My full-time job, my business, and my personal life all keep me pretty darn busy. It’s not all that often that I have any large amount of downtime.
When I do end up with downtime, I always find myself feeling a little unsure of what to do with my time!
I want to take advantage of the rare free time, but I want to do it in a productive way!
So I put together a list of 55 productive things to do that I can turn to the next time I have some downtime.
55 Productive Things to Do When You Have Downtime
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Start a Side Hustle
Starting a side hustle was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Not only has it allowed me to bring in extra income over the years, but it has done other awesome things for my life such as pushing me to learn new skills and allowing me to make new friends.
If you want to start a side hustle of your own, check out this post filled with more than 35 legit ways to make extra money!
Read a Book
I love reading. It’s one of my favorite past times. I read a pretty even mix of books including novels, personal development books, memoirs, and business books.
Reading has allowed me to grow a lot as a person and in my business. I also know that reading a lot is one of the things that has helped me to grow as a writer!
Here are some resources to check out if you want to start reading more:
- Easy Ways to Save Money on Books
- The Best Personal Finance Books to Read in 2019
- Personal Development Books to Read This Year
- The Best Books for Bloggers to Read
Learn a New Skill
No matter where you are in your life, there’s always room to learn new skills! When I started taking my blog seriously, there were so many new skills I had to learn.
And not only did those skills help me grow my blog, but I actually found they translated pretty well to my job and other parts of my life!
Listen to a Podcast
You guys, I’m obsessed with podcasts. Over the past few years, I’ve fallen in love with so many podcasts and listen to them all the time.
I listen to podcasts when I’m getting ready in the morning, driving to work, cleaning, and working out.
If you’re looking for new podcasts to listen to, check out my list of the best self-improvement podcasts that will motivate and inspire you!
We all know how that working out is important for our physical health, but plenty of us still don’t make time for it. I think part of the problem is that people are overwhelmed by the idea of working out, thinking they need to be running or lifting weights.
Working out can be whatever you want it to be, as long as you’re getting your body moving! If you prefer slower workouts like walking or yoga, that works too!
When was the last time you spent some serious time outdoors? If the answer is “not lately”, then use your downtime to get outdoors!
You could find a cool hiking spot, or just grab a book and find a nice part to read. Being outside always puts me in the best mood!
Map Out Your Goals
Do you set goals for yourself? If not, now is the time to start! Setting goals is such an amazing way to accomplish new things and really grow as a person. Goals give you something to work toward and something to motivate you!
Here are some resources to help you get started with goal setting:
Revisit Old Goals
If you have already set some goals for yourself, now might be a good time to revisit them.
Are you making progress toward your goals? Are they still relevant to what you want for your future? If something needs fixing, now’s the time to notice it and fix it!
Start a Blog
I started a blog in 2014 and haven’t looked back! It’s one of my favorite ways to spend my time, and something I’ve become really passionate about.
And the great news is that there are so many resources today that make it easy for anyone to start a blog.
If you want to start your own blog, be sure to check out my tutorial for how to start a blog in 2019!
Write in a Journal
I’m someone who tends to overthink just about everything, and I constantly have a million thoughts running around in my head.
Writing in a journal has really helped with that. I find it really therapeutic and I always feel better after getting all of my thoughts down on paper.
Journaling can be a great tool to help manage your thoughts or reflect on your life to help you set goals for the future.
Revise Your Budget
When was the last time you took a look at your budget to determine if it’s still working for you? If you haven’t revised your budget in a while, now’s the time to get on it!
A budget is not a set-it-and-forget-it task. It’s something you need to be constantly checking in with.
Here are a couple of resources to help you start and maintain your monthly budget:
There are so many amazing volunteer opportunities out there. And the great news is that no matter what your passions, you can find an opportunity that really speaks to you.
Whether you’re passionate about animals, education, or anything else, there is an organization in your community that could use your help!
Try a New Hobby
I started my blog back in 2014 as a hobby. As it grew into a small business, I found that it wasn’t quite the source of stress relief that it once was.
I started making time for other hobbies that weren’t bringing any extra stress, and found that it made such a huge difference!
