165. Mastering Downtime: 10 Effective Strategies to Fill Your Bucket and Boost Productivity

This week’s podcast dives deep into the art of truly making the most out of your moments of reprieve.

So whether you’re just looking to recharge, cultivate new skills, or simply becoming peacefully productive, this podcast is your guide to unlocking the secrets to strategically using your downtime like a pro.

In a world that never seems to slow down, finding ways to optimize your downtime can truly be a game-changer. I’ll see you inside! xo, Janeen

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[00:00:00] Janeen: Well, hey there, you guys. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. I am Janeen Alley. You are listening to becoming the CEO of your life today. And today I am talking about mastering downtime, and I’m going to share 10 effective strategies to fill your bucket and boost productivity instead of what I think most people usually do.

[00:00:24] Okay. So becoming the CEO of your life really, truly means, well, it means a lot of things, but it really emphasizes creating balance in your life and kind of mastering all of the different arenas that we are a part of as women, right? I heard someone say this last week, there’s no such thing as work life balance.

[00:00:48] It’s all just one thing. And I would actually strongly disagree with this because I do compartmentalize

[00:00:57] my life, I do work [00:01:00] and I do family and I don’t blend those things, or I try really hard not to blend those things. I like to have fun. I like to play. And I also love downtime. And of course, there’s going to be a little bit of overlap in that. And I’m going to talk about how that happens today on the show, but I have actually lived out of balance for a really long time.

[00:01:22] So in my mind, if it’s all just one thing. I start to become super wonky and a little bit sideways.

[00:01:28] So if you’re a visual person, I want you to kind of think about this for a moment. If we’re truly balanced, we have spokes supporting the wheel of our life. And there, I know on an actual wheel, they’re actually the same length. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything in this analogy, because there are times when I spend more time with family, like I did in August. And there are times when I’m spending more time in work and there’s times.

[00:01:51] When I need to really kick my downtime up a notch, like I totally get that. And so I’m not necessarily saying that they’re all equally weighty or [00:02:00] equally time consuming, but what I want you to think about is if one of these spokes in your life is not the correct length for you, whether you’re spending too much time or not enough time on that, the wheel looks really wonky, right?

[00:02:14] It’s kind of like a balloon. That’s like misshapen on one side. If you can think about it that way. And so what I want you thinking about in this episode is the downtime spoke of your life and how it’s actually supporting you. Because if you have lived out of balance, like I have for a long time, I know you’ve suffered.

[00:02:34] Like I have, and this really ultimately hinders your productivity. It hinders your ability to connect with people and it doesn’t feel like there’s any clarity in your life. It’s just stress and it’s hustle and it’s unnecessarily hard. And that’s what we want to eliminate.

[00:02:51] When we’re working so hard to enjoy the life that we’ve created, we don’t really know how to slow down. And that’s what I really want to emphasize today in the show is how [00:03:00] to do that. I had a client recently tell me this was just this last week. She says, I don’t like sitting around.

[00:03:06] And there is a really big difference between sitting around and procrastinating and wasting time. You all know what that looks like, what that feels like. It feels gross, right? And it’s often not planned down time. We’re often using different pockets of our day to buffer whether we’re on our phone or we’re just sitting because we feel like we should. we’re doing something kind of spur the moment when you had a plan to do something else.

[00:03:31] All of that is not what I consider downtime when we are using our time effectively to recharge our batteries. It’s planned. It feels really good. It fills your empty emotional and mental and physical buckets. You feel amazing during the day. And your life does feel like it’s balanced. Not that there’s not struggle, but you’re not burning yourself out.

[00:03:58] So I know some of you in your [00:04:00] mind right now are like, well, what about spontaneity or spontaneous fun? It’s not that either. I do make time for spontaneity and fun in my life. I schedule in white space in my calendar, but it’s honestly not that often because I find that I often just sit around kind of like my client was.

[00:04:19] Talking about, but the reason why you want spontaneity in your life is to recharge your batteries. And I know sometimes, deep down, ultimately what we’re doing is we’re buffering in the name of spontaneity, hoping to recharge our batteries because our life isn’t planned well.

