10 Ways to Make Your Downtime More Effective

Downtime is just as important to success as working hard, but knowing how to use that downtime productively can make all the difference.

A man relaxing on a sailboat, enjoying quality downtime I talk a lot about what you need to do to make your life, your career or your business successful.

A lot of that comes down to hard work, putting successful systems in place, and learning how to break through the obstacles in your way.

There’s one thing that too many of us forget about. It’s just as important as all that hard work and planning. What am I referring to? Taking the time out to rest, recuperate and reinvigorate ourselves.

Productive downtime isn’t about binge-watching television; it’s about making every second pay off. Click To Tweet

Your downtime is very important to accomplishing your goals because it gives you the opportunity for self-care and for reflection.

Time away from your work give you the perspective and distance to objectively evaluate your progress and performance and to make sure you’re still doing work that excites and energizes you.

You should treat downtime like something precious and valuable, to use and not to waste.

If there’s one thing really successful people have in common, it’s that they have learned the value of high-quality downtime, leisure time that they use to not only unwind but to add to their success in crucial ways.

Downtime isn’t just about binge-watching your favorite new television series—it’s about making every second of it count.

Slow Burn vs. Burnout

Success in life and business is a lot like driving a high-performance vehicle.

That car is a finely-tuned instrument that’s been tinkered with and perfected so that it performs optimally.

Likewise, on your journey to success, you’ll spend a lot of time working out the right systems for yourself, developing good habits, and fine-tuning yourself into a lean, mean success-building machine.

A woman enjoying downtime on a beach But you can’t drive that sportscar at full capacity all the time. If it’s going to continue performing optimally, you need to refuel it, change the tires, and take it in for regular servicing.

The same is true of your body and mind. You can’t go, go, go twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. You need downtime.

Life, work, and success are not a relentless rat race. Growth comes in surges. Click To Tweet

Sometimes you need to put in high-octane fuel to have optimal performance.

Other times, you need to give yourself an overhaul, clean out your worn-out, exhausted body and mind, and get things back to high-performance mode if you want to avoid burnout.

Remember that life, work and success are not a relentless rat race.

Growth comes in surges, with periods of considerable activity and periods where everything slows down.

This is a natural cycle, like the seasons. It’s like a spring that’s wound tight that has to release from time to time, or it will break.

So, how do you spend your downtime?

Work Hard, Party Harder?

There is a reason why clubs, bars, and restaurants do good business. It’s the same reason streaming television services are taking off.

People need time to unwind and relax, and binge-watching a television series or going out drinking and dancing feels a lot like taking a break.

But is it really a productive way to spend your downtime?

Of course, it can do you a lot of good to just get a change of pace.

Going out somewhere new, or meeting up with different groups of friends can be really refreshing and energizing.

And sometimes, it is healthy for you just to sit down, let everything go and turn off your brain—watch some television, and thoroughly enjoy it.

It can regenerate you like a good night’s sleep does, without actually being asleep.

But when you run on the work hard, party harder lifestyle, you’re not doing yourself any favors.

Work hard—yes, of course—but also work smart.

When you’re working towards success, it can be easy to fall into the trap of overcommitting, and that leads in one direction—burnout.

To compensate, we cram all the downtime into the least amount of time we have available, which can mean too much frantic celebrating when what you really need is some recovery time.

We’ve built this false impression from television, movies, and books, in which the successful business owner or career person works all the time and never has time for friends and family. We buy into that narrative and push ourselves to the limit.

Then, when we do take that desperately-needed time off, we spend it doing things that don’t serve us well, rather than focusing on the things that are truly important, like our relationships or our health.

Learning To Unwind

If you don’t engage in quality downtime, you’re missing out on the opportunity to build great relationships with family and friends.

You’re doing your physical, mental and emotional health a disservice and you’re not giving yourself time to grow as a person.

In the end, all you’re doing is adding to your stress by never letting off that steam and trying to bury the pressure under layers of meaningless activity.

A close-up of a fishing reel, a quality downtime activity The good news is that productive downtime has been proven over and over to be the most effective way to beat stress.

It even helps boost your mental, physical, and emotional health—all good things when it comes to building your success.

And once you make that connection, once you get it, once you understand that making your downtime count will actually do you much more good than just collapsing on the couch every night, you’re going to find ways to adjust your leisure habits and make them work for you.

I’ve spoken about systems before, and they hold true, even for downtime.

Winners have systems for managing their priorities and recognizing when chaos is creeping in. They adjust to stay in control and on track and spend time on the things that are important to them.

