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Why Downtime is Good for You

We live in a time of progress and speed. Everything is measured in numbers and dollar amounts. If you don’t have something to show for the day, it was a waste of time. It’s a good way to climb to success and make every day a productive one, but what does that do to our minds and bodies? Success is great, but it doesn’t mean anything if you end up hating the job that was once your dream. That’s why downtime is important for you and your business. It may feel like your slacking off and losing progress, but in the long run, taking some time for yourself is one of the best ways to keep moving forward. 

The human body is a machine. When it’s in tip-top shape, it can do amazing things. But just like any machine, it can burn out, overheat, malfunction. The human body needs food and sleep to keep up, but what about our minds? Eight hours of rest is not enough to keep your brain focused and functioning at its best every single day. 

It may seem like a good idea to work hard and often, but an overworked mind is nothing compared to a relaxed one. Over-worked brains make mistakes and cut corners. We get so tired and burnt out that complete is complete and quality loses value. Tony Schwartz writes, “human beings perform best and are most productive when they alternate between periods of intense focus and intermittent renewal. 

It may seem strange when you’re standing under the warm stream of the shower and a brilliant idea strikes you, but as it turns out, it happens to everyone. That’s not a coincidence. We’re not hunkered down in an office or workspace, forcing ourselves to squeeze ideas out of our tired brains. We’re vulnerable and completely relaxed. That should be all the proof you need. Your mind needs to rest and de-stress. 

We live in a time of progress. There is no time to take a break when there is money to be made and empires to build. With the help of technology, our world never stops and business never sleeps. That’s great for the numbers, but what about the people behind it all? All this work, work, working and never taking a step back can lead to stressing out and ultimately, hating the job that was once your biggest dream. That’s why we need downtime. 

Downtime. Also known as slacking off, right? 

Wrong.

We all need to show ourselves a little more TLC and stop working ourselves sick. It may seem like you’re driving yourself straight to success and you can rest at the top, but the truth is, downtime is the shortcut to the long, tiring journey you’re setting yourself up for. 

Overworked minds make mistakes and cut corners. We get so tired and burnt out that complete is complete and how we get there doesn’t matter. Quality loses value and the details are trivial. What was once important when you started out gets tossed aside with everything else and you lose start to fall out of love with your business or job. In theory, working twenty-four hour seven is a sure surefire way to climb higher, faster, but that theory doesn’t hold up when your blood pressure is sky high and you’re falling asleep on your computer. 

How often have you been standing in the shower, the warm stream running down your back when a brilliant idea pops into your head? It happens to everyone and that’s not a coincidence. Your mind and body are at ease, vulnerable and relaxed. You’re not wringing and wringing at your poor, aching brain, trying to force an idea out of it. 

Tony Schwatrz writes, “Human beings perform best and are most productive when they alternate between periods of intense focus and intermittent renewal.” 

Numerous studies have been done that prove the benefits of naps and vacation days, but we don’t need them. Experience should be proof enough. We live in a world of stressed-out zombies, too afraid to lose progress to even get a good night’s sleep. Our jobs become our whole lives and that’s great, but at what cost? How many people actually enjoy going to work after the first few months or years? 

We shouldn’t have to sacrifice health and happiness for productivity and vice versa. Both should be possible, and they are, but now the way we’re going. Schedule your time. ‘Clock out’ for a set amount of hours every day, and not just to eat and sleep. Take some time to yourself or spend it with loved ones. Watch TV, read a book. Do your mind a favor and let it focus on something new. 

Different types of downtime work for different people and businesses, but you need to find some kind of pause. Take a nap in the middle of the day, or go to a yoga class. Take a break to walk in the park, or plop yourself down with a good book. Take off a few hours each day, or one day each week. Do what works for you, but do something. Ignore the voice that is telling you that you’re losing progress and instead listen to what your body needs. 

Just like our phones need to be charged and our bodies need to be fed, our minds need a fill up too. Downtime is not time lost, it’s power gained. 
 

Sources: 

 https://www.huffingtonpost.com/rosalie-puiman/the-importance-of-downtime_b_6301440.html

https://hbr.org/2012/12/the-upside-of-downtime