How do you fill your days?
August 25, 2019 7:00 PM   Subscribe

When you're not working, what do you do? How do you fill up your time? Looking for inspiration.

I think that I keep reasonably busy but I still intermittently find myself with a lot of time to kill. I'm sick of spending it spiraling through my social media feeds. What do you do to keep happy and engaged? Maybe I would like to try it too!
posted by ferret branca to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (36 answers total) 67 users marked this as a favorite
Read books. Read more books. Bake. Take a nature walk. Play with cat. Read even more books.
(Seriously. I cannot even begin to calculate the hours and hours I spend reading each year. I’m not sure how I would otherwise fill that time!)
posted by bookmammal at 7:15 PM on August 25, 2019 [13 favorites]

I do spend some time spiralling on social media but I try to limit it. Other things I like.

- get outdoors, either for walking or just filling birdfeeders and watching birds (or reading while watching birds)
- write postcards to friends (I was literally on my way to do this when I saw this question) or reply to longer "How are things?" emails
- clean and tidy things. I am one of those people who really enjoys getting thigns clean and/or organized. More specifically: laundry, getting rid of old bills/papers, organizing photos. Bonus: you can listen to music while you do it.
- meals: planning, preparing, shopping, maybe invite a friend over to have a meal or go out with a friend for a meal.
- coffee: I probably kill an hour each day in various forms of coffee prep, drinking, clean-up

When I am on social media, i try to check in on some of my professional-ish feeds (library twitter, ALA Think Tank on facebook) and either contribute something useful or just thumbs-up someone else doing something good.

I think some of it is determining your baseline activity. For me, I start the day with a cup of coffee and a book and make myself stay offline for at least 45 minutes (except logging sleep) in the morning. I think this helps the day not get kicked off with whatever's hopping on sociaol media. Same thing at the end of the day. I'll mess with my phone a bit but then I play SET and put it away and read until I'm tired. Useful.
posted by jessamyn at 7:16 PM on August 25, 2019 [6 favorites]

- fencing (the en garde kind)
- cross stitch
- playing with my catten
- composing music
- learning to code (Swift)
- contemplating my Tarot/oracle decks
- drawing cartoons
- watercolor painting
- going for walks
- making myself matcha lattes
- Bad Anime Date Night with my husband (sometimes not anime, and sometimes not bad!)
- playing tabletop roleplaying games (Starfinder and Pathfinder in our neck of the woods)
- reading math textbooks
- bullet-journaling
- learning foreign languages (Duolingo Welsh and FluentU Japanese, mostly, plus French and Korean practice with my daughter)

...not all of these at once or even any given week, obviously! But I like having options.
posted by yhlee at 7:24 PM on August 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

I am mainly involved in politics (currently running for office, am a precinct chair, was involved in a few organizations). I also exercise a little, take walks, go to museums or performances, and watch movies, and make lists of things to do. And listen to audiobooks.
posted by NotLost at 7:36 PM on August 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

Overly elaborate cooking is one of my favorites, and at the end I tend to have a lovely meal or a valuable lesson in how not to make popovers.
posted by lepus at 7:39 PM on August 25, 2019 [9 favorites]

-theater stuff (which can include learning lines, learning music, going over blocking, working up a production budgeting, planning marketing, making trailers, etc, depending on my role either behind the scenes or onstage for a given production)
-cooking or baking
-playing with my cat
-learning/practicing piano
-going for a walk
-cleaning. (Ugh. I hate cleaning) (and it never ends!)
-drinking tea
posted by firei at 7:43 PM on August 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Not sure if you are partnered, so I’m just listing activities that don’t require a partner:

-Walking the dog (does not require a dog, but I have one so when I walk I bring him). When I’m not walking with another human, I listen to podcasts or audiobooks.
-Book club
-Knitting group
-Meeting up in real life with friends one on one or in small groups
-Watching Netflix
-Writing on my blog
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:51 PM on August 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

Walking places (even just grocery shopping or to the library)
Meeting friends (I have a group of regulars that hang out at the same café every day)
Playing music (practicing every day will make you able to actually enjoy this even if you’re not super talented)
Knitting, Sewing, Gardening when the mood strikes.
posted by The Toad at 7:56 PM on August 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: (I should say, I do have a partner and I do especially love to read! But concentrating is hard sometimes.)
posted by ferret branca at 8:00 PM on August 25, 2019

Bad weather? I sew. I'm working on an embroidery project that will probably take years to finish. But I still get to create with evey prick of the needle.

