5 ways to make your downtime matter

How to make sure you have enough 'free' time – and the best way to use it.

How to make the most of your downtime

Downtime can allow you to come up with bright new ideas

In the creative business, downtime can be just as important as your regular working hours. These tips offer an insight into how you can make the most of your downtime, from allowing yourself actual rest to working on personal projects.

01. Don't be a martyr

Make sure you have some downtime to begin with. If you're an employee, take all the holiday that’s available to you. Don't be a hero about regularly working 18 hours a day for a week – it'll come back to bite you. If you're self-employed, build in periods for rest or personal projects.

02. Have a break

A further refinement of this idea is to try and ensure that you have at least a small period each day when you’re not working – even if it's only at lunchtime. Instead of shovelling down sandwich at your desk, go out for a walk if possible. Sketch, people-watch, scribble down ideas, go for a run or to gym. Whatever works for you.

03. Try not to panic

If you're a freelancer and, for whatever reason, the client work just isn't coming in, don't despair and don't panic. While still chasing work, use the time to experiment with new styles and concepts. This is your chance to get creative, away from briefs and deadlines – make the most of it.

04. Plan ahead

If you run a design studio yourself with employees, consider scheduling in a day every month when each of them can pursue personal ideas and experiments, go out to events to network, or even visit other agencies. Then take the time to discuss the outcomes of these days and see if the results can be used to progress your own business.

05. Take on personal projects

Consider embarking on a regular personal project, which you commit to for a year or perhaps less – for example, taking a different portrait photo every day, or designing a new logo each week. The subject and frequency are up to you; the idea is to stick with it, and exercise your creativity however you like.

Words: Ed Ricketts
Illustrations: Joe Waldron

These tips originally featured in Computer Arts issue 222.

Like this? Read these!