Being a passionate professional, a business owner or an inspired leader (or all of the above), I'm guessing you probably struggle with this as much as I do: getting enough rest, being away from your devices and generally enjoying some peace and quiet on a regular basis.
The importance of downtime to being your best self.
It's getting clearer quickly how important 'downtime' really is for our brain. The evidence that clearing your head is a vital element to being creative and successful is growing fast.
Getting enough down time is even an essential element to one of my most important topics: being your authentic self:
Downtime is in fact essential to mental processes that affirm our identities, develop our understanding of human behavior and instill an internal code of ethics--processes that depend on the DMN. Downtime is an opportunity for the brain to make sense of what it has recently learned, to surface fundamental unresolved tensions in our lives and to swivel its powers of reflection away from the external world toward itself. -- Ferris Jabr, 'Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime'
Three types of breaks
In my experience, there's not just one sort of downtime, there's at least three types, and we need all of them.
1. The importance of getting enough sleep
The first is sleep. Solid, good quality sleep gives your brain the possibility to revive itself and the body. It's an opportunity to incorporate everything you've experienced during the day. I loved Arianna Huffington's TED talk on how to sleep you're way to the top. Literally. She focuses on women, but guys: this goes for you too.
I know some people say they can do with only a couple of hours of sleep per night, but that's absolutely not me. I'm most productive, creative and happy when I sleep a solid eight hours. With my children waking at 7 a.m., that means I need to be asleep by 11 p.m. Simple as that.
2. The relevance of going on vacation
The second sort of downtime is vacation. A longer period (at least three to five days) of being away from work is a great way to revitalize. By being away from your normal routine, you get the chance to look at your life from a different perspective. It's so much easier to see what you would like to improve from an outsider's perspective! For me, the time right after summer holidays (September) is usually the best moment to make changes in my routines. I always set some new ambitions right after summer too.
3. The big challenge: regular breaks
The third form of downtime is both the smallest and the hardest. It's those little nuggets of emptiness in your head that come from meditation, a walk in nature, doing some sports or just having a cappuccino on a terrace in the middle of your working day.
They sound easy enough, as they are relatively short, but the challenge is in the continuity. Our brain needs this type of downtime several times during the day. Tony Schwartz of The Energy Project proposes to have a break after every 90 minutes of work to be optimally productive.
I'm definitely giving that a try!
For me, doing the 30 Day Self Love Challenge helped me to build a daily routine of downtime. Taking a break used to be something I didn't think of as being productive, but since I've experienced how much better I feel when I do take some 'me-time', it's much harder to skip it as "non-productive."
The way to use your downtime in a productive way
A while ago, I made a video about the Yrika Method: a technique to use your subconscious mind to make better decisions. It's amazing how well this works! And it's a great way to make your breaks even more productive.
"Epiphanies may seem to come out of nowhere, but they are often the product of unconscious mental activity during downtime." Ferris Jabr, "Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime"
How do YOU do it?
I would love to hear how you incorporate breaks in your life. Do you have a daily routine? What do you need to feel creative, energised and happy?
Let me know in the comments!