Most professionals spend at least 40 hours a week (more or less) working towards being better and getting further in their careers. With the concept of work-life balance gaining traction, especially among Millennials entering the work force, there have to be ways to spend time away from the office while still bettering your skill set.

I have five incredibly simple cheats that help me use my free time to my advantage--without spending my weekends in the office or cranking out emails:

1. Take a splurge day.

It may seem obvious. Take a splurge day, do whatever the hell makes you happy, for an entire day. Sometimes I use my splurge day to eat all of my favorite meals. Once, after a particularly grueling travel schedule, I used my splurge day to sleep for 30 hours. Whatever you feel like your body needs to recharge and re-energize--do that.

And take it one step further. Unplug for the day. Resist the urge to catalogue your entire day on social media, or sneak a peek at your incoming emails.

With the power button off, you would be surprised how much more you can enjoy your splurge day. A refresh of ideas and inspiration begin to flow when you aren't always looking down.

2. Go to a museum.

Free time can be spent as a way to create a mental refresh. Spend time looking at work that inspires, interests, or intrigues you. I find that on a museum wall, though it's different for everyone. Find your museum.

3. Write it down.

Your free time is a valuable time to re-energize your thoughts. An important part of taking a splurge day is to write down your thoughts and ideas.

Throughout the busy workweek, you may not have time to entertain every thought that pops into your head. Dedicating your free time to pouring your ideas onto paper is beneficial to creating, evaluating, and adjusting your work.

4. Be a mentor.

Volunteering your time is a great way to better yourself, grow, and learn in your profession. When I started college at age 14 (yes, 14), I could have been intimidated. But truthfully, I was just eager to be around so many older people, who I knew had so much to offer. Mentoring a younger student or professional allows you the opportunity to share your knowledge and receive some in return.

5. Learn something new.

Telling you to go learn something new as a way to utilize free time may seem obvious, but I am not referring only to skills directly applicable to your career. If you choose to learn how to code, use Photoshop, or edit video, that's an incredibly substantial use of your free time.

However, you would benefit just as much from learning how to knit or how to play an instrument or a new sport. Though these skills may not be applicable in the office, the ability to commit to a new task and learn is essential to success in all facets of life.

Published on: Sep 27, 2017