After you finish your work, you might be excited to head home, kick off your shoes, eat dinner, watch TV to unwind and then go to bed. You get some hours of snooze, wake up, go to work and the process starts all over again.
There is nothing wrong with relaxing and unwinding during your free time. You need it for your sanity, your health, and your balance.
But consider this: how many hours are there between when you get home and when you go to bed? Say you get home at 6pm and sleep at 11pm, that is 5 hours right? And what if you use one hour of your ‘free time’ per day to do something to cultivate your mind and body? That is already 30 hours in one month!
Imagine what you can learn in 30 hours- and how you can change your life with that dedicated hour per day.
Jack Ma, self-made billionaire, philanthropist, founder and chairman of the Alibaba Group, said, “After work is what determines your future! Spend one hour per day doing these five things and your life will change forever”.
Well, being one the richest man in China and with a net worth of $34.3B in 2016, wouldn’t you want to know what those five things are? We break them down in our own words:
1. Learn something that will help you become who you want to be
Perhaps you are currently in the field of IT, but you always dream of becoming a writer. Then, write and write after work and ask writers’ groups to critique your work.
Do you plan to become an entrepreneur someday? There are online business classes available.
Joining groups related to your passion, picking up independent projects that can help hone your skills, working on growing on portfolio, taking lessons and classes, researching and gathering information you need, watching YouTube tutorials, practicing your skills — these are just some of the ways you can productively use your time to grow as an individual.
Do not rely on your working hours to gain the skills that you need and want. Especially if you are working in a company, it makes sense that they would want to utilize the strengths that you already have, instead of helping you learn a new skill. Be proactive and carve your own development plan.
2. Read, read, read
Knowledge is the key. And knowing more than your peers can get you ahead of them.
Reading is one of the oldest, most proven ways to learn- but something that we easily miss to do. Read anything- books, articles, essays, magazines- and you instantly gain new insights.
American journalist and novelist Christopher Morley once said, “The real purpose of books is to trap the mind into doing its own thinking”.
Reading is like picking into the minds of other people- you learn how they think and what they think, and that helps you see things from a different perspective and allows you to shift your paradigm, if needed.
3. Work on some side projects
You can create so many opportunities for yourself when you engage in independent projects after your working hours.
These can be small projects, such as creating a website or a blog, doing volunteer work, selling things online- that will allow you to gain experiences that are not readily available for you at work. You get to interact with other people and expand your exposure. They might even help you earn a little side income too.
But make sure that it doesn’t deter your performance in your regular work.
4. Build your network
Your success is highly dependent on the the size and depth of your network. The quality of your relationships with your connections also matter a lot.
Use your idle time to actively build your connections- whether that is having after-work drinks with your boss or colleagues, talking to entrepreneur friends and listening to their wisdom and experiences, having dinner with people who can be your business partner or clients, getting coffee with your subordinates and getting their valuable feedback, brainstorming with your mentor over desserts, etc.
Be deliberate with the kind of people you spend time with and make each meeting count. Establish the right contacts and you will know who to call in every situation.
5. Set aside one hour after work- every day
Start today and choose an hour when you will start doing something productive with your time. One hour per day is 30 hours in one month- at least 360 hours in one year.
Reflect on how you want to use all those hours. If you use them well, one hour per day, for one whole year- is all it takes to change your life.