The Value of Down Time

Her story went something like this, “If it’s not productive, there’s no point.”
She worked in a very task-oriented field and although she was a leader, that old story still had a strong hold. She expected herself to do all of the tasks and also try to lead the people. Every moment had to directly relate to something tangible and immediately productive.
Then she had some down time over the holidays.
During that time she came up with an idea that will not only revolutionize the way her team does their job, but may lead to the creation of a product that her company will be able to sell!

Huh. Turns out that’s pretty productive.

She saw that too, and also knew that she didn’t want to be the manager in the weeds that no one respected. The value of down time became crystal clear, and the definition of productivity changed.

What I know about human behavior and habits told me that this big realization could be 1 of 2 things: a fluke or a lesson. We started talking about how to make it a lesson.

How could she incorporate down time into daily life? It’s not realistic for her to have 2 weeks off every month, so how do we create time for these creative ideas that flourish in down time?

We looked at her schedule and figured out some strategies. Most importantly, we challenged that old story about there being no point to down time. Wouldn’t it be nice if every big realization resulted in immediate behavior change?! Unfortunately we all know that’s not true; so the most important thing we did was learn how to challenge the old story that said there’s no point to down time. She learned the root, what to do when that story comes up, and how to prove to herself that the story isn’t true.

What is true is that down time led to some of the most productive work she’d done all year…and she definitely wanted more of that.

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