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Why downtime makes you more productive (and happier)
Changing the way you think about downtime can make you more productive and put a smile on your face.
With our modern, busy lives, many of us find ourselves burning the candle at both ends far too often. Although, this might mean we can afford a more comfortable lifestyle thanks to all those extra hours at the office, add to that all the time we invest in our relationships, family and household maintenance and you’ll probably find that you have very little time left for any downtime.
All these hours of work are wearing down our bodies and minds but finding ways to incorporate more downtime into our lives can lead to a happier outlook and increased productivity. Not just any downtime will do though; it’s a case of quality not quantity. Here are the best ways to introduce downtime into your life to reap the most benefits.
Be a daydream believer
For a brief but powerful spell of downtime, allow yourself to daydream. Some studies have shown that while we daydream, the mind is hard at work solving tough problems. This is when we’re likely to have an epiphany and the solution to a complex problem can suddenly become apparent. It may seem as if this epiphany came out of nowhere but it’s usually the result of mental activity that’s going on behind the scenes while our minds are busy having a lovely daydream break.
Allowing yourself to switch off even just for a few minutes can help you to work through challenging tasks more effectively. But there’s more… during downtime, the brain is also busy consolidating new information or skills you’ve recently learnt to imprint them to memory.
Get away more often
There’s no doubt that taking a holiday is the best kind of downtime. You can come home feeling revitalised, refreshed, and raring to go. Getting away from the daily grind and having new and exciting experiences can lead to original ideas and increased job satisfaction. The downside, according to a Finnish study, is that these holiday benefits generally fade within two to four weeks. So how can you harness the benefits more regularly? Have a good break away whenever you can, but in between holidays spend a full day away from home on a Saturday or Sunday. Leave the house early and get out in nature or enjoy what the city has to offer and return home in the evening feeling refreshed and ready for another productive week.
Put your mind at rest
Most of us have experienced how a good night’s sleep does wonders for our cognitive ability. The morning after the answer to that tricky clue in the Saturday crossword can pop into your mind unexpectedly or maybe you find yourself being able to tackle that complex report with ease. Many studies have confirmed that memory depends on sleep. Our mental resources are continuously depleted throughout the day and even a short nap can refresh our minds so we are more productive for the rest of the day. A short nap can sharpen concentration and improve your performance.
Meditate in your downtime
Another example of how downtime can do double-duty is meditation. The effects of meditation on productivity have been well documented. A study at the University of Washington showed that an 8-week mindfulness meditation training course resulted in greater focus and a less negative attitude towards work. Meditate regularly and you and your work will reap the benefits thanks to less stress, better ability to work as part of a team, and increased concentration and motivation. Try the free Headspace meditation app to help get you started. ~
TIP: Keep a gratitude journal for an effective way to record your thanks. For a digital version, try the free app Gratitude Journal – the original!
Looking for more? Here are 4 apps that will make you happier in the workplace.