Are you managing your downtime or uptime?

Downtime! How that one word strikes joy in our hearts. Historically, it is derived from a machine or system that is no longer up and running. Today, it means that your computer system at work has crashed and you cannot get anything done. When IT systems crash today, we are all in a quandary with what to do during downtime. Nevertheless, there is real joy during periods of enforced downtime.

The opposite of downtime is uptime. When was the last time you heard anybody excited about uptime? As in, “boy, I hope we can have more uptime today!” Not very likely! Uptime is taken for granted since uptime is when things are running normal and we are expected to be creative, productive and industrious. We cannot goof off during uptime since the machines and computers are running and all systems are set on go. Thus, we go, go, go. We become like machines ourselves except we cannot turn off between 9-5 unless we have lunch or a scheduled break. Downtime gives us a brief but unexpected break from our daily tedium.

We may all need more downtime in our lives. However, downtime is not promoted as a value or as something to aspire to. Have you ever heard of anyone negotiating downtime in their contract? Have you ever heard of a Union arguing for more downtime? Downtime is regarded as the enemy of productivity. Vacations, holidays, time off, sick days are all a form of “planned downtime.” However, many of us are too busy to take “planned downtime.” Some of us run and run until stress or illness forces downtime. The body takes over and says “enough is enough.” We all know people who never take breaks or who seem to always be on the go. Then the day comes when their system crashes and illness or stress puts them in bed or the hospital. Many of us do not take good care of ourselves to prevent stress and thus avoid “system downtime.”

Do you ever plan your own downtime or do you wait until either you or your computer crashes? What stops you from taking a needed rest or unenforced period of downtime? Are you really so essential to the job or activity that you cannot take a break? Can the world live without you for a day or so? Stress is a major cause of illness and most of us have too much in our lives. Perhaps if you plan your own downtime today you can look forward to your uptime tomorrow.

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