Declutter Your Home
A few years ago, I started the task of decluttering my home. Then I moved from a three-bedroom house to a studio apartment and had to get rid of almost everything I owned.
Two lessons I learned from this are that clutter really stresses me out and that I can live with a lot less than I had.
If you’ve got some downtime, it’s a great time to start decluttering home! Start small with just one easy room and then make your way to the more difficult rooms.
Make Plans With Friends
Getting together with friends is also ways a productive use of time in my book! I get so much joy from an evening at a friend’s house or spending the weekend with some long-distance friends.
Call up a friend you haven’t seen a while and get together for dinner or drinks – you’ll be glad you did!
Map Out Your Five Year Plan
I know five years is a long time, and many of you are probably thinking you can’t possibly map out a plan for the next five years of your life.
You don’t have to plan everything. But having a vision of what you want your life to look like over the next five years is a great way of figuring out what goals you should be setting now.
For example, maybe you and your spouse know that over the next five years, you’ll probably discuss buying a home or having children. Those are both things that take a lot of planning and a lot of money!
The further in advance you plan your huge goals, the more prepared you’ll be when they actually come, and you can start setting goals now to help you get there.
Start a Project
I’m guessing most of us have probably made mental notes of projects we want to tackle, without ever actually making a move to start them.
If you’ve got some downtime, now is a great time to follow through on those things you said you were going to do!
Take an Online Class
I always loved school, and once I started graduating from college, immediately started looking for other ways I could keep learning.
Then, once I started blogging, I started taking online blogging courses and absolutely loved them!
I also share some of my favorite online blogging courses on this blogging + business resources page.
Clean Your House
There are few things that bring me more joy than a perfectly clean home. Of course, I don’t get all that much joy from the actual cleaning!
But still, knowing how much I love the end result, I like to use any downtime I have to clean the house. Depending on how much time I have, that might mean a deep clean or just a quick touch-up of the often-used areas.
Clean Out Your Inbox
My email inbox can be a scary place sometimes, and I’m guessing yours is no different. I love using a block of free time to go through and actually get rid of everything in there. This means either taking action on it, moving it into a folder or just deleting it if it turns out I don’t need it anymore.
Unsubscribe From Emails
While you’re cleaning out your inbox, use this opportunity to unsubscribe from some emails. Most of us get tons of marketing emails every day and don’t really give them much thought. We just mindlessly delete them, without reading or without thinking to unsubscribe.
If you find yourself deleting every marketing email from a certain company without reading it, unsubscribe!
Update Your To-Do List
Chances are you, like most people, have a huge running to-do list of things you hope to get to eventually. If you’ve got free time now, it’s a great time to address it!
Right now just go through the list and either cross off items that are no longer relevant or find a set time on your calendar to schedule the other items.
Things are so much more likely to get done if they’re actually on your calendar!
For years I read about meditating as a great way to increase focus and manage your mind. But of course, I brushed it off and thought for sure it would never work for me.
Once I finally tried it, I was so glad I did! Meditation has really done wonders for my focus, which used to not be all that great. It has also helped me to manage my thoughts when it comes to my anxiety and overthinking.
Write a Meal Plan
I love meal planning. It has helped us to save so much money on groceries, and time spent stressing about what to make for dinner.
We make a meal plan every Sunday before we go grocery shopping. That way, we know exactly what we need to get at the grocery store. Plus, we never have to come home tired and frustrated that we still have to figure out what to have for dinner.
Schedule All of Your Appointments
Who else lets all of their appointments pile up until you’re way overdue on all of them? Just me?
If you’ve been procrastinating making an appointment for the dentist, doctor, hair salon, or anything else, use your next block of free time to finally make those calls!
Plan Your Next Trip
Do you have any upcoming trips? Way too many people put off planning until the last moment, and then really come to regret.
If you’ve got free time now, then now is a great time to work on those travel plans so they don’t fall until the end.
Call a Long-Distance Loved One
Things that can happen at any time often happen at no time, and calling long-distance loved ones is one of the things that often ends up on that list of things.
Next time you’ve got some downtime, reach out to a friend or family member you haven’t talked to in a while.
Back-Up Your Files
When was the last time you backed up your files? I learned a tough lesson a few years ago when my computer ended up in some water, and I wasn’t able to recover anything!
