8 Things Successful People Do With Their Downtime

If Bill Gates and Sheryl Sandberg do it, who are you to argue against downtime?


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 time when they're not working.

Related: 7 Ways to Maximize Downtime

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 to 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 likely tell you that taking a real break from work, on a bona fide vacation, will do wonders for your mental health, productivity and overall well-being. 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 stress. It's no wonder that meditation is such a common strategy among successful people.

Related: Entrepreneurs, Here's Why You Need Downtime For Your Mind

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 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 during 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 happens through workshops, classes, seminars or the act of 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 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 alienated, unfulfilled and feeling that all your hard work was a waste. Don't be one of those people; make time for your friends and family.

Related: 3 Reasons Every Entrepreneur Needs to Take Vacation Time

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 you're doing it.

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