paced life. The second interview was with Jenny Brine, Founder and Manager of Empresa Limited, which demonstrated invaluable experience and knowledge surrounding burnout, technology and slowing down in the contemporary workplace. Both interviews adopted a structured approach as they were carried out over email due to time and geographical constraints. However, this meant that as there was a lack of face-to-face contact, participants could not be prompted to respond to the questions in additional detail (Bowden and Galindo-Gonzalez, 2015). This was addressed by sending in-depth questions specifically tailored to each expert; a vast amount of research on the individuals and the brands was conducted beforehand to maximise the findings. Also, due to difficulties in finding experts willing to partake in the research, it meant only a small number of interviews were conducted. Yet, this has been resolved by a detailed case study which aims to ascertain business perceptions towards the subject matter.
4.0 Chapter 1: Attitudes vs Actions
4.1 Time: Most Wanted The preceding literature review identified that a growing number of individuals are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their fast-paced way of life, meaning a concurrent desire to decelerate has occurred. This was apparent in the online questionnaire, where 21% of survey respondents alleged they already make a conscious effort to slow down (see appendix 9.1). Yet despite this,
primary research highlighted an obstruction between this desire to slow down and actually transfiguring to the slow ideal. The most common justification for this is due to a belief that consumers do not have enough time. This was evident across all three studied cohorts, including students, full-time and part-time employees; though most prominent among students. An interview with Cerys Futter, a third-year Medicine undergraduate, clarified that she would like to slow down due to being “well aware” of the effects stress can have on an individual’s health both physically and mentally (see appendix 9.3). However, she later testified, “It sounds conflicting, but I just think there simply isn’t enough hours in a day – although I would love to be able to slow down, regardless of how much I improved my time management, I just don’t think it would fit into my daily routine.”
This signifies the paradoxical state of mind consumers are currently subject to. Although individuals are aware of the benefits, the conscious action that encourages change is failing to follow. They are unwilling to forfeit their existing lifestyle for an alternative lifestyle, regardless of being knowledgeable of the present and future value. Focus group 1 revealed this may be owing to feelings of guilt derived from slowing down and the uncertainty consumers feel about it, as most have not experienced it for themselves and are unsure whether to trust the outcomes. 23
Thus, they do not want to dedicate their time and effort to something that is not guaranteed to work, despite being “told it will” (see appendix 9.4). This conforms to the argument proposed by Claxton (cited in Honoré, 2004), which indicates consumers are habitual to their inner psychology of speed. Evidently, it takes more than just an awareness to transform acquired behaviour. Nonetheless, participant C in focus group 1 believed partaking in activities as an attempt to de-stress or slow down actually resulted in greater stress. He expressed, “there’s just so much other stuff you could be doing, it feels like a waste of time.” (see appendix 9.4). The use of the word
‘waste’ connotes slowing down as unnecessary and futile, suggesting consumers merely do not want to make time, rather than not having enough time. However, ‘other stuff’ also refers to tasks that need to be completed. McGregor and Smith (2019) indicate within the literature review that individuals, particularly students, experience a vast amount of pressure and expectation to achieve. This suggests consumers are not participating in slow living due to the pressure they feel from alternative aspects of their lives. Checking off their never-ending ‘to-do’ lists is more of a priority to them than taking time to do things properly and mindfully. Further analyses of the opinion that slow living is a “waste of time” stimulated queries as to why consumers distinguish it in this way. It was thought to perhaps be due to the assumed perception that slowness is synonymous with being lazy, or similar negative connotations. Thus, in focus group 2, participants were asked to respond to two image stimuli – one representing fast and one representing slow. Contradictory to this statement, the majority of participants maintained they preferred the slower option on each occasion (see appendix 9.5). This symbolises that primarily, consumers are not influenced by the pessimistic inferences surrounding slowness. It is in fact their perception of time, and the belief that the clock is the enemy, that hinders their attitudes towards slow living. 24
4.2 Life Unplugged In order to recognise the principal drivers and motivations for the shift from fast to slow living, primary research has been utilised. It is apparent that the findings from the online questionnaire concurred with the proposition presented by Osbaldiston (2013), in the sense that consumers have a conspicuous desire to adopt slower approaches. For example, in the online questionnaire, individuals admitted to participating in slow living activities 1-3 times per week on average, with walking and reading being rated as the most popular activities to help them
achieve this. However, regardless of 44% of respondents disclosing that they read a book to switch off, 4 out of 5 participants in focus group 2 stated they, in fact, spend more of their unoccupied time on digital
devices. Participant B mentions, “I just find it hard to get addicted to a book. Whereas I’m addicted to my phone” (see
appendix 9.5). This complies to the view of Tomlinson (2007) and Featherstone (2007) who suggest consumers have become mortals of immediacy and instantaneity due to overreliance on technology. This was further evidenced in focus group 1 (see appendix 9.4), where participant B stated, “I take my phone everywhere. I think I’m reliant on it to be honest. I hate not being able to look something up or call someone when I want to.”
This demonstrates the dependence on digital devices individuals are experiencing, even often for the most mundane reasons as part of a mindless routine.
Founder and Manager of Empresa Limited, Jenny Brine, also recognises this premise, as she suggests that expectations of immediate responses and constant connections make it a challenge to switch off (see appendix 9.6). However, a small proportion of survey respondents interestingly claimed that their preferred way to slow down is to take time off digital devices, indicating consumers are beginning to comprehend the advantages of a lifestyle change. Focus group 1 later revealed that this was deemed necessary in order to encourage them to reconnect with the real world. This suggests that as people have become so engulfed in their digital spheres, they are facing a loss of sensibility and reality, and are exploring ways to unite with the physical domain. Nonetheless, a participant in focus group 2 identified that attempting a digital detox made them feel as though they were missing out, due to being unable to communicate with significant others. This denotes that their fear of missing out (FOMO) was overriding their recognised need to slow down, demonstrating a consumer demand for a satisfactory compromise between reconnecting with the physical world, without feeling entirely disconnected with the digital.
4.3 Go with the Slow Primary research aimed to build upon evaluations within the literature review in order to gain a deeper understanding of slow living and the influence it has on mental health. The online questionnaire revealed that 83% of students and employees felt their mental health was impacted by their degree or job, with 28% stating this was permanent or for long periods of time (see appendix 9.1). When prompted
to justify their reason, ‘pressure’ and ‘stress’ were frequently repeated terms, therefore complying to the view of McGregor and Smith (2019). As previously mentioned, consumers are aware of the mental consequences of a fast-paced life, yet only 21% of respondents established slowness in their lifestyles.
This somewhat alarming statistic indicated that roughly 1 in 4 survey respondents with mental health issues derived from their degree or job make a conscious effort to slow down. This raises questions surrounding how significantly an individual will strain their mental health before presenting a change. An industry interview with Kyle Kowalski, who made the shift to slow living in 2015 and since founded Sloww, explains how he suffered an existential crisis as a result of occupational burnout (see appendix 9.6). He expressed, “I believe it was from working consistent 60-80-hour workweeks. While somewhat scary in the midst of it, it’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me and has been a pivotal turning point in my life ever since.”
This demonstrates the extent to which people test their boundaries in terms of mental and physical health to conform to the societal norms of a busy and fast-paced life. Consumers are subsequently confronted with an evolving predicament and faced with a decision to either continue pushing themselves or resort to a slower lifestyle. This premise is comparable to the notion of the fight or flight response – a survival mechanism 27
that prepares individuals to fight for endurance or flee when threatened (Cannon, 1916). In this sense, entities will attempt to either combat their mental challenges or salvage the situation by taking a step back and decelerating. Participant B in focus group 1 (see appendix 9.4) concurs to this, explaining, “I feel like we’re all like it’ll be such a good idea but, you only actually think after you’ve got to that point of exhaustion where you literally can’t do it anymore that you think okay, I should probably take life slower now.”
This denotes that individuals only consciously consider slow living as a lifestyle choice once they are at breaking point. Kowalski challenges this proposition however (see appendix 9.6), as he suggests, “Any time is the best time. In a deeper sense, I think it needs to find you at the right time in your life when you are open to it. It doesn’t need to be an all or nothing thing.”
This indicates that individuals should not have to reach burnout before converting to a slower existence. However, as evidenced in the literature review by Kessler et al. (2005), fast-paced workforces coax employees into working longer hours, at a greater pace, under greater stress. Therefore, this implies that workplaces are prohibiting employees from being able to slow down, denoting that the proposed statement from Kowalski is unachievable and unattainable. An interview with Grace Tovell, a full-time Pharmacist at Addenbrookes Hospital, agrees with this view, as due to working weekends it means she can “end up doing 12 days in a row because there’s no protective time off around it” (see appendix 9.3). This suggests that stipulations from higher authorities, such as the government, need to be inaugurated into society to regulate working hours, in order to give employees the time they need to regain balance and routine in their lives.
To comprehend the extent to which an individual’s productivity is influenced by slow living, a two-week diary study was conducted with six participants – two students, two full-time employees and two part-time employees. As evidenced within the literature review, Maslach and Leiter (2016) propose stress and burnout can result in reduced efficacy and productivity. This was apparent in the diary entries, where 66% of participants indicated they were less productive when experiencing emotions such as stress, anxiety and tiredness. Furthermore, 77%
of questionnaire respondents stated that their productivity was lower when feeling in a similar state (see appendix 9.1). An indepth interview rationalised this principle, where it was mentioned, “I struggle to concentrate if my anxiety and stress levels are high … I find it hard to motivate myself” (see appendix 9.3). This
suggests that these pessimistic emotions act as problematic mental barriers to find motivation for tasks, thus resulting in reduced productivity. This complies to the premise presented by Austin, Saklofske and Mastoras (2010), who believe factors such as anxiety and stress can lead to poor academic performance. However, the same principles can be applied to the workplace, as those who are unable to motivate themselves will experience inefficacy and decreased professional performance. Although the majority of findings indicated that stress, anxiety and burnout resulted in lower productivity, opposing opinions were also investigated during the research to fully comprehend the mind of the consumer. A particular anomaly was Anita Tull (see appendix 9.3), who confirmed in the diary studies and a follow-up interview that she
4.4 Slow Down to Speed Up was more productive when faced with stress and anxiety, adding a different dimension to the argument. She explained, “I think once under pressure I tend to try and complete more, I push myself, because I know my energy levels are higher, so I can get more done. And once I’m in the mood for organising and doing things I know I’ve got to make the most of that and complete things, otherwise I will get more stressed.”
However, research presented by Chang and Groeneveld (2018) alluded that pressure is not the answer to being more productive. They suggested a more efficient alternative to completing tasks is to slow down, leading to higher engagement. This demonstrates how slow living can encourage individuals to deal more effectively with complex challenges and tasks, whilst ultimately using less energy. Primary research predominantly supported this proposition; Kowalski simply
Interestingly, this perspective was not explored through secondary research, therefore does not support or belie any existing literature. However, 7% of questionnaire respondents supported this notion as they agreed they were more productive whilst contending with their mental wellbeing. When prompted for reasoning, answers included “stress spurs me on when I feel under pressure” and “the anxiety of getting work done keeps me motivated for hours” (see appendix 9.1). This implies that productivity can be stimulated by external pressures rather than from within and is augmented in times of panic.
answered “100%” when asked if slow living enhances productivity (see appendix 9.6).
For short-term stress, this may be an efficient coping strategy in order to maximise productivity. For example, an impending deadline may result in an adrenaline rush, where the brain is engaged, focused and able to handle cognitive tasks more quickly, thus enhancing one’s productivity. However, for an individual to maintain this high-pressure lifestyle consistently, it would be unsustainable and detrimental to their physical and mental health. Emotions such as stress and anxiety would eventually limit their ability to focus on tasks and make dynamic decisions, which supports the argument proposed by Gong, Chen and Wang (2019) within the prevailing literature review.
This denotes that partaking in tasks with a positive mentality will allow individuals to engage and enjoy tasks, rather than suffering negative consequences whilst wishing their time away. This suggests that, in the workplace, if businesses ensured that tasks and responsibilities were enjoyable, employees would theoretically be more productive and proactive within their roles.
Furthermore, in-depth interviews revealed that the activities participants completed during week-two of the diary studies made them feel more productive (see appendix 9.3); one interviewee stated, “I think the activities I completed on week two did make me more productive because they gave me more structure to my evenings. They allowed my brain to have a mental break where I didn’t think about work, and if I did it was in a positive way rather than negative.”
4.5 Key Insights 1. Consumers indicate they are aware of slow living and the benefits it has, yet still do not implement any change into their lifestyles, primarily due to time restrictions. 2. People want to reconnect with reality, without compromising their means of communication. 3. Individuals are prepared to push their mental and physical boundaries to the point of burnout to conform to societyâ€™s fast-paced expectations. 4. Higher authorities need to restrict national working hours to provide citizens with a framework for a more stabilised lifestyle. 5. The majority of consumers feel their productivity is hindered by emotional and mental barriers. 6. A slower workplace could encourage employees to be more engaged, leading to increased productivity and organisational performance.
5.0 Chapter 2 Trend vs Timeless
Primary research uncovered how brands and consumers respond to the concept of slow living today, and how they will potentially respond in the future. Kyle Kowalski maintained that from experience, “brands and marketers will always try to monetize everything to their benefit”, thus suggesting that brands
are capitalising on the slow living trend, without encouraging consumers to adopt the slow lifestyle. This is already evident on social platforms, such as Instagram and Pinterest, where brands and consumers are manifesting the ‘slow living aesthetic’. The hashtag, #slowliving, has been utilised 2.4 million times on Instagram, with the majority of posts exhibiting minimalistic interiors or countryside landscapes. Participant D in focus group 1 (see appendix 9.4) also noticed this principle – he stated, “I have just seen people on Instagram post about it [slow living]. But I’m not sure if that’s just the aesthetic like minimalism and stuff or if that’s actually what is it.”
Therefore, this shows consumers agree with the belief that unauthentic brands are manipulating perceptions of the term, whilst failing to convey the deeper need for slowness.
5.1 Hey Big Trender Similarly, brands have noticed a potential gap in the market, where individuals are emphasising their busy lifestyles and the subsequent stress derived from it. Yet, as opposed to getting to the core of the problem, brands are using this as a way to generate profit, giving consumers a false sense of assurance that their lifestyle is viable. Kowalski supports this, as he states marketing thrives on an invidual’s perception of “not-enoughness”, where consumers will only feel fulfilled once they complete purchases, as commended in Maslow’s Theory of Self-Actualisation (see figure 1). However, he later prophesied that forthcoming generations will see through this, leading to a “shift in consciousness” which the masses will learn to embrace (see appendix 9.6). This implies that, in the future, consumers will choose to shop with brands that enhance their physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing, and avoid those who exploit the slow living trend in order to capitalise on it. 34
5.2 Longevity Lifestyle Both primary and secondary research implied that entities are beginning to slow down, due to being unable to maintain a busy and fast-paced life. Thus, as society’s perception of busy shifts from a status symbol back to a non-aspirational characteristic, it is important to evaluate the longevity of slow living. As a consensus, participants of primary research agreed that slowing down is a more sustainable lifestyle than the one they live at present, mainly attributable to the mental benefits. Diary entries revealed that, in general, participants were more mentally positive and productive after completing their daily activity (see appendix 9.3). An interview with Cerys Futter stated, “I have recently purchased a book to start reading, prompted by the second week tasks, and plan to continue this. I think there is a good chance of me sticking to this routine as within just a week I could notice an improvement.”
This implies consumers are possibly surprised by the mental and physical enhancements of slow living until they sample it for themselves. Further analysis suggests that a slower lifestyle is feasible and continual, despite findings of alternative methods suggesting consumers do not have time to implement it into their daily lives.
