7 Productive Things to Do in Your Downtime
No matter how busy we are, we all have moments of downtime in our days. The time spent sitting on public transport, your hour-long lunch break, or waiting in a coffee shop for a friend to arrive. A few decades ago, unless you had the forethought to bring a book or newspaper with you, you would have to spend this time alone with your own thoughts.
But nowadays, your immediate impulse when faced with nothing else to do is to pick up your phone and open your favorite social media app or play premium live casino games. But all of your downtime adds up, and this vast amount of time spent idly staring at a screen is doing nothing to improve your life. In fact, excessive phone usage is known to negatively impact mental health, worsen vision, and lead to neck and back problems. The more you can avoid unnecessary screen time, the healthier you will be.
Instead, try to use your leisure time more productively. Whether you have five minutes or five hours to kill, this is more than enough to fill with activities that have a positive impact on your life.
If you’re stuck for inspiration, here are seven ideas to get you started.
Learn something new
Learning a new skill has so many benefits. It can improve your mental health, boost your confidence, reduce stress, and give you new perspectives and knowledge that you can apply to your personal and professional lives. And there are so many things you could set your mind to. Have you ever wanted to learn another language? Download an app such as Duolingo and use your free time to brush up on your French or Spanish. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn a musical instrument? Why not buy that guitar or flute you’ve always dreamed of owning and devote a few spare moments each day to improving your abilities? The opportunities are endless.
Read a book
The great thing about reading is that you can always have a book with you, no matter where you are. Whenever you’re at the bus stop or waiting at the doctor’s office, you can reach for your favorite hardback instead of your phone, and use that time to improve your mind and get lost in the pages of a great book. It doesn;’t matter whether you’re into classic literature or pulpy crime thrillers – reading has been shown to broaden the mind, make you more articulate, and improve your memory and concentration. Exactly the opposite of what your phone does to your brain.
Ask anyone you know about volunteering and they’ll probably say they’d love to do it if only they had more time. Well how much time do you waste on activities that don’t do any good for you or others? It is perfectly feasible for the majority of people to devote at least a couple of hours each week to doing some good for their community. Get involved in a local food drive or litter pick, or volunteer at a charity sports event. You will feel good about yourself and be doing something genuinely meaningful.
Most people wish they did more exercise, but it can sometimes be hard to summon up the necessary motivation. But all you need in order to stay healthy is around thirty minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each day. You can easily squeeze a quick run or a PIlates session into your downtime and it will do you a world of good. You’ll instantly feel less stressed and more able to take on the day.
Cultivating meaningful relationships is one of the most important and valuable things in life. The time we spend connecting with others is usually the happiest we feel, and those people with lots of loved ones around them are more fulfilled and satisfied than those who are isolated. But it’s easy to take our relationships for granted. Walk through any public space and you’ll see groups of friends or couples sitting together in silence while staring at their phones. The digital age has taken something beautiful away from our lives and we have to make the effort to reclaim it. It is never a waste of time to connect with someone you love, even if it’s just a chat over Zoom or a quick cuddle with your partner in the kitchen before work. Use your downtime to focus on people, rather than meaningless digital activities.
Writing down your thoughts and feelings in a diary can seem a little awkward and forced when you first start doing it. But push through this initial reluctance and you will soon start to reap great psychological and emotional benefits from your new habit. Journaling is a great way to clarify your thoughts and feelings and manage stress. Whenever you are going through a difficult time or you are unsure about the right course of action, articulating your mental process on paper can help you organize your mind and put things into perspective. It will help you get to know yourself more thoroughly, as well as making you better at solving problems and resolving conflicts. Get yourself a notepad or diary and start journaling today. You will not regret it.
Clutter and mess can have a huge impact on our minds. You may not realize it, but a disordered household can create a deal of stress and anxiety in your mind. And all it takes to alleviate it, is a quick tidy up. When you next have five minutes in which you don’t know what to do with yourself, don’t open Instagram. Instead, why not clear away your desk, do those dirty dishes, or take out the bins. Your living space will look and feel a lot better if you keep up this habit, and you will reduce the amount of time you spend procrastinating on your phone.
These are just a few of the ways you can stay productive in your downtime, but there are plenty of other things you can do to better yourself in body and in mind. Find what works for you and stick with it.