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  • 01.08.15

What Successful Women Have Figured Out About Downtime

Women face more pressure at work, especially once they find success. Here’s what some have found is crucial about decompressing.

What Successful Women Have Figured Out About Downtime
[Photo: Flickr user Sam Churchill]

When your days are spent juggling the demands of work, family, friends, and home, it can be easy to forget how important downtime is.

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But we know how important time to recharge is to your well-being, so how do uber-successful women make time for themselves? Their advice is something all of us can use.

They schedule it

Down time isn’t going to happen if you don’t carve out the time as sacred, says Glynnis MacNicol, co-founder of TheLi.st, a membership organization and information resource for influential women. She is also coauthor of The 10 Habits of Highly Successful Women. Whether it’s Tuesday yoga class or a long weekend away with friends, it’s blocked out on their calendars just as a board meeting or new business presentation would be.

“[Successful women], especially women with children, measure out their time the way one measure’s out ingredients for a cake. Their lives are very structured and pegged to routine,” says MacNicol.

They focus on the moment

To help them stay in the moment instead of thinking about work or the many other tasks they “should” be doing, successful women work hard to stay in the moment, says performance coach Casandra Henriquez, founder of coaching company Inspire Many. It’s not easy, and few if any can do this perfectly, but it’s an important skill that makes you better at whatever you’re doing. If you’re constantly focused elsewhere, it’s not helping you and it’s actually making you less effective at what you’re doing, she says.

They’re unapologetic about their needs

Successful women realize that it’s okay to take care of grooming or other self-care, MacNicol says. They unapologetically stick to their sleep and exercise schedules. They do these things because it helps them feel good about themselves, which makes them better in other areas,

They use downtime to get better

Down time isn’t all about relaxing, though. Successful women take an inventory of the areas in their lives with which they’re dissatisfied and use their down time to improve them, says Baltimore, Maryland attorney and women’s advocate Avery Blank. Whether it’s taking care of their health and fitness or improving relationships, down time can be a good opportunity to reconnect and repair the things that make you feel good about yourself.

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“You are your best advocate, so when it comes to personal development you can’t depend on other people to help you develop, you’ve got to do it yourself,” Blank says.

They know what recharges them

When you have downtime, the last thing you want to do is waste it trying to figure out how to make the most of it, says Sara Wilson, who heads up lifestyle partnerships at Facebook from her Los Angeles location. Wilson knows her recharging go-to places. If she finds herself with an open 10 minutes, she’ll plug into the meditation app Headspace on her phone. If she has an hour, she’ll head to the local Korean spa.

“Figure out what works for you so you can make the most of the time you do have,” Wilson says.

They look at downtime as an investment

Shed the guilt about taking time for yourself, and look at your downtime as something that pays greater dividends, Blank says. While some try to fool themselves by thinking they don’t need downtime, the reality is that everyone needs to take some time for herself. Not doing so hurts your focus, creativity, and effectiveness, she says.

“Taking time off from doing things for other people is an investment in ourselves that will allow us to be more effective and more productive in the future. Ultimately, that investment allows us to be more successful,” she says.

About the author

Gwen Moran writes about business, money and assorted other topics for leading publications and web sites. She was named a Small Business Influencer Awards Top 100 Champion in 2015, 2014, and 2012 and is the co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans (Alpha, 2010), and several other books.

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