Furthermore, Jenny Brine suggested a slower workplace generates a more sustainable environment, harmonising with the proposition presented by ClementsCroome (2000). Empresa employees are offered a variety of flexible working hours for a more balanced home and work life and additionally encouraged to take regular breaks throughout the day to allow them to switch off. Brine testified that since implementing these changes, not only did a notable improvement in productivity occur, but employee satisfaction appeared to be higher also. This demonstrates that slow living is a sustainable and attainable way to augment the workplace, rather than a short-term temporary fix. She also claims that employee wellbeing is very important to the company as employees are likely be more effective, engaged and fulfilled in their roles, adding, “we recently recruited an employee who took a pay cut from a previous employment solely for our working ethos and environment” (see appendix 9.6). This establishes the extent to which employees value a slower working atmosphere, as they position this ahead of pay. Furthermore, consumers evidently respect workplaces who invest time and money into promoting a pleasant and virtuous environment. Thus, in the future, companies will need to carefully consider balancing the provision of competitively priced products for its consumers, against the wellbeing of their employees.
5.3 Case Study: Amazon Alexa! How do you Treat Employees? In contrast, large-scale brands do not often consider their employee wellbeing in the same way. Since Amazon launched in 1995, their mission was to be “earth’s most customer-centric company.” The company is now guided by four key principles: customer obsession, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking (Amazon, 2020). Yet, regardless of their commitment to consumers, employees are failing to be treated in an equal sense. In 2015, it was alleged that employees were still required to continue working and complete tasks even after their unpaid half-hour breaks had begun (Schutte, 2015). And more recently, a Guardian (2019) investigation revealed a number of Amazon employees have been left to suffer workplace injuries, leaving them “unable to work, deprived of income, and forced to fight for months to receive benefits and medical care.”
However, with Amazon’s CEO being the wealthiest person in the world with a net worth of $148.7 billion (Sainato, 2019), it should be obligatory for employee wellbeing to be considered and managed in a more respectable way. The brand fails to disclose significant information surrounding their workplace practises, which suggests they are deliberately avoiding transparency and criticism. Additionally, with Amazon being an exponentially expanding business requiring an extremely fast turnaround, it does not give employees the chance to slow down. This has resulted in an upsurge of mental health issues among the workforce; 55% of warehouse employees admit to feeling more anxious since starting their position at Amazon, with 8% even stating they have considered suicide (Organise, 2018).
Despite bribing workers with a respectable pay, the constant pressure employees feel to reach their productivity targets still means they feel unsatisfied in their positions.
As civilisation becomes more aware of unsustainable workplace targets, individuals are deliberating matters further, meaning brands such as Amazon are being scrutinised for their ethics and operations. This suggests that in the future, brands will be compelled to slow down their strategies to ensure employees are well cared for. Thereby, businesses will be facilitated in reaching their targets more sustainably and productively due to an improvement in engagement and enthusiasm. Thus, although Amazon is currently successful due to their outstanding customer service and culture of innovation, the longevity of the brand is potentially uncertain due to its current operations and lack of employee wellbeing.
5.4 Key Insights 1. Brands are latching onto the trend aesthetic of slow living, whilst failing to address the lifestyle aspect of it. 2. Consumers will begin purchasing from brands who enhance their wellbeing rather than exploit it. 3. Consumers see longevity in slowing down due to viewing it as a sustainable lifestyle as opposed to a temporary fix. 4. Businesses will need to find balance in generating profits whilst ensuring the wellbeing of their employees. 5. Virtuous workplace practices result in higher productivity, enjoyment, engagement and fulfilment.
Oversubscribed Society New plans, new places, new people. A world where opportunities are arising sporadically and consumers will never turn them down. Society is aiming to squeeze a moment into every moment.
Frantically Functioning New plans, new places, new people. A world where opportunities are arising sporadically and consumers will never turn them down. Society is aiming to squeeze a moment into every moment.
Utopian Aesthetic An idyllic world where good routine equates to happiness and goals are achieved every day. Time is not the enemy as consumers are successfully balancing their work and social spheres.
Obscene Routine A 9-5 office job is not providing any form of satisfaction. Relationships are hanging in the balance due to a deficiency of time. Consumers are questioning their sense of purpose and where the future will take them.
Scenario planning (see appendix 9.9) has allowed for four possible prospects to be determined, with the intention to fathom where slow living could operate in the future. This was additionally combined with the prevailing discussion insights, as well as the PESTLE analysis (see appendix 9.10), in order to inform a comprehensive set of business recommendations.
1. Time is a Friend, Not an Enemy With time constraints being revealed as one of the main challenges of slowing down, brands need to think of innovative ways to create simple solutions with lasting effects. These opportunities should encompass slow living as a holistic concept, encouraging consumers to go with the slow whilst minimising the feelings of guilt they experience alongside it. Brand and marketing efforts need to especially consider students who are ensuing busy lives, encouraging them to transition from a FOMO to a JOMO mindset (joy of missing out). This could be executed by offering easily incorporated opportunities into everyday living, to help people appreciate time as a value and not as a moment.
2. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work Opportunities exist for brands to engage with dissatisfied and potentially burnt out employees, who are fed up with their overextended office jobs, yet unknowledgeable and unmotivated about how to make a lifestyle change for themselves. Businesses could operate here to help them reconnect and find a passion for their career again, whilst simultaneously encouraging them to become more in touch with their mental wellbeing. This could be achieved through interactive workshops in the workplace, to simultaneously enhance employee engagement and productivity.
3. Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail Scenario planning helped to identify potential opportunities in response to those who thrive off routine and are trapped in a spiral of bad habits. These regimented robots feel disconnected and discontent with their lives and search for slower solutions to help them regain balance. Thus, brands and marketers need to consider how to respond to this desire in a way that will not interfere with their commonplace lifestyle, whilst offering disciplined solutions to the problem. A possible implementation of this could be an offline space where consumers are able to slow down, think, pause, and ponder.
This report highlighted key understandings into the attitudes and values of consumers in relation to slow living. A mixed-methods research approach was utilised in order to ensure the research aims objectives were successfully met. Primary research solidified current literature, whilst additionally uncovering insights that were not previously apparent. In response to the research investigation, it can be concluded that university students and employees believe their productivity is enhanced as a result of slowing down. Research also confirmed a notable improvement in mental wellbeing once consumers began to resist societyâ€™s fast-paced norms.
Nevertheless, consumers are still failing to implement the transition to a slower lifestyle, despite being aware of the positive outcomes it can lead to. Although primary research alluded to slow living being a sustainable way of life, the future still remains ambiguous as consumers claim they do not have sufficient time for it. They feel as though their lives are determined by a clock, and time is forcing them to act when, regardless of wanting to relax. Thus, with time becoming an increasingly valuable commodity, consumers will begin to prioritise brands who can respond to this need. The proposed recommendations will allow for scope into emerging concept developments to be explored within the Stage Two report.
7.0 Conclusion 44
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PARKINS, W., 2004. Out of time: Fast subjects and slow living. Time & Society, 13 (2-3), 363-382. PARKINS, W., and CRAIG, G., 2006. Slow living. Berg. PEEPLES, L., 2019. Battling burnout: Nearly two-thirds of pharmacists say they’re vulnerable [online]. Pharmacy Practise News. Available at: https://www.pharmacypracticenews.com/Operationsand-Management/Article/03-19/Battling-Burnout-Nearly-Two-Thirds-of-Pharmacists-Say-They-reVulnerable/54260?sub [Accessed December 19 2019]. PENNY, L., 2016. Life-Hacks of the Poor and Aimless [online]. The Baffler. Available at: https://thebaffler. com/war-of-nerves/laurie-penny-self-care [Accessed January 22 2020]. POLANCZYK, G.V., SALUM, G.A., SUGAYA, L.S., CAYE, A. and ROHDE, L.A., 2015. Annual research review: A meta-analysis of the worldwide prevalence of mental disorders in children and adolescents. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 56 (3), 345-365. POSTON, B., 2009. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The Surgical Technologist, 41 (8), 347-353. ROBERTS, G.A., 1986. Burnout: Psychobabble or valuable concept? British Journal of Hospital Medicine, 36 (3), 194-197. ROE, R., 2007. Health and performance. In: Health and performance. The psychology of work and health. Springer, 2007, pp. 373-388. ROELOFSEN, P., 2002. The impact of office environments on employee performance: The design of the workplace as a strategy for productivity enhancement. Journal of Facilities Management, 1 (3), 247-264. ROWE, M.B., 1986. Wait time: Slowing down may be a way of speeding up. Journal of Teacher Education, 37 (1), 43-50. SAINATO, M., 2019. Revealed: Amazon employees are left to suffer after workplace injuries [online]. The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/apr/02/revealed-amazonemployees-suffer-after-workplace-injuries [Accessed January 21 2020]. SAUNDERS, M., LEWIS, P. and THORNHILL, A., 2019. Research methods for business students. 8th ed ed. New York: Pearson. SAUNDERS, M., LEWIS, P. and THORNHILL, A., 2015. Research methods for business students. 7th ed ed. New York: Pearson. SAUNDERS, M., LEWIS, P. and THORNHILL, A., 2009. Research methods for business students. 5th ed ed. New York: Pearson. SCHAFFNER, A.K., 2016. Exhaustion: a history. Columbia: Columbia University Press. SCHOR, J.B., 2013. From fast fashion to connected consumption: Slowing down the spending treadmill. In: From fast fashion to connected consumption: Slowing down the spending treadmill. Culture of the Slow. Springer, 2013, pp. 34-51. SCHOR, J.B., 1998. The overspent American: Why we want what we don’t need. New York: Harper Perennial. SCHOR, J., and WHITE, K., 2010. Plenitude: The new economics of true wealth. New York: Penguin Press. SCHUTTE, S., 2015. The five best and worst companies to work for [online]. Real Business. Available at: https://realbusiness.co.uk/the-five-best-and-worst-companies-to-work-for/2/ [Accessed January 21 2020]. SCHWARTZ, B., 2004. The paradox of choice: Why more is less. In: Ecco New York, . SELAND, D., 2018. Is faster better? [online]. Quality Magazine. Available at: https://www.qualitymag.com/ articles/95033-is-faster-better [Accessed December 21 2019]. 57
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WINCHESTER, C.L., and SALJI, M., 2016. Writing a literature review. Journal of Clinical Urology, 9 (5), 308-312. WOOD, C., 2002. Changing the pace of school: Slowing down the day to improve the quality of learning. Phi Delta Kappan, 83 (7), 545-550. WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION, 2019. Burn-out an “occupational phenomenon”: International Classification of Diseases [online]. Available at: https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/burn-out/en/ [Accessed December 17 2019]. ZADROZNY, B., 2004. Learning and evaluating classifiers under sample selection bias. In: Proceedings of the twenty-first international conference on Machine learning, ACM, pp. 114.
8.3 Image References Inhabit the time Yasmine Gateau, n.d. [online]. We and the Colour. Available at: https:// weandthecolor.com/yasmine-gateau-editorial-illustrations/60103 [Accessed January 22 2020].
Stopwatch Getty Images, n.d. [online]. iStock. Available at: https://www.istockphoto.com/gb/ illustrations/stopwatch?sort=mostpopular&mediatype=illustration&phrase=stopwatch [Accessed January 22 2020].
Breakside Tavo Montanez, 2019. [online]. Behance. Available at: https://www.behance.net/ gallery/89625359/Breakside?tracking_source=for_you_feed_featured_category [Accessed January 22 2020].
Target Unknown, n.d. [online]. Deposit Photos. Available at: https:// depositphotos.com/110506388/stock-illustration-color-line-targetillustration.html [Accessed January 22 2020].
Girl meditating Chloe Joyce, 2019. [online]. Pinterest. Available at: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/ pin/172614598204699925/?lp=true [Accessed January 22 2020].
Slow moe Marianne Ferrer, 2020. [online]. Behance. Available at: https://www.behance. net/gallery/90909299/Slow-Moe?tracking_source=search-all%7Cslow [Accessed January 22 2020].
Oversaturated life @artern.design, 2018. [online]. Instagram. Available at: https://www.instagram. com/p/BoZZYhtCKfl/[Accessed January 22 2020].
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Overwhelmed Marianne Ferrer, 2020. [online]. Behance. Available at: https://www.behance. net/gallery/90909299/Slow-Moe?tracking_source=search-all%7Cslow [Accessed January 22 2020].
Burnout Ivy Liu, 2016. [online]. Refinery 29. Available at: https://www.refinery29. com/en-gb/burned-out-at-work-signs [Accessed January 22 2020].
Unhappy workplace Tania Yakunova, 2019. [online]. Behance. Available at: https://www. behance.net/gallery/81843523/What-employee-really-feels?tracking_ source=search%7Cwork%20illustration [Accessed January 22 2020].
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Hot air balloon city Henry Stephens, 2019. [online]. Tumblr. Available at: https://thepapercity. tumblr.com/post/26823197607/rats-entry-with-hannes-frykholm-and-nickroberts [Accessed January 22 2020].
Sample group Erin Aniker, n.d. [online]. Behance. Available at: https://www.erinaniker.com/ Refinery29-x-TRESemme-CALLING-ALL-WOMEN [Accessed Jan 22 2020].
Meditation illustration Abby McCartin, 2018. [online]. Pinterest. Available at: https://www. pinterest.co.uk/pin/55028426681844886 [Accessed January 22 2020].
Notebook Joanna Lawniczak, 2019. [online]. Behance. Available at: https://www.behance. net/gallery/49489967/Salmon-shelves [Accessed January 22 2020].
Desk Joanna Lawniczak, 2019. [online]. Behance. Available at: https://www. behance.net/gallery/84061443/At-9 [Accessed January 22 2020].
House @ybryksenkova, 2017. [online]. Instagram. Available at: https://www. instagram.com/p/BXJW0zCHkh-/ [Accessed January 22 2020].
Clocks Marina Munn, n.d. [online]. The Loud Cloud. Available at: https://www. behance.net/gallery/84061443/At-9 [Accessed January 22 2020].
Digital Detox Marly Gallardo, 2017. [online]. Behance. Available at: https://www.behance. net/gallery/30316023/Digital-Detox. [Accessed January 22 2020].
Thinking Andrea Manzati, n.d. [online]. 99u. Available at: https://99u.adobe.com/ articles/63417/best-to-do-list-apps-and-systems [Accessed January 22 2020].
Insight Unknown, n.d. [online]. Flat Icon. Available at: https://www.flaticon.com/ free-icon/search_1819782?term=insight&page=1&position=14 [Accessed January 22 2020].
Girl relaxing Unknown, n.d. [online]. Pinterest. Available at: https://www.pinterest.de/ pin/107030928631719085/?lp=true [Accessed January 22 2020].
Reading @bethanyleahjones, 2018. [online]. Instagram. Available at: https://www. instagram.com/p/BnBWzctAXxD/ [Accessed January 22 2020].
Cogs Yasmine Gateau, n.d. [online]. We and the Colour. Available at: https:// weandthecolor.com/yasmine-gateau-editorial-illustrations/60103 [Accessed January 22 2020].
Workplace Unknown, n.d. [online]. Decoding Healthcare. Available at: https:// decodinghealthcare.simplecast.fm/s2e5 [Accessed January 22 2020].
Future Shock Wenjia Tang, 2018. [online]. Behance. Available at: https://www.behance. net/gallery/61101543/AdAge-Future-Shock [Accessed January 22 2020].
Yoga Iza Dudzik, 2019. [online]. Behance. Available at: https://www. behance.net/gallery/89333053/NEWSWEEK-Polska-SLOW-Illustrationsseries?tracking_source=search-all%7Cslow [Accessed January 22 2020].
8.4 Figure References
Figure 1. Maslow (1943) Hierarchy of Needs Maslow, A., 1943. A Theory of Human Motivation, Psychological Review 50(4) , pp.370-396.
