Want to make the most of your free time?
Needless to say, the world’s most successful people don’t waste hours watching Netflix or scrolling through Instagram.
So what do they do?
Here are 10 ways successful people spend their free time (and some may well surprise you!).
So let’s dive in.
1) They rest and recharge
Yep, you read that right.
Here’s what people all too often get wrong about success:
That hustle culture is always the best way to achieve anything. But making time to recuperate helps to ensure you remain at your best.
Burnout happens when we take on too much. We always have to protect enough downtime if we want to perform at a high level.
As leadership strategist Stuart R. Levine highlights in Forbes, running yourself into the ground does you zero favors:
“Perpetual movement without rest decreases productivity. In reality, it yields the opposite. Working without downtime, reduces efficiency and creativity and often invites emotional, psychological, and physical stress. The brain needs downtime to remain productive, gain perspective and generate innovative ideas. Downtime gives the mind an opportunity to make unexpected connections and provide new inspirations and insights.”
The truth is, how much rest you need depends on you as an individual.
Some entrepreneurs like Gary Vee have made a name for themselves with their non-stop “hard work” philosophy. But that won’t work for most of us.
It’s quality of work over quantity that matters. And as little as a 20-minute nap can refresh the brain.
2) They practice mindfulness and meditation
Plenty of incredibly successful people in the world swear by a daily meditation practice.
No wonder as it has been scientifically proven to help reduce stress, improve decision-making, and increase creativity.
When we think of success we naturally think of life’s biggest “winners”. But what we all too often forget is the obstacles they’ve had to overcome along the way.
There’s no getting around it, with success can come greater stress too.
Mindfulness practices such as meditation and breathwork are great ways to help handle anxiety and pressure.
As ABC News anchor and author, Dan Harris points out:
“Athletes such as the Chicago Cubs. Entertainers from 50 Cent to Lena Dunham and Katy Perry. Executives from the head of Twitter to folks at Google. Lawyers, journalists, politicians—you name it. Very successful people are using meditation as a tool.”
3) They exercise and move their body
There’s one habit that seems common amongst successful people, and that’s exercise.
In a survey of 233 wealthy individuals (mostly self-made millionaires), 76% of them spent at least 30 minutes a day working out.
In his blog, Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson attributes exercise as one of the key factors to his success in life.
He estimates that his productivity has doubled thanks to his early morning tennis matches and bike rides. He says:
“I seriously doubt that I would have been as successful in my career (and happy in my personal life) if I hadn’t always placed importance on my health and fitness.”
The science backs up the benefits. As well as being good for your health and stress levels, it’s also been shown to improve memory and mental sharpness.
That’s because exercise releases a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor which improves brain function.
4) They read
It’s a pastime that’s been beloved throughout the ages. But not only is entertaining, it’s constructive too.
Studies have revealed that it can make you smarter.
It turns out that reading fiction improves brain connectivity and function as well as giving you a larger vocabulary.
Business magnate Warren Buffet reportedly spends as much as six hours reading every day.
He suggests that everyone who wants to be successful should “read 500 pages every day.”
Rather than veg out and turn on the TV, the world’s richest people read it seems.
According to ‘Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits Of Wealthy Individuals’ 66% limit their TV time to an hour or less a day.
Meanwhile, a survey noted that 88 percent of wealthy people devote at least 30 minutes a day to reading, with biographies, history, and self-help books among the favorites.
5) They learn new things
Part of success comes down to curiosity. In fact, Albert Einstein once remarked:
“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”
Modest or not, his comments capture the importance of staying open to a world of discoveries around us:
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when one contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries to comprehend only a little of this mystery every day.”
Learning new things is a side effect of curiosity.
Successful people are drawn to discovering new information. They are lifelong learners who spend their time deepening their knowledge.
6) They give back
There are plenty of reasons to volunteer. Not only has it been shown to improve your health and make you feel good, but it widens your network and teaches you new skills.
72% of wealthy people surveyed say they volunteered five hours or more every month.
Perhaps one of the best things about giving back is that you don’t need to have special skills to do so.
Successful people may donate a lot of money or particular expertise, but the essence of service is more humble than that.
In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr…
“Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
7) They network
It will likely come as no surprise to hear that successful people spend their time with other successful people.
Networking sounds fancy, but in essence, it’s just socializing with the right people.
It might involve pre-work breakfasts, after-work drinks, sporting events, or parties on the weekend.
As the saying goes, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. And that’s still true in life.
So much so that as many as 60% of all jobs are found through networking.
Successful people aren’t afraid to put themselves out there and mingle.
It’s a place where they can exchange ideas, discover new opportunities, and get themselves noticed.
But ultimately successful people are choosy about whom they spend their free time with. Negative people, toxic folk, and time wasters need not apply!
8) They spend quality time with the people they love
What is success? What does it look and feel like to you?
It’s an important question if we hope to create more success in our lives. Because your answer will dictate where you focus your time and efforts.
To many of us, having fulfilling careers, accomplishing goals, and having plenty of money in the bank play a significant part in it.
But it’s also fair to say that the relationships we cultivate in this life become one of our biggest sources of joy and meaning.
That’s why success without connection in life isn’t really success. There’s far more to life than work, that’s for sure.
Successful people don’t neglect the people they love. A balanced life is a truly successful one.
Spending time with loved ones provides emotional support, reduces our stress levels, boosts our moods, and gives us a sense of belonging.
9) They spend quiet time thinking
Good news for all you fellow loners and daydreamers out there…
Idle time spent deep in thought isn’t time wasted.
Despite accomplishing so much, Albert Einstein’s most effective hack wasn’t about productivity, quite the opposite.
As pointed out by Quartz:
“From his youth, Einstein had a habit of spending a lot of time away from his friends, family, and work, to do nothing but think. He would regularly go for long walks, wander off to quiet cabins in the mountains, play his violin, or sail the seas with his wooden boat to find serenity.
“It was during these moments of solitude that Einstein would discover ingenious solutions to difficult problems.”
Rather than stay constantly connected, successful people understand the benefits of being alone with nothing more than their own thoughts.
10) They get out into nature
Being in nature can have a powerful effect on your nervous system.
Research shows that compared to walking in urban areas, heading out into green spaces helps to reduce stress and boost mood.
It’s no coincidence that in the example above, so much of Einstein’s quiet time occurred in the natural world.
It acts as a peaceful reset button that can offset the hustle and bustle of our modern-day lives.
As highlighted by Psychology Today, as well as boosting well-being, being in nature can make us smarter and more innovative too.
Meaning that nature can be your secret weapon to greater success!