"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." This old proverb points out the fact that to be well rounded as a business professional, you should have interests outside of your job. When pressure is high and deadlines are tight, or if you're trying to bring a new product to market, it can be easy to put personal pursuits aside for a while. You may even feel guilty spending your weekends and nights doing something besides work. There's so much to be done, how could you possibly have fun doing something else?
You may find it comforting to know even the most successful entrepreneurs of our time have a life outside work. In fact, many of them find that spending time on their hobbies makes them more productive at the office. Here are some of the ways successful people spend their free time.
Playing an Instrument
When one of the world's wealthiest people shows up with a ukulele in hand, people pay attention. Warren Buffett, investor and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, performed on Today in 2013 while promoting his latest book. Buffett said he learned to play in college to impress a girl and enjoyed it so much, he continued playing (it probably gave Paul McCartney and him something to talk about that time). In addition to improving your work-life balance, playing an instrument has brain benefits that will assist you as you're working on that big project.
Spending Time With Family
Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff considers weekends an ideal time to process. Over the weekend, he finds he has time to sit back and think about the "bigger issues." He does this while spending time with family. Even if he's in a city on Friday and he'll have to be in that same city on Monday, he'll fly home to be with his wife and three young children. When he isn't riding bikes, playing soccer, or competing in chess tournaments with his kids, Rascoff catches up on work-related reading.
Indulging Childhood Fantasies
Once they have a little money in the bank, many successful people go back to their childhood. William Barron Hilton, son of hotel pioneer Conrad Hilton (and grandfather of Paris), spends his weekends flying every type of plane imaginable around his 750,000-acre ranch in Nevada. Hilton learned to fly while in the military, and over the years, he's flown everything from balloons to helicopters.
Living Off the Land
Hunting may not be your idea of a fun pastime, but Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg discovered that "sustainable farming and raising of animals" worked for him. Zuckerberg famously told Fortune back in 2011 that he only eats meat from animals he kills himself. Keep in mind, though, that Zuckerberg's interests are a bit fleeting. Each year he sets a new personal challenge and tackles it. In 2009, that challenge was to wear a tie every day.
After leaving Cisco Systems, which she co-founded with her then husband, Sandy Lerner moved to Virginia, where she raises English Shire horses, which she sometimes used to ride in jousting competitions. While Lerner once talked about her collection of jousting swords and costumes, today she indulges her love for collecting by purchasing rare books.
Many entrepreneurs run marathons, but Google's Sergey Brin takes activity to the next level. The Google co-founder is known for his adventurousness, often showing up for meetings in Rollerblades. Brin spends his weekends indulging in activities like the flying trapeze and gymnastics, even bringing Google employees to San Francisco's Circus Center for bonding activities in the company's early days.
You don't have to join the circus, run a marathon, or pursue any of these other exotic activities to stretch yourself on the weekends. The main thing these CEOs show is that it's healthy and appropriate for you to really dive into your hobbies and enjoy them to the fullest when you have free time. The key is to actually give yourself the free time to find something you love doing and passionately pursue it. When your weekends are fun, you'll find you're more productive and energized when Monday morning arrives.