9.0 Appendix 9.1 Online Questionnaire Blank Questionnaire 1. What is your gender? o Male o Female o Prefer not to say 2. What is your age? o 18-24 o 25-34 o 35-44 o 45-54 o 55-64 3. Are you aware of the term ‘slow living’? o Yes o No 4. If yes, how would you describe it? If no, please continue to the next question. ….………………….………………….………………….………………….………………….…………………. 5. In general, do you? o Live a fast-paced life o Make a conscious effort to slow down o Not sure 6. Which of the following activities do you engage in as an attempt to slow down? Mindfulness Mediation Time without digital devices Reading Walking Gentle exercise I do not engage in any Other ……………………… 7. How regularly do you engage in these activities? o More than once a day o Everyday o 1-3 times a week o 4-6 times a week o A few times a month o Once a month o Less than once a month o Never
8. Do you notice that you feel more productive once engaging in these activities? o Yes, always o Yes, sometimes o Yes, for a short period of time o No, not particularly o No, never 9. Are you? o A student o Employed in full-time work o Employed in part-time work 10. In general, do you feel your mental health is impacted by your degree or job? o Yes, always o Yes, sometimes o Yes, for a short period of time o No, not particularly o No, never 11. If you answered any variation of yes, can you briefly explain why? If no, please continue to the next question. ………………….………………….………………….………………….………………….………………….…………………….. 12. Does your degree or job ever make you feel? Anxious Stressed Exhausted Pessimistic Unmotivated Overwhelmed Alienated None of the above Other ………………… 13. When experiencing these emotions, do you think your productivity is influenced? o Yes, I am more productive o Yes, I am less productive o No, I am just as productive o I do not experience any of the emotions 14. Why do you think this is? ………………….………………….………………….………………….………………….………………….……………………..
Questionnaire Results 1. What is your gender?
2. What is your age?
3. Are you aware of the term â€˜slow livingâ€™?
4. If yes, how would you describe it? If no, please continue to the next question. More balanced and considered lifestyle Taking slower approaches to everyday life in order to live in a calm balanced life Living with a conscious mindset and slowing down the processes of everyday life Changing your lifestyle to benefit yourself and the environment ? Living a slower pace of life compared to what is considered normal Mindfulness and wellbeing breaks in order to become more productive. Taking time out for yourself Taking your time in all aspects of life, to ensure everything is done to the best ability, and you don't miss things/opportunities/chances etc 66
Not cramming too much in your day, being more sustainable Slowing down your lifestyle to reduce the stress and pressures of modern day society, increasing effectiveness over efficiency, all resulting in an increase in overall productivity Taking your time with things and not rushing everything Quiet calm life Making conscious decisions to consume less and take more time for self-care Quite traditional and valuable with time Slower approach to everyday life Doing things well at a comfortable pace instead of as fast as possible 5. In general, do you?
6. Which of the following activities do you engage in as an attempt to slow down?
7. How regularly do you engage in these activities?
8. Do you notice that you feel more productive once engaging in these activities?
9. Are you?
10. In general, do you feel your mental health is impacted by your degree or job?
11. If you answered any variation of yes, can you briefly explain why? If no, please continue to the next question. Pressure of deadlines and to get high grades Because I become too focused on my degree and don’t focus on other important things which results in me isolating myself and becoming stressed If stress has impacted my mental health this has subsequently affected my productivity levels for my degree Stress and pressure In particularly stressful periods, it can impact my sleep and feeling worried. Stress balancing uni work and personal life Because stress can be damaging to mental health and I feel stressed quite often Stressful days General stress leading to exhaustion It stresses me out Because the stress from uni work can become overwhelming and I feel like I’m behind everyone else Pressure of deadlines Lots of pressure put onto very insignificant things like exams and essays Stress and pressure There is too much to think about, even when doing these mindful activities everything is constantly being thought about Workload and exams/assignments increase stress levels Not being able to switch off from work At uni there is a lot of pressure to do well and heavy work load Because my job role and the business is always changing I sometimes feel pressure to constantly keep up and manage this. This definitely takes a toll on my mental health. The stress and the pressure There is a lot of pressure to do well in your degree and sometimes you start thinking ahead to a job and it gets stressful when you don’t know what you will be doing after university degree not so much but part time work yes definitely - toxic work environment, very tiring in which they don’t care about Irregular timetable because i’m a university student It’s a permanent and continual stress in the back of my mind. Stress during exam period / when there’s upcoming deadlines The stress of having a large amount of responsibility and high workloads has a negative impact on my mental health. Alongside this there are specific targets I must reach throughout the year. Having a vast amount of additional jobs and responsibilities means it is not always easy for me to hit my targets. I must prioritise my workload as there are only so many hours in a day. The stress and pressure of deadlines affects me Stress Find it difficult to switch off at home if I have deadlines to meet sometimes not appreciated for what i can do which makes me feel less than How I'm performing at work often effects how I feel at home in the evenings. Stress re. Workload, anxiety re. Decision and presentations etc Just the constant battle between where I am and where I need to be, this comes in form of deadlines, exams, etc. Feel like is a constant tick sheet Can be stressful at times The pressure to learn a lot within a small period of time can be very straining and also the pressure can actually result in less productivity and more anxiety. Whether you are at work or at home what goes on in your job and the people you speak to are always on your mind I have to deal with stressful situations at work and mindfulness helps me cope with this I feel overwhelmed as I struggle to balance work and social life at uni Can be stressful, but overall a good working environment so does not affect me often 69
Depends on how much work I’ve got to do and have much free time I have Sometimes the workload is hard to keep up with and causes me stress, also it’s hard not to compare my work to others and feel I’m not good enough. The pressure of a lot of work to be completed, but no way of redoing it Stressful deadlines at uni I do a stressful, patient focused job. Sometimes my sleep will be disturbed if I’ve got something on my mind from work. I’d say around 70% of my stresses revolve around work/ studying towards chartered accountancy qualification alongside work. When work is stressful or home is stressful it will impact the other. Switching off between the two is near impossible when you spend so much time at work My degree is intense and when I become stressed my mental health deteriorates When I’m having to juggle many tasks and emotions it can be hard Stress makes me overtired Wondering what the future contains causes uncertainty leading to anxieties Feel like the pressure is on to get a good job once my studies are done, whether what I’m studying is an area I really want to go into or not etc. Work stress, taking work home with me stress close to deadlines Wouldn’t say negatively impacted. But my job means I am often working late and away from home, which does have an impact on my mental health. Probably mostly stress related of having a lot to think about. Often a lot of pressure and stress with high, intense work loads Pressure of work Yes because it sometimes feels repetitive and under filling as if I'm wasting my time which can cause depressive episodes Only when deadlines are imminent I find it stressful and always feel like I have lots to do If my job is extra stressful for a prolonged period of time I notice that my mental health is effected until I get a holiday to recharge batteries. Because my mind is elsewhere and I tend not to attend lectures My job is stressful and causes anxiety at times The stress that comes with uni deadlines alongside work responsibilities can be really overwhelming and having to decide which to prioritise can be tricky. Also negatively affects social life due to lack of time. Especially close to deadlines, I feel my mental health is at its worst and particularly unmotivated, as I’m super stressed and do not have any time for myself and feel guilty for engaging in any activity other than revision / reading / essay writing Everyday hurts and I constantly have conflicting thoughts about life to the point where I question everything and csnt get out of bed due to my anxieties Stress, workloads etc Sometimes positively as I love what I do but also sometimes negativity due to stress and pressure When there is a lot of work to do and the day is very busy I feel a constant pressure in my job to meet high standards and so feel constantly stressed being a student can be stressful I work in a fast-paced customer facing environment with many responsibilities in a managerial role which can be physically & mentally draining. It's difficult to maintain that high-energy attitude towards others for hours at a time. It has impact, but it's more existential, which is in turn spiralled by the stress of university. Stress from the pressure to succeed with coursework Depends on other aspects of my life as well Build up of stress and deadlines from uni leads to less sleep. I feel less and less active over time so my uni work and active lifestyle (like the gym) always suffer as a result. I then feel less like myself and get even more stressed that I’m not coping. 70
Certain activities within the job cause a lot of mental stress, whereas the other activities make the job for filling and worthwhile. The non stop deadlines and things to worry about doesn’t give you time to breathe and prepare yourself for the stress. It’s just constant, even on the holidays. It gets in the way to relax Studying impacts my mood Yes, due to stress and pressure A different aspect on stress Overthinking work and stress I haven’t done something It is the surrounding environment that contains people who you interact with on a daily basis and they can have a positive or negative impact on you Work is always on your mind especially the never ending to do list The rise and fall of stress levels and tackling living independently and a social life/relationships on top of that Stress, pressure Constantly busy I find it anxiety inducing, pressure to make no mistakes The pressure to perform. People not being considerate of mental health and therefore making it even harder when you’re not understood. When I'm not at work, I have to do diploma work and I feel guilty if I'm not doing that or something productive. I find the pressure of progressing in my ‘career’ to be really stressful Pressure to keep providing for my family Increased levels of stress and anxiety from my work and thinking about whether I have done the right thing. Can be stressful Stressed days at work Eating habits, sleeping habits, mental exhaustion If extremely busy or intense can impact energy, sleep and ‘be on your mind’ It’s constant and you can never do too much so it’s like a circle of stress and expectations With being in a full time job it has a massive impact of mental health due to your hours being in the workplace and feels like most of your time is at work. With my job the responsibility it brings has an impact of always being switched on. Aswell My self motivation and productivity and daily tasks of wanting to ensure 100% achievement to enable progression. I think if work has been particularly busy it can make you feel a bit stressed out, or if you have made a mistake it can play on your mind when you get home and make you a bit quiet Stress impacts my daily life 12. Does your degree or job ever make you feel?
13. When experiencing these emotions, do you think your productivity is influenced?
14. Why do you think this is? When feeling overwhelmed, I find it hard to concentrate and focus on work, therefore making me less productive Because my concentration is affected and I feel too many thoughts and feelings to be able to produce any good quality work I feel under pressure to do well and it causes me to worry a lot reducing my productivity Stress makes me work but because I’m so overwhelmed, not to the best of my abilities I feel same level of productivity whether stressed or not To try to get stuff done so I’m not as stressed Sometimes I’m more productive because I’ll have a deadline to meet but other times I feel so overwhelmed I tend to do nothing but that wasn’t an option I put off doing what is necessary Stress makes it harder to focus Disgruntled towards work & lose focus easily Sometimes it slows me down sometimes it spurs me on when i feel under pressure When I feel those things, I tend to ignore everything like work I have to do or ring in sick for my old job Im too worried about what I’m supposed to do instead of actually doing it and I can never seem to do work when I’m stressed Trying to do the best in my job, which can sometimes mean becoming exhausted I become less motivated No respect or recognition for doing well Feel overwhelmed so find it challenging to work I get wound up and am less able to sit and do work and I feel unmotivated to do so You are slower to make the right decision because you over think it. I am more productive because the pressure motivates me I’m putting most of my effort into maintaining my wellbeing and trying to manage those emotions that I’m not focused on my tasks or priorities at all. Because I think I’m going to fail Sometimes I feel the best way to avoid feeling like that is to avoid doing the work which is making me feel like that I don’t want to feel like that so I stop what I am doing and give myself a break Get too overwhelmed It’s overwhelming so I just avoid it I want to do other things to try and take my mind of being stressed I'm in the wrong headspace to think properly and focus on the task at hand. I overthink things which causes an even more negative effect. When I’m upset I don’t want to do work Too much stress 72
I get tired because I don't sleep i can only do what i can do When I do not have the chance to stop, think, organise and calm down, I become unproductive due to stress and "faffing". I sometimes wonder what the point of it all is. As a severe anxiety sufferer I have learnt that most days I have to tell myself the basics... did you get enough sleep? have you eaten well today? Have much exercise have you done recently? Therefore I’m constantly worrying about a lot of stuff Job still needs to be done regardless of my mental state I'm too busy worrying and stressing to do my work. Also at uni I tend to sleep or nap a lot just to switch off from the stress of work. Thinking too much into what needs to be done and not focusing on how to do it efficiently I sometimes have to take time from the phone to deal with my emotions which means I’m taking less calls Because I feel like well i’m fucked anyway so i’m just not going to do anything Above answer depends on which emotion. Anxious - less productive. Stressed - sometimes more productive at work (not at home). Overwhelmed - less productive" Too much to do at once had the adverse effect of doing less work. Because I find it hard to balance student life and work life All of these feelings make me feel more lethargic or too rushed/scatter brained so I don’t work efficiently. I enjoy my job and the small degree of stress it brings so my productivity is not influenced I’m just as productive I think When everything starts to pile up it makes it harder to get work done efficiently and motivate yourself to do it Can’t work with a bad mindset Tired Because my ability to focus on a task is limited by my emotions. These negative feelings lend me to be less 'in the room', less able to make dynamic decisions. Can’t concentrate Because even when I’m engaged in another task I am still thinking about the task that is stressing me out. This then slows me down on the task I should be working on because I’m not fully focused. When emotions get too much your brain will just switch off, more like a coping mechanism Pressure and stress causes me to procrastinate and worry about completing work It gives me a negative mindset If I’m overtired I tend to make mistakes or get clumsy Unsure Too many things to do to be able to properly balance them As if I am stressed I feel that it is impossible for me to continue or finish an assignment as my brain can't comprehend parts of the task or find the correct answers. Only a little less productive. Some modules I find boring and there are so many different areas I can go into once done, which makes it hard to picture myself doing a specific job due to sort of ‘option paralysis’, this kills a little bit of motivation, making me slightly less productive. Not being able to prioritise effectively Because i’m stressed i just have to get on with it and don’t have time do it it slowly Less productive Because when I am stressed or feeling overwhelmed, it is often hard to think about the various things I have to complete or to do creative work which is often involved in my job. Reluctance to complete stressful tasks as there can be many jobs to complete in the day, which in turn can lead to a build up of work Don't know Because it causes low moods It motivates me 73
I struggle to motivate myself to work without the stress of deadlines It distracts me from focusing I know I will feel better when I get the work completed so just plough on. Because I’m thinking about all the different emotions rather than thinking about the work Unable to focus on the task so achieve less I lose interest/question what the point is. It can feel overwhelming to fave more work that initially makes me feel bad. Because I can't focus, I feel like I have to much to do so I don't know where to start. Ii spend more time dwelling than working The pressure of success Stress is often overwhelming, sometimes a little bit of stress is beneficial as it encourages me to get the job done, but time pressure especially causes me to panic and waste more time overthinking Too overwhelming to be productive Because I dont see the point in doing anything so why do it when I become overwhelmed I tend to shut off and struggle to push past the mental block Negativity I work better when I feel good about what I'm doing Being more tired, so completing tasks takes longer You're too exhausted to keep working at the intense pace you feel you need to be working at, and feel you'll never successfully meet the standards you think you need to meet. the pressure of excelling at everything can be too much sometimes. we're all human and everyone needs some time without thinking about life, be it spent actively or passively I feel very overworked and undervalued in my job which has knocked my confidence and self-value so I have little motivation to help myself in my spare time Have not ever felt overwhelmed and/or stressed in my life. The panic of getting work done can keep me motivated for hours. With a deadline incoming fast I am able to devote all my energy into my work as I would panic to do anything else. My mind is not as focused The more overwhelmed I get with the things I have to do, the less I can focus on one task at a time because everything else I need to get done is playing on my mind I put myself under pressure on top of those emotions and it pushes me to complete work to get out of the mindset Harder to motivate yourself to work when you’re not in a good mood I sometimes let my degree get on top of me and think why am I even at uni/what will I get out of it? I find uni deadlines stressful and overwhelming, and I then become less productive because I start to doubt everything and whether I’ll ever be able to finish it! Overwhelming workloads mean I struggle to balance my time and I stress over the fact I’ll fail or I’m not going to complete everything in time. Being far away from home can make me feel alienated too. Mind is no longer clear and critical/logical thinking is decreased. I feel a sense of hopelessness and then I feel like giving up on my degree! However, when the deadline becomes closer, the stress of failing makes me rush to get it finished on time and therefore it’s not my best piece of work I'm not sure Because my job I wouldn't class as a job more as a lifestyle so it's not stressful or any emotions above!! The only feeling I have is love towards it!! I get distracted and unmotivated Less focused on tasks Less focused Because I don’t feel inspired by the job Failure to see results/recognition of your work makes you less productive 74