[00:04:36] And we’re just sitting there on our phones, hoping to feel better. These downtime activities that I’m talking about today do take some forethought and they do take some planning and I’m not trying to add one more thing into your life you just plan this with the rest of your weekly planning session.

[00:04:53] It’s super easy to do it that way. And then once it’s planned and on your calendar, then you’re good to go. You don’t have to [00:05:00] worry about actually squeezing it in or whatever, you know, exactly what that looks like. So effective downtime, which is what we’re talking about today, can be a valuable opportunity for you for personal growth and relaxation.

[00:05:14] And like I said, becoming peacefully productive. If you’re not already peacefully productive in your life, this is going to help you. I know that a lot of you get a lot of stuff done during your life, but it is from that hustle harder space. So here are a couple of ideas and things that I want you thinking about that you can use to create your own downtime plan because downtime is for sure a part of self care, but it’s not self care when you’re just sitting there scrolling on your phone or doing something like that.

[00:05:45] Okay. So the first thing that I want to say, as far as effective downtime is pursuing creative avenues in your life. So this could be painting or drawing or writing or playing a musical instrument or dancing. [00:06:00] I have done a little bit of all of these things. I would so love to be A modern dancer or a hip hop dancer.

[00:06:09] I love to move my body and I have actually gone to a studio with my girlfriends who are way into interpretive dance. I think it’s better for me just to do this by myself actually, but I love to just get creative and just move. And I felt super clunky and awkward at first, but it’s actually really fun. I also get really creative with my own yoga practice because I’m not teaching anybody.

[00:06:33] And this is way more rejuvenating to me being by myself than actually teaching my students. Recently, I do have to tell you, this was kind of fun before we left for Portugal, I actually left the country on the same day that my youngest started high school and I had homeschooled her her entire life. So that was a really difficult decision for me to leave on that day.

[00:06:57] But my son was finished with his mission the [00:07:00] day after that. It wasn’t really wasn’t another alternative. I wasn’t going to take her and have her miss her first week. That would have been extra difficult for her on the way back. But what I did do, because I knew that she was going to struggle that week and she did, but what I did do to make that a little bit easier for her and to help her feel encouraged and supportive was I actually took up rock painting.

[00:07:24] I had come across something on my Instagram and I’m like, Oh, it looks like fun. So I bought the paints and then for the next week or two on my walks, I would just find some really fun rocks, pick them up, put them in my pocket. And then when I got home, I drew on them. I got some fun inspiration and I just, I created these little.

[00:07:46] Rocks for her. And then my oldest daughter every day, she put a different rock on Emma’s pillow for her so that she knew that I was thinking about her. So these are ways that we can, not only kind of pursue something long [00:08:00] term, like rock painting isn’t something that I’m probably going to do long term in my life.

[00:08:03] It was just something for a short period of time. But any type of creative expression helps us to release stress. It enhances our problem solving skills. Not only is it fun, but it can also be a combination of both physical activity and kind of that creative expression.

[00:08:21] Like I was talking about with interpretive dance or modern dancing or You know, moving our bodies of their, that is a way that we can be creatively expressive. Okay. The next one, of course, you knew I wasn’t going to leave this one out is mindful relaxation. Okay. This is actually something that I do regularly.

[00:08:39] And it’s something that I do kind of have to put my foot down with myself and tell myself you’re actually going to do this. Because this means that I’m usually sitting quietly with myself. And there’s nothing going on. I love to move my body like I just said. So mindful relaxation for me is something that’s tricky.

[00:08:58] I’ve mentioned before, [00:09:00] when I first started yoga, my most difficult pose was the one at the end of class when you’re just lying on the floor on your back, because I don’t like to just Be still a lot, but I have learned over time the importance of taking breaks and really recharging my mind as well as my body.

[00:09:16] So some of the things that I do regularly are I meditate and I do breathing exercises and I do progressive muscle relaxation. And of course, just more restorative yoga classes. So these are things like I said, that are very intertwined in my life.