Decent weather? I walk. I walk my dogs on the greenway, I walk and watch birds, I walk and patrol my property. If I walk enough I reach a headspace that's a lot clearer than normal. Enough gardening produces the same result.

Excellent weather? I hike, I backpack, I dog-kayak. I ride a bike (badly and slowly but with a cunning route that includes an ice cream stop.) I find geocaches with a map & compass because GPSes are cheating (not really but sorta.) I read a book in a shady spot on a sunny hill.

(Ok, so more than I want to admit I mow the yard, trim the driveway so our cars don't look like Wolverine filleted them, apply herbicide to the herbs that want to commit homicide, wash my clothes and dishes and floors. But I know what I *want* to do, and occasionally actually do, when I have the chance.)
posted by workerant at 8:12 PM on August 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Hiking, exercising, going through old journals, podcasts, films, playing with animals
posted by frumiousb at 8:18 PM on August 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Board games. A lot of board game playing. Watching tv or films at home on netflix, hulu, amazon, or checked out from library. Going to library. Reading. Having coffee or dinner out. Cooking. Writing letters. Active online on places like metafilter or reddit or hiking. Yoga. Swimming. Cultural events.
posted by TestamentToGrace at 8:21 PM on August 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

I sing in a womens chorus. I'm learning figure drawing. I make posters for my sister's classroom. I go swimming. I read. I go to therapy. I used to volunteer twice a week but I'm taking a break.
posted by SyraCarol at 8:34 PM on August 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Quilting, choirs, entertaining, taking classes, walking.

Getting little projects done around the place.
posted by bunderful at 8:44 PM on August 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Baking and desserts. Especially very scientific baking, like Food Labs / Kenji Alt Lopez best chocolate chip cookies.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:13 PM on August 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

I tried to put the activities in order, based on how much time I spend on them or how I prioritize them in my life:

*Socializing. I hang out in person with friends/family or am out on a date maybe 3-4 days of the week. We text, email, and talk on the phone a lot otherwise. A LOT. Nobody’s really on social media so we do it all old school.

*Volunteering for community/political stuff. I’m leading a major project for one org, and that usually requires 3-5ish hours a week on top of regular events/meetings and other volunteering work. That project in particular feels more like a second job than like something to fill my free time, though.

*Reading. My one true love, tbh.

*Studying for professional exams (ugh).

*Writing fiction, which also includes researching and writers group critiques.

*Following the news, following people discussing the news, discussing the news myself, direct action based on the news...

*Basically the same, but replace news with “TV.” Wanted to write TV professionally in another life, still a die-hard obsessive in this one.

*Crafts — knitting, crocheting, painting, making models, embroidery, etc. I do this with the TV on or while listening to podcasts/audiobooks. Right now I’m knitting a sweater and building a hurdy gurdy from a kit.

*Chores and errands (hate them)

*Extensive online window shopping and reading my favorite sites — basically the usual farting around on the internet. Lots of playing online solitaire, too. This is basically what I do if I’m watching or listening to something cool but I need a break from whatever craft project I’m working on. Or if I’m very bored at work and looking for a distraction.

*Puttering, which is mostly fooling around with my plants and the bird feeder and fountain. I also love looking at the plants and birds and people-watching (there are usually more people than birds to watch from my particular vantage point).

*Going for swims (summer) or walks (winter). Sometimes if I’m bored, I work out. But I have to be really bored. Or watching a show with really fit actors (gives me motivation!).

*Journaling and praying.

*Grooming. Sometimes it’s a chore, but most of the time it’s a lot of fun to do put together full hair/makeup/nails/outfit.