If I am not as productive I will get more stressed out as I have more work to do Tired The lack of motivation to try please people who don't appreciate you trying your best to help or improve a situation I want to do a good job Feel like I’m being rushed and need to relax and take a break Because it all feels too much to do and it makes me fatigued The feeling of being overwhelmed can often lead me to not know where to start so I end up not starting at all My concerns doesn’t affect my productivity Overwhelms me into feeling negative and unable to do simple tasks and unmotivated Because my mind is elsewhere and I can’t then concentrate I don’t know Can sometimes make me need more breaks and spend lots of time going between tasks Because you go into fight or flight mode where your only focus is self preservation; you cannot perform a duty. I cant care for others if I can’t care for myself. Working long hours without a break, brain gets worn out! I’m a hard worker. Lack of confidence Leaves me feeling unmotivated to continue with work Stress isn't a good thing for me and makes me stress even more When I'm stressed Inthink more negatively and I'm more tired. This makes it harder to focus on work and to prioritise. I often get to the stage where I feel ‘what is the point’ as every day seems to be the same and it stretches before me for the rest of my life and so I almost give up for the day Stress Because I’m always playing catch up, overthinking about what needs to be done and worrying, not healthy is it I end up rushing but then rethinking and redoing the work to make sure it is right. Sometimes too overwhelming to organise what needs to be done so just ignore it. Less motivated to achieve certain goals Always tired, worried Lack of focus and motivation Because I get more stressed when there is a deadline and I have to complete my work in a shorter space of time as I leave most of my work to the last minute Certain attitudes at work can make me feel unmotivated but I still get on with my work, it doesn't give enthusiasm to do extra. Because regardless of stress or feeling overwhelmed I have learn to continue to be productive. I don’t take other people’s behaviour personally and I know I have a job to do, which is often fast paced and has time constraints, so I have to complete tasks how ever I’m feeling. I have a good team of colleagues who I know I can let if steam to if I get frustrated and this helps me stay focused, I don’t allow my job to affect my mental health because it’s important that I stay well to continue working and looking after my family. Brain goes on overload and end up being too stressed making everything harder Less energy It’s a 50/50. When it’s too stressful and no support it makes me question my productivity and appreciation to the business. Where as if I have a lot of deadlines and stress makes me want to be productive to show I am capable and do the best I can. My anxiety is usually worry about getting everything done in the set time and so I try to stay as productive as then the anxiety lessens as the job gets done Stress clouds the mind Pressure from management to have a good performance Tiredness leads to errors 75
9.2 Diary Entries Blank Diary Entry Week 1
Blank Diary Entry Week 2
Diary Entry Week 1 Cerys Futter: student, 21
Diary Entry Week 2 Cerys Futter: student, 21
Diary Entry Week 1 Toby Seymour: student, 20
Diary Entry Week 2 Toby Seymour: student, 20
Diary Entry Week 1 Anita Tull: part-time employee, 48
Diary Entry Week 2 Anita Tull: part-time employee, 48
Diary Entry Week 1 George Brine: part-time employee, 21
Diary Entry Week 2 George Brine: part-time employee, 21
Diary Entry Week 1 Grace Tovell: full-time employee, 24
Diary Entry Week 2 Grace Tovell: full-time employee, 24
Diary Entry Week 1 Shane Tovell: full-time employee, 52
Diary Entry Week 2 Shane Tovell: full-time employee, 52
9.3 In-depth Interviews Email Interview Cerys Futter: student, 21 1. Do you live a fast-paced life or make a conscious effort to slow down? I would say that I live a fast-paced life. I’m a third-year medical student with a heavy timetable where I am often out of the house at 8am and not back until 6pm and I then often go to the library for a couple of hours after this. I’m often rushed and especially in the lead up to exams and assessments I am very stressed and frantic. I sometimes try and make a conscious effort to slow down but often do not remember to. I like to spend an hour in the evening with a facemask on watching TV in bed as I find this relaxing however, screen time before going to sleep is not ideal so have recently purchased a book to start reading (as a result of the week 2 tasks prompting this). 2. What is the main reason you like / would like to slow down? I think the main reason I would like to slow down is that I have read so much through social media and on the internet about the benefits of mindfulness and taking care of your mental health. I’m well aware of the effects stress can have on your health both physical and mental so would like to slow down to prevent these. When it gets to exam season my mental health always deteriorates and as this is coming up in May I would like to slow down and ensure I enter exams in the best possible mindset. 3. What is stopping you from doing so? I think even if I plan to stop working in an evening to relax, knowing I have lots to do the next day stops me from slowing down, I don’t want to do nothing if I have lots to do the next day. I know that this is ineffective, as if I’m not going to do work I might as well relax and ensure I’m in the best possible state to be productive the next day. Also, it sounds conflicting, but I just think there simply isn’t enough hours in a day – although I would love to be able to slow down, regardless of how much I improved my time management, I just don’t think it would fit into my daily routine. 4. In general it seems that you were more anxious and stressed in week 1 than week 2, is there a reason for this? I found it very beneficial to take time out of my day in week 2 to do the tasks set as I never normally take time to stop feeling more anxious and stressed. I also think that my weeks were very different. In week one, I was at university in the last week of my placement preparing to come home from Christmas and had a lot of final deadlines whereas in week two, I was at home for Christmas spending lot of time with friends and family. I had revision to do but no deadlines, so I felt under less pressure. 5. It appears that when your anxiety, stress and tiredness is rated lower, you rated your productivity higher. Do you think this is correct, and what is your reasoning for this? I definitely think this is correct and I think it is because I struggle to concentrate if my anxiety and stress levels are high. I get tired but I can normally push through and find motivation through being tired whereas I find it hard to motivate myself when I feel anxious and stressed. 6. What emotion did you think hindered your productivity most? I think anxiety actually hinders my productivity the most. 7. Have you experienced prolonged periods of stress or anxiousness caused by your degree? Yes, I definitely have. In year 1 the transition into university and the sheer volume of work I had to do caused great stress and I became very anxious in the lead up to my first set of exams (few months of anxiousness). I ended up having to re-sit these which further led to my anxiety levels to rise. When I transitioned into the second year of the course I sought CBT therapy which helped me deal with my anxiety around exams for my second-year exams and the techniques I learnt I still apply regularly to my life however I feel I still struggle to relax and enter exam season with a healthy mindset. 8. On days when you did not manage to complete your daily tasks, was this due to time constraints or mental constraints? I would say that when I did not complete my daily tasks it was down to both time and mental constraints. Week one Monday I did not complete filling in my eRoa (electronic record of achievement) for university, this 89
was more due to a mental constraint as I had been procrastinating all day and then put it off. Whereas on Week two Wednesday I didn’t manage to put a load of washing on because I forgot and ran out of time and wants to go to bed so that was simply due to time constraints. 9. Did you find the activities you completed on week two made you more productive? I think the activities I completed on week two did make me more productive because they gave me more structure to my evenings. They allowed my brain to have a mental break where I didn’t think about work, and if I did it was in a positive way rather than negative. Often I’ll think about the amount of work I have to do in a negative panicky way whereas knowing I had to do an activity made me plan my day a bit more and think about tasks I needed to do positively. 10. Which activity benefited your mental or emotional state most? I think that the 10-minute walk with no phone benefited my mental state the most because I was getting exercise and fresh air whilst doing it. I walked the dog and often when I do this I’ll be scrolling my phone whereas this time I took time to think and reflect which helped my mental state massively. It didn’t have a massive effect on my emotional state this time because it was already positive however I know in the past if I’ve been upset or frustrated a walk has really helped. 11. Did you find it difficult to switch off whilst completing the activities? Yes, I did a lot but I think that could be due to how little I make the effort to switch off generally and if I continue to slow down and make changes to my day I will find it becomes easier and easier. 12. In week 2, did you notice any change in how you felt on days when you did an activity compared to the days you didn’t? Yes, I think I did because it helped me try to switch off in the evenings and relax before bed. On the days I didn’t do this I think I ended up going to sleep later which made me more tired the next day and had a knock-on effect. It helped my evening have more structure. 13. Do you think the activities helped you to slow down at all? I think the activities did help me to slow down because even sometimes when I watch TV to relax I’ll be doing a bit of work at the same time or I will also be on my phone but I could only do this activity and nothing else so I think I did slow down. However, I only ever did the tasks in the evening and I wonder if it would have been better to do them at other points in the day rather than just when I am doing less and generally the least stressed. 14. Is this something you would continue to do in the future? Is it a sustainable way of life or temporary fix? As mentioned in the first question I do try and make a conscious effort to slow down, but it is often unsuccessful. I have recently purchased a book to start reading, prompted by the second week tasks, and plan to continue this. I think there is a good chance of me sticking to this routine as within just a week I could notice an improvement. I’ll also continue watching TV and doing facemasks as I enjoy that. I found the walk beneficial and hope to continue this and make it sustainable.
Interview 1 Anita Tull: part-time employee, 48 Recording starts ---------RT:
Hi, so this interview is based on the diary entries I gave you, where I will just ask you some questions in more detail. Just so you know, you have the right to withdraw at any point and, in this case, the data will be destroyed. Please could you fill in the consent form I’ve given you before we start, thank you.
Question number one is do you live a fast-paced life, or make a conscious effort to slow down?
No, I live a fast-paced life.
Can you explain that a bit more please?
Well I certainly don’t make an effort to slow down. Well I suppose sometimes I do, it depends, when I’m at work it’s very fast paced, on my days off it’s very fast paced because I’ve got a lot to do at home, but sometimes at the weekends I allow myself to slow down and relax.
What is the main reason you like to slow down?
Because I get tired, really tired. When I’ve been at work and I’ve done 27 hours in 3 days then I need to rest, otherwise that’s how you get ill, and not sleep properly and get down. So, I know then I’ve got to slow down to sort of recharge my batteries a bit so I’m ok for the following week.
Overall it seems you were more productive in week one than week two, is there a reason for this?
Yes because I was off work for week 2, and it’s also the time of year where you have more bank holidays, and just generally less running around, and therefore I was able to take more time out and relax a bit more, and when I relax I’m less productive.
It appears that in general, when your anxiety, stress and tiredness is rated higher, you also rated your productivity higher. Do you think this is correct and what is your reason for this?
That’s definitely true, I think once under pressure I tend to try and complete more, I push myself, because I know my energy levels are higher, so I can get more done. And once I’m in the mood for organising and doing things I know I’ve got to make the most of that and complete things, otherwise I will get more stressed.
You’ve continually rated your boredom between 0 to 1, why do you think this is?
I don’t have time to be bored, in any way.
Do you think that being bored is associated with being lazy, and that’s why? Or do you just not have time?
I think if I ever felt bored, I would have 20 things that I could find to do, I just would never be bored, I can never say in any point of my life, God I’m bored.
Yeah, but I’m really busy at the moment, but I’m still bored because it’s boring.
No, well, I might get bored I suppose of tidying up in the kitchen, but I quite like cooking, I quite like doing the shopping, I quite like doing the hoovering. The only thing I used to get really bored with was ironing, and I don’t do that anymore. Sometimes, if I have too much time sitting down and I’m on my phone playing games I do eventually get bored, and I say right I’ve had enough of this, I’m actually getting bored of this now, I’m going to go and do something else. But I would never say I’m bored, I would just find something else to do.
What emotion do you think hindered your productivity most? Out of the ones you rated.
Um, hindered it the most? Being happy and relaxed, that was what hindered my productivity the most. Yeah, because when I’m happy and relaxed I don’t want to rush around doing things.
Do you find you’re more productive on working days or on your days off?
It’s difficult, because I’m very productive at work, but then on my days off I’m very productive at home, so I don’t know which is more so. Probably work, I have to get more done at work, it is constant.
Is that to do with the pressure you feel from work?
No, that is just the amount of work we have to do in the time we’ve got, it just never stops, never for one second does it let up. There is never a point in the day where I think, ah I’ll just sit here for five minutes and look round at what should I do next, there is never that opportunity cause there is always so much dispensing to do that it is just a race against time, every day, to get the work load done. And that is the same with everybody that I work with or anybody in a small team, and everybody pulls together to get it done. But it’s like a constant rolling thing, so you leave off, someone else takes over, and that is constant all day, and every day you come in there’s the same amount of work that’s got to be done, or more than, and you’re constantly interrupted by patients, phone calls, queries and messages. You’re constantly interrupted with those things when you’ve got 200 scripts to dispense, so the pressure is enormous, there is just not a let up, not one second of the day.
Have you experienced prolonged periods of stress or anxiousness caused by your place of work?
No, not particularly, I don’t really get work stress because I’ve learnt to let it go.
Do you think that’s your type of work that you’re in, because you don’t have to do much outside of work to do with your job?
Yeah, there is that, I don’t have a job where I bring it home.
On days where you did not manage to complete your daily tasks, is this due to time constraints or mental constraints?
It’s because I couldn’t be bothered.
So that’s mental?
I suppose so, I didn’t have enough enthusiasm or energy for them
Did you find the activities you completed on week two made you more productive?
In what way?
The four activities I gave you to do 92
Oh I see, yeah I quite enjoyed them actually
Did you feel more productive after you did them?
Yea, I think the yoga thing did. Um, it’s like when I go for a run, or a walk, it makes me have more energy, so yeah I quite liked the yoga I might try and continue to do that. That’s a good start of the day to think right, now I’ve done that I’m energised and I’m going to get on with things, so yes it did help. And I quite liked the not have your phone for ten minutes.
Which activity benefited your mental or emotional state the most
The yoga. The podcast thing didn’t really take me to the right place.
Is that because you find it hard to switch off?
No I just found it a bit boring, it was a bit slow. I know the yoga is slow but because you’re actually doing something, it was like you did a movement but you could feel you’re breathing and everything sort of slowing down, whereas the podcast I sort of just drifted off, it wasn’t enough to keep me in it.
Did you find completing the activity in the morning or afternoon the most effective?
In the morning
I don’t know, I just felt once I did it, I felt like I’d accomplished something, and that sort of spurred me on for the day if you like. If I am to do any exercise, I prefer to do it in the morning
Did you find it difficult to switch off while completing the activities? So like the one without your phone, did you find that hard?
The podcast, I couldn’t concentrate on it.
In week two, did you notice any change in how you felt on days when you did an activity compared to the days you didn’t?
Urm, yeah, I think I was less productive, because like you say you feel like you’ve achieved something, so I think if you start off being lazy then that’s the bit you give up for the rest of the day
Do you think the activities helped you to slow down at all?
I don’t know about slowing down, I think they made me feel like I had more energy, but maybe that is slowing down and I hadn’t realised it
And is the yoga something you will continue to do in the future
Because I liked how it made me feel, I liked the deep breathing, it made me feel calm, I’ve done yoga before and I know that if you keep doing it you get better at the stretches and you can feel yourself getting more accomplished, and I quite like to have a challenge to sort
of get better at something. And I enjoyed yoga before, so yeah, and it was short enough to keep my interest RT:
And do you think slow living or doing those kinds of activities are a sustainable way of life or a temporary fix?
No I think they’re sustainable, I think there’s some things like any kind of exercise and that, I think you need to incorporate it into your daily routine of doing something. But yeah ,I think that’s quite easy to do, like healthy eating and exercise and that kind of thing. That you just start doing it and you find that’s just your normal daily routine.
Would you find it quite hard to fit into your routine or would it slot in quite easily?
No that would slot in quite easily, I don’t think I could do it on days that I work cause I literally have no time but on other days yeah
Thank you, that is everything.
Interview 2 Grace Tovell: full-time employee, 24 Recording starts ---------RT:
Hi, so this interview is basically based on the diary entries I gave you, where I will just ask you some questions in more detail. Just so you know, you have the right to withdraw at any point and, in this case, the data will be destroyed. Please could you fill in the consent form I’ve given you before we start, thank you.
So the first one is do you live a fast-paced life or do you make a conscious effort to slow down.
Yeah, I would say quite fast paced.
Can you do give a bit more detail than that?
Yeah, most of the time I’m quite fast paced, but I do take some time to slow down sometimes, especially on week nights, but then at the weekend my life is much more fast paced normally.
Okay. Uh, what is the main reason you would like to slow down?
