Downtime is Productive Time: The Case for Deliberate Rest

Organizations and people alike are missing out. Missing out on the value of downtime. Contrary to popular belief, downtime is productive time.

In our complex and ever changing modern-day world, creative confidence is a valuable commodity that can make people substantially better at their jobs, increase their well-being, and boost organizational performance. Now more than ever people need to make their well-being a priority and organizations need new, innovative ideas to stand out and compete in today’s hyperconnected and unpredictable business environment.

But coming up with original ideas and having a sense of well-being can be difficult when the mind is full and the body is reeling. Downtime pulls us out of that.

Downtime is productive time. Contrary to popular belief, the stillness that comes from deliberate downtime creates strength. In fact, when we rest and let our minds wander, our minds are almost as active as when we are locked in and concentrating on a problem. Downtime is how we process.

The best time to rest in downtime is when you think you don’t have time. Rest is a heart choice. It’s not a luxury. Rest is a necessity, especially when you are in a leadership role and people are depending on you to make the best decisions.

Energy reserves are not unlimited. Many of us expend more energy in a day than we recover, keeping us in a constant state of scarcity and human energy crisis.

Energy, not time, is the cornerstone to efficiency and high performance. When we treat rest as work’s equal, we stay productive longer, focus on what matters, and experience greater happiness in life.

An energy renewal strategy can look like anything from a short nap, to an afternoon walk, to simply closing your eyes and breathing deeply. Deliberate rest is active, not passive. It just needs to be an activity that you find fulfilling, captivating, and helps you relax. Even if it is for 10–15 minutes, it’s better than the 10–15 minutes you didn’t take.

Some of history’s greatest leaders kept a regular practice of deliberate rest. Like Newton and Einstein who would clear a break in their schedule every day to give themselves time to escape and think. Many of today’s most successful CEOs do likewise, providing themselves with essential resources to perform at their highest level.

Deliberate rest takes courage and self-discipline. Courage to deviate from social norms and the self-discipline to make it a lifestyle change.

For every depleting activity in your day, there is a counter recovery activity. The key to success is working deliberately and resting deliberately by planning for downtime afterward.

Ready to learn how? Check out the newly released Lead U online course, REENERGIZE!

Jennifer Zach produces the Unlocking Mindset podcast & is the founder of Lead U, an online university. She provides coaching, training, & development services.