What should I do with free time, not bound to 9-5 hours
February 6, 2015 9:27 AM   Subscribe

Ok, I just got laid off with three months salary in lieu of notice. I'm NOT looking for advice on job hunting. What I am looking for is how to spend this awesome free time wisely! I'm planning to increase my gym classes to 5 times a week, planning lunches with friends, going to sample sales and writing the book I always wanted to write. What other cool activities can I do that I can't normally do with a 9-5 job, or would be too expensive or inconvenient?

Note that I am not specifically looking for free or cheap activities. I'm looking for activities would be inaccessible or a lot more expensive in peak hours in the evening or weekends.

Basically, I would like to "hack" the 9-5 work lifestyle. Off-peak gym visits being an example, sample sales being another one.

I like being fit and healthy, literary activities, shopping, technology, outdoors. I could probably do with meeting people every day for a limited amount of time, so something like a regular Pilates class is good (I am an introvert but I will go crazy if the only person I talked to all day was my partner.

We live in the heart of a city, and so can take advantage of all the city has to offer.

Assume a period of 2 to 5 months of unemployment.

NOT looking for any advice whatsoever on job hunting (partner has good job which easily supports both of us, we rent in super-expensive central location the city and hence easy to downsize living standards, a lot of savings, we're young and mobile, no dependents, have no problem finding job in the past, very specific technical skillset so most general job hunting advice will not help).
posted by moiraine to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Pretty much anything leisure-oriented that's open 9-5 is less crowded then. It's a great time for museums and galleries, or even long library visits.

Your city probably has publications or websites that list events for the month or week, and it'd probably be worth going through those regularly to see what you might find interesting.

And, not very exciting, but: off-peak grocery shopping and other errands can free up time when you'd rather be out and about doing things with other people, and it's all less tedious and stressful when it's not so crowded.
posted by asperity at 9:36 AM on February 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

My local library lets people "check out" free museum tickets...much easier to get one at off-peak times.
posted by three_red_balloons at 9:39 AM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

As an academic, my summers have very little structure. It is much easier to schedule doctor's appointments and such. Also, museums often have free tours and talks that are sometimes informative. And many of my favorite restaurants have great lunch specials that I take advantage of instead of going out for dinner.

But the main thing I would tell you after years of experience is to minimize your expectations. While you may think that you will now have time to do All The Things, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment.
posted by girl flaneur at 10:00 AM on February 6, 2015 [6 favorites]

I would definitely check out museums and art exhibits that tend to be over-crowded on the weekends. I'd have a leisurely lunch in the museum cafe, read a book, linger over the exhibits. A yoga or pilates class is a good idea. Personally I'd look for weekday pick-up soccer games as well.

Of course now that I work full-time out of the house and have a toddler, what I would give for a few 9-5 days at home for house cleaning, organizing, purging. I'd crack a beer mid-day and pull out all the clothes from my dresser and closet for purging and organizing, I'd clean out the guest room closet, go through some kitchen cupboards that have been bursting lately. And definitely do a photo project, scanning old family photos and putting together some photo books.

Writing sounds amazing, too, at home or at interesting cafes you don't normally get a chance to visit.
posted by JenMarie at 10:08 AM on February 6, 2015

Fun! One thing I would suggest is letting yourself sleep whatever your natural cycle is. If it's 12 hours so be it. If you stay up til 5 and sleep til noon, more power to you.

I'd spend some time cooking elaborate dinners and hosting weeknight/Friday dinner parties for my friends.

Go to the beach. I love the beach off season when it's free from all those pesky other humans.

Oo and if you've ever wanted to get a puppy or a kitten (and it would fit into your post-sabbatical lifestyle), now is the perfect time to spend some dedicated time training them.
posted by fermezporte at 10:11 AM on February 6, 2015

posted by Iris Gambol at 10:11 AM on February 6, 2015

posted by eq21 at 10:12 AM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Seconding volunteer.

And as you get started, listen to the Secret Life of Daytime episode from This American Life.
posted by mochapickle at 10:24 AM on February 6, 2015

I haven't worked a 9-5 in years.

One of the best things about it is the time it gave me to be on a committee to help plan and participate in a local photography festival. The vast majority of people who plan those types of events don't work typical 9-5 shifts so there's lots of breakfast and lunch meetings and daytime planning and get togethers. So if there's a local event you'd like to participate in, or start yourself, now would be a good time to do it.
posted by girlmightlive at 11:12 AM on February 6, 2015

As far as unscheduled activities and events planned by others go, shopping, working out, and visiting museums/galleries are about it. The off-peak demographic - mostly seniors, young parents, and students and other unemployed people - is not typically a focus for planners of events (at least, maybe not the kinds of events a young person might be interested in; those might be more likely to take place in the evenings).

Plan specific and meaningful activities for yourself - working on hobbies or coursework for an online or evening class; volunteering - and try to set up a regular routine. Structure and forward planning is important for most people; it's easy to get and feel a bit lost without it. (And for, e.g., one activity to stretch out into a whole day.) Freedom is nice for a while, but waking up (at whatever random time) and thinking, "what am I waking up for, again?" is unpleasant, to say the least. (At least that's how I've felt when I've had unstructured time like this.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:30 AM on February 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

What I mean to say is, one-off experiences are not usually enough to combat some of the predictably negative psychological effects of unstructured time, unlike ongoing, meaningful commitments. Deciding every day, "hey, maybe I'll try x" is tiring in its own way.
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:40 AM on February 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Set a working schedule for your writing and adjust it to maximize your productivity. When I have schedule flexibility, I like to break up working blocks with gym/hobbies, schedule meetings for lunch or happy hour as appropriate, and arrange work activities so I'm doing tedious things during the times of lower alertness and critical things when I'm most focused.

Do you have hobbies you've wanted to try out or haven't had time for? Now is the time for a ceramics class, woodworking, sketching in the art museum, stepping up your cooking game, et c.

You could also take advantage of your additional free time to do more around the home, whether that's additional chores or just making meals for you and your partner that you wouldn't have had time for otherwise.
posted by a halcyon day at 12:22 PM on February 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Enjoy brunch at all the places that are packed on weekends.
posted by tatiana131 at 1:47 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

When I was on funemployment, my goals were as follows (I was more successful at some more than others):

-Work out everyday
-Take photography classes
-Go to a park or scenic area and take photos, get credentialed for a sporting event and take photos
-Re-learn Spanish - I used both Rosetta Stone and community ed classes
-Spend more time playing guitar/writing music and record it
-Do freelance writing and get work published in various outlets
-Take lessons in fencing and skiing, which I've always wanted to learn
-Cook more real meals and try new recipes
-Volunteer to teach illiterate people how to read or help out in a food kitchen
-Visit friends/family in other states/cities
posted by AppleTurnover at 3:55 PM on February 6, 2015

Hike beautiful spots that would be annoyingly crowded on the weekend. Travel (without sitting in rush hour traffic or catching the same Friday-Sunday flights or trains as everyone else). Seconding brunch.
posted by naoko at 12:23 AM on February 10, 2015

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