I’m tired all the time. And I don’t know, I guess It’s nice to have some time to yourself sometimes.
And do you think that is for mental reasons or another reason?
Yeah, it’s quite hard to gather your thoughts when you’re at work all day and then you do something in the evening maybe and then you go straight to sleep and then wake up and go to work again. 94
Yeah. So the next question is that overall it seems that you were more productive in the morning than in the afternoon. Is there a reason for this?
I would say it’s probably cause I eat too much for lunch! But also I think that in my job there’s a lot more to be done in the morning because I’m in a hospital, so we have to get people out and we always try and get people out as early in the day as possible. I think I just have a lot more to do in the mornings naturally. So I feel like maybe I just slack off a bit in the afternoons.
Yeah, that makes sense. It appears that in general when your anxiety, stress and tiredness is rated higher, you rated your productivity lower. Do you think this is correct? And what was your reasoning for this?
Yeah, I think so. When I’m bored, I’m less productive. When I’m engaged I’m naturally more productive I think.
Yeah, and do you think anxiety and stress play a part in that?
Yeah, but also I think when I’m less productive I have more time to feel anxious about things.
Can you explain that please?
When I’m really busy at work, I don’t have time to think about it. I just have to do it. Then when I have more time in the afternoons, for instance, like if I’m not doing as much or I’m not feeling as much pressure, I’m like Oh my God, I need to do this. And I need to do that tomorrow, so yeah I have time to worry about things more when I’m not busy or being productive.
I see. On Sunday week two, you rated all the negative emotions high, so anxiety, stress, tiredness, overwhelmed and bored due to being at work. Can you expand on this?
What day was it?
Sunday week two.
Oh yeah. That’s cause I was at work on a weekend for a start. Um, and also, that day at work was really high pressure. There was a lot going on and obviously it’s a Sunday, so there was a lot less staff and I felt like there was a lot of pressure on me because a lot of higher members of staff just don’t really do that much to be honest. So I felt like I carried a lot of the weight that day.
In general, which emotion did you think hindered your productivity the most? So out of all the emotions you rated, which one and why is that?
I think when I get tired at work I’m more lethargic and then I just sit and get more stressed cause I’m not doing anything. So I think yeah, tiredness affects my productivity the most. Cause like anxious and those emotions kind of motivate me to work a bit more. But when I’m tired I’m just like, yeah, I don’t want to do anything.
Yeah I agree. Have you ever experienced prolonged periods of stress or anxiousness caused by your place of work?
Hmm, I did last year, but that’s cause I was still training, but I wouldn’t say that it was prolonged. Like the nature of my job is just quite day to day. Like if you were in an office and you’re doing a project, it may be longer term as you take the stress home with you. But for me, I go in and I do what I have to do that day. So quite a lot of time I don’t worry about it too much afterwards. I just have the next day to contend with.
Yeah, that is a good thing about your job. On days when you didn’t manage to complete your
daily tasks, was this due to time constraints or mental constraints? GT:
Mostly if I’m at work, it will be time. But if they were days when I wasn’t at work, it would be down to my mental state and just procrastinating really.
So, did you find the activities you completed on week two made you more productive?
And do you think they benefitted your mental or emotional state?
Tidying my room definitely did.
What about out of the four activities I gave you?
Oh, sorry! Reading.
Reading. Why is that?
I like reading and it’s actually one of my New Year’s resolutions to read more. So I bought Kindle, so yeah I was reading anyway, but I’ve been trying to read at night so that go on my phone.
Oh, that’s good.
As I feel like that will make me sleep better.
Do you think that that’s a difference between reading a book and reading a Kindle?
I don’t think so. Especially with the Kindle I have because it’s the one without the backlight. But if you have like the Kindle Fire, they have the backlight like an iPad and I feel like that’s not really the same as reading cause the whole point of what I wanted to read for in the first place was to reduce my time spent looking at screens.
Yeah, yeah. And also you said about tidying your room. Why is that?
Oh, I just truly believe in the clean room, clean mind thing.
That’s an interesting thought, is this something you do often?
I tend to keep my room quite tidy in general, but I love giving it a good tidy when it’s needed cause like I like to keep my bedroom quite minimalistic, so when it’s messy it just sort of ruins the the look!
Did you find completing the activity in the morning or the afternoon most effective?
Uhhh, morning. I’m just one of those people that would just rather do things and then I feel bad about doing it. If I put something off, I end up putting it off for longer. Yeah, that’s all really.
Did you find it difficult to switch off whilst completing the four activities?
No, my weren’t very varied. Was I supposed to do one at a time?
Yeah, but don’t worry about it.
Oh. I just liked the reading one so I chose to do that most days. I did the 10 minute walk because I was going to go for a walk anyway, so I just didn’t take my phone. 96
Yeah. Did you find it hard to switch off on the walk or did you feel anxious if you don’t have your phone or whatever?
No. No, sometimes at work when I’m like, well actually cause I cycle to and from work it means I can’t go on my phone. I actually like that because I can’t check my phone for like 20 minutes which is refreshing.
That’s good then, in that time do you feel like you’re still thinking about work?
No, I feel like I don’t really notice, but I do find that then when I get home I’m like oh, I had a good chat with myself then. A good rethink about my feelings. So maybe this is my way of slowing down but I don’t even realise as it has just become a normal part of my daily routine.
And in week two, did you notice any change in how you felt on days when you did an activity compared to the days you didn’t?
Um, no. Week two was a bit weird for me though cause I wasn’t at work for most of it so I felt like maybe it would have been more useful to both of us if I was at work.
Do you think the activities helped you to slow down at all?
I particularly liked the reading one. I just feel like it turns off your brain for a little while.
So would you continue to do that in the future?
Yeah. I’ve been reading every night this week actually.
That’s good. And do you think it’s a sustainable way of life or a temporary fix? Like slow living in general?
I think it’s sustainable, like at my work they try and encourage everyone to take like five minutes if you need it and stuff because if you burn out you’re no use to anyone. It’s like Finland and their four day working week.
You mentioned burnout. Do you know much about it and do you think you would ever get to that point or see anyone that is at that point?
Yeah, I think lots of people in my place of work will get to that point. Doctors, nurses.
Do you think that there should be something put in place to stop people getting to that point?
Like what kinds of things?
Like it’s quite difficult because doctors have to do on calls and stuff, but like for instance, for me, I have to do weekends sometimes, so I can end up doing 12 days in a row because there’s no protective time off around it. So I think workplaces need to make sure that doesn’t happen really.
Okay, thank you very much, that’s basically it! Do you have anything extra to add?
Nope, thank you!
------------Recording ends 97
9.4 Focus Group 1 Moderator: Rose Tovell (RT) Participant A: Cerys Futter (CF) Participant B: Emily Hind (EH) Participant C: Matthew Bowe (MB) Participant D: Nathan Earl (NE) Recording Starts --------------RT: Hey everyone, thank you for your participation in this focus group. Just to let you know, your responses will remain anonymous and confidential, unless your permission is given otherwise. The data collected will only be used for academic purposes, however if you choose to withdraw, your responses will be destroyed and not included in the findings. Please could you fill in the consent form I’ve given you before we start, thank you. RT: So, do you know what slow living is? EH: Yeah MB: No, I don’t personally CF: Yeah, I do, it’s slowing down to live a more balanced life RT: Do you know what the benefits of that is? EH: Being more productive, getting things done better MB: I would say mental health, and productivity CF: I would agree with that MB: To release stress MB: Slow living… I just think it could be a lot of things, if you know what I mean EH: I think it’s things that you probably do, but you don’t realise you do MB: But I think it’s a conscious thing you do EH: But I think there’s a lot of aspects to it, that you probably do automatically that you don’t realise is part of slow living, like walking could be your normal commute, but you don’t think of it as slow living, because it’s part of your routine CF: But it depends on what your mental state is MB: Yeah CF: When you’re walking it depends if you’re rushing, if you’re frantic, if you’re looking constantly before you cross the road MB: Unless you do it to relax or de-stress, I don’t think it’s slow living, it would just be walking EH: Yeah, I suppose 98
CF: I’m always late and quick walking, which is not calming EH: That’s true NE: I don’t really know much about it, I have just seen people on Instagram post about it. But I’m not sure if that’s just the aesthetic like minimalism and stuff or if that’s actually what is it EH: Yeah, I follow some people like that RT: Do you think that we live in an accelerated world? CF: I do EH: Yeah, so busy MB: I don’t really know what that means NE: I think we’re now living in a faster-paced world, maybe because people think being slow means you’re lazy EH: I wouldn’t say slow is lazy, I wouldn’t say it’s a negative thing. I think people compare being fast and slow as productive and lazy, but really, it’s about having patience rather than rushing CF: No, but our society is structured that way EH: Everything’s fast paced CF: Like at Tesco’s, if you want to go to the checkout, you’ll serve yourself, so you don’t have to wait in the queues. Drive thru’s, you want to get your food quickly, you hate when you get parked cause you just expect to get it at the next window NE: It’s also because we are used to a digital generation, like we always use technology and stuff, we want everything now as we know we can get it. I think a digital detox can be good though to like reconnect with the actual world EH: Yeah, it’s like why would you need to wait when you can do everything quickly on the internet CF: Why would you put a ready meal in the oven for 40 minutes when you can put in in the microwave for 4 EH: Exactly RT: And do you personally feel that you live a fast-paced life? Everyone: Yeah EH: Sometimes, I wish I just slowed down MB: I wish I just relaxed more, I’m just always thinking about the next thing EH: I wish I would allow myself to relax more NE: Yeah MB: Yeah but actually relax, not just sit there and watch Netflix, like maybe go for a walk and actually do self-care 99
EH: Yeah true, like actually give yourself time to do those things rather than thinking I’m reading a book so like I should be relaxed now CF: If I chill out, I feel guilty NE: I just feel like there’s got to be something on my mind, because if not I just feel guilty CF: Yeah, as there’s always uni work to do and if you don’t do it you feel bad RT: That thinks to the next question, which is do you find it difficult to switch off? MB: Hmm, no EH: Yeah CF: Oh, I do MB: It depends though, if I’ve got an upcoming assignment then yeah, but if I haven’t then no EH: Sometimes the more I have going on, the more I try and do and then I’m like overwhelmed, so I end up doing nothing, and getting nothing done CF: Yeah, I do that MB: Yeah because you don’t know where to start NE: Yeah, like when you’ve got a lot going on, I think to myself I’ll give myself some time off now, but I haven’t actually done anything in the first place because your mind feels like you’ve done a lot when actually you haven’t EH: I try and be really organised but then because I try and fit too much into a timescale, which isn’t reasonable, I just panic and just do nothing. And then I get sad that I’ve done nothing NE: It’s just a bit of a vicious circle isn’t it CF: It sounds weird but if I had one task to do, I’d do it, but if I had four, I probably wouldn’t do any of them because I don’t have enough time to do them all, so I just don’t start EH: Whereas if I had one task and did it, and then did another, and then another, then I’d do them CF: See I write lists, but if I don’t fulfil them it makes me feel rubbish MB: But I love ticking things off, because it makes me feel accomplished CF: Yeah, I sometimes just write a list just to cross it off and then I feel better for crossing it off, even if I could have used my time more efficiently. Like I’ll sometimes just put on ‘fill my water bottle’ or just stupid things throughout the whole day which I would usually do anyway MB: Yea same, it makes me feel more productive and gives me more motivation to do the other stuff on my list if I’ve already crossed most of it off RT: Do you make a conscious effort to slow down? EH: Not as much as I’d like to MB: No, I wish I did. I’ve always said for my new year’s resolutions to take time for myself by reading a book or go on walks without my phone, but it never actually happens 100
CF: Yeah me neither, and if I’m not at uni then I’ll come home and work and try to get the most amount of shifts as possible, so I actually never don’t do anything. I would never have a weekend just to chill, I can’t remember the last time that happened MB: Yeah, that’s because there’s always so many extra stresses, like even when we’re not at uni we have to come home, but then we have no money, so we have to work NE: Yeah you just don’t know what to focus on EH: Yeah, I always say I want time to just chill and relax but then if I’m doing nothing I feel so unproductive and lazy and like I’m not getting anything done, but then when you don’t have that time I’m just like so busy I just want time to relax RT: If you were going to slow down, what would you do? What activities would you do? CF: I’d probably watch TV, but I don’t know if that’s the best thing MB: I don’t think watching TV’s the best thing though because then when you’re watching a programme you kinda subconsciously take on everything that’s going on in that programme CF: I think I should use my time better because even when I’m watching some murder programme that’s not exactly chilling out is it, but it still does relax me EH: Hmm, yeah, I want to have less time off my phone really CF: Yeah MB: 100% EH: Especially in the evenings because – MB: Like before bed EH: Even if it’s just with the coloured screen on CF: Yeah when I look at my screen time it’s embarrassing sometimes MB: Yeah same CF: It’s like four hours a day or something EH: Mine’s around seven MB: Mine’s like six, but it’s like what do I even do, I just scroll through Instagram mindlessly NE: I literally just go on Instagram and off it and straight back on it again cause I’m bored MB: Yeah, it’s just when you’re bored EH: Yeah, I agree, it’s literally just habit CF: it’s just in certain situations, like if I’m just going somewhere. Like if I did need to walk to the shop, I wouldn’t just walk to the shop without looking at my phone, I’d walk to the shop on my phone EH: Yeah, I take my phone everywhere, I think I’m reliant on it to be honest. I hate not being able to look something up or call someone when I want to 101
CF: It takes ten minutes to walk there so like why do I have to be on it? Why can’t I just have it in my pocket or something? EH: That’s the thing, it’s just habit, I don’t think we’re actually addicted to our phones MB: I hate that we’re always like that, I don’t like that the generations like that EH: At work if here’s no calls I’ll just sit there scrolling through my phone and then when I’m on a call I don’t lock it, so that’s what I’m going to blame my screen time on NE: I remember looking up about screen time and they said they did it to make people aware that they’re so like reliant on devices RT: Yeah, I saw that too MB: Sorry, what was the question again? RT: Um, do you know what activities you would do? MB: I’d like to go on more walks I think EH: Hmm RT: Would you do gentle exercises? EH: What like breathing exercises and yoga etc? RT: Yeah MB: Yeah well, I find when I go to the gym and do weights and stuff, I still find that my way of like slowing down because I’m not focused on anything else bar myself, I’m just focused on improving myself and to me that’s me slowing down NE: I find that if I don’t go gym for a day, I’m just like urgh, but like if I go in the morning, I feel like my day is gonna be a lot better MB: You are more productive and feel better about yourself and that’s sort of my way of slowing down EH: I’d like to actually be able to do yoga and like pilates and that properly, cause at the moment I don’t know what I’m doing and so I don’t feel relaxed, but I feel like once you actually know how to do it you can then use it effectively to relax MB: Cause I was looking at Carly Rowena the other day and every time she gets up in the morning she does all these stretches and like that’s her way of starting off her day right EH: That’s the thing, I’d think that was pointless, I wouldn’t get it, but then obviously it actually works if you do it properly RT: Does anyone do mindfulness or medication? EH: Yeah, I use headspace MB: Yeah, although I only use that if I really can’t sleep EH: I use it for sleeping, like I have sleepcast on every night, rainday antiques 102
MB: I don’t really get on with the whole like feeling each body part turn off one by one thing in yoga because then that consciously makes me think of each body part EH: Yeah but then the idea is to relax it like step by step CF: When I was first stressed with exams, I went to a woman and she did a hypnotherapy tape for me and so I listen to that before bed, when I have an exam, and it like hypnotises me to be less stressed for my exams, and I sometimes do that even if I don’t have any exams if I can’t get to sleep cause it hypnotises me to sleep NE: I like watching people be productive on YouTube, for example Zoe Sugg, I just love watching her vlogs because she’s so calm and so productive and it makes me feel chill watching it CF: Saying that, I do sometimes put her vlogs on to go to sleep, it’s a bit insulting to her because I fall asleep to her, but I find it calming just listening to someone else’s life and like you don’t have to pay attention CF: But you know what we shouldn’t do, which I do a lot, you shouldn’t be in your bed during the day EH: I need to stop napping all, it’s a problem CF: I just love sitting in my bed, it’s comfy MB: Yeah because then it makes you not associate sleep with your bed, that’s why I probably struggle to sleep at night CF: Yeah, that’s why I always make sure I go to the library to do work MB: Yeah like you don’t associate your bed with proper sleep, just like lounging around RT: Okay, in general, do you feel productive at uni? EH: Sometimes? MB: I think it depends NE: I feel like on my kind of creative course, you feel like you do so much work because it takes so long to get to a final idea, so I find it productive but when I tell people what I’ve done today it probably isn’t much, like I do a day’s work so I feel like I am, but sometimes I’m not really MB: Yeah I feel like I am but then I look back at what I’ve actually done and then I‘m like, oh CF: Yeah but this is something I do, this is my bad point, I just associate productivity with time ME: Yeah same! CF: So, if I’ve gone to the library for the day, I’ll feel better about myself than If I was to do half a day’s work in my room, but I probably could have done exactly the same amount of work though EH: Yeah, if you’re chatting in the library all day you could do nothing CF: Even if I go on my phone or something, even If I go out of the house to do work, I’ll always feel better about myself MB: See I don’t know about that actually NE: Going to the library does make me think I’ve done more 103
