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Why Leisure Is the New Productivity and How to Reclaim Your Leisure Time

Why Leisure Is the New Productivity and How to Reclaim Your Leisure Time

You’ve probably worked on a weekend, or had to scroll through emails, or answer text messages from a pushy client. In America, there’s something of an emergent “free time” problem.[1] 65% of employees feel the need to be available outside of work hours on phone and email. Nearly half of Americans (slightly more in some studies) report not having enough free time.

The work boundaries have become blurry

Fifteen years ago, most offices were completely rooted on-site: paperwork, records, and communication (phone, primarily) were all tied to you being physically in the office.

Technology changed that. With the advent of the cloud especially, anyone can access almost any file they need from anywhere. Text messages and emails go directly to your phone. The old “After 5pm I cannot access work resources” turned into “I might be expected to respond to something at 11:30pm.”

There is so much to get done at work and schedules are so tight that needs to be the focus. After all, work provides your livelihood. You need to do it well.

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Since there are only so many waking hours in a day, though, you need to cut something. Often this becomes leisure time. Leisure activities like hiking, reading, and spending time with family are often cut first for more hours of work.

Cutting leisure time is no good for productivity

Even though you’re working more, productivity is going to drop. A study conducted by the Institute for the Study of Labor has shown that 55 hours per week is a maximum ceiling on human productivity.[2] You might be expected to work more, but a person working 54 hours per week is about as productive as someone working 80 hours per week.

Leisure time is also crucial to creating bursts of insight and new ways of thinking. Very few people come up with big, great, innovative ideas while focused on the “getting, making, and doing” of day-to-day task work. When you’re too focused (as in task work), it’s easy to get stuck in one way of thinking. When you’re doing other things (i.e. leisure time), a concept called “diffuse thinking” kicks in[3] and the brain can actually analyze much more information at once. This leads to increased connections between events or ideas, which is good for coming up with new solutions and innovations.

The field of economics considers leisure a “normal commodity,” with the yield from leisure being satisfaction.[4] Leisure time is used for resting, sleeping, relationship-building, and doing things you enjoy, so it is inherently satisfaction-producing. Having less leisure time will therefore decrease satisfaction in individuals.

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Make leisure your productivity booster

Instead of cutting leisure time to work more, make time for leisure and utilize it to help you think about bigger ideas and work more efficiently. I understand it’s difficult to just stop working when you’re so busy and do something for leisure, so here are some steps to help you make time for leisure and turn it into your productivity booster.

Do what’s important

You can begin by thinking about a list of things you want to do during your free time. Then, ask yourself about a specific choice: Why is this important?

For an obvious example: sleep is important to be prepared for the next day and because the body requires it.

But here’s another example we often fall to: why would watching TV be important? Most people would answer that it entertains, informs, and helps us decompress after a long day. Those are all valid options, but what if something else — like a night basketball league — was more entertaining? Or what if podcasts (which you can listen to while running) were more informative? There might be easy replacements for TV-watching, instead of instantly falling into that idea.

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Schedule leisure time

Use “time blocking” to achieve this. Under this system, you finish works within a certain period of time — then go for other activities in your leisure time.

The ideal “time on” (work) vs. “time off” (leisure) ratio has been shown by science to be 52 minutes on, 17 minutes off.[5] Consider blocking time like that. When you have more leisure time, i.e. the weekend, schedule out the important activities (family time, exercise, reading, classes) first. Then let the other pieces fall into place around what’s important.

Take a break and come back stronger

If you’re not balancing your work with other aspects of your life like leisure time, you run the risk of becoming a totally unimaginative drone who isn’t enjoying life.

There will always be more work and deadlines in the future. Yes you have to tackle them but that doesn’t mean working on these things 24/7. By taking a break, you relax your body and mind and get yourself more prepared to deal with the challenges again when you’re back to work.

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Struggling about how to manage your time better so you can better balance your time spent on work and leisure? Take a look at my other article How to Gain More Time Like Making Money

Featured photo credit: Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on May 10, 2019

How to Practice Guided Meditation for Sleep to Calm the Mind

How to Practice Guided Meditation for Sleep to Calm the Mind

Could sleep be the key to improving your mindset while awake? If you have difficulty sleeping and often wake up feeling tired, before you crawl out of bed and turn on the TV, try using a guided meditation for sleep.

The toughest thing about being a high-achiever is understanding how much sleep you should get each night. Studies say an adult between the age of 18-65 should receive 7-9 hours of sleep.[1] I am willing to wager this is something you have heard before. I am also willing to bet even though you knew how much sleep you should receive each night, you are not actually sleeping that much.

You probably have a ton going on during the day, and late at night is the only time you have to catch up on your work. You may even try to get some sleep, but you find yourself lying in bed thinking about something else you could be doing.

Sleep can seem like the most unproductive thing you do each day but that is simply not the case. If you want to improve your mindset while awake, using a guided meditation to help you sleep is a great place to start.

Benefits of Guided Meditation for Sleep

Our brains conduct measurable electricity, which we call brainwaves. The four brainwaves are alpha, beta, delta, and theta.

Your alpha waves are where your focus, emotions and ability to relax are located. Your beta waves house your ability to concentrate, as well as your anxiety and fight or flight response. Your delta waves are associated with deep and dreamless sleep, while your theta waves are where you dream. As your mind relaxes and your mindset deepens, you will pass through the different brainwaves.

And here’re the benefits of guided meditation for sleep:

1. Reduces Stress

Insomnia does not cause all stress, but people who find themselves dealing with stress on regular basis can have insomnia. If you can efficiently manage your stress, you can effectively manage your difficulty sleeping as well.

