The Skill Set: 7 Off Duty Habits That’ll Make You Smarter

Make the most of your downtime.

Downtime is a beautiful thing. Lauren McGoodwin, a busy entrepreneur and woman who works (she founded Career Contessa), shares her tips for using your off­ duty hours to enrich your intelligence and creativity. 9.19_SS_Habits_post

The Skill Set: 7 Off Duty Habits That’ll Make You Smarter

1. Tune into podcasts

Podcasts are all the rage right now, and for good reason: they deliver a quick, convenient dose of knowledge on virtually any subject. Instead of listening to your playlist, download one a podcast to help jump start a smarter commute today. 

2. Keep a journal

Turns out journaling isn’t just for waxing poetic about your seventh grade crush. Taking a few minutes each day to reflect in writing has been proven to boost your brain power. Grab a journal and start tracking the following each day: What you did or accomplished today, What you hope to accomplish tomorrow/this week, and What you need to do less of this week/month. Reflecting on your goals and accomplishments and writing a quick recap summary can improve your happiness, confidence and overall intelligence. 

3. Replace netflix with skillshare

Every break you take doesn’t need to involve checking social media or binging on Orange is theNew Black. The internet is also filled with awesome learning tools. My current go to is Skillshare; you can learn fun lifestyle skills or business skills that might help you get a job or a better salary down the road. It’s a win­-win if you can nourish your brain and advance your career at the same time.

4. Hang out with people who are smarter than you

Believe it or not, socializing and working with people who are more experienced than you are is one of the fastest ways to learn. I personally experienced this working at a nearly­ stage start up, and it’s one of the reasons I now work out of a co­working space. A willingness to learn is one of the best personal and professional habits, so adopt it early and use it often. 

5. Take a dance class

There’s working out, and then there’s Zumba. Learning choreographed dance moves improves your intelligence by keeping your exercise active, instead of passive. A 2012 study showed that Latin­ style dance like Zumba “improves mood and certain cognitive skills, such as visual recognition and decision­ making.” 

6. Do random new things

If Zumba isn’t up your alley, I’d still recommend finding at least one new thing to try each month that’s totally unrelated to your career and the things you normally do. I recently heard a story on the Fizzle Podcast about a guy working as a dishwasher in a restaurant who decided to take a job at a butcher shop so he could learn a few things about the industry. Now, he runs a few very successful restaurants that focus on high­ quality cuts of meat. The takeaway: You never know what will be useful ahead of time. You just need to try new things and wait to see how they connect with the rest of your life experiences.

7. Set aside time to do nothing at all

It's no surprise that productivity experts recommend giving yourself space for your brain to process what it's learned. Take some downtime from mental stimulation by practicing meditation or sitting silently to reflect. A little solitude is essential to your wellbeing.


Images courtesy of Ivanka Trump Photographer: Kenneth Grzymala