It’s a fast-paced world we live in today, and most of us feel like there aren’t enough hours in one day. As we spend most of our waking hours working or studying or doing chores, we barely have time left for ourselves or our loved ones, and an extra hour sounds almost like a luxury.
But what some of us don’t realize is that it’s not always the “big responsibilities” that eat up our time, but the little things that we do “to unwind”, “for fun” or “to entertain” ourselves. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with taking some time off from all the serious stuff, but instead of playing Clash of Clans or checking your Facebook page every 10 seconds, here is a list of some fun, productive things that you can do during your spare time.
1. Plan a trip.
Instead of spending so much time ‘pinning’ dreamy photos of Paris on your Pinterest board or reblogging yet another “Let’s go on a road trip” quote on your Tumblr page, why not plan an actual trip? Looking for a place to stay, building an itinerary, creating a budget – it may sound a little daunting, especially for a first-time traveler, but it will certainly challenge your research, organization and budgeting skills.
But if you’re not yet up to the challenge of planning a big trip abroad, you can also plan a road trip or a weekend trip to the beach with your friends, a food-tripping walk tour of the city or a long-overdue day-out with your family or special someone.
2. Learn a DIY skill.
Learning how to do, repair or make something yourself will not only save you money but may also, at some point, help you deal with an urgent situation when you have no one to rely on but yourself—such as sewing a loose button on your pants 10 minutes before a meeting, using a map and compass when you’re lost in a place where GPS doesn’t work and you can’t access the internet to use Google maps, or building a fire when you have to spend the night in the woods (because you can’t read a map or use a compass to get yourself out).
A DIY skill will also allow you to put a “personal touch” on what you do or make, like cooking your own pasta dish for a romantic dinner at home or using Photoshop to create a photo montage for your mother’s birthday.
3. Practice the lost art of handwriting.
No one can deny the importance of technology and the ways it has made – and continues to make – our lives easier. But many of us won’t admit that it’s also gradually making us, not exactly lazy, but more reliant on automated tools and processes than on our own abilities.
One skill that is fast losing its importance is the act of writing by hand. Some people say that it’s too slow for this fast-paced world, but experts argue that the physical act of writing by hand actually boosts learning and our overall brain process. Not to mention that it also lets us personalize our communications with people – another skill that is reportedly declining because of technology.
So why not try writing individual thank-you notes to your family, friends or colleagues with a personalized message for each one? They may appreciate it more than an impersonal “Send to: Many” thank-you email or text message. Writing also reportedly activates parts of the brain involved in thinking, language and memory, so writing down your to-do list for the day or your travel goals by hand may help you reinforce them in your mind and tell your brain that these are important information worth remembering.
4. People watch.
Watching people go about their everyday lives is an entertaining and, yes, a productive way to pass the time while you’re waiting for the bus, queuing up for the cash register or sitting in a café while waiting for your ride to arrive.
People watching will give you a candid view of how different people act in certain situations, give you ideas on what to do if you’re in the same circumstances, and help you know how to better interact with others. This activity will also help improve your powers of observation.
5. Solve a puzzle.
So Candy Crush may be good for your brain, but you might get a much better brain exercise if you’re not frustrated about having to wait hours to have “full lives” again or having to pay to unlock the next level. Why not go “old school” and answer the crossword puzzle in yesterday’s newspaper? Puzzles like crosswords and codewords are good for improving your vocabulary and spelling skills. You can also go to free brain games and puzzle sites for other fun, challenging games such as counterfeit, Sudoku, memory games, reflex test and IQ test. These types of games help stimulate your brain, which, according to studies, may help slow down memory loss and stave off Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
6. Learn how to say something in a foreign language.
This is useful especially if you’re planning to travel. Most locals appreciate it when a visitor tries to say “hello”, “thank you” and “please” in their local language. It’s also a good idea to know how to ask for directions and product prices. And if you’re an avid shopper, it also won’t hurt to know how to haggle a little.
7. Take a walk.
Get out of the house or the office and walk. A change of scenery and some quiet time will relax your mind and help you think up new ideas. This is also a good excuse to get that much-needed physical exercise if you’re not a fan of rigorous physical workout routines.
Anything. Whatever you want, really. Whether it’s a novel, a business book, a comic book, a recipes website, a forum, a blog about anime or a magazine. Reading as an activity is a good stress-reliever if you enjoy whatever it is you’re reading, so it’s a good way to pass the time. And you will learn something out of it too.
9. Eat properly.
With everything we have to do, sometimes we rush through ordinary things or forgot them altogether, like eating. Try to set aside a good hour one for lunch or a quiet dinner at least a few times a week. This activity will help refresh your physical and mental resources during or after a hectic day.
No mystery here. We can all use another hour of rest to recharge our batteries so we can face the next day head on.