Now I diligently back up everything on both my computer and my phone to make sure that never happens again!
Watch an Inspiring Ted Talk
I think we would all agree that there are some amazing TED Talks out there and that watching them is a great use of time! If you’re new to TED Talks, here are 11 must-see TED Talks for everyone to watch!
Clean Out Your Cabinets
How many items or products that you don’t really need anymore do you have sitting in a cabinet somewhere? I’m guessing there are a lot!
I like to use occasional downtime to go through my bathroom cabinets to get rid of items I don’t need anymore. I also like to go through my fridge and kitchen cabinets to get rid of any food that has expired.
Update Your Resume
Many of us don’t give much thought to our resume unless we’re actually applying for jobs. But then when it comes time to find a new job, our resume is totally outdated!
I think it’s a great idea to keep your resume up regularly so that it’s never a huge chore to update it when you’re job hunting.
Organize Your Workspace
I’m always so much more productive at work when I have an organized workspace. Because of that, I make time every single week to organize my workspace. If you’ve got a few minutes of downtime at work, this is a great way to spend it!
Practice Some Self-Care
Many people might think that self-care isn’t exactly a productive use of time, but they would definitely be wrong!
First of all, anything that helps you to care for yourself is a great use of time. Second, self-care looks different for everyone!
For some, it might mean taking a break from work to really slow down and relax for a day. For others, it might be the total opposite!
Brush Up on an Old Skill
Learning new skills is great, but you probably also have an old skill or two that could do with a little fine-tuning.
Every once in awhile I’ll end up needing to use a skill I haven’t used lately. And I always find myself wishing I’d done a better job of keeping it up!
Plan the Upcoming Week
I find that planning my week ahead of time helps make sure I’m super productive all week long! I like to go into the week with my calendar and to-do lists ready to go for every single day.
Planning for the week for me also includes meal planning and getting the house cleaned.
Watch a Documentary
Sometimes when I have some free time, I’ll use the opportunity to watch a documentary. I’ll be the first to admit that I was kind of a nerd in school, and learning something new is a lot of fun for me!
Plus there are documentaries on just about any topic, so everyone can find one that interests them!
Find Networking Opportunities
I feel like most of us know that networking is a great way to grow in our careers, but many of us don’t really make the time for it.
I’m not big on social events with people I don’t know and tend to hide in the corner rather than getting to know anyone new. I’ve found that a better networking opportunity for me is striking up conversations one on one at work. It’s more comfortable for me and really gives me the opportunity to form relationships with those in my field.
Go For a Long Walk
Taking long walks is honestly one of my favorite past times. It’s a great way to get some exercise, enjoy the outdoors, and make sure the dog gets some exercise.
Sometimes I’m walking with my fiance, which is a great way for us to catch up and spend some uninterrupted time together. Otherwise, I’m walking alone and using the opportunity to listen to some new episodes from my favorite podcasts!
Review Your Calendar For the Next 90 Days
Time seems to fly by so quickly these days. It feels like every weekend is filled with something, and it can be hard to keep track of it all sometimes.
If you’ve got a lot on your calendar over the next few months, now is a great time to review your calendar and make sure you aren’t forgetting anything.
Learn a New Language
I took seven years of foreign language classes in high school and college, and I honestly barely remember anything.
Lately, I’ve been trying to pick up Spanish again, and I’m really enjoying it! I’m also hoping it will come in handy for some upcoming travels we have planned.
If you’ve got any upcoming international trips planned, that’s a great excuse to start learning a new language!
Try Cooking a New Dish
I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not a great cook. Most of the time me trying a new recipe consists of me sending the recipe to my fiance and asking him to make it for me. However, once in a while I feel the desire to work on my cooking skills and find a new recipe to make.
Whether you’ve already got some cooking skills or are a beginner like me, trying out a new dish is a great use of a free evening!
Pick Up a Camera
I used to constantly find myself making a mental note to take more pictures, but then not following through when I have the chance.
Lately, I’ve really made an effort to take more pictures, and it’s been amazing! I’ve been working on getting better at using my nice DSLR camera, but also just snapping some pictures of our daily life on my phone.