[00:09:33] This is kind of one of my lifeline ways to relax. If I didn’t do this, I know exactly where I’d be. So these are things that I do to improve my overall wellbeing. And I have done enough to know like this not only helps me to feel good, but it literally transforms the structure of my nervous system. You’ve probably heard me say this before, but when you change your nervous system, you change your life experience. So this is why mindful [00:10:00] relaxation is so important to me is because I felt this and I’ve gotten the benefits of it.

[00:10:05] Okay, the next one that I want to talk about is learning and personal growth. If you know me, y’all know that I love to learn things, and this is something that I have to be mindful of because I love to learn about business, but for me, learning about business and reading a lot of nonfiction stuff is actually not downtime for me.

[00:10:24] That is Work time. And so it feels like work to me because I’m highlighting and I’m underlining and I’m taking notes and I’m thinking about ways to share all of that in my business. And so that for me is more work related. So when I am really focused on learning something new, I’m thinking about.

[00:10:42] Like taking a class, learning how to dance. Again, I’m kind of intermingling that creative expression and physical activity into kind of this learning and personal growth. So, like I said, there are some gray areas where things overlap with this. But one of the things that is on my list that’s more studious, I guess, is [00:11:00] learning a second language.

[00:11:00] I would love to learn Spanish and be fluent in Spanish by the end of my life. So, that is on the list for me. I want you thinking about for you, what are some of the things that you would just love to learn how to do? And maybe start planning some of those things into your life, even if it’s just once a week, maybe once a month, but maybe more regularly than once a month.

[00:11:20] I know for me, if I was only speaking Spanish once a month, I wouldn’t make any progress on that. So it just kind of depends on you. All right. The next one that we’ve touched on couple times actually already is physical activity. I’ve mentioned before how I love to do yoga. This helps both my mental and my physical health, as well as my emotional health as well.

[00:11:38] So yoga for me kind of hits all the boxes, but for you, if you want to kind of expand this spoke and this is something that you want to incorporate more of in your life. You want to be thinking about, okay, what do you love to do? Do you love hiking? Do you love walking? Do you love dancing? Do you just love doing home workouts?

[00:11:56] I actually am a huge fan of workout [00:12:00] apps. I have a couple on my phone because I can just take this with me wherever I go. If you’ve got a really good app, you’ve got options for like working out of the gym or working out in your home gym, which has of course less equipment or even working out with your body weight.

[00:12:12] So I have a couple. The apps that I use for my physical health is an app from Claire P Thomas. You can follow her on Instagram. And then the second one that I’ve had a subscription to since 2014 is actually the glow app. This is a yoga and Pilates app overall. They’re adding more things in there all the time, but it’s one of my absolute favorites.

[00:12:32] I recommend it all the time. But we know from science and from research, physical exercise can definitely boost energy levels. It improves your mood. And again, like I said, it helps with your mental and emotional health and strength as well. Okay. The next one that I want to share here is setting goals and planning as a form Of mastering your downtime.

[00:12:58] Okay. Now I know you’re [00:13:00] just like, wait, you’re planning your life in your downtime. So when I get disorganized, this is the one that I lean on. I use my downtime to help me to set up and refine some of my personal and professional goals that I have in my life, because when I start to get kind of frazzled, and I feel like things are unraveling in my life, this is the way that I help to center and ground myself.

[00:13:23] So the key with this, when you’re talking about how this can really recharge your batteries, is you want to take the time to get really focused.

[00:13:34] Anytime our focus is diluted, we’re going to get diluted results in our life. So that’s when we feel like we’ve gotten brain fog. We’re kind of spinning in confusion. And oftentimes frustration comes into the mix as well, because we just don’t have a clear path. So anytime I’m feeling sideways, this is a great way, like I said, for me to get centered and to really focus on what’s not working in my life, which for me is hugely rejuvenating.[00:14:00]

[00:14:00] I was just tuning into the life coach school mastermind, which just happened a couple of days ago. This is just for certified coaches only. And they highlighted one of the coaches. She was actually a speaker on stage. Her name is Dielle Charon. She’s amazing. I just really loved her story because she was.

