What should I do at work?
July 27, 2013 6:28 AM   Subscribe

What should I do at work to occupy my copious but sporadic free time?

So, I work a job where I have to be on location, and ready to spring into... well, movement, at any given point. However, most of the time I am simply sitting and waiting for my services to be needed. The average day gives me at least 4 hours of free time. Previously, I filled this with video games. This worked fine; until I uh, rage-quit (the video games) while shooting the bird. Since the video game playing had some pretty noticeable elements of addiction and escapism, I'd like to find some replacement not video games nor television. I do have a Kindle and unrestricted internet access, but theres only so long I can read and play around on the net without sinking to video games. So..... halp?
posted by Jacen to Work & Money (15 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

Code Academy

Or something like this that is to do with your job or a hobby you care about.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:34 AM on July 27, 2013

Take up a hobby? Knitting, quilting, woodworking, painting toy soldiers.

If they don't care if you moonlight you could do freelance work online. You could start a blog. Learn a skill such as photography.

Do you want to go to school for anything? Four hours of free time in a day would be a great way to get homework done. Or you could teach yourself a language.
posted by payoto at 6:36 AM on July 27, 2013

go retro and read books made of paper. leave the kindle at home if you don't use it for work.

other things to do: learn a new language with mp3s. journal. draw or doodle. start a blog.
posted by wildflower at 6:40 AM on July 27, 2013

Are there subjects tangentially related to your work that you can learn? For instance, over the years I've taught myself programming languages and GIS, both of which I've ended up using heavily in later jobs.
posted by scruss at 6:54 AM on July 27, 2013

Are you really 100% caught up with work? Because if there's anything you can do for work while you're getting paid for being at work that should be priority #1.

Really, anything that you'd do at the end of the day that can be done early, or at least started? Clean your desk, get things ready for tomorrow so you don't have to do as much work then.
posted by theichibun at 6:58 AM on July 27, 2013

Sign language - plenty of kindle books to use for practice. How about some free weights?
posted by lemniskate at 6:59 AM on July 27, 2013

Can you exercise? Convict conditioning would be good since it doesn't require equipment.

A hobby where you make stuff would be good so you could sell it on etsy.

Or maybe sell a bunch of crap you already have on eBay. Use the time to photograph and list everything.

Also, you could read with a purpose, like the Harvard Classics (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvard_Classics) or the $500 MBA.
posted by dawkins_7 at 7:01 AM on July 27, 2013

Write a book! This is how I wrote my first one.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:04 AM on July 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

Exercise: lunges, squats, etc.

Clean stuff.


Make lists.
posted by Fairchild at 7:07 AM on July 27, 2013

You could make up projects for yourself related to work: write a proposal to improve something, crunch some data, organize helpful phone numbers, create a tip sheet for new hires...

Aside from that:
- learn to draw. There are tons of on-line tutorials.
- learn more about a subject you find interesting.
- create a project plan for a personal life goal. for example, if you want to travel to new zealand, you could research hotels and things to do and make a budget.
- genealogical research
- write a book
posted by bunderful at 8:20 AM on July 27, 2013

Learn algebraic chess notation and step up your game?
posted by oceanjesse at 8:49 AM on July 27, 2013

Become a concierge. Find businesses that need referrals, are willing to discount (enter this code), and offer a kickback to you (all of the sales with your "discount code".) Use your own phone number, and forward calls to your work line during business hours. You should be able to return any calls you miss within a relatively short amount of time, and you're already committed to being in one place. Best part is no economic liability for you or your employer.

If some of the businesses that you represent at a discount would be of value to your on-site employees, that's just better. Suggestions include restaurants, florists, hair dressers, car rental agencies, taxis, tourist attractions, etc. Print some business cards, build up a good Rolodex* and start taking calls.

*Antique address book application
posted by halfbuckaroo at 9:36 AM on July 27, 2013

Educate yourself. Take care of your body. Watch some interesting videos.

New York Times
The Feature
7-Minute Workout (there are also a lot of apps for this workout - MeMail me if you want a recommendation)
posted by Dansaman at 11:19 AM on July 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have a similar thing. I too have a job where I can be 100% intensely into something and then nothing.

I have solved this problem by answering a lot of questions on AskMetafilter.

I should be writing my novel though. Can you write a novel?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:44 AM on July 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have a similar issue myself.

If you want to work on something "constructive" I recommend Coursera or any other of the free online education resources. Skill Share is also pretty cool.
posted by forkisbetter at 11:01 AM on July 29, 2013

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