Downtime might actually be the most productive time of my day.The days crash into each other like wayward bumper cars, speeding by in a mish-mash of early mornings, desk-top lunches, office politics, homework battles, and after-school activities. Sometimes, we eat dinner in a speedy 2 minutes, 30 seconds, all while I yell lovingly through a bullhorn, “HURRY UP, WE’RE GONNA BE LATE!”
I am perpetual motion, zig-zagging around doing all the unnoticed, but necessary, things that moms (and dads) do: sweeping up the crumbs, wiping the toilets, getting book-bags and lunches ready, and scraping mysterious substances off the couch.
There are so few quiet moments, so few moments of just…sitting…still. Once I do sit down, I realize how exhausted I truly am, the weight of my fatigue like a twenty-ton elephant.
I am a person who needs some regularly-scheduled downtime. Don’t we all? I need some time to pitter around the house and talk to the plants. I need to stare out the window and watch the wind in the trees. I need to stop and collect my swirling thoughts.
When I forget to make time for downtime, I literally start to come unhinged. Patience flies out the window, and smoke dribbles out of my ears. I feel tattered and dull.
We need to remember that we are more than just crumb-sweeping, toilet-cleaning, behind-the-scenes machines. We are actual real live humans, and we need some self-care, me-time downtime. At least once a week, and maybe even (gasp) daily.
Downtime is defined as a “time during which production is stopped” or “periods when a system is unavailable.” In a culture obsessed with productivity, and when there’s always something that needs to get done, it seems counter-intuitive to make time for doing nothing.
However, let me expound on the bounty and beauty of downtime. Think of all the information that is constantly bombarding us: social media, news, e-mails, and daily happenings and interactions with friends, family, and co-workers. If we are perpetual motion, we don’t have time to process all of this information.
Slowing down can give us a minute to make sense of all of this information, to sift through it and put the pieces together. We can step out of the race for a moment and see our lives as a whole. After a little downtime, we can happily rejoin the real world, refreshed and ready for perpetual motion once more.
More importantly, inspiration and creativity can’t strike if you’re zig-zagging around like a supersonic Roadrunner. You’re simply moving too fast for your next big idea to land. (I firmly believe that ideas tend to glide and are not prone to crash landings).
Personally, I am at my heel-tapping happiest when I’m feeling rested, inspired, and creative. I know I need to put down the bullhorn, ignore the chores, and watch the wind in the trees sometimes. I need to sit on the couch, wiggle my toes, and listen to the blissful sound of…nothing. Nothing is music to my ears.
Downtime might actually be the most productive time of my day.