How do I productively fill my free time?
October 13, 2006 9:34 AM   Subscribe

I suddenly find myself with excessive amounts of free time. What are some fulfilling and productive ways to fill it?

I've somewhat successfully whittled away most of the wasted time that usually filled my days. Good for me!

However, I never thought too far ahead with the project. What do I do with these shiny new blocks of free time? My typical daily schedule includes classes, work, and exercise, with my social life addressed in the evenings and weekends. How can I significantly improve my life through the proper use of my free time?

There are a couple of nuances to the situation. First, my work hours are unpredictable and tend to take priority over any other activity when they are required, though they never occur later than 7:00pm and never on weekends. Second, I live in deep rural Texas. It is necessary for me to live here while I finish my Master's degree, but in the meantime there isn't much here of which to take advatage.
posted by Willie0248 to Grab Bag (21 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Habitat For Humanity. You're doing a good deed, meeting awesome people, and learning how to build things for future reference.

That or join some kind of outing club, hiking, boating, campaign. If you're young do a young professional club etc.
posted by PetiePal at 9:37 AM on October 13, 2006

A good hobby is one that has an end result that you can witness, and hopefully show to people.

Learn to play an instrument/read music.
Learn how to build/pick locks.
My father could easily spend 10 hours a day woodworking.
Brew beer/wine.
Learn to bake/cook something new.
Learn how to repair cars/motorcycles/bikes/mechanical doohickies.
Join a chess/go/mahjongg/poker club.
posted by spatula at 9:39 AM on October 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

Have kids.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:48 AM on October 13, 2006

I just moved to a foreign country where I have a 20 hour work week. I primarly use my time to develop artistic persuits I neglected at home. I write a lot more, I read a lot more, I do a lot more photography, and I bought a guitar last week and started learning to play.

I'd advise the same for anyone else with an unfullfilled artistic edge. It's deeply rewarding if that's a drive you have inside.
posted by trinarian at 9:49 AM on October 13, 2006

Learn another language. If you're in deep Texas Spanish might be a good choice. Or maybe you already know Spanish and could learn Arabic or Swahili or Japanese.
posted by mulkey at 9:53 AM on October 13, 2006

Deep rural Texas? Masters degree? Are you in BCS? If so, I am sure you know the main time filler in that town is drinking beer. That isn't very productive, so I have to go with learning an instrument. Guitar is always fun. A decent bass player is always in demand. Even a half-wit banjo player can find someone to play with.
posted by Uncle Jimmy at 9:57 AM on October 13, 2006

If you're a guy explore the arts of the morning shave---something new to learn and makes a routine chore something to look forward to.
posted by LeisureGuy at 9:59 AM on October 13, 2006

Haha, I'm not in BCS, though that is where I got my bachelors. Good times. :)

Great suggestions, guys! Thanks and keep them coming!
posted by Willie0248 at 10:00 AM on October 13, 2006

I'll also second the recommendation to learn Go---not only is there on-line instruction, you can play games (for free) over the Internet so that you don't have to track down local opponents and can play whenever the mood strikes. And it's a game that draws you in---once they've started to learn, most want to play more.
posted by LeisureGuy at 10:01 AM on October 13, 2006

Read a bunch of books completely unrelated to your Masters. Ride a bike. Learn a craft that will score you points with girls (if you're straight - many girls love men who knit or sew.) The second or third language thing is awesome. Make money on the Internet. Volunteer for someone. Write to your parents. Start a blog. Get certified in CPR. Learn how to reupholster/refinish furniture. Go hiking. Learn the lyrics to many long songs. Armchair travel. At least once a week, read a newspaper from a foreign country. I could go on but this thread will fill up quickly. IN the meantime, count your blessings.
posted by DenOfSizer at 10:04 AM on October 13, 2006

Become a Big Brother.
posted by gsteff at 10:14 AM on October 13, 2006

Hobbies with lots of fiddley bits are also good. Some require some mechanical aptitude; recently I've been rebuilding bicycles of all different types, though lately I've been working on fixed gears. I know others who love rebuilding cars or rennovating homes (though this is a little tougher with apartment living).

Cooking can be very rewarding and can be something that you devote a chunk of time to every day; try doing a new recipe a day for a month.

Write a novel.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:25 AM on October 13, 2006

You could research your family tree, if that sort of thing interests you. Once you get into it it's incredibly addictive.

Also, if you're interested in mulkey's foreign language suggestion, you might look into chinesepod -- a great way to study Mandarin Chinese.
posted by somanyamys at 10:26 AM on October 13, 2006

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Green Day Longview
posted by Bonzai at 10:50 AM on October 13, 2006

It's almost November -- you could write a novel ! NanoWrimo
posted by duckus at 10:50 AM on October 13, 2006


My guess is that you are in Lubbock, Texas.
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 10:53 AM on October 13, 2006

See also. Not exactly the same question, but some of the answers there might also work for you. And I'll reiterate my suggestion there of editing Wikipedia articles.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:02 PM on October 13, 2006

I'm a big fan of Project Gutenberg's Distributed Proofreaders project. It's easy, takes a couple minutes a page at best, and it gives me the feeling of doing something for society--in a measurable (pages) way.

Doing editing on Wikipedia was good for a while too, but I lost interest a while ago.
posted by fogster at 9:18 PM on October 13, 2006

If your Master's is in something you care about
think about how it will make the world a better place.
Then pursue that particular aspect to pursue and become a world expert.
posted by dragonsi55 at 6:50 AM on October 14, 2006

Then pursue that particular aspect and become a world expert.

(proofreading not be mine)
posted by dragonsi55 at 6:51 AM on October 14, 2006

Providing answers on AskMe?
posted by Chuckles at 6:55 AM on October 14, 2006

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