*I never practice any instruments anymore but in theory I love doing that in my free time. I do miss it.

*Learning languages. I’ve kind of fallen off the wagon when it comes to this, too, though.
posted by rue72 at 9:20 PM on August 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

Napping. I love a good nap.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 9:40 PM on August 25, 2019 [4 favorites]

I have a hobby that can turn into a real time-sink, especially if you not only do it yourself but let yourself get sucked into organizing events for it, getting certified to teach it, etc. So that takes most of my non-work, non-chore time.

I also read quite a bit, at least two hours a day just during my commute and often a bit more at home.

Also, you don't mention if you have a family, but people can take about as much time as you let them.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 9:58 PM on August 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

I own my own business, so I'm not "working" most of the time; but marketing and planning is still working, in a way, so I'm leaving out research, blogging, networking, etc., even though I can do that how/whenever I want.

Practice Italian on Duolingo

Watch Italian Made Easy videos on YouTube

Reading (usually three books concurrently) for fun and profit

Call friends to let them know I'm thinking about them, even if I know I'm just leaving voicemail they'll hear when they get home


Walking/working out
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 12:15 AM on August 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

Sleeping. I prioritize 8.5 hr a day (night). Definitely contributes to happiness.

Chores take up more time than I'd like. I live alone, so it's all on me, from cleaning the bathroom to doing the dishes to mowing the lawn. I don't particularly enjoy it, but I like the result (clean, pretty house).

For pure pleasure: reading. Writing fiction, if I can get to a flow state, otherwise it's chore-like. I'm in a few readers/writers meet-ups, so that takes a couple of hours a week and keeps me honest.

Hiking, or running outdoors, if the weather allows. Treadmills and tracks don't do it for me.
posted by basalganglia at 4:33 AM on August 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

This week I am:

- Making soap in my crockpot, Fall-themed using cute molds. I make mine from scratch, but melt 'n' pour is a great way to dip your toes into soap making. Look up samples of melt 'n' pour soap, people are doing some very creative things with it;

- Trying out my new rotary tool (aka generic Dremel). I have various things I want to try polishing. Bought it two weeks ago, but haven't had a chance to really sit down with it, due to other things going on;

- Meal planning and prep. I do my meal planning on weekends, but am always looking at new recipes, watching YouTube videos on them, looking for new cuisines. I'd say cooking is my main hobby right now, this week is eggplant parm, pork loin with purple potato latkes & homemade plum & apple applesauce, steak with locally grown shiitake mushrooms, and corn and chicken chowder, made with local sweet corn. Oh, and a chocolate cookie crust chocolate swirl cheesecake, topped with chopped Toffeefay candies, as a friend is coming to visit and I promised her cheesecake. That will take up quite a good part of the day tomorrow;

- Cleaning and looking after the cats, playing with them, etc. I have one very needy young tuxedo cat, and he is still very active at age 3. He loves to chase toys, and I have to go pick it up and throw it again, as he pounces on it, then looks at me, despite my pleas for him to bring it to me, he used to play fetch as a kitten, now it's my turn, I guess. Repeat this toy throwing about 10 times, until I am worn out. He also needs a certain amount of "sit next to me on the couch and pet me until I fall asleep" time, or he cries and cries.

- Reading news or historical articles. Stuff like new scientific discoveries, nature articles, weird historical facts (like how they used to attach spearheads to shafts using glue made from birch bark), and a certain amount of mindless celebrity watching.

- Watching TV shows or a relaxing movie in the afternoon. Not every day, but some days I just put on some rom com or a lighthearted movie and chill out. Sometimes I'm in the mood for true crime documentaries, or other documentaries (Tickled was pretty strange, but I watched the entire thing).

- Taking care of my plants. I have lots of potted herbs and flowering plants, which require watering and dead-heading, etc.

- Feeding the birds: I put out suet for the local songbirds, in a wire cage, hung from a shepherd's hook, plus a platform feeder for putting out oranges. I have to wire the cage shut with heavy-duty aluminum craft wire, or the squirrels and chipmunks will open it up and make off with the entire thing (one time, they even stole the cage). I also feed the hummingbirds, and keep the feeder on a hook outside my kitchen window. I can spend quite a while watching hummers!