[00:14:17] She’s obviously very organized because she had a full time job. She worked at Yale as a social worker, but then she also was building this business on the side that became very successful in a really short period of time. And in order to do that, you’ve got to really, really get clear on your goals and how to set goals specifically.

[00:14:37] So she is someone that I was really inspired by and really learned from, from the mastermind. So I just wanted to share that with you. Okay, the next one, and I’ve got, I’ve got a lot and I don’t know which number I’m on because I didn’t number these, but stay with me here. the next way that we can help to effectively use our [00:15:00] downtime is by volunteering and giving back.

[00:15:03] This can be structured. It can also not be structured. I use this actually in my life in more of an unstructured way because I use it to kind of get me back on track. And I know that that sounds really selfish, but of course I’m showing it for other people and you’re volunteering or giving back, but I use this in a strategic way.

[00:15:22] To help me to feel good, I use it when I’m kind of feeling down or just kind of depressed or discouraged and I focus on somebody else for a second and it brings me joy and it brings me clarity and I feel encouraged and I get back on my feet again and I’m able to focus on what I’d like to work on. So anytime I feel stuck, I’m like, all right, who can I help?

[00:15:43] And I’m focusing on my immediate circle of people, either in my family or in my. Faith community or in my neighborhood, and I’m thinking about who I can help. So this might just be like a really spontaneous outreach on my part. It can also be a little bit more organized. If you [00:16:00] have local volunteer opportunities or you’re participating in online volunteering

[00:16:06] there are some really great resources. I know that I get into just serve. org quite a bit to find some specific things. And these can be, like I said, long term or short term, just depending on how you’d like it to work for you.

[00:16:19] All right, I’ve got a couple more. So detoxing digitally and unplugging in your life is a phenomenal way to help you to recharge your batteries and effectively use your downtime for that. There is such a huge importance for all of us to disconnect from screens and technology from time to time because screens are shown to increase anxiety and depression for most people.

[00:16:42] So here are some ideas to help you to digitally detox in your life. So just hanging out with people without your phone. I intentionally put my phone in my bag or away from people. I don’t sit down at a restaurant with a new friend or my family [00:17:00] and put my phone on the table. So it’s very intentional that I tuck it away and I’m not paying attention.

[00:17:04] Anytime I go for a walk with my dog, I leave my phone at home. If I’m journaling, I put my phone on airplane mode. There’s a lot of different ways that we can digitally detox. I also love the idea of taking the entire day of the week and turning your phone off. I know if you’re like me, you’re just like, I don’t want to go the whole day.

[00:17:22] But that’s kind of where I aspire in my life right now is just to be able to turn off my phone on Sundays, for example, and just enjoy the day. And I think I can do that. Actually, I’m going to try to do that . This is kind of on the list of ways that I want to grow. All right.

[00:17:36] The next way is to declutter and organize your life. I cannot recommend this one enough. I don’t feel like I’m naturally a really organized person because in my space things start to get cluttery over time.

[00:17:52] The way that I stay organized is I eliminate things from my life. I just don’t bring them into my [00:18:00] house or I take them out of my space or whatever, because the less stuff I have to organize, the better I am at keeping it organized. I think that’s true for everybody, right? So I had a friend of mine on the podcast a little bit ago.

[00:18:13] Her name is Lori Schlegel. And she is an organizing expert. She was incredible to have on the show. But one of the things that I remember her saying that I’m like, yes, yes, yes. This is a thing that works for me too, is when you are organizing something, take.

[00:18:25] everything out of the space. If you’re just organizing a drawer, for example, take everything out of the drawer and then just put 50 percent of the stuff back in there. Like pick your favorite things and put them back in the drawer.

[00:18:34] One of the things that I’ve kept in mind over time is we only need two sets of scissors, one upstairs, one downstairs. We only need one stapler. Like we don’t need massive amounts of things in our lives because it just starts to get crazy and cluttery in our space. So organizing and decluttering is a sign outwardly of an inwardly managed mind.

[00:18:57] That is true. Okay, the [00:19:00] next one is spending quality time with loved ones. Of course, there’s going to be a positive impact on our lives when we spend time in nurturing relationships.

