When it comes to work, a lot of Asians are fast and efficient. Sometimes scarily fast and efficient (when compared to others). It’s like a super power that some of us have.

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I’m generally a fast worker. Some years ago I worked at a processing job: I stamped forms and divide them into batches of 100, which takes me around five minutes per batch. But that’s not as fast as my Asian colleague, and let’s call her Mandy. Watching Mandy grab a stack of papers, flick the papers up by their corners and count each one until the 100th one in a matter of twenty seconds is like watching a magic show.


Maybe some of Asians do things fast because we want to be first, first to cross the finish line. Coming out on top and getting titles and rewards is admired in Asian cultures. When I was younger, my parents nagged at me to finish all my homework as soon as I got home from school so I could start the next set of questions in the maths revision books. I did that, because back then I naively thought keeping ahead of the pack made us truly happy.


And so we do things fast and perhaps achieve as much as we can because of pride. It’s a “face thing” in Asian cultures to do this, do that.


Perhaps some of us Asians are fast workers because we want something to do and want to keep occupied. Maybe in the past we lived the rough moving-around-pinching-every-penny Asian life to make ends meet, didn’t have the chance to put our skills to use and so are eager to seize the next opportunity to be productive and better ourselves today.

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Then again, maybe the reason some Asians work fast boils down to our hard work ethic – we know the value of working for what we want and it’s something we picked up as a kid.

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Sometimes work demands we work fast. If the paperwork doesn’t get put away as it comes in at my work, it piles up. Maybe Mandy is the sort who likes to get it out of the way, though we don’t have an exact deadline for this task.


Usually things go slower in the Western world: there’s more consulting than action compared to Asian workplaces.


And going slow is something I’ve come to like. The slower we go, the more we see what’s happening around us. The more we live in the moment. When we’re doing things fast, chances are we get tired easily. Feel stressed more.

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I could be Mandy the Magician and make papers disappear like her. Once she called me “little whiz” when I counted about 500 papers in twenty minutes, so I’m sure I can if I push myself. But if I do, I don’t think I’ll have the energy to blog after work. Then again, I’ll get bored if I took my time – I like moving on with tasks, doing different tasks at work.


Sometimes we can only work so fast. And work so slow. We all have our limits, and our good days and bad days.


Do you like to do things fast at work? Or do you take your time?