We all seem to have more free time these days. TV surfing and scrolling social media can feel like a luxury for a time, but can also lead to boredom, and even depression, if you overdo it. Instead, passing time productively will increase your quality of life by giving you a sense of fulfillment, achievement, and potential connection. Determine what is meaningful to you when deciding what activities are productive. For example, you can fill your time productively with exercise, socializing, learning something new, or organizing.
Here are some specific ways to spend your free time productively.
1. Be Mindful
Spending time meditating, breathing, stretching, or journaling will enable you to connect your mind and body. Relaxing both will empower you to face whatever comes your way with a sense of calm. Use these practices to determine which type of activity will make you feel productive. Do you need exercise, connection, stimulation, a creative outlet, and so on? A mindful practice will allow you to start your day with intent, be it productive or otherwise.
Plan an activity with a friend or family member that allows you to do something that you would otherwise typically do alone. This can range from exercising to running errands to having a meal. If either of you owns a dog, you can increase your productivity by bringing it along with you on a walk. Feeling connected, spending time outdoors, and staying active are all associated with feeling happy.
Helping others is another way to increase your happiness as you pass time. Consider issues and organizations that are meaningful to you. Websites, such as VolunteerMatch.com, make it easy to find organizations seeking volunteers and the type of help they need. You can also offer to help ill or elderly family, friends, or neighbors. Volunteering on any level will provide you with the same benefits.
4. Play games
A trivia or strategy game can build your brainpower, provide entertainment, and connect you with others. Want to show off your expertise in music, movies, or random facts? You can find a game based on nearly any topic of interest. Dreaming of travel? Play one of the many Ticket to Ride games or another set in a specific location, such as Trekking The National Parks. Whether in person or over the Internet, playing these types of games will teach you a thing or two.
5. Listen to a book or podcast
Tired of listening to the news or ruminating over stressful issues in your life? Whether you are exercising, driving, waiting, or doing household tasks that don’t require focus, you can listen to a book or podcast to pass time more productively. Whether you want to relax, laugh, or learn, a book or podcast can help you achieve your goal. Recordings are often free through a public library.
6. Become a yarner
Knitting and crocheting have made a comeback. New yarning techniques and natural fibers in a modern color palette are popping up on Instagram and in boutique shops. Keep your hands busy while you watch a show, chat on the phone, or do practically anything hands-free that doesn’t require much concentration. Simple projects, such as scarves and blankets, are relatively easy to learn via Youtube videos, such as those by SheepandStich.com. Stockpile your creations to give as gifts.
7. Cook or bake
Eat healthier and save money by making food that you would typically eat out. There are blogs and cookbooks available for every type of cuisine, eating style, and level of expertise. Recipes are often shared with photos, how-to videos, background stories, automated shopping lists, and the like, which make it easy and interesting to embrace cooking as a hobby.
8. Simplify your home
Improve your overall quality of life by spending time decluttering and organizing your home. Work room-by-room, put things in their place and get rid of duplicates and things you don’t use. By giving away, donating, or selling things of value, you will make others happy, and you may even make a little money. Once you have less to manage, spend time organizing what remains. You will have less to clean and store, and you will be able to easily find things when you need them.
Life runs more smoothly when you have instant access to information when you need it. Use apps to organize your calendar, lists, photos, passwords, and almost anything else you need to track. Look ahead at the upcoming year and note key dates for medical, work, school, family events, and so on. Set reminders so that you are prepared when they arrive. Unsubscribe from emails you no longer need and create electronic files for those you do. Streamlining information will free up time and mental energy to focus on what matters to you.
10. Address THAT LIST
Still, looking for more to do? There’s always that long-running ‘someday’ list that most of us have. Review the list and decide what actually doesn’t need attention. Make a plan for the remaining tasks; prioritize, break down projects into actionable tasks, create a timeline, and execute. Scan the photos. Fix the broken things. Learn a language. Take care of whatever projects have been weighing on your mind.
Passing time productively will energize and empower you to live your life to the fullest. Figure out what interests you and get to it!