Down Time is Productive Time

Have you ever watched an auto race? Cars race around the track and race around the track at high speeds, and occasionally pull into the Pit where their Pit Crew come screaming into action.  The car is jacked up on hydraulic lifts and instantly the crew swarm the car like ants on a sugar cookie.  For a few minutes there is a blinding, high-speed whirlwind of non-stop activity as drills whir, bolts come off, tires are replaced, fluids are renewed, everything is wiped and tightened and checked and watered.
That level of intensity is how many organizations expect their teams to operate — at high speed, with high efficiency, attending to a million details per minute, just like that pit crew.
What some organizations or leaders forget, however, is that after the pit crew has done their high-speed work, the car pulls out and goes back onto the track, and the pit crew gets to take a breath. And after they recover, they move into preparation mode for the next time their driver has to pull off for servicing.
What would happen if a pit crew had to be constantly ON, operating at their highest level of speed and intensity ALL the time?  They’d burn out.  There’d be mistakes.  Things would be missed.  There would be accidents.
Fact is, the down time IS productive time. The down time is when the pit crew analyzes their performance under pressure.  It’s when they take time to appreciate a job well done and identify ways they can improve their output the next time.  It’s part of the cycle, the yin/yang of work:  preparation, then performance.  There is a time for each

It’s the same for you.

Do you expect yourself to be on and up and fast and perfect and creative ALL THE TIME?! And do you beat yourself up when you’re not?  Give it a rest!  You are ONLY human, my friend.  You are programmed to operate best when you take periods of rest between your intensity sessions.
Organizations that don’t know how to give renewal time to their people are failing their teams. They are probably ending up with a workforce that is constantly on the edge of burnout.
Individuals that don’t take time to renew end up in the same place — burned out, anxious, unhappy.
So take a breath! Relax every so often.  Give your own system — or your team — a chance to balance out performance with preparation and renewal.  It’s the cycle of life, it’s the cycle of work.



Read more articles like this one in: In the workplace, Leadership

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