Downtime

Image thanks to Information Age

Many of us will be looking forward to some time off over the festive period. Many will still be working however. Over a million of us will be at work on 25 December though I note that many shops will be closed on Boxing day this year.

The downtime will be welcome though this is not what I wanted to write about.

These last few weeks have been extra busy and I have often found myself in back to back online meetings for most of the day. I know I control my own diary to a point but there is so much pressure to get things done that it’s hard to refuse any request unless you are already double or triple booked.

I have always been an advocate of flexible working yet this is one of the downsides of the move to working from home. When I used to go to work in an office, I had commuting time where I could get my head together for the day ahead or reflect on how the day had gone on the way back home. I used to have time between meetings, either traveling to a different location or just walking down the corridor to another office. I could get up and grab a coffee, meet up with colleagues for a bit of water cooler talk or meet up over lunch.

These were all useful safety valves against the relentless diary commitments. But these have now gone. It is this downtime that I refer to.

You could argue that using this time has improved our productivity. No longer do we have wasted time between meetings and instead we are making maximum use of the time available. I worry though that we are storing up trouble for ourselves. People are able to work at extraordinary levels, such as during an emergency, but not for long. After a while they crash and burn.

I fear that without downtime between meetings, then this will be our fate. Who we agree to meet up with is on our hands, to some extent and we need to learn to manage our diaries better for the sake of our physical and mental health.

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