The Importance of Downtime

When I say “Seize Your Passion!” the first thing I think of is definitely NOT downtime. What does come to mind is a constant and steady stream of verbs like doing more, connecting more, engaging more, learning more, growing more, and achieving more to fulfill my dreams, reach my goals, and become my best self.

And, while all that doing is indeed integral and essential to what Seize Your Passion means to me, equally as important and necessary, albeit not as intuitive, is actually STOPPING all that doing sometimes. Sometimes, we need to step away from our constant drive to do more in order to be more.

Especially in today’s networked society of information overload, and the modern day speed of light life we all live. The idea of introspection, reflection and relaxation has become a lost art. We are all so tempted and driven by the need to do more, accomplish more, and be more that we’ve forgotten and often discard the importance of downtime to achieving our goals and becoming our best selves.

We forget that working harder is not necessarily working smarter. We cast aside the risk of loosing our authentic, deep and meaningful connections, not just with one another but with ourselves. If we don’t start to allow ourselves periods of uninterrupted downtime, then personal growth, insight, creativity and ultimately productivity are less likely to emerge.

Evidence shows that clearing your head, stepping away from your routine and from your goals, taking ‘me time’, relaxing, just being and thinking, or even engaging in an activity that simply gives you pleasure as opposed to one that is a means to another end goal, is a vital element to being mentally healthy, more innovative, and more successful overall!

Downtime is essential to mental processes and moments of introspection that affirm our identities and give us a sense of self. Downtime encourages being more creative, original and innovative because new ideas, insights and perspective spring forth by exposing yourself to new or different stimuli.

Downtime actually replenishes your brain’s storages of attention and motivation, thus resulting in more productivity. Downtime nurtures your imagination, replenishes and revitalizes your mind, which enables you to achieve your highest level of performance. Downtime allows your brain an opportunity to make sense of what is has recently learned and ideas to incubate through subconscious thought.

There are countless examples of people who have had epiphanies or “Ah-Ha” moments that seemingly come out of nowhere. In fact, those epiphanies and strokes of genius inspiration don’t come from nowhere, they come from unconscious mental activity that is produced during downtime. Paul McCartney woke up one morning having composed the tune for “Yesterday” in his sleep. Sleep is just another form of downtime.

There are two types of downtime we all need. The first is elongated but sporadic periods of downtime, typically between three to five days (or longer if you’re lucky) of being away from your work and from your everyday routine. It’s called vacation. We all love it and we all feel great after taking one. That’s because our vacation downtime 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. You get to replenish and restore your motivation and drive.

The second form of downtime is regular short breaks. It’s those ephemeral moments of zen and perfect emptiness in your head that come from meditation, a walk in nature, doing a sport, or just having a nice cappuccino on a terrace in the middle of your work day. Our brains need this type of downtime everyday and several times throughout our day.

The key is to be consistent and diligent about scheduling your downtime regularly. Stop feeling guilty or thinking that you’re wasting time or being lazy and unproductive. Allow yourself to take the mental respites you need to be more, grow more, become your best self, achieve your goals and Seize Your Passion!

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