Fidgeting with a purpose.
March 24, 2008 1:31 PM   Subscribe

How does one fidget with a purpose?

I am one of those people that seem to always be in motion. I am almost always fidgeting. I will often fidget with any small hand held item that is near by. This often leads to broken pens and a few scars on my hands (scissors are not toys). So I decided that I want to do something “productive” , instead of dangerous, with my fidgeting. I would like to learn some sort of coin or card slight of hand/ manipulation. Maybe pen twirling and tricks.

Oh mighty hive mind please help. Do you know of any tutorials that are easy to learn and fun to do? Or do you have any other suggestions for those who fidget?

posted by Stagecraft to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (16 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
posted by R. Mutt at 1:33 PM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

What about this sort of thing? You could have awesome forearms in almost no time.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 1:39 PM on March 24, 2008

Pick up a practice pad and learn to drum. Drummers fidget constantly, and a good drummer is never out of work.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:46 PM on March 24, 2008

Check out Pentrix. I still remembered the day i figured out how to do the "Sonic", it was one of those light bulb going off above my head moments. Not a day goes by where I don't twirl my pens.

Once you start taking pen tricks seriously, you start to seek out balanced pens. Not all pens are properly balanced for pen twirling/tricks.
posted by aGee at 1:50 PM on March 24, 2008 [6 favorites]

Learn to draw? Carry a small sketchbook around with you.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:54 PM on March 24, 2008

Seconding knitting. It's quick to learn, and once you learn you can knit at a level that is just challenging enough to absorb the amount of your nervous energy that you want absorbed. If you want to just keep your hands occupied without any thinking, knit a scarf in stockinette. If you want to challenge your brain a bit and really keep your fingers moving, you can knit socks on tiny needles.

It allows television watching to become a productive activity. If you're given to feeling guilty after staying indoors for a week and watching a season and a half of Deadwood straight, hey, at least you've got socks to show for it.
posted by jennyjenny at 1:59 PM on March 24, 2008

I've done the coin manipulation thing. It's pretty fun, but you'll drop the coin a lot. I'd also suggest getting a larger, heavier coin than an American quarter. Clay poker chips have a nice size and heft. Coin Manipulation is a handy website.

Some people knit. I've been tempted to take up knitting, but I don't generally wear knitted clothing except for caps on cold nights.

Aside from those, I too am looking forward to reading these answers. I just ordered one of those grip things.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 2:02 PM on March 24, 2008

You sound like me. I picked up a small 6 pound medicine ball, and in my fidget time, I'm trying to teach my hands how to juggle as well as trying to learn contact juggling.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 2:19 PM on March 24, 2008

Baoding balls?

oooh, L. Fitzgerald, nice find on the coin manipulation site! For me, the Susan B Anthony or Canadian loonie feel the best, but I have smaller hands.
posted by porpoise at 2:47 PM on March 24, 2008

I have a similar problem. I just noticed your Logon is Stagecraft. I have been an IA hand for the past few years and one thing that is always on jobsites (be them commercial or theatrical) is tie line. Loads of it. About a year ago I got The Ashley book of Knots, which in industry is known as “The Knot Book,” or just “The Book.” I have found that during downtime (hurry up and wait) practicing knots is a great way to pass time. Two little bits of string compact very easily into a pocket or a tool belt, are very easy to drop if something else comes up quick and rope work can be very beautiful and better yet, time consuming. Macramé is not a bad hobby, and always keeps your fingers busy.
posted by Faux Real at 2:50 PM on March 24, 2008

Thirding knitting. My wife always needs something for her hands to do, and since taking up knitting that has performed the function productively. She usually has a couple of projects going - one that is "mindless" to do while watching movies, having a conversation, etc., and another that is more challenging for when she can concentrate on the knitting.
posted by Emanuel at 2:56 PM on March 24, 2008

Incidentally, if you are interested in knitting but don't want to sink a lot of money into it or end up with eighty scarves that you never wear, consider charity knitting. A lot of charity knitting projects are relatively small and simple.

You might like braiding or macrame. Kumihimo is gorgeous but not exactly portable as it requires a stand.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:16 PM on March 24, 2008

Kumihimo doesn't require a stand -- you can do it with a portable foam disk. It does require quite a bit of attention and counting, though. (Maybe it gets easier with practice, but I certainly can't zone out and do it.)

I would nth knitting, but people seem to find it really distracting when I knit around them (as a small-needle sock knitter). It's not something you can get away with in a meeting. But as a television activity, it can't be beat. (In meetings these days, I just take pens apart and put them back together. Blah.)
posted by liet at 8:18 PM on March 24, 2008

Wow, some of these resources are very cool.... I am SO interested in learning how to contact juggle now... :)

I actually came in to suggest that you pick up something like a Rubik's cube, but maybe that's too thought intensive for you? It takes a lot of thought at the start to learn how to solve it, but then you find it easier and can work on improving your solve time, which is a good way to show off at times (watch me solve this in 2 minutes!)...
posted by ranglin at 11:18 PM on March 24, 2008

I learned how to do a one-hand cut with a deck of cards (Charlier Pass? Can't remember the name offhand anymore) just due to fidgetiness, and now I can do it better with my left hand than with my right.

I'm right-handed.
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:00 AM on March 25, 2008

What about learning some coin tricks, like rolling a coin across your knuckles? Search "coin tricks" or "pen tricks" on youtube, and you'll always have the tools at hand to impress people.
posted by tomble at 8:40 PM on March 25, 2008

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