Taking Time Out

How taking time out can increase productivity - and how to make it happen
Taking time out? I must be joking. Everyone is busy these days, lurching from one activity to the next, trying desperately to multi-task and keep all the balls in the air. It’s become a badge of courage, being busy – in fact sometimes I think we let it define us. After all, if we are busy, we must be important, right?

Busy Doesn’t Equal Important

We are all important, regardless of how we fill our days or how busy we are. There’s no actual requirement to be doing something productive all the time. Nor do we have to account for every minute of our day to anyone (aside from to an employer during actual working hours). Despite what society and the media would have us believe, our activities and our possessions do not justify our existence.

But I Can’t Spare a Whole Day

Don’t worry, I’m not about to suggest you take a whole day out. That idea makes even me nervous. I find it takes a huge effort to sit still anymore – and if my body isn’t busy then my mind certainly is. However recently I discovered that taking a few minutes out – sometimes even a couple of hours if I’m feeling brave – can refresh and restore me so much that I’m twice as productive when I get back to work.

Let me stress I find this difficult too. I rarely even sit down to watch television of an evening – I’m on the go virtually every minute of every day. That has to change if I’m going to keep any kind of balance in my life – and it’s easier than I ever thought it could be. Here are some ways I’ve discovered to take time to increase my peace of mind and my productivity.

Taking Time Out
Finding Balance By Taking Time Out

Enjoy your first hot drink of the day
Take your morning coffee or tea outside if it’s sunny. Sit on your front step or in your garden and spend just ten minutes enjoying your first hot drink of the day instead of gulping it down as you work. If it’s cold outside, put on something warm and spend some time enjoying the patterns the frost has made in nature. If it’s pouring down with rain, take the time to actually sit down somewhere comfortable in your house and spend ten minutes – that’s just 600 seconds – mindfully enjoying your first hot drink of the day.

Mix things up a bit
A byproduct of being busy is often an addiction to routine – we cope with a full schedule by doing things in a set order. Ever feel stressed when something unexpected crops up? That is what I’m talking about. I appreciate a certain amount of structure is vital, particularly when you have kids, but if you can change the way you do things even slightly, it can be really refreshing. Change the route of a regular journey just a little bit, have a cup of herb tea instead of a coffee (or vice versa), serve breakfast for dinner or shop in a different grocery store. A change really can be as good as a rest.

Taking Time Out
Meet a friend for tea or coffee one afternoon
Call up a friend you haven’t seen in a long time and make a date for a good catch up. Or reach out to someone you have met or worked with but haven’t managed to connect with yet. I met Pauline Wiles, a wonderful writer who I had worked with virtually but had never actually been in the same room with on one of our many trips to California. Pauline very kindly treated me to a proper British afternoon tea in Palo Alto. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting her and it was fun to discuss Saving Saffron Sweeting, with the person who actually wrote it! I was feeling so inspired when I got back to the apartment that I got lots of writing done before it was time to meet my husband for supper. Now Pauline and I try to catch up whenever I’m her side of the pond.

Taking Time Out
Be a tourist in your own city or town
Look at your hometown through fresh eyes. I live less than forty minutes from London, one of the top tourist destinations in the world. But how often do I take time out to go there? Not as often as you might think! Yet when I do take a few hours out to go to one of the many museums and tourist attractions London offers, I come back completely refreshed. Exploring your local area can be incredibly rewarding.

Another thing I love to do is take a drive in the countryside near our home. There are so many places nearby just waiting to be visited. Even a thirty to sixty minute excursion can be really good for the soul. Last time I discovered a new to me farm shop I can’t wait to visit again. Even if you don’t have time to go into a new place, just finding it means you can put it on the list and head directly to it next time you can allow yourself to take some time out.

This is the quickest, cheapest, easiest and most effective time out I know. Simply sit still and concentrate on your breath for just one minute. Close your eyes, let your belly fill up as you inhale and concentrate on a long slow exhale, gently contracting your belly to expel all the air. Everyone has time for this – seriously, we are talking sixty seconds here – and not only does it make you feel good, it really is good for you.

How do you take time out in your life?

Need more inspiration? You may enjoy this post.

Want to know more about Pauline Wiles’ books? Check out her website!

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Article by April Harris

April has written 1291 great articles for us.
April is a writer, recipe developer, frequent traveller and blogger sharing travel, food, and style. Based in the south of England, April is a British Canadian who is passionate about family, hearth and home, healthy living (with treats!) and the transformative power of travel.
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  1. I was nodding in agreement with your suggestions even before I scrolled down and found the photo of us having tea 😉
    Personally, I find just a few minutes outside to be a wonderful boost – I notice I feel more sluggish in the afternoon if I haven’t poked my nose outside at lunchtime. And of course I’m lucky, living here, that there aren’t many days when that’s impossible.
    Thanks for the very kind mention. It was lovely to meet you and what better excuse for tea?

  2. This is great advice! I do feel that I spend a lot of my energy checking things off a list to make myself feel valuable. I’m going to have a cup of tea outside this morning!

  3. Stopping over from The Super Mommy Club linky. Great advice. I think it is important to take some time to re-charge. I actually on occasion will take a whole day 🙂

  4. We’ve been taking some time to explore our local area a bit more over recent weeks. We’ve uncovered some gems like a local farm and a country park that’s beautiful for a stroll – on a clear day we can see all the way to Wales!

  5. I do feel that it is very important to take time out for oneself. I haven’t really had time to explore much with the kids yet. There are quite a few new places opened up around here which I may just visit with them these two weeks.

  6. Very well written article, April, and I could not agree with you more, taking time out, is important to help our bodies and minds to switch off from pressures. Very useful tips!

  7. You nailed it for me. I need to slow down a bit. Enjoy my city too
    Thanks for linking at the best of the blogosphere

    • I’m so glad my post resonated with you! It really does make such a difference if you can Take Time Out – however I admit that sometimes I need to take my own advice to heart 😉

  8. Good Morning April, I do agree it is so important to take time for yourself. During the summer time when I was working, I always sat and enjoyed my morning cup of coffee in the garden, as the garden always felt so calming and a lovely way to start my day. Nowadays I am retired, and I find I do not rush around like I did, but I have found my own rhythm and I love each day.
    Best Wishes to you from the North East of England.

    • Good morning, Daphne, I am so glad you agree, it really does make a difference! I think it is a real gift to find a rhythm to each day. Thank you so much for visiting and I hope you will come back again soon. With very best wishes, April

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