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Nine Things To Do In Your Downtime To Propel A Successful Career

Whether you’re an entry-level employee, a CEO or anything in between, if you’re passionate about your career, sometimes downtime can get pushed to the side. Instead of burning yourself out on work, however, there are ways you can use your downtime wisely.

Some of the most successful professionals in the world use their downtime to practice self-care, focus on ways to build creativity and learn new things. Here, nine members of Young Entrepreneur Council share the things they believe every professional should be doing in their downtime if they want to truly succeed in their career and improve their life.

1. Take Time To Think

Your downtime is arguably the most fruitful part of your day and week. You digest, think critically and reflect on how things are going and what you need to do next. These moments are often mistaken for laziness or rest. This is not rest. This is what I like to call “active rest,” and the best entrepreneurs I know do this all the time. Some do it while they’re working out or on a walk. Some do it over their cup of coffee. Find your time to think to yourself, in your own space, and you’d be surprised at the realizations you’ll come to. In fact, my best “aha” moments during this time included our company name (branding), ways to hire (talent) and scale (how to grow). – Sief Khafagi, Techvestor

2. Upgrade Nonwork-Related Skills

Work on developing or upgrading skills that aren’t directly related to your job or business. Skills such as public speaking, writing, programming, videography and many others have value across many industries. You can use such abilities to improve in your current field or prepare you for your next career. Choose something that you’ve always wanted to learn or get better at and make it a project. – Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting

3. Read Biographies

Remember that you don’t only learn from purely academic reading. In fact, when you are in the game, you realize that it is not enough to be a know-it-all about your professional field; in real life, you face many challenges that you do not see coming and that are not solved by what academia teaches you. From teaching you about the ingenuity of great characters in situations that seemed impossible to overcome in real life, to being a powerful source of inspiration that helps you when you want to leave everything behind, biographies are an interesting and fun study tool, but unfortunately are very undervalued and forgotten. – Kevin Ryan Tao, NeuEve

4. Join Activities Outside Your Network

To truly succeed in their career, every professional should participate in organized activities outside of their typical professional network. You are a much more well-rounded human if you do this, and you will be exposed to different people and different ways of thinking. This could be a creative activity like dance, a physical activity like sports or a volunteering activity like mentoring. You’ll find it easier to make connections outside of work, expanding your network with every activity you do. You may even surprise yourself when one of those connections just happens to be the helping hand you need in your career. – Kaitlyn Witman, Rainfactory

5. Be A Curious Customer

In my downtime, whether I’m enjoying a meal at a restaurant or exploring a new store, I aim to experience it fully—and also to be thoughtful about what is working and what could be working better. My own observations as an active and engaged consumer fuel many of the improvements to my own business, and I’m always excited to bring the insight and perspective I’ve gained across different industries to the customer experience I’m creating. – Lindsay Tanne, LogicPrep

6. Give Back To Your Community

Every professional during their downtime should find a way to give back to their community. For some people this means volunteering time, while for others, giving back can include teaching a skill to a colleague or peer or to an organization. For example, I volunteer as a co-chair on boards for entrepreneur organizations. One of my company’s values includes philanthropy and we honor when staff members take time to give back to communities they believe in. As the CEO, I model philanthropic efforts by sending an internal newsletter each week in which each staff member gives a shoutout to another staff member for their efforts to give back in the form of teaching and charity work. During downtime, professionals can practice gratitude by giving back and thus create an example. – Libby Rothschild, Dietitian Boss

7. Practice Mindfulness And Meditation

In my opinion, meditation or some other mindful activity is a must for any high-powered professional. If you work in a fast-paced business environment, you need to know how to slow things down and not let the dizzying speed of business get to you. Practicing mindfulness meditation for just 10 minutes per day, or doing a quick daily yoga session, can help you train your breath and rein in unwanted thoughts during the day. Essentially, they can make you more productive and more confident during peak stress periods. The benefits can last a lifetime and will follow you throughout your professional career. – Tyler Gallagher, Regal Assets

8. Improve Your Physical Health

Your physical health is important and will have a profound effect on your success in all other aspects of your life. If you have some free time, make sure you spend some of it exercising or just being physically active. Hiking, jogging, swimming or some kind of sport can prolong your life and vastly improve the quality of it. It’s difficult for young people to realize that they won’t always feel as good as they do right now, but adopting physically demanding activities early on can prolong their vitality, which will absolutely have a positive effect on their career in the long term by improving their energy and mental health. – Bryce Welker, Testing.org

9. Plan Out Your Week

Set aside some time to plan. In your downtime, you should focus on family, hobbies and rest. However, designating some time to process all the events of the week and make an action plan for the coming week or weeks can really help give you perspective and reaffirm your goals. Take thirty minutes and just jot down some main points that need your attention and a few more sub-points on what actions need to be taken for each issue. This will get all your to-dos out of your head and onto paper. By having a plan for when you get back to work, you can really let go and relax during your days off. You will likely find that even during your time off, ideas and solutions still percolate in the back of your mind and you generate more creative solutions than if you had just powered through. – Maria Thimothy, OneIMS

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