After reading The Joy of Not Working by Ernie Zelinski, I wanted to share a few cost-free ways to spend your leisure time. If you believe that leisure time is important (and I believe it is), then there are certainly different ways you can spend your leisure time. Expanding on the book slightly, I believe the following ten activities are great ways to spend your leisure time, and to help you even further, I wanted to share a specific recommendation or next step with each activity so that you can implement right away in your life.
I have talked about the benefits of reading before, but here they are again: they can help you with your concentration. You can learn something new. You get to ‘download’ someone else’s life experience in a week or less (depending on how fast you read). You get to explore new worlds you have never been to before.
One fiction book that I read recently that I really liked (and I think you would like too if you are into sci-fi thrillers) is Douglas E. Richards Split Second. If you are more interested in non-fiction, I am currently digging You’re not listening by Kate Murphy. It’s a book on the art of listening and how to cultivate better listening skills.
I love all the benefits of exercising. Helping with mobility or flexibility. Getting your heart pumping. Working your muscles. Making sure that you are functionally fit. And it does wonders for your mental strength too — have you ever tried to do 10 times the number of pushups you normally do? Yes it is possible.
Last year, I decided to invest in a few kettlebells. The weight and balance of the kettlebell is very different than a dumb bell and I have heard that it will engage more muscles than regular weights. Also, after reading The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss, I believe the kettlebell swing is a super exercise. So if you haven’t already tried it, get a kettlebell and practice a few of the exercises.
Taking a walk
Taking a walk is a form of exercise, but I have made it a separate activity because I think when people think of exercise, they think of gyms or weights or treadmills. Walking is an exercise that anyone can do, anywhere. One cool way to explore a new city is to walk around. One cool way to find new things about a city that you have been living in for 10+ years is to walk in places where you normally drive through.
So in the morning, when things are peaceful, take a walk around your neighbourhood. Say hello to your neighbours. Really look at and observe things that you pass.
I have been journaling for over a year now, though to be fair, not consistently every day. At the start of this year, I followed Mel Robbins The Best Decade Ever and have been at the very minimum, writing down my biggest dreams that I want to accomplish this decade down every day. You can follow a prompt or you can just write down whatever you are feeling. One thing I realized when I was journaling was that I can capture my thoughts and feelings for that day and then I can look back to understand whether that was an in the moment feeling or if it is something that I feel consistently. For example, if I’m unhappy about work, is it because of the project that I’m on? Or is it because of the people that I am currently working with? Or is there a general theme of unhappiness?
Journaling is just one form of writing. Here is something to write: write about the place you are living in. What do you like about it? What don’t you like about it? What are aspects that you would change?
If you are journaling, write down the answer to the following question: what are your biggest dreams that you want to accomplish in the next decade? How can you dream bigger?
Calling a loved one
Chances are, you are probably hustling and working your way through life. You may not have had the time to call a loved one recently. Ask them how they are doing. Spend quality time with them.
Call up a parent later today. Or a grandparent. Someone that you haven’t spoken to in a long time. Talk, even if it is only for a few minutes and see how they are doing.
Setting up an appointment with a friend
On similar lines, we all have friends that we haven’t chatted with in a while. Maybe you moved away for work. Maybe you have kids and haven’t had the time to hang out at social functions. Or maybe you slowly drifted apart, as people are apt to do.
Text or e-mail that friend right now. Set up a time in the next two weeks to meet and catch up over coffee. When you do catch up, just listen.
Preparing a meal for the next day
Eating out is expensive. They can add different things to the food that you may not be aware of, which means that it may not be as healthy as you think. Parking is a hassle. As is traffic.
When you have leisure time, why not prepare a meal for the next day that you can bring with you to work? One of my favourite easy meals is to buy the prepackaged salads and to pack it into a container. Almost no time to prepare. No cooking needed for those that don’t like taking out a frying pan. And I think relatively healthy as long as you go easy on the sauce. It’s also a good way of getting more plant-based food into your life. Sometimes, I’ll prepare some protein to pair with the salad, but a lot of the times, I try to just eat salad.
I have not done a lot of drawing. A while ago, I drew a few comics because I wanted to depict a few jokes that I had in my mind. I picked up a drawing kit from Costco — it’s DIY so you get a number of pencils and probably a tutorial. I say probably because I have not opened it since I bought it unfortunately. But I think it is time to bust it out.
How can you get started drawing if you haven’t drawn before? Start by picking an object around you and spending time sketching it out. It doesn’t matter how good the drawing is, but see if you can capture as much detail in the drawing as possible. Or if you want more guidance, pick up a drawing kit from Amazon or Costco near you.
Taking a nap
As I wrote this, I got really tired. I decided to lie down for a bit and lo and behold, I took a short nap (well, short that turned into a long nap). But after the nap was over, I felt energized and refreshed. It’s a wonder what sleep can do to you.
I don’t recommend taking a long nap. It is probably not good for your sleep at night. But here is a way of napping that I have tried. Drink a coffee or a strong tea. It takes about 20 minutes for the caffeine to take in. That also happens to be about the same amount of time for a good nap. After drinking the coffee, lie down to take a nap. Then, when the caffeine wakes up, you wake up and not only do you get a boost from the caffeine, you also get a boost from the nap.
I’m not sure if it counts, but I have been meditating for a few minutes every morning as I wake up. I focus on my breathing and I try to make sure that I empty my mind as much as possible. It may be a bit too short to realize the full benefits, but I find that I am not as stressed.
I have heard that meditating can be done at any time and I haven’t heard if there is an optimal time, though I would suspect that it is in the morning. Take a few minutes in the morning to be silent. Try out an app such as Headspace or Calm.
How do you spend your leisure time? What activities are on your to-do list that are not here?