Building in Recovery by Reclaiming Your Time

There aren’t enough hours in the day…


How many times have you felt that there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all that you want and need to do?  What if you could build in just ten or twenty minutes of recovery time every day?  


Let’s look first at multi-tasking.  Think about your typical day and evaluate how often you are focused on one single thing at a time.  For most of us, it’s not very often.  More than likely, we have multiple things going on at once.  During a lesson in the Happiness Studies program, Dr. Tal Ben Shahar was talking about our incessant multi-tasking and how detrimental this can be to our wellbeing, productivity and happiness.


I looked at my workspace and realized that I had two computers running, three email accounts opened, and my phone was constantly vibrating from a group text.  Additionally, I had 14 tabs opened on the computer that I was actively using.  All this was going on while I was in class trying to take notes!  I started wondering how much time I was wasting by having so many distractions.  And, it was clear that I was not putting myself in an optimal learning state. 


The Myth of Multi-tasking

Have you ever thought that you were accomplishing a lot by multi-tasking?  Unfortunately, multi-tasking does not help us accomplish more, it makes us less productive! Studies have suggested that multi-tasking is a myth.   Our brain doesn’t simultaneously process work but, instead, it rapidly switches between various activities.   


Our brains aren’t meant for this.   It’s completely taxing.  For a moment, think of your two favorite songs.  Would you love to hear both of them right now?  Would you love to hear both of them played simultaneously?  That would not be awesome, it would just be a mess of sound. 


In a study by Dr. Glenn Wilson and colleagues, they found that excessive use of technology such as attending to email, texts, and phone calls while doing other work is the equivalent of temporarily losing 10 IQ points.  


Think about that for a second.  If having email open while doing other work can have that kind of impact, what do you think all of the texts, social media, and TV is doing to our brains?  How many IQ points might we be dropping in a typical day?  How much time in the day is being lost because we are constantly shifting our attention?


Reclaim some of your time

I’m going to challenge you to experiment with how you use your time.


What if, instead of checking email, texting, checking Facebook, looking at Twitter and Instagram, taking phone calls, and listening to bad news, you shut it all down for blocks of time and worked on just one task at a time?  (Yes, you can use the necessary technology tools to complete that single task.)  Once you finish that task, it’s time to build in a brief recovery period.   Then, choose your next single-task  to focus on for another 60-90 minutes.   Your increased productivity alone should buy you some extra time during the day.


Let’s also take a look at how much time you spend on some common activities. Grab a pen and paper.

  1. Estimate the amount of time that you spend per day on the following things: watching bad news, scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, pintrest, texting, tweeting, or using other social media tools.  How many minutes/hours does that add up to in a week?  Write down your estimate.
  2. What if you took just 5% of those minutes and shut everything down? Give yourself the gift of peace?   What would 5% mean for you?  Is that ½ an hour per week, one hour, two hours?  What gifts could you give back to yourself during that time?   What is something that brings you joy or something new you want to learn?  Is there a book you’d like to read?  Is there a person you want to call or spend time with?  Would you like to spend some time alone in nature?  What is something fun that you’ve been wanting to do but haven’t had the time to do it?  Maybe you could just do nothing for a while.
  3. Write down three to five enjoyable things you can do with your extra minutes.
  4. Start experimenting.  Take 5% of those minutes and commit to building a recovery time into your week.  This is your time, it’s for you, make it fun!

“Islands of Recovery”

Build-in these “Islands of Recovery”  every week.  Remind yourself that you are more productive, more creative, healthier, and happier when you take time to recover through fun, play , rest, exploring, creating, and simply doing things that you want to do rather than what you have to do.   One final motivation to consider, it is often during these recovery times that we are more creative, have our best ideas and solve problems.  Cheers to recovery!


If you or anyone you know is actively seeking positive change and ways to become happier, join the inSPIREd Happier Center.  We officially kick off in January, 2022 with a focus on your Strengths!  Join now for the special “grand opening” rate. 


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