Opinion: The Importance of Downtime


By Carla Charter

It all started with an Amazon order. I decided to order several books. I agree technology has its place.. I do have a kindle and I do enjoy it. But as my daughter once very wisely said “Sometimes there is nothing like a real book. “

Several days later the order arrived, I had finished up an article and was about to start on another but those books with their new book perfume and no crease covers were calling.  So, I disappeared with a cup of tea and my books to a comfortable chair. Soon I had slipped into the world of Boston in the 1700’s and the life of Paul Revere. Yes, I am that much of a history geek. I write about history and when I have downtime I read about history as well.

It was almost a flashback to when I was a child. Fresh back from the library with a large pile of books and a childhood summer, free of responsibilities. I would soon be lost solving a mystery with Nancy Drew or reading a new historical fiction novel.

The thing is though after an hour or so of reading I put the book down. Totally recharged to go back to work. My mid-day down time seemed to work better than an afternoon nap to recharge my energy.

Could my little mid-day downtime have reenergized me?  I used technology and started googling. Sure enough the benefits of downtime are good for your brain. A Scientific American article entitled “Your Brain Needs Downtime” in October 13, 2013, backed up my suspicions. It states “Downtime replenishes the brain’s store of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simple forms of stable memories in everyday life.”

My reading has always taught me and here in midlife it has educated me once again. The message is clear. It’s healthy to disconnect, to recharge our batteries, just like we reconnect our technology. It benefits us, it benefits others, it benefits our jobs and our very lives.