10 Smart Ways To Spend Your Spare Time
If there’s one thing we can all agree on – it’s that weekends and spare time should be spent unplugging from the workplace Matrix, switching that brain off for a little while and allowing yourself to recharge those batteries. But that doesn’t always go to plan, does it? Here are some clever ways to do spare time like a champion.
The idea of using those limited, far-too-short hours of free time to do productive things can sound like a total chore. You mean you want me to spend my precious free time cleaning the house?! But as we get older, sometimes the idea of spending two days on the couch in your comfies catching up on The Walking Dead can seem like a waste. Sometimes.
For the times when you’re struck by a severe case of motivation – hey, it happens – here are our top 10 smart ways to spend your spare time. Productivity = Awesome.
#1 Unplug yourself
This may sound like a no-brainer, but it can actually be a difficult one to master. Try and spend a few hours (or a whole day, for you crazy cats) completely disconnected from technology. That means no Internet, no iPad, no mobile, and definitely no Candy Crush Saga.
Not only is it recommended for reducing stress, but research has shown that the blue light emitted from gadgets can have a negative effect on our ability to sleep. Sometimes it’s also just nice to communicate with real people, in real life.
#2 Leave the comfort zone
And we don’t mean the comfort of your house. Research has shown that a healthy amount of stress can actually have positive effects in terms of performance level.
So why not push yourself in the kitchen and attempt a recipe that definitely looks too hard for you, try a new hiking trail that you have been feeling a little intimidated by or even just watch a movie that’s outside your normal viewing repertoire. You may be surprised to find you enjoy yourself and broaden what you thought were your limits.
#3 Hit the hay
You heard right. Advocated by plenty of smart people before us, power napping in the afternoon has been shown to actually make people smarter.
They say sleep is needed in order to clear the brain’s short-term memory and allow us to make room for new information. If it’s good enough for keen cat nappers Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill and the entire Spanish population, it’s good enough for us too. Siesta time!
#4 Read Stuff
According to new research, one thing that lots of “rich people” aka billionaires do is read a lot. Rather than read to be entertained, they read to acquire or maintain knowledge. While reading history books and biographies of successful people may be particularly good for you, we also think there’s nothing wrong with re-reading Harry Potter. Anything that gets your imagination working is productive!
For those who enjoy their books with a side of socialising, we also recommend joining or starting a book club (even if it’s just among friends). They can be a great way to meet new people, catch up with buddies and to share opinions, thoughts and possibly a couple of bottles of vino. Check out what book clubs are near you on MeetUp.
#5 Be with your mate, nature
Mmm…Can you smell that fresh air? Unless you’re sitting outside right now, the answer is probably no. Being out and about, immersed in fresh air, can do wonders for your health with benefits such as a calmed heart rate and lowered blood pressure. There’s also something very special about the healing powers of salt water (next time you’re hungover, try diving head first into the ocean).
So why not plan your next weekend escape based around getting back to nature? Hire a camper van and hit the road, rent a beachside camping spot, or for those of you who prefer the finer things in life, you can also give glamping a go.
#6 Brain train
What am I doing? Playing video games on my computer and phone? Um no. I’m Brain Training, duh. Thanks to popular apps like Lumosity, it’s never been more fun to upskill and improve your cognitive abilities. Developed by scientists, these apps, when played daily, claim to improve skills such as memory, flexibility, attention span and numeracy. And they’re actually really fun too!
#7 Mind yourself
While “mindfulness” is a buzzword that’s hit the big time recently, it is popular for a reason. The act of being ‘mindful’ is defined as “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.”
The list of benefits is long one. Researchers claim that by practicing mindfulness, people can experience a boost in their immune systems, an increase in positive emotions, improvements with memory and attention skills, the ability to handle stress and anxiety and even greater compassion for those around them.
There are plenty of ways you can get your mindfulness on, we even wrote an article about it. There are apps that can also assist; we recommend One Giant Mind and Smiling Mind, which walk you through meditation sessions.
By dedicating a few hours here and there to helping out in your community, you could literally help change the lives of those around you.
Not only do you get to feel good about making a tangible, positive impact in your local community, but volunteering can actually be fun! Consider what types of activities you enjoy doing anyway (spending time with kids, animals, op-shopping, etc), and look into ways that you can incorporate an element of volunteering into it.
There are heaps of online directories like GoVolunteer that provide a great starting place for ways you can get involved.
#9 De-clutter your life
If you’re one of the many, many people who have read international bestseller ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ by Marie Kondo, then you have permission to skip this point. For those of you who haven’t, it’s time to de-clutter your life!
You may be surprised to discover just how cleansing the act of purging and simply organising your belongings can be. Kondo advocates tackling items by category, not by room. For example, deal with all of your books first – regardless of which room of the house they’re all in – as otherwise, things just tend to get moved from one space to another.
She recommends beginning with your clothing, then books, then nostalgic items like photographs much later in the process. She also stresses the importance of treating your clothing well, giving items space to breathe in the wardrobe, and folding items when possible. When your belongings look beautiful, you’re more likely to treasure them – rather than simply letting them accumulate in miserable pile in the corner of your room. Guilty.
#10 Plan your week
There’s simply nothing like starting your Monday morning feeling refreshed, organised and ready for the week ahead. So why not spend the usual Sunday Blues Hour (approximately 5pm for me, personally) to kick-start your week with positivity.
Prep your lunches for the week, plan your outfits in advance, and make sure little things like filling the car with petrol, or changing the sheets on your bed, have all been tick, tick, ticked. You will thank Past You in the future.
“Eat, sleep, tweet, repeat” is the mantra Melbournian Sam Sidney lives by. When she’s not running her digital marketing and social media business Milkbar Digital, she can be found pretending to be hosting a cooking TV show, or outside patting your cat.