Downtime? I don’t have time for downtime! I have a business to run!
From Merriam-Webster, the definition of downtime
time during which production is stopped especially during setup for an operation or when making repairs
inactive time (as between periods of work) <napping during our downtime> <an injured athlete facing months of downtime>
I know I’ve talked about this before, but it’s important and worth repeating.
As a business owner, particularly if you run your own business, it can be quite a challenge to find any periods of rest. There is always, always, always, something that needs to be addressed – and usually it needs to be done “right away.” Right?
If you don’t plan ahead for vacations or weekends or even a few hours every now and then, your work can easily consume you. Even with times marked off on the calendar, ‘overwhelm’ can still sneak in.
It’s important to notice when this happens so you can minimize it quickly.
I found myself saying, “No, I can’t go have fun, I have to work.” too often in July. Way. Too. Often. I had to say it, because I did have work that needed to get done; client deadlines that had to be met. However, it wasn’t fun to work so much and play so little.
Downtime is important. Not having downtime is like not having sleep – it catches up with you. If you work too much or sleep too little, you lose your creativity, your edge, your energy, and your focus.
Even an hour a day for a walk, lunch away from the office, a nap, some meditation – whatever you can do that changes your focus and lets you take a few deep breaths can make a lot of difference to the rest of your day. Taking a break matters – a lot.
With downtime comes creativity, inspiration, the ability to grow and nurture a special interest, and a chance to refocus. (Everyone needs downtime, not just business owners or writers or other creative types. Kids need it, students need it, we all need it.)
If you find yourself getting overwhelmed with things that ‘have to be done’, see if you can strip the list down to what “absolutely” has to be done “right now.” I bet you can discover a lot that isn’t earth-shattering, and several tasks that can either be eliminated or postponed. Focus on the ‘must do’ and put off the rest for a little while.
I’m now in downtime mode for a full 6 days. I’ll get back to work refreshed, recharged, and re-focused on what matters to me (and my business) the most.
What happens to your productivity when you don’t have downtime?
Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.