It’s common to see successful people in their element; you see them at peak productivity, working long hours, and showing off the talents that make them great.
But what do they do in their free time, when they aren’t actively pursuing their goals?
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that how people spend their free time matters almost as much as how they spend their working hours.
Qualities of Effective Free Time
Successful people aren’t all the same, of course. They enjoy a wide variety of different hobbies and lifestyles. But the hallmarks of “effective” free time spending almost always include some or all of these qualities:
- Education. Successful people never stop learning. They’re always eager to get the latest news related to their industry, and want to stay ahead of broader trends. But they also want to learn about other subjects, and expand their skillset—it’s what makes them well-rounded enough to think in new and innovative ways.
- Health and fitness. Most successful people also spend time improving their health and fitness. Better fitness often leads to better thinking and higher productivity; it also cultivates self-discipline.
- Relaxation. Successful people aren’t constantly doing hard things in their free time; they’re also relaxing. Taking vacations and genuinely relaxing with friends and loved ones can relieve stress and set you up for better focus and clarity in the future.
- Socialization. Socialization is vital for your mental and emotional health. Without it, even the most independent people can suffer from loneliness and depression. Socialization is also a gateway to network and meet new people, who can help you succeed in countless ways.
Examples of How Successful People Spend Their Free Time
These are just some examples of hobbies, habits, and activities that successful people enjoy when they aren’t working:
The benefits of meditation are well-documented, and countless successful entrepreneurs swear by the process. Even 15 minutes per day of focusing on the present moment and clearing your thoughts can bring you introspection, inner peace, and clearer thinking. Incorporate it into your daily routine.
2. Physical exercise
Physical exercise keeps you in shape, reduces your susceptibility to illness, increases your perceived energy, boosts productivity, and is a perfect opportunity to talk to other people. Best of all, there are countless ways to do it. Run, power walk, bike, lift weights, swim, row, or kickbox—what you do doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you’re doing it.
3. Reading and podcasts
It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that most successful people spend a lot of their free time reading books and listening to podcasts. They stay plugged into the latest developments in a number of fields, and are constantly hungry for new information. Try to find an author or a podcast host you like, and go down the rabbit hole to discover untold depths of new content. Then try to get new content recommendations from people you respect and admire.
Traveling the world to see and experience new places, cultures, foods, and experiences is not just fun; it’s a fantastic way to expand your mind and recharge from burnout. Personally, it’s my favorite way to spend my free time, but I can’t do it all the time because it’s quite expensive. Nonetheless, it’s important to travel to different places that make you happy, and make memories that will last a lifetime.
Similarly, many successful people go out of their way to take classes in their free time. They might learn about subjects related to their industry, but it’s more common for them to take classes in novel areas. They want to push the limits of their own understanding and think in creative ways; only exposure to new disciplines can cultivate this.
6. Time with family and friends
There’s a collective illusion that most successful people spend all their time at the office, sacrificing time with friends and family or forgoing personal relationships altogether. However, most “truly” successful people spend much of their free time building those bonds up. You can accomplish far more, and be far happier, with a network of loved ones who support you.
7. Creative pursuits
Many studies confirm that doing art, and engaging in creative activities, can improve brain function and increase your capacity for creative thinking. It’s no wonder, then, that so many successful people spend some of their free time with creative hobbies. They paint, they learn to play musical instruments, they creatively write, and they make short films; whatever mediums they choose, they always stay stimulated.
Finally, the most successful people spend time volunteering. Volunteering is a perfect way to give back to the community who helped you become a success in the first place. It’s also a great opportunity to meet other like-minded people, and depending on where and how you volunteer, you can spend time outside and/or exercise at the same time.
How do Successful People Free Up Their Time?
These are the different ways successful people free up time from their busy schedule:
- Waking up early. The most successful people usually start their day early. Many agree that it’s the best time to get work done. There are hardly any distractions, and for many people (myself included), productivity is usually at its peak early in the morning.
- Using technology. Successful people know how to reduce redundancy in their day to day routines, and one of the easiest ways to do this is to use productivity-enhancing tools or apps.
- Prioritizing tasks. Successful people prioritize tasks and delegate non-essential tasks.
- Working remotely. Studies show that 66% of professionals say their productivity improves when they’re not in an office and 76% say there are fewer distractions outside of offices. Furthermore, a CoSo Cloud survey found that WFH employees save as much as $5,240 per year on commute costs by working from home. That money can be put toward a vacation or any of the other items on the list above!
Doing these activities doesn’t mean you’re going to be successful, and being successful doesn’t mean you partake in these activities. However, there are elements of these activities—like relaxation, learning, and socializing—that need to be a part of your life. Learn from them, and try to optimize your free time to serve you well.