Start a Garden
If you have some free time in the summer, gardening can be a super productive use of your time!
I love gardening for multiple reasons. First of all, I find it really relaxing to be out in the garden, weeding and taking care of the plants. It’s also a great way to have delicious, fresh produce at home while saving money on groceries.
We don’t have a home with a yard right now, but gardening is one thing I’m super excited to get back to when we have space.
Have a Family Meeting
Once in a while, I try to find evenings where my fiance and I are both free to sit down and have a family meeting. It’s nothing formal, but I really like to sit down and touch base on important things going on.
This is a great time to talk about budgeting, household chores, and anything that’s coming up on the calendar.
Pampering seems really indulgent, but it can actually be a really productive use of time. After a day (or even an hour) of pampering, I hit the ground running on my work.
If you make time for some pampering, you’ll be able to go back to your to-do list feeling super refreshed and ready to tackle anything.
Visit a Local Tourist Attraction
Your town might have some really cool tourist attractions, but you’ve never thought to visit them since you live there! When I have a free day, I love using it to check out exciting things going on in my city.
Create a Vision Board
I’ve always read about vision boards, but never really thought of creating my own. However, then my fiance and I started planning for some huge financial goals.
I knew that having a vision board would help keep me motivated for our goals, even though they were quite a ways off.
Having the opportunity to look right at your goals and dreams every day is a great way to keep pushing toward your big goals!
Plan a Dream Vacation
Most people I know love to travel, but don’t actually do much traveling. This is partly because travel involves a lot of forethought and planning. And for most people, travel involves saving money.
Rather than waiting until you’ve saved up the money to start planning your dream vacation, plan out everything you want to do, and then you’ll be really motivated and excited to start saving!
Organize Your Paper Clutter
For the longest time, I held onto important papers, moving them in boxes with me from apartment to apartment.
Then I read this ultimate guide to going paperless, and I spent the entire day scanning documents and organizing them digitally so I could shred the originals.
It’s such a freeing feeling to have no paper clutter in my home. And it’s so much easier to find things now that I can search for keywords instead of having to dig through boxes!
Create a Capsule Wardrobe
I spent years with a closet filled with way too many clothes that I rarely ever wore, with a few staple pieces I wore all the time. When I finally read about the idea of a capsule wardrobe, I was hooked!
Here’s how you can create your own capsule wardrobe!
Organize Your Photos
If you’re anything like me, your phones camera roll is filled with pictures you took and then promptly forgot about. Mine is a mix of personal pictures and screenshots for things I wanted to remember.
If you’ve got downtime, use this opportunity to organize those photos, and delete the ones you don’t need anymore.
If you’re feeling really crazy, you could even have a few of your favorites printed and framed!
Indulge in a Guilty Pleasure
We’ve all got guilty pleasures. Most of the time it seems there’s always something more productive you could be working on, but it’s good to indulge once in a while!
Write in a Gratitude Journal
For years I read about the value of writing in a gratitude journal, but never really believed it would have that big of an impact.
Once I tried it for myself, I was converted! It’s amazing how just writing a few things you’re grateful for can put you in such an amazing mood.
Donate Unused Belongings
Do you have clothes sitting in your closet that aren’t being worn? Or a shelf full of books that you’ve read once and never touched again?
The items that are just taking up space in your home could be really valuable to someone else! If you’ve got some downtime, this is a great time to fill a box of items that can be donated and take them to your local Goodwill or shelter.
There are seasons of life where you’re constantly on the go and on the rare occasion you have some downtime, relaxing is really the most productive thing you can do.
I am almost always working on something, and find myself feeling uncomfortable when I don’t have anything to work on. It’s times like those that I have to remind myself that I need to relax once in a while too!
There are so many productive things to do with downtime that don’t involve mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or turning on Netflix. And while those things might feel good in the moment, I’m guessing we all do enough of those!
So if you’re like me and want to use your downtime a little more productively, pull out this list next time and I know you’ll find something productive you can do!
Hi, I’m Erin! I’m an online educator and content creator who helps women reach their goals by teaching them to manage their time and their money. I want to help you design a life you love, so I’m sharing everything I know about goal setting, productivity, planning, and personal finance. You can read my full story here!