The Up side of Down Time?
How many emails do you get every day? If it’s anything like me it’ll be a LOT. And when do you start looking at them – well, again if you’re a smartphone user, like me, it’s usually in the nano seconds after shutting my alarm off to get up for work. But I’m not actually working – because I’m still in my jammies right? Wrong. Having access to work corrospondance 24 hours a day 7 days per week is a relatively new predicament. Fifteen years ago, we walked out of the office at the end of our day and the work that kept us up at night went on inside our own heads. Now it sits there flashing and pining all through the night.
Is that bad thing though? We can get extra work done so that it doesn’t pile up for the next day, but at what cost? Leslie Perlow, Professor of Leadership at the Harvard Business School, has written that taking work home and negglecting out downtime lead to a decreased productivity and staff engagemnet.
Moreover, I can begin to effect our life away from work - A study showed that employees who keep working after hours are usually tired and grumpy when they’re supposed to be relaxing. And it seems that it’s even worse for high stress jobs.
Companies like 3M and Google activley take measure against burnout by encouraging staff to take breaks away from their desks. Some companies have even taken the further step of imposing email blackouts between the times of 10pm and 7am.
What ever the method of encouraging quality downtime, it appears to be an important message. Stay ing engaged, higher productiity, supporting good mental heath.
So how can you better use downtime? Here are a few tips that might help
- Clearly schedule your time: Just as you would schedule a work meeting and stick to it, schedule some evenings each week that are free of work
- Allow for ad hoc downtime when you need it. If you’re feeling stuck on a problem, frustrated, or simply tired of sitting down, take 10 minutes to walk, read for fun, or grab coffee with a friend to clear your mind
- Shut off your smartphone: Constant interconnectedness (like smartphone use) is a stressor. Leave your laptop at the office when you’re able. Keep your workphone put of sight – aviod constant checking of phones for updates – that includes Facebook!