Does Your Daily Routine Have Enough Down Time?

We’ve all pondered over the habits of successful people, the things they do that make them successful in the first place.

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We’ve also been guilty of believing they work non-stop. Surely, they couldn’t have gotten to where they are today if they weren’t some variation of modern-day caffeinated workaholics.

The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.” -Sydney J. Harris

Our very idea of what constitutes a productive day is deeply flawed because we associate it with working every minute of the day until we fall asleep, then wake up the next day and repeat. This pattern of overworking ourselves to the point of exhaustion is far from ideal. 

In fact, it should be the opposite outcome we’re looking for or seeking to achieve. Yet, we villainize downtime. We think any time not spent working is a wasted opportunity. We could have achieved more success, accomplished more goals, completed more tasks, … only if we kept working.

 Do you see the issue here? Our daily routines have gradually morphed into this elaborate schedule filled to the brim with commitments, appointments, meetings, and obligations, to the extent that any ‘free’ time we dedicate to taking care of ourselves is considered to be a luxury, an indulgence on our part. 

So if you have to ask yourself if your routine has enough downtime, then you probably need more downtime.

Why Is Downtime Important?

Creating space for more free time can drastically improve your productivity and give you a much-needed energy boost.

Heavy workloads and endless to-do lists can easily make us think we have no time for days off and vacations. With that said, driving too hard is bound to make us feel burned out, frustrated, and exhausted, which means we’re not as efficient nor productive. When we’re overexerting our physical and mental capacities we’re also less focused. 

“Having free hours where I could relax and decompress made it possible for me to be effective during the working hours that remained. You need to value your free time, downtime, and leisurely activities that provide whole health and wellness to your life.” -James Clear

Scheduling downtime into your daily routine will allow you to restore your focus, renew your energy levels, and rejuvenate your enthusiasm. Taking the time to step back and relax can also help you see the bigger picture, evaluate your priorities, and understand the purpose of every task you aim to accomplish. Not only that but downtime can also boost your mental and physical health as well as your interpersonal relationships. When you take time off and unplug, you also become better at listening to your mind and body. Ultimately, this will help you build a better relationship with yourself. Moreover, frequent breaks can reinstate your willpower, enhance your judgment, and encourage sound decision-making.

How can you better use your downtime?

When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.” -Jean Shinoda Bolen

#1: Schedule downtime into your day

If you’re not naturally inclined to take breaks or slow down during the day then you need to start scheduling downtime into your routine. Just as you would plan work activities and tasks, do the same for your free time. Whether it’s an hour every day, one to two off days a week, or a couple of evenings here and there, it’s essential that you allocate enough time for yourself where you get to unplug and relax.

#2: Create rituals and routines

Routines and rituals are highly recommended habits for a healthy lifestyle. Scientists recommend creating routines that help you prepare for your day or unwind after work. This is a way to signal to your brain that it’s time to start work, leave work, relax, meditate, or engage with your family and loved ones.

#3: Free up your mind clutter

When you’re taking downtime, you need to ensure that your mind is clutter-free. The purpose of downtime is to relax and unwind, so it defeats the purpose if you were to worry about work during your free time. Compartmentalizing tasks and responsibilities is a great way to do that. Organizing your daily to-do list so it’s more comprehensible and less vague or messy also helps tremendously.

In Conclusion

Self-care is not a waste of time; self-care makes your use of time more sustainable.” -Jackie Viramontez

While carving out space for downtime isn’t always the easiest task, it’s essential that you do so if you want to avoid burnout and chronic fatigue. Just as it’s necessary to give your undivided attention to the tasks at hand, whether at work or at home, you also need to be able to enjoy your time off and focus on the present moment.

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