CF: I think I do genuinely do more in the library, so I think that’s why NE: But I find I feel worse about myself if I aim to do work all day and then don’t actually get much done EH: I think yeah, in terms of work, I do feel more productive cause at the end of the day, I’ve gone in and I’ve done my job and done everything I needed to do most of the time MB: Depends if you do the bare minimum or not NE: I feel like we don’t have a standard MB: I feel that being a student though, obviously not in third year but in first year, it’s productive if you even just go to a lecture EH: I suppose the goal posts are just so different for uni NE: When I do a food shop and get back and see the food in my cupboard, I feel good EH: But if that then makes you more productive work wise, then I guess that’s a good thing CF: No but at uni, when I go and do a food shop, I feel guilty because I haven’t done work in that hour I did the food shop RT: Yeah EH: Yeah but you also need to eat MB: You’ve got to eat at some point CF: Yeah but that’s why at uni I find myself eating quick, bad things, because of everything else I need to do MB: Yeah, I think I just set myself unrealistic goals CF: If I cooked something good for tea it would probably calm me down but instead, I quickly just put something in the oven just so I have more time, but the work I’m doing instead probably isn’t very productive because I’ve done so much of it, without giving myself a break. I just associate productivity with time RT: That’s very true. Do you feel anxiety or stress affect you at uni? NE: Yes MB: Yes NE: Very much so. I think I’m just constantly comparing myself to everyone else. When everyone on my course puts boomerangs of their work, and the group chats are worse, I just constantly compare myself MB: It’s other people that make it worse CF: I mute the chat. The course chat, I just don’t want to know what other people are doing MB: But if it’s all online then like are they actually doing their work or are they just wanting people to see it NE: When I see people on more course go on a night out when I am too, it makes me feel good because I’m like okay, at least I’m not the only one MB: I think it’s all the pressure as well, like third year I’m getting really stressed about what’s going to happen 104
NE: I’m stressed but I don’t even know what I’m stressed about. That’s the thing that gets me EH: Yeah MB: It’s just overwhelming CF: This year’s completely new because I’m doing placement all day and then I have come home and teach myself the syllabus from the textbooks, and then all the reading they give you. I go in all day and then I come home, and it’s still not finished EH: That’s the thing, it shouldn’t have to make you stressed, you shouldn’t have to be stressed because you see everyone else doing different stuff to you. You all do the extra stuff to try and keep on top of it, you shouldn’t have to feel that stress but automatically that’s the feeling that you feel NE: I feel like the more you do, the more stressed you get EH: Yeah, then the more you realise you think you should do CF: There’s also always something else you could do. But it can’t be done. The more you revise the more you realise you don’t know and then you’re like I need to do so much MB: Yeah EH: You’ve got to accept that when you’ve done a day of what you need to do, accept that you’ve done that and be like, oh cool, I’m glad I’ve done that but then move on. There’s always going to be more you can do but we’re human CF: What I find on my course though, everybody that has a religion always seems very calm RT: Interesting CF: They always pray to their God and then they say, what will be will be. Whereas I don’t believe in God so I don’t have that, I just get very stressed MB: So what’s the point in that? We all need to be religious? CF: No, I just ask them to pray for me MB: I think it’s because they think God will always support them NE: If they don’t do well, they’ll just say, ahh never mind that’s God RT: Moving on. Do you think your mental health influences your productivity? MB: Yeah CF Yeah, if you’re down MB: If you’re down you don’t want to do anything do you. I get really pessimistic and I’m like well, I’m not going to do well so I might as well not do it CF: Yeah, I get pessimistic MB: And also, if you’re down you’re not going to be able to do your best work so there’s kind of point in me doing anything 105
CF: By doing nothing you get more down MB: I just make myself worse, sometimes you need to take yourself away from the situation and try and make yourself better and then go back to it EH: Yeah MB: Because there’s no point in stressing, making yourself worse and wasting time producing rubbish NE: Yeah, uni always says to do mindfulness hours which are scheduled in our timetables now CF: Seriously! NE: To do yoga classes and things MB: I’d love that though NE: It’s cool but as it’s instead of doing work, I just think that I’ll then feel guilty CF: That’s true, they put on a yoga class for us at uni but it was during compulsory timetable things so no one could go which didn’t really make sense. Are you meant to go to it? NE: Yeah but I don’t, I think it will stress me out even more MB: That is true, if you try to do stuff to de-stress yourself you feel more stressed because you’re wasting time NE: Yeah, exactly! EH: I think as well, we always say you’ve got this, look at all this stuff you’ve done etc. but when it comes to yourself, you’re always like, no I can’t do it CF: Yeah true, I’d be like don’t worry about it, but then to me it’s the absolute end of the world NE: Yeah RT: Um, so do you know what burnout is? EH: I’m assuming it’s when your body just gives up like you’ve just put too much in and your body is like nope, I’m done NE: Yeah MB: Just like exhaustion, mentally and physically RT: Do you know anything else about burnout? MB: Is it like when you overwork yourself towards a deadline or something and don’t sleep till like 6am and then your burnt out cause you’re just so exhausted? CF: Yeah like you’ve left yourself no sleep or anything EH: Burning the candlestick at both ends MB: It’s definitely better to get an actual good night’s sleep and then you can work better the next day NE: I think you can burnout when you’re doing a project or something similar, and you just run on adrenaline 106
because you’ve got to finish it before the deadline CF: But a lot of people work so much better like that, from having that kind of stress on you EH: Really? CF: I don’t, if I have stress I’ll crumble, I’ll just be like ahhh, I don’t have enough time NE: It makes me want to get more done CF: But it makes me think I can’t do it and then it’s the end of the world and I panic EH: I also find like when I was working over Christmas loads a couple of years ago, I was doing everyday single day and then when I had Christmas day off, I was ill because I hadn’t stopped CF: Yeah, I get that EH: I hadn’t let myself relax and then I suddenly did and was like, oh CF: And I always find that I get ill when I come home from uni, I think that’s because I’m running so high all the time and then when I stop my body doesn’t know what to do! NE: Yeah CF: Because the adrenaline keeps your body going because you’ve always got deadlines, normally before you come home NE: Yeah but then when I’m ill, I really struggle to do work which is so annoying MB: Agree with that RT: And finally, do you think that slow living can reduce the effects of anxiety or stress or burn out? MB: Yeah EH: Yeah definitely, I don’t see why it wouldn’t CF: Um, I’m not sure MB: We need to take more time for ourselves and actually think NE: And that will improve a lot on its own, I imagine CF: I can’t see why it wouldn’t, but I never tested it to know if it does or not EH: The thing is, I guess there’s that risk of, if it doesn’t work or you’re not doing something that turns out to work for you, would that make you more stressed? But maybe it’s a case of finding the right thing, or right sort of thing MB: Yeah, I 100% think it has to be over time to find what works for you CF: Yeah, I think it’s a skill you would need to get good at NE: I feel like you can’t suddenly just slow down because you might not use the time as productively as possible EH: Yeah Cerys, you wouldn’t just be able to be like, you know what, I’m going to do yoga Monday, walking 107
Tuesday, you can’t just throw yourself into it, you need to bring yourself down gradually and then build yourself up MB: I think you also have to want to do it as well, you can’t just be like oh, I’ll force myself CF: Yeah, I think that is kinda the point of it, it’s a conscious decision MB: You’ve got to want to slow down EH: It’s like going on a diet CF: Any change of life you have to be motivated MB: I’s got to be something that is going to come to you easily NE: Yeah that’s the thing MB: It would have to be something that you want to do and enjoy if not you’re just going to end up hating it EH: Yeah that’s not going to work RT: Do you think that you’d only revert to slow living after experiencing burnout or something like that? MB: Yeah EH: I feel like we’re all like it’ll be such a good idea but, you only actually think after you’ve got to that point of exhaustion where you literally can’t do it anymore that you think okay, I should probably take on a slower life now MB: You don’t care about your mental health until it gets bad CF: Well I have said I’m going to do yoga for the last 3 years and it definitely, probably would have benefitted me, but have I done it? Nope EH: You need to start! MB: There’s just so much other stuff you could be doing, it feels like a waste of time CF: Yeah because you don’t definitely know it’s going to benefit you, even though we have been told it will MB: I think when you’re not stressed it’s like why should I do something that is going to slow me down, but then when you get stressed, you’re like, oh maybe should have done that, and then it’s too late CF: But then you don’t have time EH: I think because we think our pace of life is normal and that’s just the norm, it must be okay. But if you actually think about it, just because it’s part of our routines to be busy and fast, it doesn’t make it okay RT: Yeah MB: Exactly CF: I think the headspace app is good, I’ve used it a few times but only in situations like exam stress, not consistently. I know that they work for me, but I don’t know if they work for me all year round or just like acute situations EH: Yeah, you know what to use them for 108
CF: If I’m proper panicked but not on my bassline normal stress level. Maybe if I used it all the time it wouldn’t make me stressed at all EH: I have a panic app that I use in situations, but I would never just use it daily CF: But it might make you feel better EH: Yeah CF: But you only use it when it’s bad EH: Yeah MB: What is that app? EH: Beat Panic MB: Ahh, I really want to download something like that for when I go on planes NE: I don’t use anything like that CF: That sounds good RT: Is there anything else anyone would like to add? Everyone: *shakes head* ----------Recording stopped
9.5 Focus Group 2 Semiotic Resources
Moderator: Rose Tovell (RT) Participant A: Dominique Yearby (DY) Participant B: Helena Evison (HE) Participant C: Saskia Marsh (SM) Participant D: Annie Taylor (AT) Participant E: Charlotte Dudley-Smith (CDS) Recording Starts --------------RT: Hi guys! Thank you for your participation in this focus group. Just to let you know, your responses will remain anonymous and confidential, unless your permission is given otherwise. The data collected will only be used for academic purposes, however if you choose to withdraw, your responses will be destroyed and not included in the findings. Please could you fill in the consent form I’ve given you before we start, thank you. RT: So yeah, this is just two things on either side of the presentation. One that’s fast and one that’s slow and I just want you to talk about which one you do or which one you’d like to do. Just a bit of a discussion really. So the first one is reading or social media? AT: I would definitely like to read more HE: Yeah me too CDS: I’m reading at the moment HE: Are you?! What are you reading? CDS: reading ‘The Tattooists of Auschwitz’ SM: Oh yeah, I’ve read that HE: I really like that 110
CDS: I like reading it before bed SM: Are you find it hard to get into? CDS: Um, I don’t think so because I was so eager to read it SM: Yeah see it was boring for me until the end, but the end is really really good so keep reading it DY: I feel so accomplished when I’ve read a book, and then I feel so disappointed with myself when I get my screen time HE: Mine’s really bad at the moment AT: Yeah, mine’s really bad SM: Mine was up 7% from last week CDS: However, I’ve got that tree growing app, to help like limit my time when I’m like working to make sure it don’t go on it. I do think that really helps like to reduce my screen time. RT: Yeah DY: I don’t know why I don’t read more because I do feel good when I read, and if I spent as much time reading that I do on my phone then I would read so many books HE: I just find it hard to get addicted to a book. Whereas I’m addicted to my phone CDS: There’s nothing better than finding a good storyline though AT: I feel like it’s just an excuse, but I just feel like I don’t have the time to get into a book. It’s just in short bursts though, like I’m not the type of person that will sit there for two hours on tik-tok DY: We were talking about even Netflix though. Like we watch three hours one day and I literally binge watched ‘You’ on Netflix. So in that sense, yeah. I would like to read more, but I use social media more HE: I’m also really slow at reading at the start and then I get faster, but I don’t know it annoys me that I’m like, oh, I’m reading this so slow, because I just want immediate answers. I want to know the ending SM: Yeah I’ve definitely got a short attention span CDS: Sometimes it annoys me when I’m reading it so quickly because I’m like, this is going to be over before I know it AT: No, but as well, I find that when I read that if I do it in a busy period in my life I’m thinking about other things and then I’ll have to re-read the page over and over again. RT: Yeah! Same, I do that all the time DY: But I think though it’s like everyone always says like, it’s not about social media, but like everyone always says that the book is so much better than the film, like that is so true. But like we just can’t be bothered CDS: It’s because you like picture in your head differently to the film and then a lot of the time it’s disappointment of like, oh I didn’t expect her to look like that, or I didn’t expect the scene to be this way DY: Yeah like Girl on the Train I thought the book was so much better than the film because the film just wasn’t what I had pictured at all 111
HE: But I really enjoy watching a film when I’ve read a book cause it’s cool to see how someone else imagined it CDS: I think you get so much more of a thrill reading and doing something like that. Like where you actually achieving something and when you come to the end of something, rather than just sitting around on your phone HE: Yeah and it’s just so mindlessly and out of boredom CDS: But if you go on holiday and stuff like I’m not really on my phone and like if you’re distracted by reading or stuff like that, because you don’t want to go on your phone you just do it because you’re bored. HE: I love it when I read and like I haven’t thought about it. I’m like, oh wait, I haven’t been on my phone in ages AT: Yeah, like when I was in my seminar earlier, I just went to pick up my phone so many times for no reason HE: Yeah AT: But like it’s just, why am I even looking at it? HE: t’s just like a reflex isn’t it almost SM: Well I think what I struggle to do is when I’m on holiday, I’ll read a book easily and I really enjoy it. Whereas here I won’t because I don’t give myself the time to relax, and it’s almost like when your holiday is like, I’m going to relax this week and I’m going to really chill out HE: Yeah it’s got to be an intentional thing CDS: It is weird though because we probably spend the same amount of time on social media a week as what we could read a book in, but like it just seems like a bigger task DY: But also like reading books really improves how you speak and writing and stuff like that, but on social media it’s like being a product of your own environment, you make your own environment online so you don’t ever learn like anything particularly new AT: Yeah HE: And people are speaking in quite, like conjunct ways, cause on Twitter for example, you could have a set amount of characters so you don’t want to use big words and stuff to take up characters so you’re actually not reading like long educational words AT: I think reading can be a really good form of escapism, like when you’re sort of immersed in someone else’s narrative it’s like such a weird feeling but it’s really nice DY: But I think that’s why you got so upset when you finish books that you’re like in love with it because you’re like I want to know the next stage! HE: Yeah HE: I feel like you can get that kind of sense from like series or films. Like when you get addicted, you just want to like know what’s going to happen next AT: I just feel like you’re so invested in someone else’s character whereas, I dunno, I feel like with watching stuff you can very easily be like well I don’t like that character. Like when you’re watching something you associate that actor with, do you know what I mean, like with ‘You’ you’re looking at Dan Humphrey from Gossip Girl HE: It takes away the realness of it 112