- Photography. I take my camera down to the lake and take photos, often at sunrise, but other times of the day. I try to have it ready to go at all times, been bringing it in the car lately, and saw some wild turkeys the other day, and was able to grab a couple of pics. Sometimes we'll take a drive and I'll look for various birds, as I am trying to get more bird photos under my belt. So far, I have an eagle, a great blue heron, and various song birds, like Baltimore orioles, cat birds, Eastern Phoebe, and American robin. This week, my goal is to get a good hummingbird pic, as they will be migrating back south soon.

- Weather. I like looking at the weather forecast. Maybe more than I should, but especially if we might be getting some bad weather, or it will get cooler or warmer, I want to know, because I plan my meals based on the weather forecast. I also want to be prepared in case we might lose power, as that cuts out our well pump, so I have to fill a bucket (to flush) and make sure my water glass is filled up, not plan on using the electric stove, gather flashlights, etc.

- Self care. I spend one or two days a week, doing things like watching a relaxation DVD, putting essential oils in the diffuser, and soaking my feet (I like Johnson's Foot Bath, the generic kind from Dollar General). Using the fancy lotions and oils I keep buying, and taking a little nap on the couch. Sometimes I'll do a face mask, as those are only 15 minutes, but it's something nice to do for myself.

- I do spend a certain amount of time on social media, usually in the morning with my coffee, and then the afternoon, while I'm cooking supper (waiting on a soup to be done, for instance). If I am doing a creative project, I plug my phone into the charger. Notifications are on silent, except for reminders to take my meds. If I put the phone face down, I can't see any notifications pop up, even when walking past my phone. The laptop stays in one place, mostly because I spilled something on the keyboard, and am using an external keyboard and mouse until I feel like paying $200 to get it fixed. But no devices on my craft desk!

- Jewelry making and wire work. I make easy stuff, like earrings, using pre-made earring hooks, or bracelets. I have also made a suncatcher recently, where I made a square frame out of heavy-duty wire, then an apple-shape inside of that, and strung red glass beads across the apple, and multi-toned green beads inside the leaf shapes. This type of thing can take 15 minutes for the easy stuff, or a whole afternoon, as with the suncatcher beading project. It's something I know is always there, and often I'll do something before I visit someone, and make them some earrings or a bracelet.

- Rock and mineral collecting. I have a pretty decent selection, and am always reading about new-to-me varieties of rocks, gems, and minerals. It's a vast subject, and I can read something light, or dig deep into geology, depending on my mood.

- I also keep track of the budget, all appointments, medical and otherwise, and cleaning schedules (time to clean the fans, wash curtains, etc., seasonal stuff like that).

- Note taking: I keep a little notepad and pen near me at all times, so I can write down things I want to do that day, or things I want to research, future project ideas, etc. If I'm reading a magazine in a doctor's office, I'll snap a photo of a recipe I want to try, or write down some interesting tidbit that I want to look up when I get home. My notepad is my way of doing a brain dump, so that I'm not worrying about forgetting something, as the aforementioned young tuxedo cat has a way of breaking my concentration several times a day!
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:54 AM on August 26, 2019 [5 favorites]

One hobby that hasn’t come up yet that I used to be really into is keeping fish. I had a pretty elaborate planted tank, and salt water is a whole other world. It can get expensive, and you have to keep up with it or else the living creatures in the tank will suffer, which can make tank maintenance into a chore sometimes. But it’s really cool when you get to watch a little underwater world right in your living room. Lately, I’ve actually been thinking about getting some guppies.

I also may be taking in a stray (pet) bird for a while. In my experience, taking care of pets and spending quality time with them is one of the most rewarding hobbies out there...although I guess that also depends on the pet!
posted by rue72 at 5:19 AM on August 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

- I read a lot, books but also manga.