Winners have systems for managing priorities and recognizing when chaos creeps in. Click To Tweet

My advice to you is, to keep that downtime sacred.

Use it to build and strengthen relationships and use it to get your body and mind back on track.

Do things that mean something to you and give your life real meaning.

Don’t just be a successful career person, be a well-rounded, happier person.

10 Tips For Effective Downtime

An overhead view of productive downtime by making crafts Making the most out of your downtime is so beneficial to you that it’s worth approaching it the same way you would your career or business.

Take it step-by-step and create leisure habits that work for you.

Here are my top ten ways to make downtime count.

1. Carve Out Quality Family Time

Enjoy activities with your family that everyone enjoys, whether it’s board games, family dinner time, backyard football or talking about the books you read.

Many high achieving families have a second home, a camping routine, specific activities they do, or the events they attend together.

It’s planned into their routine because it gives them a set time to rejuvenate and connect in a healthy way.

The stronger your family relationships are, the more you’ll be able to count on them for support.

2. Surround Yourself With People You Enjoy

Don’t waste your time with people who drain you or who cause you to feel negative about yourself and your relationship with them.

Instead, spend time with those friends who energize and encourage you, and whom you do the same for.

3. Do Things That Get You Excited

Quality time with family and friends is essential, but so is quality time with yourself.

Do things that are meaningful to you and you alone, things that you just love to do.

4. Learn New (non-work) Skills

I love photography.

It has no bearing on my work at all, but it is a skill I wanted to learn, so I did.

What would you love to be able to do that has nothing to do with your career? Learn a new language? Learn to dance?

Never stop learning, it’s good for your brain!

5. Pay People To Do The Jobs You Don’t Want To Do

I’m sure there are some of you that get quality self-reflection time in while mowing the lawn or folding the laundry, but if you’re not one of them, pay someone to do it.

Don’t waste your precious downtime doing things you hate doing if you can pay someone else to do them.

6. Control The Conversation

It can be extremely stressful to keep getting sucked into discussions about subjects that anger or upset you, and some people just love pushing those buttons.

If you’re spending time with people who keep steering the conversation to those things, stop spending time with them, or redirect the conversation away from these topics.

Protect your downtime and don’t focus on things that make you angry and drain your precious energy resources.

A woman riding a horse in her downtime 7. Exercise Your Body

Exercise is one of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself.

It gets your heart pumping, gets the blood flowing and helps increase your mental function.

Physical health is just as crucial to success as mental health.

Besides, it’s a great way to work off nervous energy or even aggression and get back to a place of calm and focus.

8. Exercise Your Mind

An active and healthy mind is critical to a healthy, happy life and career.

Did you know that around 80 percent of successful people say they spend time reading quality material every day?

Self-improvement books, trusted news sources, and high-quality blogs are their reading material of choice.

Many of them also talk about the benefits of self-examination, which helps to clear out the mental clutter and to bring back a sense of calm and peace.

9. Disconnect From Social Media

There’s nothing wrong with spending some time online, but so many people end up spending hours wasting time on social media, constantly checking their Facebook, that it results in several years’ worth of wasted hours every single day around the world.

Disconnect from social media as much as possible — log off when you’re spending time with other people, disconnect while you’re focusing on yourself… and quit playing Candy Crush in the bathroom!

10. Plan Your Downtime

Spontaneity is the spice of life, but a recipe that’s just spices isn’t going to fill you up, and relying on spontaneity for your downtime will likely lead to binge-watching television shows.

Don’t be afraid to put systems in place for your downtime.

Plan activities, adventures, and events.

Make the most of what free time you have.

Schedule and prioritize events like date night, family dinner, experiences with your kids, and the classes you want to take.

Make your schedule in advance and stick with it.

Your time is yours, and you get to decide how it gets spent. Click To Tweet

When you give yourself quality downtime, you’re going to destress much more effectively and efficiently.

It’s going to have a marked, positive effect on your physical and mental health and it will give you the energy you need to turn your business or career into a mega-success.

By taking control of your downtime, you take control of your own life.

It’s a clear way of telling the world (and yourself), “I won’t be run ragged, my time is mine, and I will decide how it gets spent. I will not be controlled by the tyranny of the urgent.”

I told you I am a photographer, so tell me what activities refresh and re-energize you. What makes you feel like you can take on the next challenge?

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Danielle Wingo


I agree it is so easy to refresh and recharge when you’re surrounded by nature. I love just being outdoors! I’m no photographer, but I will have to try taking some pictures the next time I’m on a hike.

Thanks for reading and for your comment!

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