During downtime, busy entrepreneurs should seek to relax and unwind. However, if you’re the kind of driven professional who has a hard time disconnecting from work, you’ll most likely be looking at ways to fill your downtime with activities that are relaxing yet productive.
Your productivity doesn’t necessarily have to relate to the business either. You need to take care of your mental and physical health, and the health of the company, as well. Whether it’s by journaling, practicing hobbies or getting familiar with other industries, there are several ways entrepreneurs can leverage their downtime to achieve this goal. Below, eight entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council explore the activities that founders should pursue in their downtime to keep them focused when they’re back on the job.
As all experienced leaders know, your mental health is just as important as the health of your business. In today’s fast-paced, ever-changing culture it’s easy to get wrapped up in the future of what’s next and disassociate from the present. This leads to increased anxiety and burnout, and pulls our focus from living in the moment. Carving out downtime that connects you with the present moment allows you to be intentional with your actions and energy, which in turn leads to the success of your business. Something I do every morning is reserve time to journal with specific prompts. I write out three things I am grateful for, a positive experience in the last 24 hours and three things I am excited about. This helps train your brain to look for the positives in life while enjoying the process. – Kayleigh Christina, CLEARSTEM Skincare
Read—it’s as simple as that. I’ve found that reading during downtime has the dual effect of distancing myself from work stress while simultaneously stimulating my brain in different ways than the normal workday. In my opinion, the topic of the book isn’t that important; reading a business book in your related field can unveil new strategies or opportunities, but reading a fiction novel can open up your mind in ways just as beneficial. Reading also provides an opportunity to look at situations from a different perspective—something that will be crucial to any founder in a startup environment. I’ve found that reading creates a thirst for knowledge; you’ll stumble upon a book you really enjoyed, and then find yourself researching other works by that author or similar books in general. – Charles Bogoian, Kenai Sports
It’s understandable that downtime can be seen as a luxury among us owners of busy schedules and insane working hours. Well, I can assure you from experience that the day I decided to prioritize my mental health and substitute one meeting with a supplier or team member for an hour meeting with myself and going inward, that was the day things started changing. Meditate! It still surprises me how many founders and C-levels are burned out and haven’t yet developed a meditation practice. Personally, meditating daily helps me focus, execute better and implement faster, and gives my brain a rest that I can’t even get from my sleeping hours. – Daniela Vianna, EPHEMERIS CO
4. Engaging In Competitive Sports
Engaging in competitive sports is one way to use your downtime. People will usually give complex answers to this topic, but as a founder, you need endurance and stamina to go through your daily struggles and setbacks. Competitive sports that test your endurance and stamina enable you to develop a mentality of pushing through when it feels like you cannot make it. They train the mind to control the body, even when the body wants to give up. For me, I play competitive basketball in teams and it really trains me to stay focused and push through even when I’m so tired and exhausted from the game. It’s like training your subconscious to be bulletproof and strong even when the hardest or toughest problems come around. – David Obasiolu, Chow420
5. Doing Anything Not Work-Related
Regardless of how much we love what we do, disconnecting from our businesses and connecting to the other components of our lives is crucial. I believe every founder should prioritize their downtime with equal weight to their work time, as grinding without recharging at a human level is a surefire recipe for burnout and loss of creativity in business. Creating nonnegotiables for your day outside of work ensures that there’s an element of balance, whether you’re putting in 18 hours of work or eight. For me, those are movement, time spent outside and quality connection time with another person, not work-related. They refill my personal battery, give me energy and remind me why I’m working so hard, even on a day that’s scheduled to the minute. – Rebecca Cafiero, Rebecca Cafiero International
6. Connecting To Another Perspective
Connect with people and places completely outside of your industry and field. We live our lives in our bubbles, not by conscious choice, but simply by default—and default thinking does not drive breakthrough ideas. Stepping outside of your world, especially during these times of self-isolation and quarantine—whether by spending a day volunteering at a food bank, experiencing a culture you’ve never known before or reconnecting with a friend you admire in a completely different line of work—gives you the ability to look at your everyday business questions and challenges from a completely fresh perspective. And that fresh perspective can enable breakthrough ideas and strategies that may not have been possible to breed inside the bubble. – Umaimah Mendhro, VIDA
7. Studying And Investing In Yourself
Study and invest in yourself. While everyone relaxes, you can get ahead of the game bettering yourself though webinars, coaching and reading a lot. I look at my competition with a genuine passion for learning and getting inspired. It is nice to do that while being not rushed by the everyday hustle. I also believe in investing in bettering my overall brand. When I have downtime I can better focus on my personal PR, marketing and photoshoots. When everyone stops, you’d better take advantage. When you are an entrepreneur you are always working and you are never working. I find this saying so true, and that is why downtime could be the needed refresh you need to better focus on your priorities and recoup inspiration and passion for your true mission. – Simonetta Lein, Ausonia Partners
8. Doing What Brings You Joy
Make time for what brings you joy. As an entrepreneur or leader, you’ll often get caught up in work so much so that it consumes every minute of every day. Creating products or services that deliver value to your customers while building a team is hard work, but you have to remember that the foundation of that work is you. It’s imperative that you take care of yourself. Find an easy way to ensure that you, the foundation of the amazing company you’re building, is functioning optimally. Fifteen minutes is all you might need to recharge. You don’t need to take hours a day. You could do something active like take a walk outside, toss around a baseball, cook a quick meal or have a daily ritual like your pourover coffee, journaling or a skincare routine. – Karlo Tanjuakio, GoLeanSixSigma.com