- I always have various projects on the go, both home improvement and the artistic variety (currently: planning a new bathroom floor, starting a webcomic with my brother, designing some Christmas cards for my granny, painting a folding table)

- related to above, I also spend a fair amount of time online hunting stuff down I want to purchase. Currently I need a new bathroom tap, haven't found The One yet and it's been months now.

- I go for long walks to museums or nice coffee places. This is more fun with my partner but is nicely meditative alone too.

- we just got a lifetime zoo membership to our local zoo so we can go whenever and hang out there.

-video games! I used to do this alone a lot but these days I only really get into to co-operative stuff, mostly with my husband. Board game nights are good too but we find it difficult to get people over all together.

-As part of my antique side hustle I got to auctions several times a week, viewing and then bidding. Its bad because it tempts you to spend money, but fascinating because there are weird and beautiful things and it's different every week. I go with my parents so it is also family bonding for me.

-Watching wrestling, although again this is only fun with other people.

-Needy, needy cats. If you do not have cats I agree a planted fish tank could be great, you can spend a lot of time landscaping and trimming (I've had to move my newt tank because one cat used to try climb in just to get attention from me because he knew he wasn't allowed)

-I used to do weight lifting and quit because of wrist issues, but I really miss it
posted by stillnocturnal at 5:42 AM on August 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

-Hiking or just spending a considerable amount of time outdoors. When the weather/season permits this includes bug, fungus, and bird watching/photography.
-Extensive reading, whether it is long form essays or fiction or comics. Just really anything.
-Drawing or other creative projects (trying to prioritize these)
-Seeking out and watching films, TV serials, video games, albums, etc. that catch my interest. I'm more likely to spend time on music these days.
-Mini-road trips on the weekends.
posted by Young Kullervo at 6:26 AM on August 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

Be outside. So many of us work at a desk, under artificial lighting. When I haven't been working, I've soaked up as much sun, wind, sand, and sky I could possibly get.
posted by missmary6 at 6:44 AM on August 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

Baking bread. I've gone from a simple loaf to bagels, but there is still so much to learn!

Squirreling things away for future hobbies. I put together kit bags--for rug hooking and rug braiding, that's wool, pattern, and tools; the future sock monkey has its pattern, materials, needle and get the idea. Getting stuff together and stowing it makes it much easier to start the project when I am ready (and it's good prep between projects).

Gardening: I plan in January, start seeds in February/March, plant as early as possible, and can/preserve from August to October.

Reading. Homo neanderthalensis has been hitting it out of the park with suggested reads. Your public library is a terrific resource--consult its online catalog, and take advantage of interlibrary loan services!

Chores and cleaning up. Remembering to clean up a few things in a room, on the fly and as I go, simplifies the larger cleaning tasks.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:44 AM on August 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

- walk, a lot, like to do most of my errands, to go to cafes, to meet friends, to buy food, etc

- hike or walk in the woods, almost daily, with snowshoeing in the winter (northern New England), alone, with partner or friend, or in groups (land trusts, hiking groups, etc)

- clean but only about 15 mins per day so it's not onerous but gets done

- take photos, then process, edit, share, store them (all virtually)

- blog, which can take me anywhere from no time to 4 or 5 hours per day -- if you have a passion and like to write or share visual images, it's pretty fun

- gardening, mostly from May-Sept.

- day trips alone or with a friend or partner, each place about 1-2 hours away (distance to the coast for me, e.g.), weekdays are best if they're free for you

- reading (mostly crime fiction) but I tend to do this only at night

- bookgroups, permaculture gardening group, weekly salon with 5 other women, socialising one-one-one, in small groups, tapas parties, dinner with neighbours, etc. If I feel I'm lacking friend-contact, I text or email someone to get together for a walk, coffee/lunch, field trip.

- sometimes I'll have a big organising project, either of physical space or virtual (ex: budget, gardening notebook/database, photos; kitchen cabinet, bathroom cabinet, gardening tools, etc.)

- write encouraging emails or actual mailable cards to family and friends

- I do spend a fair amount of time online, quite a bit of it trying to learn more about things I'm interested in; several friends are learning languages on DuoLingo or similar and/or going to local foreign language cafes to practice speaking the language

- working out at home with weights for an hour a day; friends go to the gym, yoga, etc.

