You want to get more things done. Who doesn’t?
Over-scheduling our lives is not an effective way to be more productive overall.
It is natural to want to accomplish more. Sometimes our desire to accomplish more things drives us to create impossible schedules for ourselves. This impossible schedule usually emphasizes work and neglects to schedule downtime.
You may be familiar with the tendency to over-schedule your time. For instance, you may start your day with work, schedule work tasks all day — and then top it all off with more scheduled work time. It may seem like you accomplishing more because your schedule is full of work. However, it is likely that you would be more productive with scheduled downtime each day.
Why is Downtime Important?
We are all human. It is nearly impossible for most of us to work long days every day without a break. Our bodies naturally need a break. Breaks should not just be limited to the weekend.
Without downtime, your body will be physically and mentally wired at all times. You may feel that you constantly need to be producing, but your body cannot keep up with that pace forever. In fact, this excess of work may lead you to a less productive lifestyle.
Working all the time may seem like the best way to accomplish more, but working within limits is actually the best way to accomplish more. By building in downtime, you will allow your body to recover. The recovery time is key to improving your overall productivity.
Use the downtime you schedule to create a more balanced life for yourself. It may take some time to get comfortable with taking breaks, but eventually, you may start to appreciate your downtime. It can be the time to spend with family and friends, develop a hobby, enjoy a quiet moment, and more. Downtime can be anything you want it to be!
Benefits of Building in Downtime
You might think that downtime is just wasted time. That is not the case!
Scheduled downtime is sometimes the permission you need to take a break. Working nonstop is not sustainable, so this downtime will help you accomplish more in the long run.
Long-term goals are a marathon, not a sprint. Just like a marathon runner, you need to schedule breaks into your training in order to accomplish your biggest goals. A marathon runner does not just run every day leading up to the race usually, there are rest days built into a training schedule.
In your life, you can implement the same strategy of a marathon runner. Instead of just training for a sprint, schedule breaks to rest physically and mentally. You need your strength every day, so expending more than you are capable of each day will eventually lead to an unproductive crash.
Little breaks throughout the day can help to increase your overall productivity. Just working straight through a long stretch of hours each day can be counterproductive. Without the scheduled breaks, you are just burning through your energy all at once. Instead, try to replenish your mental and physical strength with short breaks throughout the day.
Remember, burning yourself is not going to help you reach your goals. In fact, burning out can delay your goals significantly. If you are already struggling with burnout, then read about how to recover from burnout quickly.
What Amount of Downtime Should You Schedule?
Everyone has a different set of demands on their time. It may not be feasible to schedule hours of downtime.
However, even if you are only able to schedule a small amount of time you will still be able to reap the benefits of scheduled downtime.
Think about the amount of time it takes you to physically and mentally untangle yourself from work. Some people are able to close their laptop and start relaxing. Other people need to slowly wind down their work and then gradually transition into to downtime. Either way, your downtime should give you the time you need to disconnect from work and focus on other things.
Over the course of your day, downtime should give you the ability to return to work with a newfound strength.
It can be tempting to schedule less (or more) time than you need but think about the amount of time that you absolutely need to function well. You might need an hour of downtime in the morning to prepare for the day. Or maybe you need two hours each night to wind down from a long day at work. Alternatively, you may need 15-minute breaks throughout the day in order to feel functional.
The only person that really knows what you need is you. Whatever the amount of time you need, make sure to schedule it into your day.
Easy Downtime Strategies to Implement
Think about your downtime needs. Do you need an hour? Or just a short break?
Some of the easiest downtime strategies to implement are smaller breaker throughout the day. These shorter breaks could include anything that helps you to relax. Some good ideas are a scheduled walk around the block, a quick snack in a different setting, or a quiet meditation session on the bench outside.
Creating a physical distance between you and your workspace may help to maximize the effectiveness of your break. If you only have a small amount of available downtime, then you should maximize it.
You should also have larger blocks of downtime, but those should be carefully placed into your schedule. For example, several hours each night to spend with your family is downtime that you may need to schedule in. Typically these larger breaks must take place before or after the bulk of your workday.
It can be tempting to work instead of enjoying your downtime but remember that relaxing is important. Downtime is an important part of any long-term success story. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint.
Breaks are important. Don’t underestimate the power of breaks. Many of us are tempted to work nonstop in pursuit of our goals, but it is unsustainable. Scheduling downtime will remind you to stop and recover. Remember to schedule downtime into your life as you plan out your calendar.