Inside: Wondering what to do in free time? Here are 36 awesome things to do at home that will challenge and strengthen your brain and shape you into a better person.
Doing activities that promote brain exercise will improve your memory, concentration, and focus and keep your brain sharp no matter what your age may be.
While learning a new language or signing yourself up for improv class are both great ways to fill free time, you don’t always have that much time. If what you’re looking for to fill your free time with is something quick and simple but you don’t want to sit in front of the TV and turn your brain to mush, you’re in the right place.
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The key to filing your free time is to find something that fills you.
Something that helps you rest and relax, but also keeps your brain sharp rather than sitting on the couch binge watching your favorite show.
Wondering what to do with unexpected free time? Here are the best things to do in free time that will re-energize you while you rest.
36 Awesome Things to do in Free Time That You’ll Love Doing
Research shows that working on puzzles improves and boosts your brain. The act of taking a puzzle piece and finding where it fits stretches and strengthens the brain connections. These puzzles can be as complex or simple as you like – whether you’re completing a challenging 1,000 piece puzzle or putting together a simple 50-piece puzzle, your brain will reap the benefits from both.
Here are our favorite jigsaw puzzles to try:
Doing a light 5 – 10 minute workout has a myriad of benefits, including:
- Improves mental health and mood
- Helps control your weight
- Reduces risk of heart diseases
- Strengthens bones and muscles
- Improves your sleep
- Helps your body manage blood sugar & insulin levels
And you don’t even need a gym membership to get all those great perks. Doing a home workout is just as beneficial.
Our favorite at-home workout products that make it feel like working out isn’t a chore are:
You can even swap out your office chair for an exercise ball to get some easy core exercises in while you work.
Reading has perpetual benefits, including improving brain connectivity, broadening vocabulary and comprehension, reducing stress, preventing the cognitive decline that comes with age, helps you sleep better, and more. (source)
Whether you’re reading a novel or a how-to article, reading stretches and strengthens your brain and many other areas of your life.
If you don’t know what to read, choose a topic that interests you and look up a book on it, or grab this book which will not only give you the benefits you gain from reading, but will also improve your lifestyle.
Much like reading, writing stretches and boosts your brain power. A few ways that writing by hand may help you are:
- Expands creativity
- Improves memory
- Helps relieve stress symptoms, depression and anxiety
- Encourages better learning ability
- Supports focus
- Improves your mood
- Better communication
- Unloads your brain to make room for important things
You don’t need to start writing a multi-book novel series off the bat. Start writing by simply jotting down what happened in your day, some goals you’d like to accomplish, or a few things you’re thankful for. You’ll experience a freeing feeling when you put pen to paper as you unload your brain.
5. Learn an easy hobby
Another thing to do in free time is to start up an easy hobby. This hobby could be something as simple as writing (as mentioned above), or you could learn something practical like sewing that could come in handy one day, or crocheting, or even mastering your baking skills.
6. Make an “other’s focused” bucket list
Instead of making a bucket list of things you’d like to accomplish in your lifetime, make a list of things you’d like to do to help someone else. This could be a simple act like volunteering at the food bank, helping where needed in church, making meals for your neighbors, or anything else that is focused on others rather than yourself.
7. Stretch your brain
Pick a topic that interests you, whether it’s gardening, sewing, baking, calligraphy, journaling, vehicles, or anything else, and watch movies, read articles, and get books from the library to stretch and strengthen your brain on the topic.
You don’t need a half-acre lot to have a successful garden. Container gardening is a great way to grow a garden in a small amount of space, even somewhere as small as an apartment deck. Pick a few vegetables/flowers/greenery you’d love to grow then go ahead and pick up this book to learn how to grow a delectable garden at home.
Gardening has several benefits, including boosting your mood, purifying the air, working your muscles, boosting self-esteem, and encouraging you to eat healthier.
Scrapbooking is a creative outlet that helps you keep memories of the good times to look back on for years to come. Imagine sitting down with your grandchildren, rather now or in the future, and looking back on the way life was 20, 30, or even 40 years ago.
10. Learn how to cook and meal plan
Learning how to cook, whether you enjoy it or not, will help you save money, encourage healthier eating habits, and may even encourage you to be creative with new dishes. Meal planning is a great way to fill your free time while finding tasty dishes to make for your family and also drastically lowering your grocery bill. You can either meal plan from scratch or use a ready-made meal plan. These are the ones I use.
11. Play cards
Playing fast-or-slow paced card games can improve and boost your memory and problem solving skills. Grab a plain deck of cards to play the following games:
- Crazy Eights
- Go Fish (a great game to include the kids in to improve their math skills)
12. Broaden your vocabulary
One way to broaden your vocabulary is to learn a new word that you don’t know (you can go to Thesaurus.com to find new words or use their word of the day), write it down and try to use it a couple times. Do this once a week to add new words to your vocabulary.
13. Learn a new skill
Learning new skills can help strengthen the memory function in your brain. Keep your brain sharp by filling your spare time by learning how to juggle, do a card trick, do home repairs, bake a souffle, or whistle with your fingers.
14. Listen to music
If you don’t want to do anything with your spare time, but still want to be doing something, listening to uplifting music can boost your brain power while encouraging creative thinking and improving your mood.
15. Help someone out
If you have more than just a few minutes, do something for someone else. This could be anything like cooking a meal for someone in need, offering to babysit for a single parent, cleaning a friend’s house, mowing your neighbors lawn, or something else.
