downtimeDowntime. It sounds like a good thing, right? Like something we all need every now and then. But for at least two groups of workers: creative types and contract workers (often one in the same), downtime can feel much different.

Downtime can feel like the waiting game.

And with good reason. Whether you’re waiting on editor feedback, to hear back from a client, or your contract has expired with a company, there can be long lulls where your career is stagnant. Or at least, it feels like your career is stagnant.

This isn’t a Millennial exclusive either. The reality is that workers in every generation are being forced to deal with this: full-time positions are becoming scarce, and contracts are the wave of the present/future. This isn’t exactly news. It’s been the trend since the recession in 2008, however, it seems that now, the reality that this trend is here to stay is becoming more obvious.

It can be tempting, when you’re in this position to focus on what you don’t have. What you could be doing. But I propose that this forced downtime be used an opportunity for growth. If we continue to look forward, we can build on our leadership skills while we’re waiting for the next event to unfold in our lives.

Here are three benefits to in-between time in our careers.

1. Expand your skills.

What better time to learn a new skill then when you actually have time to do it? More and more often, job candidates are using online classes and workshops on their resumes. Always wanted to learn French? Get Rosetta Stone. Always wanted to learn to learn handlettering? Try Skillshare. Thinking of taking Intro To Neuroscience? Take a Harvard course for free. There are unlimited options out there.

2. Pursue a passion project.

Most of us have something that we really wish we could work on, but we don’t have the time. Well, now is the perfect time to start it. Use your downtime to delve into your passion and you’re doing yourself two favors: you’re learning additional skills simply by creating something new, and you are making your heart happy in the process.

3. Find a new kind of balance.

When we’re in the thick of things — really busy — we crave downtime. But, perhaps this is simply the new way of life, these blocks of free time. Perhaps we need to work on accepting and embracing the quirky and unpredictable challenges that being a worker in this time period gives us. Every generation throughout history has faced unique challenges, this just may be one of ours.

Are you in a creative industry/contract worker with blocks of downtime? How do you stay busy?