Life is a constant ebb and flow and a balance of pressures to get things done and to find time to recover and refresh. For many people who have a relentless list of things on their plates, downtimes are often hard to come by or even if they may feel guilty or responsible to others, it will prevent them from decompressing completely. Holidays can be relaxing. Weekends without a long to-do list can be a wonderful but brief respite, but if you want to successfully find the balance between doing and being, it is vital that you have a strategy or plan to recharge your mental and emotional batteries.
I have friends who are always working or feel guilty when they are not. I know some people who would like “life” to be a long vacation and would not feel a shred of guilt or responsibility towards anyone. There has to be a middle ground. There must be a middle ground to enjoy the adventure of life and the privilege of work.
Which is the answer?
It is simple but difficult to achieve for some. It’s scheduled downtime. Let me explain. From my perspective, downtime is when you can get away from obligations, chores, responsibilities (I’m not talking about long-term responsibilities here), and the need to keep or keep busy with often meaningless or unimportant tasks.
Let me ask you, if the garage isn’t cleaned for a week, is it a Castro? If the clothes are not washed every Saturday, will the sky fall? If the car is not washed or the house is not cleaned or any other element that is part of your routines you have to wait a few hours or days, so what! Too many people have let their lives become slaves to stupid, yes, stupid routines, which in the long-term scheme of things don’t really matter.
I have seen parents abandon their children on the weekends so they can finish their “to do” list. I have seen husbands work more days than necessary sacrificing time with their loved ones. And I’ve seen friends who don’t keep in touch because they say they’re too busy. Folks, this is all a bunch of crap and I don’t believe it. Yes, there are jobs that need to be done and yes, there are responsibilities. All I’m asking you is this: Are you sacrificing life’s really important gifts for a few horrible chores?
Downtime is planned time to relax, recover, and enjoy life, whether it’s with your kids, your spouse, friends, or yourself. But let me repeat if it is not planned, it will not happen. How do you schedule downtime? Simple, first you have to prioritize what is really important in your life; relationships, personal interests or hobbies, alone time, self-improvement time, fun activities, work, etc. Once you’ve listed all of these, label them A, B, or C in terms of their ‘long-term’ benefits. For example, there is no time with children when they are 7 years old, one day you will wake up and they will be 20 and it is too late. Do you remember the song Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chaplin? Do I need to say more? So decide what your long-term priorities are and label them. Be sure to include some ‘alone’ time on your list.
The rest is easy, make sure you spend more time on your A’s than your B’s and C’s.