Productive Down Time

For those of us who struggle to relax “correctly,” planning out our down time might be a good solution. You’ll learn to give yourself the time and attention you need to reboot and refocus. Some might disagree with the idea of scheduling down time, but I believe that proper schedules can provide better down time—there is structure, a limit, and a clear purpose to your relaxation. Eventually, you’ll create better habits for relaxation, and you won’t need to schedule it out anymore.

I’ve noticed that after a well-scheduled day, I get home and expect my brain to remain productive until I go to sleep. However, without any semblance of a plan for the times when I’m not busy, my productivity ends when I leave the office. When I make a plan for my few hours of down time, I not only enjoy the time I set aside for myself, but I am also able to jump back into life after the appointed time is over.

Choose an activity

The first thing to do is plan the activity you’ll do during your down time. This is important because you need a purpose. I’m not suggesting you have to accomplish something during this time; a sense of purpose will just help you make the most of your time. Your activity can be as simple as napping or watching TV, or it can me more adventurous, like going for a walk or developing a hobby. If you are a constantly productive person, you’ll understand that specifying an activity will help you focus during your down time, and you’ll come out refreshed and ready for the next day.

Set a specific time limit

Productivity levels depend on your time and how you manage it. You can get through everything on your to-do list without using your time wisely. Conversely, you can have a perfect day without getting everything done on your to-do list. Time management is key for productivity, thus it is key for experiencing productive down time.

We got an Xbox at Christmas, and I never expected to get addicted to playing it. But one evening, I sat down at 6PM to play and got up again at 9PM. What a waste! I wouldn’t have been so upset if I had set up a specific amount of time to play a game, but I neglected to do so, and there I sat three hours later feeling frustrated and tired. Because I didn’t plan on playing Xbox so long, I felt like I hadn’t gotten anything done that evening. I wanted my time back, and any sense of relaxation I felt while playing was gone in an instant.

If you plan ahead of time to complete your activity within an hour or a few hours, you’ll recognize that you still have time to complete anything else you need to do that day. If your activity is amorphous, you’ll wind up frustrated that you spent the “wrong” amount of time relaxing. Plan out the amount of time you can spare unwinding to ensure you’re relaxed yet still productive during your day.

Close your mind to everything else

The balance between productivity and relaxation comes when you can schedule both a time and an activity, and then completely focus on letting yourself rest and slow down. If you let yourself think about work or other obligations during your down time, you are cheating yourself of valuable recovery time. Close your mind to all distractions. Focus on your chosen activity. You’ll experience the relaxation you need to continue throughout your week.

Image by africa via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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