There’s no denying it: life is often full of hustle and bustle. From early morning commutes to long hours in the office, it can all start to feel like a never-ending grind. Many of us are so focused on seizing opportunities and pushing forward that we forget to take pauses along the way. The reality is that allowing yourself designated downtime from your job can do wonders in terms of productivity, creativity, and mental and physical health.
Whether you’re a freelancer, small business owner, or career-driven executive, planning ahead for breaks can lead to better work-life balance and, inevitably, more success in the long run. Knowing the ins and outs of when and how to plan ahead for your me-time will ensure that you’re able to reap the full benefits of scheduled downtime.
Understanding What Work-Life Balance Means
Work-life balance means having a healthy relationship between working and living. This relationship should be mutually beneficial in order to maximize productivity, contentment, and, ultimately, success. The key to creating balance is deciphering the distinction between how much time you spend on work (both in and out of the office) and how much of that time you dedicate to yourself and your personal pursuits. Practically speaking, creating balance requires us to set aside time dedicated solely to our own needs and interests, be it reading, exercising, meditating, or something else.
Factoring Downtime Into Your Weekly Schedule
Downtime is essential for functioning at our best both at work and outside of the office. Though it can be challenging to prioritize yourself amidst the chaos, there are some easy steps you can take to factor in breaks into your weekly routine.
Start by taking a look at your upcoming week. Make a list of upcoming meetings, deadlines, events, and appointments. Afterward, write down your off-hours goals: what do you plan on doing during the time allotted for rest? From meeting friends to getting a manicure to baking a few cakes, clearly defining what your version of downtime looks like will help to set expectations and ensure that you make the best use of your me-time.
Be Smart About Time Management
Time management is everything. When facing a busy week, set aside a few 30-minute chunks reserved for you to do whatever you wish. Multi-tasking is inevitable, but it’s key to setting aside the time required to take a break and recharge.
Be realistic in terms of the scope of the distractions. Dedicate a few hours over the weekend to catch up on the news, clean your home, or watch your favorite show. On weekdays, limit yourself to 10-minute distractions if you’re able; your job will always be there when you return back to it, and there’s no sense in sacrificing high quality work for low quality work just because of a distraction.
Using Scheduled Breaks to Grow
Downtime offers numerous benefits; you get the chance to dedicate a few moments or days to what makes you feel fulfilled, allowing you to come back to your job feeling recharged and inspired.
Time off is particularly invaluable for creative workers. Allowing your creative juices to settle for a few hours will help reinvigorate ‘stuck’ ideas that can fuel future productivity. Use your scheduled breaks to try something new, be it a class, podcast, or just a scenic walk. Anything that allows you to step out of the professional rut is highly recommended.
Stepping Away From Your Job Is Healthy
Don’t feel guilty for taking a break; mental, physical, and emotional burnout can lead to bigger problems and setbacks. Above all else, having time off is essential in maintaining the healthy balance between the personal and professional sides of your life. With busy weeks, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, and taking a few moments to reset, recharge, then return with a fresh perspective can delay or even prevent burnout.
Finding Inner Peace
Similarly, stepping away from your job for some quiet, calming downtime will give you the chance to recenter and focus on what drives and motivates you. Whether you journey inwards through meditation or attending a yoga class, finding inner peace will keep you in the here and now instead of dwelling on the shoulds, coulds, and woulds of the world.
If those aren’t your style, try a mental reset by signing up for a class or volunteering with a cause that speaks to you. By doing something tangible, be it creating something, teaching a class, or organizing a fundraiser, you can bring a sense of satisfaction and peace, giving you the fuel needed to return to your job re-energized.
Bringing Balance To Your Workweek
In the age of networking and success driven career paths, finding balance between the needs of our job and our personal needs is of utmost importance. Without it, we can become exhausted and uninspired, causing us to become discouraged and making it difficult for us to stay motivated and on top of things.
Scheduling Downtime into your workweek is a great way to take a proactive stance on healthy living. It allows us to dedicate time to ourselves, invest in our health and mental sanity, and come back to the grind feeling refreshed and inspired.
At the end of the day, knowing the ins and outs of how to add breaks into your busy schedule will help you to better manage your workload, reduce stress, boost creativity, and achieve a long-term, sustainable success.