Before the constant distractions of Facebook, email, desktop alerts, and vibrating smartphones, many of us enjoyed this thing called “downtime,” or time when we really didn’t do anything at all. These days that kind of thinking may sound unproductive, but we’ve mentioned several times how important taking breaks is to staying energized, creative, and productive when you need to be. So when’s the last time you had downtime—that is, time where you did nothing at all but be in your own head?
When we say “doing nothing,” we don’t mean flopping down on the couch to play video games, watch a movie, and de-stress, although there’s value in that too—we mean actually doing nothing, like standing in the window or on the porch with a cup of coffee, alone with your thoughts. Or actually daydreaming, or even thinking to yourself about what you would love to do if you had the time.
Many of us don’t really get those moments during our average day, except perhaps when they’re forced on us, like when we’re showering, shaving, or brushing our teeth, and yet study after study has shown that downtime helps us recharge our mental batteries. It also gives us room to think, come up with new ideas, remember important things we may have forgotten, and dream amazing things. Even so, Scott Belsky, writing for The 99 Percent, points out that we often crave distraction, and if we really want downtime, we have to carve it out of our day by unplugging, scheduling times and places for deep thinking, meditation, or naps, and then fiercely protect it.
Photo by InnervisionArt (Shutterstock).