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Over-workers aren’t usually good at downtime. When we do take downtime, we spend the time thinking about the things we “should” be doing instead.

Last week, I suggested you pay closer attention to what you were thinking about during your planned break. If you’re like me, then these thoughts probably popped up for you.

  • “I should be doing work.”
  • “I can’t keep up.”
  • “Downtime isn’t going to help me get more done.”
  • “I really shouldn’t be taking a break right now.  I have too much to do. “
  • “I am being so lazy.”
  • “I should check my email just to stay caught up a little. “
  • “I need to be doing….<list all the things here>”

Did any of those pop up for you?  You are not alone.

The problem is that we think of free time as earned only when we are done with all of our work.

That has us feeling awful and guilty about taking free time. And that awful feeling puts us in the position of being completely unproductive.

But free time is not just a reward for being done.

Free time is critical for our health and well being and it BOOSTS our productivity.

You probably experienced this after getting back from a long vacation. After a “real” break – you often come back feeling refreshed, more focused and productive.

You can learn to truly unplug during short periods of downtime.

It requires awareness of what’s happening in your brain.  The best news is our brains can be trained.  You started the training in last weeks article when you started to be aware of what you are thinking about.

This week, keep practicing taking downtime.  And when your mind wanders to “I should be doing more”, then you can try to interrupt yourself and try on one of these thoughts instead.

  • “I am willing to try to see if I will feel more productive if I rest my mind right now.”
  • “I am trying out daily down time to feel the impact of it”
  • “I’m taking some down time so that I can come back to the job refreshed”
  • “When I look away from work for a while, I come back and can produce higher quality results”
  • “Down time is going to free me from the overworking habit”
  • “My down time is just as important as my work”

Notice how you feel when you practice those thoughts. Is it better? Even just a little bit better will help you. Keep practicing.

Really unplugging during your down time is important. If you didn’t plan time for it today – do that right now and practice making it refreshing.

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