As your guided meditation brings you into a deeper state of relaxation, your brain wave activities will slow down. Studies show that meditation can help reduce and remove symptoms of stress, emotional irritability, and depression by as much as 31%.[2]

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By helping you become aware of your feelings, meditation allows you to detach yourself from them. By detaching yourself from your feelings and emotions, you can free your mind to help you sleep. This in-turn empowers you to realize that your emotions do not define you, nor do your emotions control you.

How would you like to wake up feeling invigorated by the fact that you do not have any stress or anxiety weighing on you?

2. Engage in New Experiences

Meditation is the process of accessing your subconscious mind. Once there, you can implant your intentions, thoughts and goals into your imagination and experiences. Since your mind does not recognize the difference between imagined and real events, the imagined experiences are real to your mind. This gives you the ability to imagine yourself completing your tasks.

Each task you complete in your mind allows your mind to relax a little more. As your mind continues to slow down, you will find yourself more relaxed.

This will also provide you the added benefit of feeling like you know exactly what you need to do the next day. The more vivid your meditation, the more powerful the imagery. If you imagine yourself completing the task multiple times before you start it, you will improve your productivity and efficiency.

Think of it like putting a puzzle together and then taking it apart. Each time you see all the pieces come together, the easier it is for you to repeat the outcome.

3. Increase in Productivity

Can you recall a time when you were working so hard it felt like you were burning both ends of the candle? There was probably a point when you realized you were unable to solve even the simplest of problems. You just kept looking at your work and your mind was drawing a blank. Frustrated, you went to sleep, thinking the task was nothing short of impossible.

However, when you woke up the next morning, it was as if the answer came to you in a vision. You suddenly knew exactly you needed to do and you were able to complete the task in minutes.

So, what happened?

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Not getting the proper amount of sleep negatively impacts your productivity. When you do not get enough sleep, your focus and attention suffer. They are both exhaustible resources, which means the more you use them, the less times you can use them throughout the rest of the day.

When you get the proper amount of sleep, you allow your focus and attention to replenish.[3]. This allows you to start each day rejuvenated and ready to attack the day.

When you do not get the proper amount of sleep, you can suffer from poor memory, poor reaction times, and poor performance.

4. Improve Your Physical Health

In addition to the positive impact meditation can have on your stress and immune system, it can also have a positive impact on your physical health.

Meditation is known to increase testosterone levels. As meditation reduces your stress levels, your testosterone levels increase as a byproduct. When you have higher levels of testosterone, your body’s ability to produce muscle increases as well.

An additional benefit of a guided meditation for sleep is an improved quality of sleep, which will improve your body’s ability to recover after workouts.

5. Change Your Mind(Set), Literally

Meditation can increase the grey matter in the frontal cortex. Your grey matter is involved in muscle control and sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision making and self-control.

Studies show meditation not only can improve “higher-order cognitive functions, but also to alter brain activity”.[4]

As you sleep, your brain is busier than if you were awake. It spends your sleeping hours organizing and storing the information you absorbed throughout the day. Therefore, you often find yourself dreaming about the last thing you watched or read.

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By engaging in guided mediation to help you go to sleep, you can help filter through and organize your thoughts before losing consciousness.

How to Practice Guided Meditation

There are some misconceptions about meditation that we should go over before we continue.

You do not need to clear your mind to get started. In fact, your mind may feel like a noisy place, as you take a moment to complete the thoughts you had throughout the day.

There is also the misconception that you need to meditate in a certain position, for a certain amount of time. Neither of these are true. You can meditate anywhere — while sitting at your desk, on the couch, or in the lotus position. You can also meditate for as long as you want — 5 minutes, 15 minutes, or even an hour or two. This is completely up to you.

The power of meditation can be found in the frequency in which you meditate. This means you can meditate for 15 minutes multiple times a day, or you can meditate for 1 hour every day. You simply want to get into the habit of meditating.

Follow the Guide

Just as it sounds, guided meditation is when a guide walks you through a journey to accomplish a specific goal. The first step is to ensure you are calm and relaxed in both the mind and body.

Oftentimes, your meditation guide is going to play relaxing music to help you concentrate your attention. Traditionally, you can expect to hear birds chirping and waves crashing. However, if that is not relaxing for you personally, do not listen to it. There is no rule on what is “relaxing”. Relaxed is a personal feeling.

As you walk through your journey of peace and relaxation, you will want to make sure you are taking deep breaths to help you stay relaxed.

Breathing

Your breathing should be controlled, allowing you to focus. If you are focusing on your breathing, then anytime a thought enters your mind, you must visualize yourself placing that thought in a different room and closing the door.

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Only when you have done focusing on your breathing can you explore the thought.

Thoughts

If you are focused on your thoughts. Then you can engage each thought that enters your mind. Once your exploration is finished, you can properly place the thought on a shelf in your mind.

Think of this shelf like an book shelf, and each book has a thought. The shelf is organized in alphabetical order, so that you are comfortable releasing the thought as you clear your mind for bed.

Continue exploring your thoughts until they are each categorized on the shelf in your mind.

Concentration

You also have the option of simply focusing on one object when you meditate. This item should be small enough that you have to concentrate when you look at it.

The goal is to keep your eyes from wandering all over the place. Something as large as a chair for example will not work.

You are going to need to choose something as small as the tip of a pencil or the nose of a doll.

Your goal is to find something you do not mind focusing on and then choose a smaller aspect of that item to concentrate your attention.

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of guided meditation videos and audios you can find that will guide you through a variety of goals. Do not try one and say guided meditation is not for you. The benefits are there, it is up to you to find one that works for you.

Experiment with different voices, different goals, and different time lengths until you find one that works.

More Resources about Meditation

Featured photo credit: Yoann Boyer via unsplash.com

Reference

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