How to not fall behind in Singapore: Speed up!
As Singaporean professionals compete with one another for jobs, recognition and overall markers of success, there is an interesting body of research that suggests if you want to lead the pack, you better speed up or risk getting run over.
A recent article published by The Atlantic finds surmounting evidence (some dating back to 1976) that the larger a population, the faster its citizens walk. With Singapore now topping 5 million people and a population density of 7,257 people per sq. km., the city is more crowded then such “fast paced” cities as Hong Kong and London.
Further, the findings also correlate GDP and Purchasing Power Parity with the speed at which people walk. Singapore now ranks among the most industrious and powerful nations in the world. As it continues to attract top talent and business, the speed at which its citizens walk continues to increase as well. Even when we look at the number of speeding tickets, we see that the rate of tickets has increased about 9% over the past few years.
As one possible explanation for this increase in foot and driving speed, theorists hypothesize that “When a city grows larger, wage rate and cost of living increase, and with that the value of a resident's time. As a result, economizing on time becomes more urgent and life becomes more hurried and harried.” And while the collective speed at which a society moves helps inform the wealth and success of a nation, on an individual level, when one exudes a sense of “hurriedness” they are outwardly displaying a sense of confidence and status: attracting the attention of others.
Therefore, if you wish to stand any chance in gaining any edge over your peers and standing out from the crowd, there are a few necessary steps (no pun intended) you need to take to “speed up”:
1. Get Connected. It sounds simple enough, but the ability to tap into technology to stay informed and connected means you have faster access to information and ability to make decisions. It doesn’t necessarily mean you need to go out and purchase the latest gadgets, but it does mean that you should understand how technology is shifting behavior and how it can help to enhance messaging and communications for yourself and your industry.
2. Stay Healthy. Yes, your health does matter and the quicker your metabolism the more likely you are leading a healthy work – life balance. The ability of workers to balance professional and personal needs with one another is not only physically known to reduce levels of illness, but it is also correlated to better job and work performance. Further, such markets as the United States and Korea are leading the charge in instituting workout sessions and exercise classes as a way to conduct business meetings. Therefore, your ability to cycle 40 km whilst maintaining the ability to talk economics could very well decide if that promotion heads your way or not.
3. Get to the Point. Globally, workers spend 5.6 hours per week in meetings and 69% of attendees feel they are “unproductive and unnecessary.” Too often, workers walk away from meetings and tasks unsure of next steps or the relevance of the outcomes. If you are confused, ask. Don’t waste your time (or others) pretending that you know what’s going on if you don’t. Use the time wisely and others will applaud your leadership.
4. Set check points. Set small, attainable goals throughout your day. By creating simple “to do” lists that you are able to tackle in bite size pieces, you are undertaking a proven method known for increasing output and speeding up performance rates.
5. Get going in the morning. A recent study by the University of Education at Heidelberg found that early morning risers got better grades in school, had increased confidence in their ability to set goals / accomplish tasks and often earned better paying, more “successful” job positions.
The hypothesis is that early morning risers most likely have a good idea of what they want to accomplish for the day and thus have all the motivation necessary to get going. Too often late risers are at the whims of what the early risers have already accomplished and must then react rather than lead.
It becomes a vicious cycle of the early birds dictating the actions of the night owls. But, for those that aren’t an early morning riser, does this mean utter failure? No, it just means you need to find a productive schedule that is suitable to your time frame and stick to it.
So, before you start cursing the rapid pace Singaporean residents seem to have undertaken in recent years, recognize it as a sign of success. Understand how you can incorporate a “faster” pace into your life without losing sight of balance. And if you get it just right, you may be the one setting the pace for rest of the world.
 “The Pace of Pedestrian Flows in Cities.” Available at: http://eab.sagepub.com/content/21/2/123.abstract
Nicky Nole, Strategic Planner, Iris worldwide