In our fast paced lifestyles and busy schedules, being productive has become a desired standard for getting more things done. When you’re productive, it feels good – you were able to accomplish something efficiently. Now that you have that extra time, you can get even more tasks done. Now, repeat that process until you feel like you have too much to do and not enough time. This is called toxic productivity, the constant desire to be productive all the time.
When you’re constantly striving to be productive, it becomes detrimental to your well-being. Sometimes, people are busy for the sake of being busy. In order to be both efficient and effective with their time, people should have a healthy balance of productivity and downtime. Many people overlook the importance of downtime, so here are 3 key benefits.
Space for Creativity
Having headspace is essential for allowing our minds to wander and explore new ideas or view things from different perspectives. When we are preoccupied and focused on accomplishing tasks, we leave little room for abstract thinking. These tasks don’t have to be work-related—if you view it as a task or something you have to do, it takes up your mental bandwidth.
It’s important to create an environment that allows you to have headspace. For some people, taking a walk is a good way for them to clear their mind. For others, it's meditating, a long soak in the tub, or reading a book. Whatever it may be, it’s most likely something that they enjoy or puts their mind at ease. When you’re relaxed, you have more headspace for exploring new ideas for inspiration.
The same could apply to your physical environment as well. If you’re at home, it should feel like home—a place to relax and be at ease. Being tidy and organized frees up thoughts of having to clean or declutter your home, giving you more headspace to be creative.
Recharge and Reset
When we’re always in “go-go-go” mode, it can be hard to stop, and by the time you do, burnout is already sinking in and you don’t feel like doing anything. Studies show that people who mentally disconnect from work during leisure time are less stressed and more satisfied with their lives.
By practicing mentally detaching ourselves from work during leisure time, we can be present in the moment and enjoy our free time. This allows you to mentally recharge and reset. When you get back to work the next day, you’ll be refreshed and able to focus because you took a mental break.
Time for Yourself and Loved Ones
When work or life gets busy, we often put things on hold or make them less of a priority.
Usually, it's our own self care that suffers first. Due to stress, long working hours, and other responsibilities, we start disregarding our physical and mental health. The build up of lack of sleep, exercise, and healthy meals makes us fatigued until we eventually burnout. The impact extends to your close friends and family as well, without making time for loved ones, it puts a strain on your relationships.
Although our schedules can get hectic, it's essential to make time for ourselves and the most important people in our lives. A simple way to make time in your schedule each week is to book in blocks of time in advance. Reserve these blocks specifically for personal time–you should never feel guilty for taking time for self-care, it’s perfectly fine to say no to non-essential work when you’ve made arrangements in advance.
All that said, being engaged, productive, and accomplished is a great feeling to have, but sometimes we are busy for the sake of being busy. Within our fast paced lifestyles and airtight schedules, it's essential for us to find downtime to stimulate our creativity, recharge our mental state, and spend time on ourselves and our loved ones. By managing a healthy balance between productivity and downtime, we make the best use of our time.