The Importance of Down Time
I’m not good at this down time lark, to be honest.
My brain is very busy. VERY busy. It never seems to want to give me a break.
This is fantastic for ideas, and creative problem solving, and my work ethic. Well, you would think so, right?
Turns out, maybe not so much. Like, I want my brain to be running on full speed when I’m having ideas, problem solving, and working on my business. I don’t want to be half assing it.
There’s a huge drive within me to keep working (we talked about some possible reasons for that, Right Here)… but that’s maybe not the best thing for my business or my success. Or my health. Because taking time off for family, friends, outdoor activities and even old-fashioned daydreaming has clear benefits for productivity, as well as for your mental and physical health.
Yeah, I know. Seems obvious right? But…
How Much True Down Time Did You Have Last Week?
Probably every culture on the planet has a traditional ‘day of rest’. Maybe not every single one, but, let’s agree at least that it’s a VERY common theme.
Often, we refer to it as a ‘lazy day’ now, which, you know what? Doesn’t have very positive connotations for most of us. Even if we’re binging on netflix, or going for a walk, or reading an eBook, we mostly stay switched on with our phones or tablets or laptops. We’ve got notifications and alerts popping up and intruding in constantly.
I’m not saying you have to go tech free for true down time (although, when is the last time you did THAT for any length of time?!), but there’s a significant difference between strolling through sand dunes of a sunday with an audio book playing through your headphones and your dog racing round at your feet, to sitting slumped on the couch or in your bed half watching TV with your phone in your hand for scrolling through Facebook. I’m sure we can all see that.
The point is to create genuine space and time to give your body, mind, and spirit a chance to fully relax and recharge.
How Do We Get Some Of This “Down Time” Going Then?
- If you’re anything like me, you’re going to have to clearly and consistently schedule evenings off, one or even two days a week free of work, and weeklong chunks of holiday every year. And stick to it (if your job and family responsibilities allow for that – I’m aware of and sympathetic to economic and personal factors that might be at play here too).
- Take regular breaks through your workday, and sometimes take a break just for the hell of it. Even standing outside under a tree for 5 minutes will help refresh you. Or try a simple 5 Minute Meditation.
- Turn off the phone. No really, I mean it. Most of us don’t even realise (or want to admit) how addicted we are to the phones. There’s a constant call and response loop going on when it’s in reach or in your hand, and the ONLY way to break that is to just put it away, out of easy reach, where you can’t see it. Especially during down time. ESPECIALLY especially during sleep time. I’ll do a whole other post on that soon.
- Free your mind by having somewhere you can regularly brain dump all the background or foreground noise, and a process you can trust for going through that and sorting it into actionable tasks and events. Then make sure you have simple, regular routines and habits forming for the everyday stuff, so you’re cutting down on the amount of choices you have to make every day – automating it so you are less likely to suffer decision fatigue.
My Down Time
Yeah. Confession Time.
I literally took zero down time last week. I worked every evening and all through the weekend, til 10pm, 11pm, or midnight every single night.
That’s not good, and I am REALLY feeling sapped and drained starting the new week. My shoulder is in agony every morning when I wake, my knee has swollen back up (old injuries), I’ve had no time or energy to keep up my 8 week cycle plan so that fell by the wayside. I’m not sleeping right, and I’m grumpy as fuck.
That’s not right, and it’s not fair either on the lovely people I live with, or on me.
So, I’m working on it. Or rather, not working on everything all at once, and trying to take WAY more down time this week. I’ll let ye know how I get on, ok?