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How Making Good Use of The Time After Work Can Fast-Track Your Career Success

How Making Good Use of The Time After Work Can Fast-Track Your Career Success

Do you want to get ahead in life?

If yes, then you must dedicate some of your spare time to improving yourself.

For example, average workers come home at the end of each day to purely relax and enjoy themselves. High achievers, on the other hand, take a regular part of their spare time for learning new skills, developing existing ones, and finding ways to make their daily work more efficient.

Which of the above are you?

If you aim at achieving outstanding performance at work – then please read on.

Successful People Go for Exponential Growth While the Majority Settle for Natural Growth

Have you ever considered that work time should be solely for working? For instance, an actor does not rely on their time on stage to practice their art. They do this between performances.

It should be the same for you. Let your work time be the period when you focus on productivity and output. (In other words, do the job that you’re being paid for!) And let your spare time be the period when you work on improving your knowledge and skills.

People who habitually devote some of their spare time to learning, are the ones most likely to be successful in life.

However, this doesn’t necessarily happen overnight. It’s much more likely to follow the pattern of exponential growth, which looks like this:

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    The above graph shows the world’s population growth since 10,000 BC to 2,000 AD. As you can see, growth was in tiny increments for thousands of years, but began to rapidly spike about 1,000 AD.

    This is exponential growth in action. Small increases that eventually snowball into massive gains.

    For those people who think hard work is just about putting in the hours, and rely on others to give them directions, growth is much different. Take a look at the below chart:

      This shows the varying income inequality in the U.S. As it clearly demonstrates, changes took place relatively slowly.

      This can be described as natural growth and natural decline. Workers who make little effort to improve, may find themselves becoming less successful after several months or years due to these natural fluctuations.

      Conversely, workers making good use of their spare time will put themselves firmly on the exponential chart – and in time, their fortunes are likely to soar.

      You Just Need to Spend One Hour Every Day to Make the Difference

      It can be tough to make an effort after a hard day’s work.

      You’re probably tired or even exhausted. You may also have… cleaning to do, pets to feed, children to play with, friends to call, and partners to please. (I could go on!)

      What could be easier and more satisfying than slumping down on your couch and turning the TV on?

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      It’s tempting, for sure.

      However, I have a suggestion for you: Commit to spending one hour each evening on your personal development.

      This will still leave you plenty of time for relaxation and entertainment, but it’ll also put you on the fast track to success!

      By breaking down your self-improvement time into one-hour chunks per day, you’ll find it much easier than trying to study for five hours on a weekend (for example). You’ll also have the benefit of building a regular routine that you can easily stick to.

      If You Want to Use Your Spare Time to Boost Your Success – Here’s What to Do

      What you do after work can determine your future. So, please use the time wisely.

      Here’s my top recommendations:

      Read books on diverse topics

      While reading in general is a great hobby, why not take it a stage further and make it part of your career development?

      You can do this in a couple of ways.

      Firstly, read books that are specific to your line of work. For example, if you work in IT, then you could spend an hour reading a book on the latest software trends. This extra knowledge will immediately put you ahead of most of your colleagues.

      The other thing to do, is to choose books from a wide range of topics. (Be sure to include subjects/genres that you wouldn’t normally choose.) If you do this, you’ll stretch your thinking, and you’ll also be able to supercharge your creativity by enabling you to connect different ideas that you’ve read about.

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      Boost specific skills that are currently holding you back at work

      If you’re like most people, then you probably don’t enjoy public speaking. You may even go out of your way to avoid it! However, if your job involves communicating ideas, then it’s inevitable that at some point you’ll be asked to present them to an audience.

      The key to defeating your fear of public speaking is preparation.

      Imagine spending an hour per night developing your presentation skills. You could watch videos of great speakers, take an online presentation course, and practice speaking in front of a mirror.

      With time, you’ll magnify your skills – and your confidence.

      Build your connections

      Your future career prospects are likely to depend on who you know.

      Few people like to admit this, but it’s the truth.

      So, turn over some of your spare time to growing your professional connections. You can do this through social media sites such as Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter.

      Just be sure that you’re connecting to the right people. This usually means folks who share your interests and line of work. For instance, if you’re a trainee accountant, link up with qualified accountants and other finance professionals.

      Connections can become mentors – or even lead to career opportunities for you.

      Work on personal projects

      Let me tell you how I got started as a freelance writer.

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      I had the idea to set up a website that would feature the latest innovations in green technology. To be honest, it was supposed to be just a hobby. I created the site on WordPress, and then began writing regular articles for the site. I did all this in addition to my full-time job.

      However, I found that I loved writing and sharing stories. And before long, I decided to apply for paid writing work. It took me a while to secure my first contract, but since then my writing career has taken off.

      You could do something similar.

      Take a hobby or personal project (e.g., playing a musical instrument or researching your family tree), and see whether you can turn it into a profitable sideline – or potential new career. Even if you don’t make money from your hobby, you’ll still be able to take soft skills such as patience and enthusiasm and transfer them over to your day job.

      Look for ways to do things more efficiently

      I’ve saved this one until last, because I think it’s the most important.

      Wherever you work, and whatever your job, there’s bound to be ways to improve the way work is performed.

      Let’s say that you work as a receptionist at your local gym. One of your duties is to help people to sign up for new memberships. You’ve noticed that this takes about 15 minutes on average, but can also take much longer.

      You’re too busy at work to find ways to streamline the signing up process, but at home you want to give it a go.

      The first night (and hour) you make a list of ways that the signing up process could be improved. The next night you prioritize the list into which ways will be most effective at quickening and simplifying the process. On the third night, you develop ways to implement the changes.

      Imagine taking your suggestions to your boss. Even if they decide not to go ahead with the changes, they are sure to be impressed with your initiative.

      If you want to begin practicing the five suggestions above, you’ll need excellent time management. The secret is to turn your actions into habits. Once you’ve done that, spending an hour each day in personal development will be as natural as spending an hour watching your favorite soap opera!

      If you’re eager to join the ranks of the highly successful, then be sure to make great use of your spare time.

      More by this author

      Craig J Todd

      UK Writer who loves to use the power of words to inspire and motivate.

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      Last Updated on April 19, 2021

      The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

      The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

      Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

      The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

      Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

      In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

      When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

      Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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      1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

      When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

      As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

      That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

      The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

      What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

      Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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      There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

      So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

      2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

      When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

      No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

      3. Move Your Body

      A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

      It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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      So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

      4. Connect With Another Person

      Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

      One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

      Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

      5. Use Your Imagination

      When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

      That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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      And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

      Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

      Final Thoughts

      Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

      Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

      More on the Importance of Taking a Break

      Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

      Reference

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