- planning meals and cooking them, & baking

- taking adult ed classes from local colleges, though I haven't had time to do this for about a year

I never have enough time in a day to do everything I want to do!
posted by mmw at 7:20 AM on August 26, 2019 [3 favorites]

-work on our small farm-op
-train (running) + occasional races (5/10k)..gym in winter
-practice guitar
-practice song performance (guitar/vocal)
-full band practice
-practice saxophone
-write songs
posted by The_Auditor at 7:38 AM on August 26, 2019

Once you have your list of what you want to do (cooking, gardening, learn/practice a language, read, sing, volunteer, etc.), I've found it helpful to have a broad structure to my days or week. When I'm not working, whether it's just an extra day or several weeks, I like the following guidelines:

-leave the house every day (errands, a walk, meeting a friend, class at the gym, etc.)

Daily structure
-early AM meditation & workout
-early-mid AM chores
-mid-late morning intellectual/creative pursuits
-early afternoon downtime (lunch, nap, quiet reading, sit in the park)
-afternoon errands or chores or active time
-late afternoon/early evening meal prep & chores
-evening quiet time

For a weekly structure, if you have a religious or spiritual practice, that can make a nice way to mark time by attending church/synagogue/prayer group/meditation. I also like having some of my chores set up weekly: Monday for laundry, Tuesday for groceries, Wednesday vacuuming, Thursday clean the bathroom, etc.
posted by carrioncomfort at 8:11 AM on August 26, 2019

Be open to looking and seeing possible activities. Some activities, you'll do things immediately; some will go on a to-do list for later (putting them on a calendar works best for me). All that food in the pantry that's been there for ages, either find new recipes or a donation site. Is it Wednesday--review the appropriate sites for what's coming up that sounds fun. Does everything on my calendar actually get done? No, but it's a starting point.
posted by beaning at 9:35 AM on August 26, 2019

Sex/ massage/ hanging out naked in bed with a partner.
posted by metasarah at 10:04 AM on August 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

I work in London and live in the countryside. My season ticket means I can spend the day in London for free any time the trains are running; so most Saturdays I'm effectively on holiday in a major world city with zero travel or accommodation costs. Framing it that way means I don't feel bad about the costs I do incur: exhibition tickets, in the main. I visit galleries and museums, browse in bookshops, stroll in parks and gardens, admire opulent church interiors, seek out temporary exhibitions and markets and pop-ups and fairs, bask in history and just generally do a great deal of walking around, stopping at anything that catches my interest. This works brilliantly well because London is so big and so changeable and there's just so much on.

On Sundays I prefer not to set myself up for the week to come by taking the same train I commute on. Sometimes I take a train in the other direction instead, exploring a town I've never been to or revisiting one I love, walking from station to station along the coastal path, visiting a castle or a stately home or a Roman ruin or a steam railway or a nature reserve. Sometimes I walk from home to the coastal marshes three miles away to watch the waders, or to the woods to look for treecreepers, or through the fields and along the coast to the next town. Sometimes I stay put and browse the local market and antique shops and art studios; and my town puts on a lot of festivals and events, so there's that too.

Anywhere I go, I take lots of photos. Some of them end up on Facebook; some are helpful for identifying the birds and insects and plants I've seen; some get sent to friends; most of them just end up filed away by date and place on my computer, waiting for me to do something with them. There've been times in my life I've been assiduous about uploading them to Flickr, and hopefully someday I'll start doing that again; I enjoy the occasional "can I use your photo for X interesting purpose?" request that comes of it.

Sometimes at the weekend, I just stay in, and read books or do origami or bake or try to teach myself a new skill. (Or try to impose order on my house, but I don't enjoy doing that, so I don't really do enough of it.)

After work, sometimes I'll go to a museum late opening or attend a talk; more often I drink with a friend who happens also to be a colleague.

