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Productivity Perspectives: Use your downtime- in 3 easy steps

What downtime?

If, when you read this title, you are thinking, “what downtime?” this article is ready-made for you. When most people think about productivity, they think about getting more and more done in less time. What they often fail to recognize is that getting more done frequently starts with slowing down.

There is a reason that a “day of rest” is built (at least traditionally) into the weeks of most cultures. We are, after all, human. Too many of us forget this too frequently.

I have several clients who wear many hats. In New Hampshire, the tendency is to not do only one “job” but many. You may own your own business, but have one or two part time endeavors to keep a steady stream of money flowing in. Several of my clients are involved in the community and/or with their children’s activities. Just having young children ups the ante of busyness. Time for you is a joke, or perhaps an annual sojourn at best. Quiet time never makes it into the picture unless we are “dead asleep”.

My approach

When a new client approaches me and tells me he or she has too much to do and not enough days, we run through three easy steps to get them started. I hope it helps you.

  1. What is your day/week looking like now? Do a “time diary” for one day, one week, one month. Can you categorize the activities? Can you begin to see patterns?
  2. How much Value would you place on each activity? Could you eliminate some of the low-value activities?
  3. How much whitespace or downtime have you allowed?

Just try it- adding downtime in 3 easy steps

This third question often shocks some clients. Downtime? Whitespace? I am already overloaded. I hired you to help me FIT MORE IN!

To this I reply, yes, you are right. You hired me to help you become more focused, organized, and productive. I am asking you to try a strategy with me and then we can check in and see how it works. At this point, we add whitespace for a “trial period” of three weeks. If you don’t know where to start, try this:

  1. Look at your current week. Is everything filled in, or is there some “open” space? Put a box around any open space during the week and write “scheduled whitespace”. Do NOT add anything into this white space unless you REMOVE another activity.
  2. Look at the weekend. Is it all packed up? If it is, can you back out of anything? If it is not, take a big marker around one afternoon (preferably Sunday) and write, “scheduled downtime”.
  3. Honor those commitments to “nothing”. Do NOT allow a neighbor to bring you out for a Fun Activity during your Scheduled Downtime. Make an excuse. Tell them the truth. Whatever. Just do NOT give in to this. I promise you will love yourself on Monday by allowing downtime over the weekend.

Once you have employed this strategy for three weeks, check in with yourself. How are you feeling.  Do you feel more “caught up”? Do you feel more relaxed, or more energetic? Do you feel like you are finally making progress on items that are important to you?

Sounds good- but I am too busy for that

If you find yourself saying, but I don’t have time to plan! I don’t have time to slow down! I can’t stop, or “the train” will run me over! Then please, remove yourself from your surroundings, slow down, and breathe. Most of your problems will disappear and clarity will be restored to your head. With this clarity, you will start focusing on the items that matter most in your life, and you will give those matters your attention.

If, after trying the strategy above, you are still feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and confused, I invite you to call me for a no-obligation, complimentary strategy session. As you await my reply, I invite you to read this article about boosting your productivity through rest:

Have a restful , productive, and peaceful Spring!


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