It’s very easy to think that, as career-minded professionals, we have to divide ourselves into two sides. One side being the work side while the other is devoted to our personal lives. However, it’s important to remember that these things are intrinsically linked because we’re one person. It’s improbable to expect our professional lives to never seep into our personal lives and vice versa. But what you can do is perform activities outside of work that will assist in you being a more effective leader within the workplace.  

When it comes to the types of personal activities you perform, it’s beneficial to choose those that are stretching your thinking. You want to make sure that the things you’re seeing, hearing, reading, and experiencing are challenging you and feeding your mind. This might include taking a break from social media or resisting the urge to binge that TV show that your coworker recommended to you. Instead, you can use that time to engage in activities that, while not explicitly work-related, can still assist you in becoming a more efficient leader or producer. Things like listening to a podcast, reading a book, or even watching a TED talk can relax your mind while simultaneously stimulating it.  

Another thing you can do is introduce yourself to new experiences that energize your mind. A great way to do this is by scheduling some time to get away with friends or colleagues to travel somewhere you’ve never been before or take part in an activity that you’ve never done before. This can push your brain to actively problem solve and motivate you to expand your comfort zone. One of the main ways our minds learn is through experiences. Through experiencing certain things, we learn more about the world and how it works. This can help us with how we process new information, respond to various problems, and make difficult decisions.  

Lastly, something that can be very beneficial to your personal and professional growth is journaling. We spend so much time taking care of our coworkers, our families and our friends that we become so externally focused that we begin to neglect our own needs and desires. Journaling can be a great way to take a daily self-inventory by starting every new entry by simply asking how we’re feeling that day. By writing down whatever issues or frustrations you’re having on a day-to-day basis you can alleviate the stress that you, otherwise, may not have realized was building up. Keeping this daily journal can help you maintain order in a world that can sometimes feel a bit chaotic.  

The goal here isn’t to shift your personal life into being completely career-focused. We must always remember that our downtime is extremely important to our mental health. However, there’s nothing wrong with making the most of your time away from work by engaging in activities that are enjoyable while also elevating your professional development.