6 Simple Ways to Maximize Your Downtime

Have you ever been in a situation where you do practically nothing? Maybe you are commuting, waiting in a line, or sitting in the doctor’s office. Time passes by and you get little value from it. Wouldn’t it be great if you were able to make the most of such time?

I have had quite a lot of downtime recently, so I started thinking about how to maximize it.

Here are six ideas I got on how to maximize downtime:

1. Read.

This is my long-time favorite, and for a good reason: it’s one of the best ways to maximize your downtime.

I wrote a post a while back that tells the story of a limo driver who used his downtime for reading. From that habit, he learned what he needed to know to build a successful business.

You can do something similar. The key here is to always bring reading materials with you. Fortunately, that’s easy to do these days because you can just use your smartphone. Save a few articles to your device using Pocket or download a couple of e-books.

2. Listen.

If you aren’t into reading or the situation doesn’t allow it (for instance, you are driving), then a good option is listening.

You can listen to educational materials in the form of podcasts or audio books. In my case, I have been listening to podcasts for years during my exercise sessions.

3. Watch.

Thanks to the advancement of technology, you aren’t limited to just listening. You can also watch.

Bill Gates, for example, uses his exercise sessions to watch video lectures. Watching lectures might be a bit too extreme for most of us, but you get the idea.

Some good material for you to watch is TED talks. They are short (less than 20 minutes) but insightful. They can give you a lot of value for your time.

4. Think.

Believe it or not, thinking is one of the best ways to spend your downtime. This is how I’ve spent much of my downtime recently. I consume a lot of information, so I like to use my downtime to distill it. I often get fresh ideas that way.

The important thing here is to record the ideas you get. Otherwise you might lose them forever.

5. Observe.

You can get new ideas not just from thinking, but also from observing.

IDEO, for instance, often gets product ideas from observing how people do certain tasks. Based on the observation, they then design products that solve people’s problems.

You can also observe nature. Observing nature is a good way to appreciate the miracle of life.

6. Converse.

If the situation permits it, you could have a conversation with the person next to you. Not only can you learn something new, but also you can help them solve their problems. It’s a good way to brighten someone else’s day.


As you can see, there are many ways to maximize your downtime. Your downtime doesn’t have to be wasted; it could become an opportunity for your personal growth.


Looking for a dose of inspiration? Get Wisdom of the Ages, a collection of the best quotes I have found on living successfully.

One comment

  1. Great post. If you aren’t doing this, do it. You’d be amazed at how much you can accomplish during down town.

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