When you think about the hyper-successful people of the world — the multi-billionaires, the CEOs, etc. — you probably imagine them working 24/7. And while they might put in more hours than the average person, they always have at least some downtime, or some time when they’re not working.
Downtime isn’t as glamorous as time spent working, yet the habits and choices successful people make in their downtime is often as critical a factor to their success as anything else.
So what do successful people do with their downtime?
1. Exercise. Conventionally defined “successful” people often exercise regularly. Why this correlation? It could be a number of factors, as exercise has a ton of benefits. It could be that regularly exercising is a trait of motivated, goal-oriented people, who naturally succeed in other areas of life. It could be that the stress relief and energy boosts from the activity itself make them more productive and make them feel better throughout the day. Or it could help compartmentalize their life with regular routines. Whatever the case, the correlation is high.
2. Have Fun. Have fun? And be successful at the same time? It seems like some kind of trap, yet tons of successful people — including Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and Sheryl Sandberg — will tell you that taking a real break from work, on a bona fide vacation, will do wonders for your mental health, productivity, and overall wellbeing. It may feel intimidating or even “wrong” to take a vacation, but the benefits are more than worth it.
3. Meditate. Spend some time learning how to meditate properly, and you’ll wonder what you did before the practice. Mindfulness meditation, at its most basic form, is simply a way to clear the mind of thought and be “present” in a given moment. Doing this for even 10 minutes a day can help you clear your mind, improve your memory, become more focused, and reduce your stress. It’s no wonder it’s such a common strategy among successful people.
4. Read. There are so many benefits to reading regularly, it’s hard to know where to begin — and it doesn’t matter much what you read, either. Reading newspapers, magazines, non-fiction books, and fiction all alike can help you improve your vocabulary, broaden your perspectives, improve your memory and retention, and help you generate new ideas for your business or career. Even if you don’t have much time to sit and crack a book, you can at least listen to audiobooks during your commute or in other “dead” periods.
5. Learn. Successful people know that no matter how much you think you know, there’s always something new to learn. Even if you’ve somehow mastered everything related to your industry, there’s always new information, trends, and technology coming along to defy your expectations. Take the time to learn new things, whether that’s through workshops, classes, seminars, or just reaching out to new people.
6. Volunteer. Successful people spend time volunteering, in part to give back to their communities, and in part for the networking opportunities. Volunteering tends to bring all types of people together, regardless of the specific type of volunteer event, so make sure to seek out these opportunities in your city — even if it’s only for a few hours a month.
7. Network. Networking events are always valuable, and you should make an effort to seek them out. New people can provide new opportunities, new contacts, new skills, and new information — plus, staying social is good for your mental health.
8. Appreciate Loved Ones. Finally, the most successful people try to take time to appreciate their loved ones — though unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Some people are so possessed with the idea of making more money, getting more power, or advancing their careers further that they neglect the people who make it all worth it. Doing so may get you ahead a little faster, but it could leave you feeling alienated, unfulfilled, and that all your hard work was a waste. Don’t be one of those people — make time for your friends and family.
Merely doing these eight things in your downtime won’t be enough to automatically make you more successful. Still, these strategies can help you minimize your stress, maximize your productivity, and hone your focus to what matters most in your life. Cumulatively, they’ll help guide you toward a more successful and rewarding career — and keep you sane while doing it.