Creating Social Value Blog / Social Innovation

The Power of Downtime

By Irene Laochaisri, Babson Undergraduate Student and Scholar at The Lewis Institute.

Downtime can be a rich fountain for the much needed productive non-productivity. Those few hours a day each week set aside for everything but school, meetings, or work of any kind are opportunities for growth and reflection. Here are a few ways downtime has fueled my effectiveness while giving me the rest I need:

1. Making time for people time.

Personal growth is directly connected to my ability to develop genuine relationships with my stakeholders. The people in my innermost circles are truly my most valuable assets. I recently went on a trip to IHOP with friends at 10.30pm on a Thursday night following a 4-hour long musical rehearsal. We stayed until 1 in the morning exchanging stories about middle school romances and Babson acceptance journeys. Though utterly drained, deciding to go allowed me to connect with and better understand friends that I care deeply about. Having these conversations is so necessary in consolidating what I learn and how I grow from my experiences. It is through sharing and, perhaps, getting a critical perspective on situations with people whose opinions I value most, that these experiences are given meaning and substance.

2. Appreciate others and be appreciated.

I have what I call “The Good Vibes Wall” in my dorm room, where I’ve put up thank you cards, notes, and kind words written by the people I love and care about. From Chi Omega sisters and Babson professors to my mother and closest friends back home, knowing that I have made a positive impact on people’s lives energizes and grounds me. I dare to experiment, trying out leadership and internship opportunities while actively aligning new experiences with my authentic self and the woman I aspire to be. I make time to write notes for people who have showed me a unique perspective of the world, and to thank the ones who were present and attentive when I needed them to be. It feels good, and feeling good is what excites my creative process.

3. Take a moment for yourself, too.

I spent a few nights this past month doing laundry, watching Modern Family, listening to new sounds on Soundcloud while wearing a cupcake beanie until 3 in the morning. It was exactly what I needed.

I have made it my priority to learn about who I am and who I aspire to be every opportunity that I can. Pausing to reflect with myself and connect with others is the glue that consolidates my life experiences: I choose to give these experiences meaning, and I leverage my learnings to propel myself into a centered and fruitful state of mind.  Through this, I am enabled to be the best version of myself: centered, curious, and most importantly, energized!