The Importance of Downtime

You’ve been there before, staring down the barrel of a deadline, trying to find some way to improve your project, to make one last sale, or to get just a little bit more. You’re a hard worker, there’s no doubt about it. But while you’re out there struggling and striving to do more, you may be neglecting one of the most important productivity boosters out there: taking a break.

It may sound counterintuitive, but believe it or not, having time off and giving yourself a break can have a larger, more positive effect on both individual and organizational productivity than working longer hours (Perlow and Porter, 2009).

Studies have demonstrated that even during periods of high work demand, employees who were required to take time off were more productive, happier, and overall better workers. On the flipside, those employees who continued working long hours until the project was completed witnessed a decline in overall quality of work, increased fatigue and illness, and lower morale.

So what does this mean for you as a manager? It’s simple, really: it means that you need to encourage your staff to take breaks, to go on vacation, and to build a healthy work-life balance. It also means that you, as a manager, can’t exempt yourself from this. If you want to be the best leader you can be, then you need to take some time off as well. It may seem unpleasant, especially to many career-driven individuals, but taking a break can do wonders for the quality of your work.

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