Why Downtime Isn't Lazy — It's Actually GOOD For You
If you're frequently chided for chilling out, keep this tab open at ALL times. You can wave your phone in the naysayer's face, because we've deciphered seven key reasons to take a legitimate break today, after speaking to Terence Fung, chief strategy officer of leading mobile gaming company Storm8. As a busy executive familiar with all the distractions of technology, he provided us with his expertise on the matter.
1. Downtime gives you greater focus.
Though it might sound counterintuitive to get off task in order to stay on task, mental breaks will assist you in returning to a project or starting a new one with renewed focus. "There is only so much attention you can give a task before productivity diminishes," Fung asserts. "Taking time to divert your attention to something else, whether that's playing a game on your phone or taking a walk, will help you tackle your to-dos with greater focus."
2. It helps you solve complex problems with a fresh perspective.
According to Fung, studies have shown that our brain has two modes — the first is a focused state, when we're actively learning new things or solving problems. The second is a "diffuse mode," when we're relaxed and in a daydream-like state. "During the diffuse mode, we're actually able to solve complex problems," he says. A classic example of this is when you think of a clever solution to a problem while engaging in an idle activity, like bathing, driving, or lying in bed waiting to fall asleep.
3. It solidifies your memories.
Fung recommends a quick power nap — no more than 20 minutes — or a brisk walk alone. If you do this, "you're able to clear out information picked up during the day, and the most important information gets filed into long-term memory. When you return to work, your mind is free to pick up new information, which can enhance memory performance."
4. It encourages creativity.
If you never take a break from your work, your ability to be creative diminishes. "Your tired brain can't make the creative connections it could if it was more relaxed," Fung says. "When you take time to relax, your mind can relax as well, allowing creative thoughts to flow more freely."
5. It aids in mental well-being.
Fung tells us, "Whether you spend your break going for a quick walk around the block or you take time to relax with no work distractions, you improve your mental well-being and overall attitude by focusing on yourself." He says that even if you don't have a lot of time to spend away from your desk, every little bit helps.
6. It improves your physical health.
If you chain yourself to your cubicle every day, you may want to consider unlocking your shackles for a bit. "We all know that sitting at your desk can wreak havoc on your posture and eyes, so remember to regularly take time to stretch and divert your attention away from your monitor," Fung says. "It'll improve your stamina and energy level over the long haul."
7. It keeps you in the habit of putting yourself first sometimes.
Fung emphasizes this point with an exclaimed "Seriously!" He says we all need to slow down our lives and take time for ourselves regularly. "Do you really need any other reason than that?" he asks. The answer is a resounding nope.