5 Ways to Spend Your Free Time

5 Ways to Spend Your Free Time

I am always fighting this conundrum: If I am too busy, I get stressed out, and if I’m not busy enough… I get stressed out. What used to be a three-month issue during the summer now occurs on a weekly basis. I try to find ways to be more productive in my free time while constantly battling my desire to nap away my free hours. On the rare occasion when I stay awake, I have found a few ways to keep my mind occupied and my time productive.

Looking for ways to spend your downtime? Try some of these pastimes aimed at challenging your mind and your sleep bank!

1. Find a passion project.

As post-grads, we have to make this strange transition from a schedule packed with clubs and activities to spare time spent staring at a screen. Reflect on the activities that you found most fun in school and try to find a way to incorporate your passions into your free time. Some ideas include volunteering for an organization you support, finding a local theatre to perform with, challenging yourself to write every day (try theprose.com!), or finding recipes to try out in the kitchen. 

I’m not sure how I would keep my sanity without my theatre passion projects. Although tiring, having rehearsals after work gave me something to put my heart into and quickly became a way to destress. Although I was sure my theatre days were over upon graduation, these projects fell into my lap at just the right time.

Former politician Christine Quin  once noted, “When I end up yelling, it's not really deliberate. It's usually out of some moment of passion or frustration or real desire to get unstuck.” Find the thing that makes you yell with fervor, and follow it! The benefits of following your passion is manifold; not only will you occupy your time with something that makes you feel fulfilled, but you may even find an avenue to follow and devote more of your time. Find that thing that you just can’t shake!

2. Become a part-time freelancer.

Use your skills and expertise to make a little cash on the side. There may be talents you are not using in your 9-to-5 that you want to keep practicing such as writing, advertising, or photography. Head over to one of various websites that offer short term projects for profit. A favorite of mine is UpWork where you can create your own profile and apply to various jobs that spark your interest. I have now completed multiple assignments during my free time, and I even have a book available on Amazon because of this website! 

You may also want to check out RatRaceRebellion and Fiverr for more postings. Freelance projects can turn into passion projects or even long-term employment. I find myself feeling productive and valuable when I complete an assignment, and I love lending my knowledge to others who can put it to good use. 

3. Fine-tune your skills.

This is difficult to make a habit, but is absolutely worth it. No matter what field you may be in, you can find a book, film, or forum to keep your skills sharp. When it comes time to interview for a position, you can impress the interviewer with how informed and up-to-date you are on your industry. Being able to refer to professional journals or other reliable works during an interview will demonstrate your genuine interest and knowledge in your given field.

I like to pick up a new book in my field to read during my lunch at work. Most recently, I read Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Suskind’s memoir Life, Animated. This book covers 20 years of raising an autistic child and provides great insight into special needs that I never would have known had I not given this book a read. It is the perfect book to read for leisure while also enhancing my knowledge of special education.

Some resources include The Directory of Open Access Journals 
for free periodicals and readings, Documentary Tube for great informative documentaries, GoodRead’s career page for book recommendations for different careers, and Open Culture’s list of free online courses to brush up skills in an online class format. 

4. Try something new.

Although trying something new can be daunting, now is the perfect time to try something new in your community! There are many opportunities to try a new hobby and it can be even more rewarding with friends. Painting classes are becoming popular, especially when paired with a happy hour and friendly faces. Despite my significant lack of artistic ability, I found myself really enjoying a wine and paint night with my boyfriend last month. I walked away from that class with a piece of art and pride in myself.

Working on your fitness? Vary your workout routine by trying out a new class such as Barre Classes, Zumba, CrossFit, or Spinning. Wanting to up your cooking game? Cooking classes can be great for couples, friends, and family bonding. Spend a day on a food tour (check out Cloud9Living.com for similar experiences). Join a dance class! Try rock climbing! Learn a new language (go to DuoLingo.com; there's an app, too!). Crafty? Try selling your own products on Etsy or similar platforms. Scrapbook your post-grad adventures. Or if you are deeply in need of a rest, challenge yourself to watch a show’s full season in a day (you won’t regret it!).

5. Reorganize and refresh.

Change your living space. If only for an hour a day, do something to improve your surroundings. Find a way to make your mornings easier by finding a better dresser to arrange your clothes within or reorganizing your makeup area. When I transferred my makeup into a new bag, it felt like a fresh start and I didn’t even spend any money to accomplish it. If you participate in Lent, challenge yourself to get rid of one thing a day (an article of clothing, a pile of discarded mail, etc) to simplify your space. Find fun ways to refresh your daily routines and activities. Sometimes, simply moving your bed can make a big difference in your life. Finding the time to reorganize yourself can help prioritize your life.

Don’t be afraid to fail at new things or to laugh at your mistakes. Don't let this newfound free time as a post-grad go to waste; instead, use it to your advantage to discover something new you may enjoy!

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