[00:19:11] And I love to do this in so many different ways. I have my family, of course, kind of like my core, my core with my kids, and then my extended family as well, my parents and siblings and my in laws. And then I have my faith community. And then I also love to build business communities for entrepreneurial women.

[00:19:30] So we feel like We’re not alone in this journey. You’re not an Island and it’s not a healthy, I think for us to pretend that we are. We are for sure, social creatures. And we want to be intentional about being with people who support us and who encourage us, maybe not all the time. You might have a family relationship where you feel like, no, I’m here because I’m working on myself in this relationship with them.

[00:19:58] Because they’re difficult. We all [00:20:00] have people in our lives that are hard for us. Right. But if this is not your family, that’s okay. If your family isn’t supportive, that’s okay. You want to find your friend, family. You want to find your entrepreneurial family or whatever kind of family that you need more entrepreneurial friends, mom friends, faith friends, whatever it is, you want to find your community and other people and just have like three or five people in

[00:20:25] your life who you can reach out to when you need someone. This is important. I’ve learned this the hard way, my friends, I just wanted to kind of isolate myself because I just wanted to focus on the things that were kind of right in front of me and that I was working on, but we need each other.

[00:20:41] So I love to spend time with my family and friends playing games and going for walks and cooking together and even hiking together. And I love just having heartfelt conversations with people, even if it’s just a 15 minute phone call. All right. The last one on my list, again, this probably isn’t going to surprise you very much, is to [00:21:00] reflect and to journal.

[00:21:03] If you don’t have friends currently, or. If you feel like you can’t get ahold of somebody or you feel like I don’t want to bother anybody with this, you’ve got yourself. And this is how we figure out how to help ourselves. We can journal about our lives and we can journal about the conversations that are going on in our head.

[00:21:27] I use my journaling practice to self coach, to clarify my thoughts, to set and to reach my goals, to track my personal growth, to record miracles in my life. Like there are a lot of ways that I use my journaling to create this friendship and relationship with me. This is so important. And when we have that, we’re not outside here like floundering and scrambling and reaching for people who might not be available for us at the time.

[00:21:57] And actually, I just want to share with you, I was coaching one of my clients the other [00:22:00] day who was feeling really unsupported because she wanted her family to step in in ways that they currently weren’t. And we can’t control all the people, right?

[00:22:09] So I want to encourage you as well to be a support system to yourself. This is hugely rejuvenating and also very difficult to do. So if this is you in your life right now, I want to offer some journaling prompts for you to kind of get you started on this journaling process. So you can ask yourself questions like, okay, what’s going on?

[00:22:29] How are you doing today? What’s been on your mind? Like, tell me all the things. what’s troubling you? What are you excited about? What are some of the miracles that you’re seeing in your life right now? Like all of these are such incredibly powerful questions because they help us to get clear on our lives.

[00:22:48] And that my friend is powerful. It’s a powerful experience. It’s a powerful practice. All right, you guys, that was 10. How did I do? I don’t know what time it is, but here we are. I just shared [00:23:00] 10 effective strategies to fill your bucket and boost your productivity. I want you to just choose one or two that you’re going to incorporate into your life, or things that you’re doing currently,

[00:23:10] you’re probably doing some of the things already on the list, but I want you to think about, okay, how can I bump it up a notch? Like, what are some different ways that I can think about this so that this really is a rejuvenating practice for me? And then when you’re done with the practice, celebrate that you did it.

[00:23:25] That will also help you to solidify the practice in your life. All right, my friends, that’s it. That’s what I have for you today. If this podcast made a difference in your life, I’d love it

[00:23:34] if you shared it and subscribed and tuned in again next week, that would mean the world to me. And lastly, if you want help in your life, becoming the CEO of your life or solving for your burnout, I would love to talk to you. So feel free to reach out to me. You can find me at janeenalley.com/breakthrough. You can get right on my calendar from there, book a call with me and we’ll chat. It’ll [00:24:00] be so much fun. So I’m really looking forward to talking with you. I hope you guys have a beautiful rest of your week and we will catch you guys next time. We’ll see. Yeah. Bye. Bye.