16. Adult coloring book
Studies show that coloring reduces stress and anxiety, improves motor skills and vision and improves sleep and focus, all of which will benefit your life. (source)
17. Attend a free community event
See what kinds of free events your community has going on and choose one to attend. Even if you’re an introvert, getting yourself out there encourages you to meet new people even if that’s not your cup of tea. Who knows, you might just meet someone who becomes a significant part of your life that you never would have met had you stayed at home.
18. Create a budget
Do you tend to spend your free time worrying about finances? Put your spare time to use and plan for the future.
You can create a budget several different ways:
- Using the EveryDollar app/website
- Using a Budget Planner — my top choice
- Using the Ultimate Budget Breakdown
19. Get into nature
Getting yourself outside has insane benefits for your mental, emotional, and physical health. According to WebMD, a few encouraging reasons to get outside are:
- Increases vitamin D (which is important in your bone health, blood cells, and boosting your immune system)
- Decreases anxiety
- Helps you sleep better
- Boosts your mood and helps you feel better about yourself
- Helps you focus
- And more
20. Learn origami
Origami isn’t just a fun pastime, it also sharpens your memory, improves diligence and accuracy, and helps you channel your creativity. First, grab some origami paper sheets, then go ahead and grab this origami extravaganza book to teach yourself to how origami.
21. Organize the junk drawer
Organizing your home has many different benefits including stress relief, better sleep, increased “me time”, boosts your productivity, and boosts your self-esteem while helping you feel better about your house.
If you’re limited on time, start by organizing the junk drawer. If you’ve got more time to spare, tackle an entire room, like the kitchen.
Start with these 21 expert organizer tips.
22. Declutter a room
Much like organizing, decluttering gives you freedom. It relieves stress, it eases your mind, it helps you feel better about yourself and your home, and it creates room for the things that really matter to you.
Not sure where to start? We’ve got a plethora of decluttering resources for free, right here.
23. Go for a walk or jog
Other than the obvious benefit of just getting yourself outside and moving, going for walks and jogs have several health benefits, such as:
- Increased cardiovascular and pulmonary health
- Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke
- Builds stronger bones
- Helps maintain a healthy weight
- Strengthens muscles
- Helps manage health conditions (such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and more)
24. Make homemade iced tea
Making homemade iced tea is a delicious way to pass time without leaving your house. All you need is a large bowl, juice container, or jar (one that can withstand the heat of boiling water), a kettle, tea bags, honey, and some sun.
Boil some water then pour about 4 – 8 cups of boiling water into a jug with 4 – 8 tea bags and a dollop of honey or sugar. Let this sit and steep in the sun for no more than a couple of hours.
Once done steeping, taste and add more sugar/honey to your taste then place it in the fridge to cool. This makes a tea concentrate.
Next all you do is pour some of the tea concentrate into a glass and add water (adjust amounts to your preference) and ice cubes.
25. Scrub the bathroom
Scrubbing the bathroom will fill your free time and get an unpleasant chore out of the way all at once. Got yourself on a cleaning kick? Head to our Cleaning Resources Page to learn what to clean next.
26. Write a story
Do you ever find your mind wandering off to an unknown world, and before you know it you’ve just spent the last 15 minutes creating a completely fictional story in your head? If that ever happens to you, write it down and turn it into your very own story. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll turn it into a whole novel.
27. Go geocaching
There are millions of geocaches hidden all around the world, all you have to do is grab the geocaching app or just use a GPS and get started.
28. Play Chess
Chess isn’t just a fun game to play (and yes, you can even play solo chess), according to Healthline, chess improves your memory, increases intelligence, helps prevent dementia, promotes creativity, improves focus, strengthens planning skills, helps with ADHD, and more.
So what are you waiting for? Grab a chess board and start playing.
29. Wood burning
Start wood burning. Wood burning — also known as pyrography — is the art of taking a heated tool and etch words, designs, and pictures onto the surface of a piece of wood, and it’s a fun hobby to get into.
30. Do some squats
Got 5 minutes to spare? Rock out some quick squats to pass the time. You’ll start your next task feeling more energized, motivated, and happier.
31. Visit a family member
Take a plate of cookies over to a family member’s house for a visit, or a neighbor, or an old friend you haven’t connected with in a while.
32. Learn how to dance
Dancing is a fun way to get a quick workout in, get moving, and boost your mood all at the same time. Search some beginner-friendly dances on Youtube, close the blinds so you’re not worried about the neighbors peeking in (or keep them open if you’re that confident!), and get boogy-in.
33. The gratitude list
A gratitude list is sort of like a to-do list, except instead of writing down things that need to get done, you’re slowing down and writing down things you’re thankful for.
A gratitude list is a fantastic way to deepen your appreciation for people and to remember the good in busy days.
34. Call an old friend
Brighten someone’s day by giving them a call and asking how they’re doing.
35. Chore time
Think of 1 – 3 — or more — chores that someone else in the household is responsible for, and do them. Don’t show off that you did them and don’t expect anything for it. Do the chore selflessly to show how much you appreciate that person.
36. Do a brain dump
A brain dump is when you grab a piece of paper and a pen and write down everything (or as much stuff as you can write down in a given amount of time) that’s on your mind. This is a great way to relieve stress and help you sleep better, because getting it out on paper relieves your brain of having to hold on to that important information and makes room for the more important stuff in your mind.
Conclusion: What to do in Free Time
Now when you’re presented with unexpected spare time at home, you’re well equipped with 36 different ways to spend that free time that aren’t just sitting in front of a TV turning your brain to mush.
These activities to fill your free time with are fun, different, and will help strengthen and boost your brain, whether you choose an active activity such as hiking or a laid back activity such as catching up on reading.
I’d love to know, what is your favorite way to spend free time at home? Share your thoughts with us in a comment below.