As most of you may have noticed by now, I like to relate my articles to things I actually do or think about in my real life. On Monday, I came down with a nasty stomach virus that forced me to leave work early. I felt like shit, went home, and got some rest. When I woke up I got to thinking about how being the type of guy I am, who handles a ton of shit on his plate daily, I can’t afford much downtime, but I’m also not a machine either. Today I’ll cover my insights on why downtime is necessary, and how you can use it to your advantage.
Sitting home Monday, even though I felt like hell, did wonders for me. I was completely off the grid from my normal life. Kids were in school, wife at work, away from my email/job etc. I was alone with just my thoughts, no obligations (at that point), free to let my mind wander. Rather than have to make an on the fly decision, I could step back and view things from a calm, collected point of view.
I think we can forget sometimes that we need a time to collect ourselves. Running a family/marriage on top of all your other obligations can take a toll at times. I’m not saying its too much to deal with, but a little time for yourself is necessary.
One interesting thing I came upon in my “downtime” was that I actually worked out some problems I was having with my “up time.” I had a problem with something at work, and when you’re in the thick of it, the solution can seem far off. Having time to think it through, uninterrupted, led me to a solution I hadn’t even considered. Not only that, but my drive and focus on these tasks had a double benefit, as it took my mind off of how shitty I had been feeling.
“Once your mindset changes, everything on the outside will change along with it.”
– Steve Mariboli
The key thing I learned is that downtime, and what you do with it all comes down to your mindset. If you loaf around with your downtime or if you’re in a negative mindset, you will probably feel worse than if you even used 10% of your attention to something you’re trying to achieve. I simply hate sitting idle watching TV or playing video games. This has carryover into almost every other part of you life, because if you can accomplish something when you’re not at 100%, then think of what you’re capable of doing when you are on you A game.
I’ll note here that if you’re puking your guts up or severely injured there may not be much you can do, but as long as your brain is working, you should be able to make use of time that would be otherwise wasted.
Also, not everything you do with downtime has to relate to work. You can use it to finally start that course on learning a new language, or use it to evaluate your nutrition plan. In fact, I recommend using downtime for something personal as well as some other outside goal or obligation you may have. Some examples could be:
Researching some obscure topic that would benefit you in some way.
Planning a vacation for your family.
Evaluating your finances to see where you can save money
Learn a new skill or hobby that you’ve always wanted
Focusing on some task you’ve been putting off
It will be different for everyone, but you get the idea. I’ll note too that maybe your life is really hectic and when you get a chance to relax you do just that. Nothing wrong with it, but for me if I’m not doing something productive, I begin to go a little crazy. I need something to focus my energy on at all times, so utilizing the downtime is something I’ve found to help me immensely.
Time off from owning your shit and kicking ass doesn’t have to be time wasted. Simply having the solitude to think deeply on things that have been bothering you can be a great way to reaching a conclusion. This time is also well spent focusing on some “self maintenance” if you’ve been neglecting that part of your life. Further, if you just say fuck it and lay around in your downtime, so be it. I found that if you can “make time” for shit like Facebook and video games, you should be able to redirect that time into productivity. Remember the time we have here is short, so using every minute to your advantage puts us above the rest of the herd.
I’d love to hear feedback from you guys to see how you use your idle time or time in which you’re removed from obligation. Drop a comment below.