I recently got to attend TedxWallStreet – my notes were put up a couple of days ago here. I came away with a few good ideas from some of the speakers, but none of them were BIG – none of them really hit me on the head and forced me to challenge a paradigm I held.
That is – until today. I was looking over my notes and thinking about the speakers, when Cramer (one of the less orthodox TED speakers) hit me with his message: allow no down time. Although Cramer didn’t follow the architecture of a typical TED talk, he had one thing that I had always ‘known’ but never believed and embodied – the world’s most successful people don’t have downtime.
There Isn’t Time for Down Time
A natural law: we all share the same 24 hours (unless you are speeding around at approaching light speed rates, but that’s another Stephen Hawking story). That’s the base that we all operate off – 24 hours. Now, let’s assume that you get a solid 6 hours of sleep every night – that brings you down to 18. You have 18 hours a day to do all the necessary stuff – eat, general hygiene, commute, work, etc. – PLUS fit in everything else you have to do; that’s not a lot of time. That’s why people who are trying to squeeze everything out of a day have no down time – they just don’t have time to take a break.
What Is ‘Downtime’?
By not having downtime, I don’t mean the world’s most successful people don’t take breaks – they do, and so should we all. What I mean is they don’t have wasted time. Go ask Hilary Clinton what her favourite TV series is, and I would be surprised if she had one. These people put time into relaxing and enjoyable activities – but they focus on those that bring them enjoyment and value. These could include reading, socializing, sports, etc. Whatever it is, it has a dual benefit.
So You’re Tired?
The most common reason I hear (and have myself!) is that when you get home, after working all day, you (we) are tired. No one wants to get home, eat a quick dinner, then spend an hour learning a new language, thirty minutes reading, an hour at the gym, thirty minutes catching up on emails/business, thirty minutes relaxing – maybe reading a bit more – and preparing for the next day, before heading off to sleep. That doesn’t sound like anyone’s ideal evening – but here’s the truth: we’re all tired when we get home. The difference is that a very small percent of the population will actually do what needs to be done, day after day to, get ahead. These will be the people that achieve top offices in business, politics and industry. We will wonder how they do it – and the answer is very simple: day in and day out, making use out of the little amounts of time that we would categorize as ‘wasted’; they don’t have downtime, and neither should you.
Blair Livingston’s Blog