CDS: But I think you can contrast that to like when you follow bloggers, or like someone who has a family. You might follow them because they’ve got a family and you want to know the next stage of their chapter and stuff like that, or home renovations, like you want to know what they’re doing and that RT: Do you think in the future social media will carry on increasing, or do you think traditional methods like reading will come back? DY: I don’t know, like so many people are saying I don’t want a phone I don’t want a -, like Ed Sheeran, he got rid of everything and he’s such, if you think of productivity, he’s such a creative person though, like he doesn’t have a phone so maybe he’s doing so much more. Like without our phones, how much more would we achieve? AT: But when I spoke to my friends and they were saying that they’ve done digital detoxes and stuff and like they really work, but they can’t do it any longer than a week period because you feel disconnected SM: Yeah, it must be lonely CDS: Yeah but you do, like think about how many plans and stuff you make on a group chat, like you would just feel like you’re missing out all the time DY: And even like, no-one sticks to things now, like we were like oh we’ll go to the library at nine but we didn’t AT: You’d be so oblivious! HE: I remember when my family friends said, back in my days me and my friends would say meeting in town at twelve and we met at twelve because we planned that, whereas now we can so easily be like I don’t want to go anymore, I’ll just text them CDS: We get distracted by going on your phone and you’re like ten minutes delayed and then HE: Yea we like stop plans and meeting up because we’re like we don’t want to at the time and we don’t have to SM: We have the ability to cancel it DY: And also, my mums always like oh, if you’re driving anywhere like have you made sure you know the way, like have you looked at a map. But we don’t have those productive skills because we’re so reliant on – RT: Yea my mum was like, have you looked at where you’ve got to go, and I was just like I dunno I’ll just follow Google maps DY: Like our parents would probably be like why do you not know the way, it’s just good skills like navigating, we’re so reliant on technology now RT: The next one is cooking a meal yourself or buying ready meals or fast food? SM: I prefer cooking CDS: I definitely feel better cooking. I do enjoy a fast food meal but I definitely don’t feel good after I’ve had it HE: It’s the process of having it which is good but the aftereffects, I just feel really shit AT: I like cooking, but I hate washing up HE: Yeah DY: I think you feel really glad when you’ve done everything and then you’re like that’s done I can relax now 113
RT: Yea that’s a nice feeling AT: When you’re cooking a nice meal, like preparing it or when you’ve eaten it, you feel accomplished don’t you, you feel like you’ve done something. Whereas if you put a ready meal in the microwave, you’re just like eh HE: Also, I feel like ready meals, you can taste that they are more chemically than home-made meals DY: Even like going out for a meal sometimes, I just think we’re such a generation that’s just like oh we’ll go out not even for any reason. Like we were saying the other day oh I’ve not been to Wagamama’s in ages but like Wagas should be like a nice experience but it’s just such a quick option now AT: Me and my house were talking about Valentine’s day yesterday and saying how it’s just such a stupid day now because now people treat days like Valentine’s day like every day cause what do you do, you go out for a meal and you go for a few drinks, but that could be our standard Saturday night DY: But also, if like you’re saying about productivity with these, fast food you’re like oh it will make you more productive because I’m getting the food faster, but you feel so like sluggish after, you don’t work better. It’s so true that when you eat well and exercise you feel so much more productive, but it’s taking time to do it which is so backwards HE: It’s convenience, but also cooking is like an educational thing as well SM: It’s kinda a sort of therapy HE: Yeah, but people who don’t have a lot of knowledge on nutrition and stuff like that, it is sort of a privilege, it’s not always accessible to everyone to cook healthy meals SM: I just know exactly what I’m putting in is what I’m eating, so I can change meals and be like oh I want more veg so I put more veg in it, whereas I know with a ready-made, like Bolognese there’s going to be so much sugar in it DY: Also, people say it’s so much nicer when you’re eating at a table with people rather than having your food on your lap round the sofa. I always say at uni that I wish we had a table to sit round rather than that we just have bar chairs AT: I think as well like, with fast food, when you go to McDonalds you’re gonna expect to feel shit, but then I also feel like there is kind of a difference in the sense that, I don’t know if you’ve heard of them but Shake Shack, I feel like it’s a different kind of fast food which doesn’t make you feel as crap DY: And also, I think like everyone says like oh the way to lose weight is to eat your food slowly but like when you eat your food slowly, you’re like so much full for longer HE: Also, like having something there to distract you like your phone, but apparently, it’s proven that if you have nothing there and you just concentrate on the food it makes you feel fuller RT: Do you think it’s therapeutic when you cook and do you think it makes you slow down? SM: Yeah I really like it CDS: I don’t really enjoy cooking, but I like the feeling afterwards, feeling accomplished AT: I think if you have the time it can be very therapeutic but like last night I got home from the library, had to cook and it was such a rush, like I just wanted it to be over, because I knew I had to have a shower, I wanted to watch Love Island. Whereas like my mum she takes a Sunday to dedicate time to cook a roast dinner or a shepherd’s pie or something, and she’ll probably really enjoy that because she has the time to do it CDS: I just see it as a chore, because I’m only going to eat it 114
SM: Yea, I enjoy it when I have the time but when I don’t it’s such a chore HE: I find baking quite therapeutic DY: Yeah so do I, I find it more therapeutic than cooking RT: In relation to clothes and fashion, do you prefer good quality and little, or quantity and not as good quality? SM: Quality DY: I used to be quantity but I so much more like quality now CDS: I think I’m still in quantity but I’m reducing myself down to quality SM: Over Christmas I got some money for clothes, and usually I’d be like what can I get for 100 pounds, like oh my God I could go Zara and get so much stuff. But actually I was like I’m going to go to And Other Stories and get some nice knitwear which will last me a long time, and I bought like 3 items in total with that money and it actually felt so good, because I know it’s going to last me so it’s nice to wear HE: I have a lot of clothes but I know I wear probably 20% of that, and they’re just chucked in there and I can’t see any of it DY: I think being at uni, like at the point in your lives have completely changed. like before starting uni I thought I needed a new outfit for this or like I need this outfit for that, but literally at uni everyone wears the same thing, just t-shirt, jeans CDS: Yeah, the amount of times you’ll probably go out this year you won’t even get much use out of them HE: I’ve only got like four outfits I like for nights out and that’s it DY: Now, I just really want to buy stuff that I’ll love and that I’ll wear AT: But that’s my issue because I know that I’ll love it for a month, two months and then I won’t, so then I’m like what’s the point of buying good quality things, do you know what I mean DY: I think about how I can wear them with other things AT: What I spend my money most on most is jumpers cause like every year in winter, you always need a nice jumper, and jeans, but like normal tops, I just know that I’ll get bored of them HE: But don’t you think though, cause like we have to move back home and back to uni a lot it makes you think about more what you’ve got RT: Yea definitely HE: Cause you realise how much you wear and what you have that you don’t wear DY: I took home four little going out bags for Christmas, like why do I have four going out bags HE: Exactly DY: Also, like my mum always says if I’m being dramatic about new clothes, she’s like, can you remember the last thing you wore out was, like you’d never remember the next day what someone else wore. It’s now all about what people are wearing at the time whereas it should be about the moment and enjoying it rather than – HE: I think uni is good for that because everyone gets over it, everyone’s in the same boat 115
CDS: I feel like people who don’t go to uni live for a night out because it’s such a big thing to them and they don’t want to wear the same thing again RT: So the next one is gentle exercises, like yoga, that are more for your mindfulness, or cardio that’s obviously more beneficial for losing weight? HE: I personally prefer cardio CDS: I did both in the summer, I did a hit session and then straight after I did yoga DY: You don’t realise how good yoga is until you do it, or like meditation and stuff like that HE: I just generally enjoy cardio, spin and stuff like that SM: I think it’s cause it’s easier to just run, and I know like, it’s doing good and I can feel it doing better for my body visually CDS: I like doing yoga with people SM: And yoga I get frustrated on my own because with an instructor they’re like, “straighten your leg, straighten your back.” Whereas on my own, I’m doing it completely wrong. DY: People say that yoga completely changes your body shape HE: It’s really good for you DY: But that takes time, it’s like a skill. Cardio isn’t a skill but you can train yourself but you can still train yourself to breathe better HE: I like feeling fit AT: Unless you really feel immersed in the experience you just think, what is this doing? I’m wasting time a little bit. I don’t know HE: I think cardio is more important because it’s about your cardiovascular and your health and that will help you live longer, whereas yoga is more of additional, it’s nice to do AT: Yeah but that is the benefits of exercise on the mind HE: I think they both have benefits RT: That’s more physical fitness and that’s more mental AT: Yeah RT: Do you prefer cardio for your mind or just to get your exercise in? HE: I think both. I definitely feel better mentally when I’m going to the gym and SM: I think when going to the gym, if I come out sweaty, I’m like I’ve done good HE: You feel like you’ve accomplished something SM: Whereas yoga, I probably wouldn’t come out in a sweat I’m like, do I feel calmer? It probably would benefit me without realising. But I know with cardio I’ve gone to the gym and feel good because I’ve gone DY: I do sometimes feel though cardio is so rushed sometimes. I do feel better for going but sometimes I think I’m just focusing on running, Iike yoga is more about your breathing, technique, skill. So it’s just giving yourself that time which is nice. You do feel like you’ve achieved stuff RT: Do you think that after you do either of those things that you feel more productive? DY: Definitely, but I think 116
HE: I think yoga makes me feel quite relaxed and zen so maybe a bit more unproductive cause I just want to chill DY: I feel like my mind is so much more open CDS: I feel that the gym in general makes me feel much more productive for the rest of the day because I’ve done that, most things I can do AT: With yoga, it depends on the time of day. If you were to do an evening session you’d feel quite tired and unproductive whereas if you get up and do it in the morning, you’d probably feel ready for the day DY: Yeah RT: This is a bit random, but bath or shower? DY: Shower HE: Shower AT: I love a good bath, yeah I like a bath but I think there’s different benefits. Obviously a lot of connotations of a bath is that you’re still dirty and is it worth doing DY: Even if you compare with like a long shower, I love taking my time on a night out, having time to get ready, having a long shower, drying your hair after, doing it properly, having the time SM: You can’t wash your hair in the bath AT: I was saying earlier, I actually hate long showers because I feel like my hands shrivel up, I just want to get out, my hair feels sticky, I just want to get out DY: I love them HE: Showers when you have to do loads, like the shave, hair, that’s quite stressful, that’s not a relaxing shower DY: I have proper shower thoughts though, you do use it to reflect SM: In baths I get way too hot HE: I can only last about 15 minutes AT: It’s quite a nice feeling getting sweaty though. Like a sauna kinda thing HE: When you’re really sweaty and your pores open up SM: When I have a bath though, I still have a shower afterwards RT: Yeah, I have to wash my hair RT: Obviously baths are more to do with relaxing, so Annie when you have a bath do you feel more relaxed after? AT: I feel like it’s kind of a routine for me, when I’m at home I’ll wash my hair one day, so I’ll have a shower then another day I’ll have a bath. So in terms of that, I probably wouldn’t see it as a relaxation method, compared to someone who doesn’t do it that regularly. But I would say that it’s nice to sit and just lay there but the problem is, I now take my phone into the bath so, if I really wanted the full experience, then yeah I probably shouldn’t SM: I only have baths If I’m feeling really really stressed. If I have a really bad day and I’m worn out, I’ll have a bath just to relax, but in terms of washing, I’d definitely just have a shower, it’s quick and easy CDS: My mum has a bath every night before bed because it helps her sleep 117
DY: That’s good CDS: If she doesn’t have a bath she really struggles to sleep RT: In terms your general life, do you like to live a minimalist life? Or maximalist? Like squeezing as much in as possible DY: Bit of both SM: I say I’d like to have a minimalist life in terms of living space but I definitely live a maximalist lifestyle. When I go home for normal breaks, apart from third year, I would have from start to finish booked up when I’m seeing friends. Morning, afternoon, evening slots I’d be booked up HE: Yeah SM: For a week and that’s how I like to live. I like being busy, but after a week I’m exhausted CDS: Yeah, lifestyle wise I’d like to live like a minimalist, but I think I am the other one with connections and communications, so I live a busy life At: I don’t think I live as busy a life as others. People like to relax but I also think it’s quite nice when you’re doing different things. Like at the moment for example, we’re consumed by one uni deadline, whereas I’d like to be the type of person that actually does loads of different things with their day. So, I guess I’m a bit of both DY: I like to have a job, when you’re home in the summer and you don’t have a job, it’s so boring and you feel like, what have I got to do with all this time? SM: When you’ve got nothing to do, time lasts forever but when you have stuff to do it’s difficult and goes fast HE: It must be nice when you have a job and you’re busy in the day and you can actually relax in the evening whereas ours is just spread out DY: Our work at the moment goes into the weekend and evening AT: Yesterday was Sunday and I just couldn’t do anything because it was a Sunday and DY: I think it’s hard. You do want to do both but then you don’t at the same time RT: Say you live a busy lifestyle and you want to slow down, do you think that would be difficult to do or do you think that would fit into your lifestyle quite easily? CDS: I think it would fit in, you can rearrange/cut out things and spread DY: You have to be selfish, and It is hard to be selfish today because sometimes when I’m at home and I want to go see my friends and my parents want to see me and my siblings want to do stuff, I’ve got work so you have to sacrifice stuff somewhere HE: Yeah DY: You have to be selfish, at the moment I’m like well, I’m focusing on my work HE: Yeah that was me this Christmas, I was meant to go to Bristol but I bailed in the end because I had too much to do and my mum was like you have to just be selfish, you can only do your degree once. DY:I think people struggle because they feel like they can’t say no and they’re obliged, and people feel like they have to go out for New Years and things like that but they don’t necessarily have to. You have to have time for yourself and say no AT:I also love staying in. I remember last year my friends wanted to go to Maga and I got myself in such a state about it like literally cried because I couldn’t make a decision about whether I wanted to go or not. Think deep down I wasn’t really sure but I felt obliged to go 118
HE: I get that AT: Yeah it was good but I’d rather be doing something like skiing than on a girls holiday. I feel like I’m older now so I don’t really see the benefits of it that much and I would say no another time round DY: Yeah RT: The next one is traditional dating or speed dating? AT: I think it would be good to do speed dating is an experience DY: I think it’s good if you feel awkward or, because it’s the next one and you’re meeting so many people CDS: It’s quick fire, you find out the key info and what you want to know DY: It’s like, we’re not connected. Next! HE: I think traditional dating is more of a risk because you could potentially have to send an evening with someone you DY: I also feel like you have hope in things, when you go traditional dating you’re like, this is going to be good, and then it’s just a waste of time AT: Do you also feel like speed dating is a bit of a novelty thing, you do it as an experience and then the chances are you’re really going to struggle to get to know someone in 5 minutes because they’ll tell you and you’ll be like well that doesn’t tick that box DY: Desperate times call for desperate measures HE: Tinder is basically online speed dating and that is like 5 seconds. I think the only times Tinder works out is when the people know of each other CDS: It’s like, oh, fancy seeing you here SM: I got a boyfriend from Tinder HE: Yeah I know two people who met like that, they have two kids now DY: But it’s kind of like forcing a connection though. It’s not organic at all. Forcing a connection that might not even be there and wasn’t meant to happen if you believe in all that stuff HE: Hard to judge RT: And this is the last one. If you had spare time, would you rather watch Netflix in bed or go on a walk and immerse in the nature? CDS: Hmm, I think If I’m with someone I’d quite like going on walks SM: If I’m on my own, Netflix in bed. With someone else, definitely outside on a walk. I don’t really enjoy watching Netflix with a mate, I’d get more out of a walk with them. There’s more to talk about AT: For me, watching Netflix, it’s like a treat, I don’t ever watch TV whilst I’m at uni apart from the fact Love Island is now on, not in summer. I just don’t really do it because I tend to feel quite guilty that I’m doing something that isn’t work DY: I don’t, but I wish I did AT: So in that sense, I’d like to watch Netflix because it’s rewarding whereas a walk for me probably wouldn’t be that rewarding DY: Yeah that’s what I think, I feel like a walk’s an effort HE: I like dog walking 119
DY: You do that with Netflix and stuff all the time, like whilst you’re doing your makeup and other things don’t you. It’s nothing special then. When I’m with my boyfriend we’ll just put something on the TV and not even talk AT: It’s so weather dependant though for a walk HE: True AT: Depends where you are though and what’s around you CDS: If I’m in Notts, I’d rather be in my house HE: Yeah RT: If you do go walking do you feel more productive? AT: It feels nice yeah SM: I was away with my boyfriend last week and It was quite frustrating because we were away but If I was at home I’d be doing work from the minute I wake up to the minute I go to bed. So going away with his family, I couldn’t do much work and felt really stressed, but we went on a walk and came back and I was like, actually having a clear head really benefits me HE: Because I can’t drive I do walk quite a lot and I really enjoy listening to podcasts and music while I walk, it’s a nice experience DY: Yeah get some fresh air RT: Right I think that’s everything! Thank you! ----------Recording stopped
