We associate productivity with work. A productive day is usually a day when we’ve set goals, gotten stuff done, worked hard, achieved what we set out to do.
Our downtime on the other hand is often more of an afterthought: “I’ll figure it out once I get there… if I get there…”
We put it off: “I’ll take some time off when I’ve got everything done.”
We cram it full of chores and odd jobs: “Day off: laundry, fix door, get hair cut, buy Christmas presents, pay electricity bill, sort out filing pile, wash car…”
We see our downtime as unproductive and to an extent unimportant. Now, how can I say this delicately? Quite frankly, that’s bullsh-t.
To recharge is to restore your capacity. Without charge there is no productivity. Recharging is productive.
How do you recharge? Here are five different approaches – which do you do?
This is the most common option. Get home, down tools, veg out. Sit in front of the telly. Surf the net. Play some inane game. Anything that doesn’t require brainpower, but keeps it occupied enough that it doesn’t completely shut down or start firing up again.
It’s an easy option. It doesn’t require much thought or setting up. You can do it pretty much anywhere, especially if you have Candy Crush on your phone (ahem). And it does conserve energy to a degree – but only gives minimal recharge.
My husband is a strong introvert. This means he recharges when he’s alone. He loves spending time with family and friends, and enjoys a good conversation (especially of the techie kind) but when he’s had a full on week, especially a week full of people, he needs his time alone. I call it his cave time. It might be in the garage, out on his motorbike, going for a walk or taking a trip somewhere. As long as he’s alone.
Without it, he gets grumpy, cranky, and can’t think straight. Once he’s had it, he’s recharged, ready and raring to go again.
To an extent I think we all need this. I am an extrovert. Being with people energise me, but I still need time to myself. I never realised this until I had children and found I was never alone, and started craving even just five minutes to myself.
What a funny word. In a battle, when someone shouts “Retreat!” you get the sense that things aren’t going so well. It’s a last resort, a failure, a sign of weakness.
When I think of a spa retreat though, or the writer’s retreat I went to earlier this year, I think indulgence. It’s something I relish, enjoy and welcome.
It’s an opportunity to rest from the day to day and time to indulge and nurture a part of me – whether that’s my dry skin, my inner peace or my writing geek.
Recharging isn’t always about rest (although it doesn’t happen without some kind of rest).
Sometimes it’s about doing something active. For me a good run can do wonders for my energy. Spending time with friends, laughing, being outdoors, singing, reading, cooking, dancing, jumping on the trampoline, going down a zip-wire with my kids – these are all things that require me to do something – and recharges me all the same.
What do you enjoy doing so much that it leaves you feeling more alive and recharged than before? What activities, company and environments actively energise you?
What fires you up? What charges your creativity and motivation? What fuels you?
Twenty minutes watching a TED talk just now has inspired me to get on with writing this post. Taking a day to attend a conference and network with inspiring women this week will remind me why I’m doing what I’m doing and do wonders for my motivation and productivity.
What is fuel for you? Where do you go for it? How often do you tap into it?
Over to you. How do you spend your downtime? Does it recharge you?