How should I use my free time constructively?
January 6, 2009 2:42 AM   Subscribe

How should I use my free time constructively?

I'm going to be living away from home for about two/three months for a work project. Because of the living situation, I will be pretty much isolated from other people most of the time, so I'm going to have a lot of free time alone. I will be working for about 40 hours a week, but that will be my only time drain. I'm not used to having almost any free time at all, so this is going to be a radical change. I won't have a TV, and I'll have a computer but only sporadic internet access. I already run/exercise, so I will be keeping that up, but otherwise, my days are wide open.

I'd like to use my free time to do something useful, I just don't know what. I've seen these previous questions on askmefi: 1, 2, 3 , which provide some ideas...but nothing that sticks out at me. I will be taking a stack of books that I've been meaning to read, as well as a programming book that I've been using to teach myself programming.

I'm looking for practical ideas as well as oddball ones. Right now I'm thinking of picking up some unusual skill like juggling and devoting a LOT of time to it, so when I get home and my friends ask what I did while I was gone I can just pick up nine burning torches and start juggling...but I'm not that creative so juggling is the best I can come up with.
posted by btkuhn to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I thought the 52 week challenge was pretty cute.
posted by b33j at 2:59 AM on January 6, 2009

I don't know if this is compatible with your isolated situation, but here's a geographical list of juggling clubs and events that could help you find some people to juggle with. Failing that, the site has plenty of juggling-related articles that may be of interest.

Otherwise, learn closeup magic, a foreign language, or if you have access to some flat outdoor space, how to ride a unicycle.

By the way, juggling 9 clubs is so difficult that the world record (I believe) still stands at 9 catches, from people who have been training seriously their whole lives, so I would consider lowering your juggling aspirations a tiny bit.
posted by emilyw at 3:14 AM on January 6, 2009

If you're going to be living in a new area, make a list of all the sites of interest you'd like to visit, and check them all out.

Research and write the first draft of a non-fiction book on a topic that interests you.
posted by orange swan at 3:27 AM on January 6, 2009

According to my brother, who's into juggling and stuff, 9 sticks have been flashed (9 throws) but not 9 clubs. Juggling is an awesome hobby but an incredible timesink; in three months you should become somewhat proficient at three balls. Five will take a year or so, practise every day.

Take up a new sport?
posted by katrielalex at 5:00 AM on January 6, 2009

Ooh, if you're looking to learn programming from scratch see How To Think like a Computer Scientist. It's a brilliant introduction.
posted by katrielalex at 5:36 AM on January 6, 2009 [3 favorites]

Speaking as a lifelong avid reader, I would simply pack a bunch of great novels I have been wanting to read, and get some good strong tea to brew and sip while devouring the books.
posted by aught at 6:41 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Learn to play a musical instrument! If it's something popular like guitar or piano you can find lessons on youtube. If extra bulk is a problem go with a uke or harmonica.
posted by waxboy at 7:14 AM on January 6, 2009

Does your computer have a dvd player? A netflix subscription could be a godsend, and you could feel like you're accomplishing something if you work your way through something like the American Film Institute's top 100 movies of all time, rather than just watching random movies.

If you've got a clear wall, and then some open space for once you get better, try getting really good at handstands and walking on your hands.

Do you have a dog? Teach it some super awesome tricks.

You could also practice circular breathing, by blowing bubbles with a straw nonstop. You could even get a digeridoo to make the practice worthwhile, though your neighbors might be annoyed once you move back to civilization.
posted by vytae at 7:46 AM on January 6, 2009

Learn to paint or draw. Try painting mandalas, or reproducing photographs in pen-and-ink or pencil.

Learn an uncommonly-taught foreign language.

Learn to knit or crochet.

Learn to cook. Choose a dish, make it according to the recipe that strikes your fancy. Then make it again the next week, but with a couple of tweaks. Refine the dish until it becomes your specialty.

Take up yoga (there are oodles of DVDs available).
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 8:09 AM on January 6, 2009

My first thought last night was... stick with juggling... I learned 4 balls and 3 flaming torches, and a few tricks over a 6 week summer camp free time. It freaks people out when you throw something behind your back and have it land in your hand.
posted by zengargoyle at 11:30 AM on January 6, 2009

Learn Python. It kicks ass and you'll be doing useful things with it very quickly. The only caveat wrt to your situation is that there is a lot of great info online, so you may be able to do less googling than you may like to.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 11:35 AM on January 6, 2009

write 3 pages a day of a story for 3 months. thats a 270 page novel. sell it. make some money.
posted by gonzo_ID at 4:27 PM on January 6, 2009

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