9.6 Industry Interviews Kyle Kowalski, Founder and Writer of Sloww 1. What fashion company did you previously work for? I was Director, Brand Marketing for Lee Jeans (owned by VF Corporation at the time--the same parent company who owns Vans, The North Face, and Timberland) 2. What originally motivated you to adopt a slower lifestyle? I had an existential crisis in November 2015. I believe it was from working consistent 60/70/80-hour workweeks. While somewhat scary in the midst of it, it’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me and has been a pivotal turning point in my life ever since. I discovered “slow living” and “the Slow Movement” during this time. I had no idea something like that existed, and it seemed like the antidote to my extreme busyness (relationship with time) and lifestyle inflation (relationship with things). 3. What is the key message Sloww aims to get across? Here’s a bit about Sloww’s evolution over the last few years. At a high level, I now describe Sloww as “awakening the art of living.” I believe that’s what everything ladders up to at this time. 120
· Sloww 1.0: It was all about the first step of the journey: slowing down. I was fascinated by the paradox of “Slow Living in a Fast World.” I resonated with and used an informal tagline of “Design a Lighter Life.” · Sloww 2.0: Everything naturally evolves over time, and Sloww is no exception. Slowing down is still step one and central—it can’t be skipped, and there are no shortcuts. Slowing down is what creates the space to turn inward and dive deeper. The real transformation is what comes once you do slow down. This evolution of Sloww is about those next steps in the journey. While Sloww 1.0 was focused on the paradox of slow living in a fast world, Sloww 2.0 is focused on the paradox of “High-Impact Living with a Low-Impact Lifestyle.” Or, “High Imprint Living with a Low Footprint Lifestyle.” Or, simply: “Lighter Living, Higher Purpose.” Key messages include: o Sloww supports slowing down in a fast world because slowing down is the gateway to all things good—which aren’t things at all. o Sloww encourages lighter living because more hasn’t added to our lives—we must subtract the heavy superficial “stuff” (physical and mental) and shift inward to a lighter space where we can meet life face-to-face. o Sloww promotes finding higher purpose because there’s nothing more essential than meaning—but no one taught us how to find it. o Sloww synthesizes the timeless art of living for our modern world because we aren’t taught how to live in school—or even better, how to be fully alive, holistic humans. How do you think Sloww influences the slow movement? Personally, I view the slow movement as something fairly informal with no defined leader. It’s a “choose your own adventure” experience. One reason for this is because “slow living” has many definitions and synonyms like: intentional living, purposeful living, mindful living, conscious living, holistic living, soulful living, etc. So, I just hope Sloww can be a guide for anyone who is already on (or ready for) the journey. What are the key problems associated with today’s fast paced society? There are likely many causes, byproducts, and symptoms. I’ve looked at a couple in particular: 1) busyness as a status symbol and 2) “total work” (when humans are transformed into workers and nothing else). I did a deep dive into busyness to better understand the root cause(s). How important do you think it is to decelerate and when is the best time to do it? Finding the right pace to your life is critical if you want to live instead of just exist. The only time we ever have is now! So, any time is the best time. In a deeper sense, I think it needs to find you at the right time in your life when you are open to it. It doesn’t need to be an all or nothing thing; I recommend downshifting. It’s important to note some myths about slow living (e.g. it’s not about slow motion or doing everything as slowly as possible). Do you think productivity can be enhanced by slow living? 100%. During your marketing career, did you experience any changes in response to slowing down? My professional marketing career lasted from 2007-2018, but I didn’t discover slow living until 2015 or 2016. So, I only have the last couple years where what I was learning/living overlapped with my job. Even more than slow living, I was finding/creating my life purpose and growing spiritually. I struggled every single day with the new information I was learning (awareness) vs. how I was still living (action). I felt like I had a foot in two worlds. You can read more about my story on my blog. I ended up leaving my marketing career in mid-2018 to focus on Sloww full-time. What do you think the future of slow living is, and how do you think brands will respond to it? I do quite a bit of thinking about the future. Brands and marketers will always try to monetize everything to their benefit. For instance, you can already see brands monetizing the “slow living aesthetic” that you see on Instagram. But, the look (trend) is different from the lifestyle (timeless). I’m actually working on an article about how to become immune to marketing. Marketing thrives on your perceived “not-enoughness.” IF you just add (thing being sold), THEN you will be enough. In general, I’m hopeful that there will be a shift in consciousness and the masses will learn to embrace “enough” (physically, mentally, and spiritually). 121
Jenny Brine, Founder and Manager of Empresa Limited 1. Can you explain what your interpretation of burnout is? Prolonged physical, emotional and mental exhaustion that can lead to serious health consequences. 2. How important is an employee’s wellbeing to you? Our employees’ wellbeing is very important to us as a company, it is important for them to be effective, engaged and fulfilled in their roles. By ensuring that employees are healthy and happy at work means they can be effective employees and clearly they will want to do their best for a company that looks after their wellbeing. 3. Do you consider Empresa a fast-paced business? As a service company, our business is driven by our customers, so there can be much fluctuation in workloads, but this is managed by our Technical Director who liaises with our customers about delivery times of our products and with the employees on a daily basis to make sure that their working plan is practical. Part of our business is building bespoke IT products so these projects can sometimes develop into larger projects as customers’ request additional features and therefore communication is a key to our working ethos and where our Technical Director handles working plans with both employees and customers in a realistic manner. 4. Do you think being a heavily technology reliant company makes it difficult for yourself or employees to switch off? I don’t think working in the technology sector necessarily makes it any more difficult to switch off than it does in any other sectors. The fact is that technology seems to be making its way more and more into both our working and personal lives; smart products are managing our televisions, lights, blinds, even our washing machines and fridges, we can now order online, access social media 24/7, text, email and use messaging applications, which makes connecting with people so much easier that our expectations of responding sooner rather than later are becoming more apparent. Many years ago when mobiles were new technology, sending a text was considered a means to communicate so as not to disturb, and it was accepted that a reply would be returned at leisure. Now we see when someone has received a message, or even read a message, and indeed if they are “typing a reply”! Our expectation is of an almost immediate response, even sometimes of the most mundane of messages. So until our expectations of immediate responses, impulsive purchasing, or having constant connection with society changes, then switching off will become challenging. 5. Does this encourage you to reduce time spent on devices outside of the workplace? I feel some people are more technology driven than others and naturally look to seek out new tech during their working hours as well as their personal hours. Although I work within the tech industry, I do not have the same interest in technology as those that develop software. So perhaps from a personal perspective I am able to minimise my technology usage out of office hours, even though it is very much a part of our daily lives. 6. What techniques have you implemented into the workplace to encourage your employees to slow down? We have a licence for the employees to listen to the radio/TV and have provided a break-out area with comfortable sofa seating and tea/coffee/soft drink facilities to create a more relaxed atmosphere. Employees are encouraged to switch-off during the day with regular breaks e.g. stop and read a book/ magazine, watch the television, chat with colleagues, in order not to feel continually under pressure. A variety of workstations are fitted with standing desks to allow for a change from being seated to allow exercise of muscles. Each employee has access to high desk seating or to comfort seating areas to work in if they wish to, so they don’t have to feel confined to their desk area. We have an office that has some good natural lighting as well as typical office lighting which is effective. We introduced plants into the office, each employee having their own to water and nurture! Apparently plants have health benefits of air purifying as well as the aesthetics of brightening the office and giving a homely feel. We also operate a variety of flexible working options to allow for a more balanced home/work life pattern (for example, taking children to school etc.). 122
Why have you done this? To maintain a healthy workforce and nurture a working environment where employees enjoy coming to work and hopefully whilst in the office, work at their best. But in addition it is hoped it helps staff retention and encourage recruitment. Have you noticed any improvements in employee productivity and performance since implementing these changes? Yes, our performance as a company has improved greatly. Also, employee satisfaction seems to be high and have recruited an employee who took a pay cut from a previous employment solely to work for us for our working ethos and environment. So this has to be a good indication of how employees view an excellent working environment, ahead of pay. In the future, how do you think the workplace and working hours will change? I think we may be some years away from reduced working hours for all, due to the need to be continually connected, consumer demand to have the flexibility to purchase 24 hours, and the demand for ever more cost-effective products. It may be possible for more flexible working patterns and working from home options. However, lone working causes is own set of issues of potential isolation which can also be detrimental. Therefore businesses will need to continually consider carefully balancing the provision of competitively priced products and/or accessibility for its consumers, against the wellbeing of their employee’s. Do you think it is sustainable for future generations to maintain a fast-paced working lifestyle? I would like to think that good use of technology should help in reducing fatigue, make difficult tasks simpler, and provide a better future. However, in the last 20 years technology seems to have created almost as many challenges as it has improved. Climate change concern is now starting to have a dramatic effect on how we are choosing to live our lives, whether this will help to make us less wasteful individuals, more thoughtful and less disengaged with real life and in turn help us to slow down, is yet to be seen, but hopefully will help us change our outlook.
9.7 Consent Forms Diary Entries and In-depth Interviews CONSENT FORM Project Title: Stage One Research Project Please read and confirm your consent to being interviewed for this project by ticking the appropriate boxes and signing and dating this form. 1. I confirm that the purpose of the project has been explained to me and I have been given information about it in writing. I have had the opportunity to ask questions about the project and these have been answered satisfactorily. 2. I understand that my participation is voluntary, and that I am free to withdraw at any time without giving any reason and without any negative implications. 3. I give permission for the interview to be audio recorded, and understand that the recording will be destroyed at the end of the project. 4. I wish my data to be anonymised. I understand that quotations from my interview may be used in the student’s dissertation but that I will not be identified. or I waive my right to anonymity and wish for my name to be included in this study. I understand that quotations from my interview may be used in the student’s dissertation and that I will be identified by name. 5. I agree to take part in this project.
Toby Seymour ________________________ Participant’s name
16/12/19 __________________ _____________________________ Date Signature
Rose Tovell ________________________ Student’s name
16/12/19 __________________ _____________________________ Date Signature
Focus Group 1
Focus Group 2
Industry Interviews CONSENT FORM
Project Title: Stage One Research Project
Project Title: Stage One Research Project
Please read and confirm your consent to being interviewed for this project by ticking the appropriate boxes and signing and dating this form.
Please read and confirm your consent to being interviewed for this project by ticking the appropriate boxes and signing and dating this form.
1. I confirm that the purpose of the project has been explained to me and I have been given information about it in writing. I have had the opportunity to ask questions about the project and these have been answered satisfactorily.
1. I confirm that the purpose of the project has been explained to me and I have been given information about it in writing. I have had the opportunity to ask questions about the project and these have been answered satisfactorily.
2. I understand that my participation is voluntary, and that I am free to withdraw at any time without giving any reason and without any negative implications.
2. I understand that my participation is voluntary, and that I am free to withdraw at any time without giving any reason and without any negative implications.
3. I give permission for the interview to be audio recorded, and understand that the recording will be destroyed at the end of the project.
3. I give permission for the interview to be audio recorded, and understand that the recording will be destroyed at the end of the project.
4. I wish my data to be anonymised. I understand that quotations from my interview may be used in the student’s dissertation but that I will not be identified.
4. I wish my data to be anonymised. I understand that quotations from my interview may be used in the student’s dissertation but that I will not be identified.
I waive my right to anonymity and wish for my name to be included in this study. I understand that quotations from my interview may be used in the student’s dissertation and that I will be identified by name.
I waive my right to anonymity and wish for my name to be included in this study. I understand that quotations from my interview may be used in the student’s dissertation and that I will be identified by name.
5. I agree to take part in this project.
5. I agree to take part in this project.
Kyle Kowalski ________________________ Participant’s name
14/01/2020 __________________ _____________________________ Date Signature
Jenny Brine ________________________ Participant’s name
17/01/20 __________________ _____________________________ Date Signature
Rose Tovell ________________________ Student’s name
15/10/2020 __________________ _____________________________ Date Signature
Rose Tovell ________________________ Student’s name
17/01/2020 __________________ _____________________________ Date Signature
9.8 PESTLE Political The insecurity of Brexit has become detrimental for consumer wellbeing as 64% of the British public believe that anxiety about Brexit is bad for people’s mental health (British Thinks, 2019). This is having an ongoing impact on society due to the uncertainty and distrust of the future political landscape. Additionally, the 2019 General Election saw the Conservative party gain the majority vote, with plans to reduce funding to “health care, welfare and higher education – the very social structures that make life manageable for ordinary British people” (Penny, 2016). A combination of these factors is increasingly worrying the British public, leading to heightened anxiety. This therefore evidences the need for people to take control of the situation themselves by slowing down and regaining balance and certainty into their lives. Economical A lack of NHS funding has partially driven the prevalent mental health epidemic, consequently leading to longer wait times for psychological appointments such as therapy (Gregory, 2019). Therefore, individuals are having to utilise more accessible methods such as mindfulness, exercise and podcasts until other appointments become available. Additionally, unexplained mental health sick days, thought to be due to burnout, cost the UK economy 1.4 billion pounds last year (Breathe, 2019), demonstrating the extremity of the problem and the need to decelerate the workplace. Social Social status was once defined by wealth and leisure, yet today is measured by busyness due to connotations of being “wanted, needed, valued and worthy” (Tartakovsky, 2018). Consumers are therefore boasting about their busy lifestyles, both online and offline, in order to receive validation from significant others and potentially provoke feelings of envy. 77% of millennials and 70% of Gen Xers said they “often think they can squeeze more than is possible into their day” (Ouellette, 2019), showing people are living beyond their means and need to prioritise their lives more efficiently. Technological Living in a digital decade has meant the exceptional ability to connect with others globally has been replaced by mindless over-use and abuse where “we engage with a sense of addiction, rather than intention” (MacKay, 2019). Additionally, a recent report found that over 50% of respondents frequently allow their devices to disrupt in-person conversations with loved ones (Ofcom, 2018). As a consequence, digital detoxes are being implemented in order to help society reconnect with reality and regain balance between their online and offline worlds. This reinforces the consumer need to slow down, switch off and be present in the moment. Legal The law of ‘working time regulations’ states it is illegal to work “more than 48 hours a week on average - averaged over 17 weeks” (Gov.UK, 2020). However, fast-paced businesses expect their employees to go above and beyond to reach their targets, leaving them with no choice but to work significantly more hours than the legal regulations. Working for over 40 hours per week is correlated with burnout and is even stronger when working over 60 hours per week (Hu, Chen and Cheng, 2016). This suggests a slower workplace that requires fewer working hours for an equal level of productivity could reduce the effects of burnout – a study found that firms who slowed down to speed up averaged 40% higher sales and 52% higher operating profits over a three-year period (Davis and Atkinson, 2017), demonstrating the need for deceleration in the workplace. Environmental With fast fashion and overconsumption becoming prevalent concerns in today’s society, an increasing amount of consumers are experiencing eco-anxiety, described as “a fairly recent psychological disorder afflicting an increasing number of individuals who worry about the environmental crisis” (Fawbert, 2019). In response, a countercultural movement of slow fashion is occurring. This opposes the current societal norms that suggests ‘more is more’ and ‘faster is better’, by encouraging consumers to buy higher quality garments, less often (Hill, 2018). 128
9.9 Scenario Planning
9.10 Gantt Chart
Grade received: Low 1st