Finally, I spend my 70 minutes on the train every morning on language study using iPhone apps: Dutch, Japanese and a probably doomed attempt at Korean on Duolingo, then more Japanese using WaniKani, Kanji Connect and Kanji LS for different aspects of kanji and vocab study. On the way home, I update my journal (another app) then read for the rest of the journey. Reading fills in all the gaps in my waking life, some of it books and some of it Twitter or the Guardian or Metafilter.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 11:50 AM on August 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

Take improv classes!
posted by catquas at 12:20 PM on August 26, 2019

Crocheting, reading, video games, occasional outdoorsy stuff are the things I do, but:

Installing Freedom on my phone has been useful for stopping me from spending more time than I intend to on stupid internet stuff. Turns out that it's easier for me to get my brain to pivot from social-media-treadmill to activity-I-actually-enjoy when I no longer have the option to continue endlessly scrolling or reloading. Presumably there's other software to do this; that's just the one I've tried. I can set schedules so that it turns off a set of apps/websites at specific times. I'd recommend the trial to see if it helps you spend your time in a way that satisfies you.
posted by asperity at 12:45 PM on August 26, 2019

When I am not working I spend a lot of time on my phone or on the desktop version of Whatsapp, attending to my correspondence! That is because I live in a different country from my family and most of my friends are very widely spread as well. So nurturing those relationships takes work, even though from the outside it just looks like I'm on my phone. I also call my mom most days of the week.

I also have a busy social life with the people I do live in the same city as, so a lot of time is spent either socialising with them or coordinating our next meet-up. Again, more phone stuff.

I like to chill on metafilter, just poking around the different links and questions, even though I don't contribute much. I usually have one or two interests of the moment that I spend time researching.
posted by unicorn chaser at 3:24 AM on August 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Some things that fill up some of my time:
• I cycle to work and also for fun, and I seem to need to perpetually tinker with one or another bike – cleaning chains, adjusting brakes, fixing punctures, there's always some sort of tweaking or tinkering that I could be doing, and I'm not really sure why it's like that for me (my partner cycles and seems to rarely need to repair or adjust anything).
• I listen to and buy a lot of music (particularly thanks to bandcamp), and I make mixes or radioshows for friends, playing a bunch of records and talking over them from time to time.
• I do a lot of climbing and bouldering indoors and around the UK, and that's accompanied by browsing a prominent forum / message board about things going on in the UK climbing community. Discussions aren't up to metafilter's quality, there's a certain amount of casual sexism and regressive views, but it's still nice to get an understanding about how other people approach the activity that I'm engaging with.
• Both climbing and cycle repair are activities which mean that I have an active list of things (parts, equipment) that I'm searching for on eBay, so when I'm not working I'm often online looking for bits and pieces or listening to and shopping for records.
• I bake a sourdough loaf at least once a week, so there's always the need to replenish the starter and to read up about what other things I can do to improve my baking technique (which is pretty poor). I tinker with homebrewing as well, so I scan around the web looking for tips and tricks, equipment and recipes. I have some other yeast-culture and bacterial-culture hobbies ––making kimchi, making yoghurt–– and they're things that I keep half an eye on most of the time and which sometimes need small interventions.
• In a previous life I rented a house with a garden and I used to grow vegetables, and since then I've have had compost-bags for growing tomatoes, and there are lots of ways to spend even just a couple of minutes or half an hour: watering, pinching out the shoots from tomato plants, or raking in between rows of beetroot.
• I'm trying to develop an ability to identify fungus; I picked up some field guides and now when I'm out walking or hiking I find that I'm looking much more closely and spotting many more mushrooms. I take photos and sometimes pick specimens to try to identify later – I'm mostly interested in developing the visual acuity of a mycologist, the ability to see in a scientifically rich way.
• I read longform essays and articles, mostly in the London Review of Books. My job involves a lot of reading, and I've found it hard to pick up books and focus on them 'outside of work', despite buying a lot of them, but I can get engrossed in an LRB article because I know that it'll educate me or irritate me, and also that it'll be over pretty soon.
posted by Joeruckus at 8:38 AM on August 27, 2019

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