Busy checking off the boxes of all you have to do?

49712120 - checking on to do list. top view.Go to work. Check. Make dinner. Check. Exercise. Check. Clean the house. Check. Help the kids with homework. Check.

How many more items are on your to-do list for each day? As you are busy checking off those boxes, make sure that you’ve put this one on the list: RELAX.

Can’t find time to relax? Make it one of those daily to-do items. Taking time away from responsibilities – even for a few minutes – will actually make you more productive. Here are some tips to help you make time for downtime.

Use your time wisely. You are busy all day long. We get that. But think about it and be honest. Are you working hard but have less to show for your effort than you expected? You aren’t alone. For a lot of people, prioritizing tasks can be tough. Where do you begin when you have more than one important task? Add to that having to deal with interruptions. (Virtual distractions such as phone calls, emails and texts can be just as distracting as the real distractions of coworkers or kids.) First, have a plan for your day. Decide which tasks are most pressing or have the earliest deadlines. Think about enlisting the help of others for those tasks that don’t require your personal attention. Also, get rid of the distractions as much as possible. Put your phone on silent. Close your email app. Hang a ‘do not disturb’ sign on your door.

Set a daily schedule. Having a schedule for your day will help you make sure you have time for all of those tasks on your list. And it has the added benefit of allowing you to schedule time to relax. Maybe you can fit in a couple of 15 minute walks throughout your day. Maybe you can use the time while your child is having a music lesson to do a little reading. Having a set time to relax will make it easier for you to actually do it.

Revive your brain. Not convinced that you can include relaxation on your to-do list? Research has shown that just as your body needs time to recover from activity, your brain needs breaks too. While resting, your brain is still working. That’s one reason people often discover that it is easier to find a solution to a problem when they step away from it for a little while. According to research by University of Illinois psychology professor Alejandro Lleras, “prolonged attention to a single task actually hinders performance.”

Relax. Check. Doesn’t it feel good to check off those boxes?