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Why You Need Downtime

Ever-improving mobile technology makes it possible to work 24/7 -- and a soft economy means that many employers think they can get away with insisting on it. The good news for workers is that it's a bad idea to go without downtime. In fact, the best thing you can do for your company might be to take a little time off.

In an article on Harvard Business Review's blog network, Jackie Coleman and John Coleman explain why it's a good idea to draw boundaries between work and play.

"Many modern workers find it hard to take downtime," they write. "The idea of leaving work so cleanly at the office seems quaint in a world of smartphones, laptops, and global companies that are always on to accommodate employees from Hoboken to Hong Kong."

Scheduling in downtime offers three distinct benefits to workers and their bosses:

1. Increases productivity. Studies have shown that actually forcing employees to take time off increases productivity. (Here, their article links to a book called "Sleeping with Your Smartphone: How to Break the 24/7 Habit and Change the Way You Work," which sounds like a necessary stocking stuffer for, oh, everyone we know.)

2. Unleashes creativity. Companies like 3M and Google schedule free time into their employee's work days, giving them a set number of hours to pursue their own projects. It's not exactly a vacation in the Bahamas, but it isn't processing a pile of TPS reports either -- and it's responsible for such innovations as Gmail and Google News.

3. Improves health. Taking a little time off reduces stress, improves the immune system, and builds relationships with the non-work folks in our lives. All of which directly benefits the company, which doesn't wind up having to shell out for all those sick days after you run yourself into the ground.

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(Photo Credit: Mark Fischer/Flickr)

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