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Work can be a grind, so it’s important to have hobbies on the side to help you relax, focus, and overall, stay productive.

We’ve compiled a list of hobbies that absolutely anybody can get into, but would take a lifetime to master. Consider setting aside some time each week between your work, family and other obligations to try these out and incorporate it into your routine!


1. Deep-reading

With social media, people have gradually shifted their reading habits from concentrated reading to skimming for facts. Deep-reading harkens back to a time when people found solitary places to read long texts, often focusing on the symbols, themes, and concepts presented by the book. You can do it with any book, just slow down your reading pace so you can fully absorb each sentence with clarity.

Visit Longreads for some other in-depth interviews, books, stories, and essays.


2. Exercising

If you really want to stay productive in your free time, the best thing you can do is to exercise. It doesn’t matter what kind you do- whether it’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Crossfit, yoga, or just a quick run- getting your heart and lungs pumping can be liberating while helping you stay focused and energized.

Look for gyms and fitness centers near your home, and try to fit in an hour or two of training before or after work. Above all, exercising can help you stay fit and healthy, especially if you sit in front of a computer at work for most of the day.


3. Cooking

Everybody wishes they had more time to cook. The truth is there is time! Sometimes the biggest challenge is finding the right recipe- one that doesn’t take too long and doesn’t require multiple trips to the grocery store.

Allrecipes is an awesome starting point. They have a gallery of popular recipes with reviews from the community, a recipe finder with ingredient search, and filters for cooking time or cuisine. Save your money, stay healthy, and develop one of the most important skills by cooking at least twice a week. You won’t regret it.


4. Writing a blog or journal

Writing isn’t just one of the most productive hobbies, it can also be a great method of recording moments, thoughts, and feelings, as well as a timeless way of communicating with someone miles, or even centuries apart.

One way to practice writing is through a blog. Not only do blogs let you communicate with readers directly, but it has become a way of earning money for many writers. We recommend reading The Minimalists’ guide to starting a blog, which walks you through each step in detail.

Don’t feel like sharing your thoughts with the world quite yet? Try out journaling. Journals can help you think through complex issues and emotions, without fear of being judged.


5. Drawing and painting

Similar to writing, drawing can be a powerful practice for introspection. Drawing (and painting) can reveal hidden emotions and thoughts, allowing us to revisit how we view the world.

However, many of us feel that we lack the necessary artistry or creativity. Instead of worrying about the end result, simply focus on the act of creation. The goal is to stay in the present moment, not to produce a masterpiece.

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain has become a popular introductory course and book taught by Betty Edwards. After just a few pages of reading and practicing, you too will realize drawing isn’t as difficult as people make it out to be, and can actually be deeply relaxing and satisfying.


6. Volunteering

Time is never wasted when it’s spent helping someone else. There’s something profoundly rewarding about using your free time to volunteer at a soup kitchen, contribute to a charity, or assist at a shelter. Visit Idealist and VolunteerMatch for safe matches with organizations and activities based on your skills and experiences. It doesn’t take much to make a difference.


7. Programming

Programming isn’t just about making apps or video games- it represents the language of the future. That’s why so many schools have begun teaching it as part of the curriculum. The next generation will develop software and programs that we’ve never dreamed of.

But even as a hobby, programming will teach you new ways of problem-solving that can be applied to other fields and aspects of your life. Codecademy offers an easy way to learn through a code editor with a built-in tutorial and preview window. Harvard University’s CS50 course is just as good, complete with filmed lectures, problem sets, exams, and homework.


8. Travel and Sightseeing

Travel shouldn’t be limited to once-a-year vacations! You don’t have to plan a whole month or save a fortune. You can start exploring the world on a shoestring budget.

Try using Skyscanner, a website and app for tracking the best flight deals. You probably already know about Airbnb, but you can get the local experience and stay places for free through Couchsurfing. Want to stay somewhere fancier? HotelTonight lets you know which hotels have discounts tonight or the following night.

Even if you can’t get away for a weekend, you can always explore your city. You’re bound to find something you didn’t know was there before.


9. Dog Walking

If you love dogs (and who doesn’t), why not walk them in your own time? Get some cardio in your free time while exploring local areas and meeting new pups. On top of it all, you can make some extra cash on the side (some walkers make up to $20 for each walk!). Check out Wag!, an LA-based dog-walking app that connects walkers with pet owners. Check to see if your city is supported.

Here’s our advice— give it some time! Hobbies aren’t supposed to be stressful second jobs; they’re meant to provide some levity and balance to your existing obligations. Put in a few hours each week, and you’re guaranteed to develop some skills and perspectives that can even help you in your daily work.


10. Learn a new language

No matter what you may believe, it’s never too late to learn a language. As with any skill on this list, all it takes is time and patience. Learning a language can help you find your way in other countries, secure a job, and even improve your memory.

There are countless apps online that can help you learn almost any language. Rosetta Stone is perhaps the most popular and enduring, used by major organizations such as TripAdvisor, Fender, NASA, and Calvin Klein. Duolingo, on the other hand, is a totally free app. Their courses are gamified, too, making it instantly more compelling to continue learning.


11. Play an instrument

Listening to music is one thing, but creating music can be a relaxing and fulfilling practice as well. Even if you didn’t play any instruments growing up, it can be equally rewarding to learn as an adult.

Start by playing a musical instrument that most interests you. You have countless options: stringed instruments like guitars, violins, and cellos; brass instruments like french horn and trumpet; and wind instruments like clarinet and flute. Consider everything from budget to the kind of music you would like to play. Try testing out instruments in store to get a feel for each one.

Once you have chosen your instrument, you can either hire a teacher for guided lessons or learn yourself. There are hundreds of teachers online from PianoNanny to Justin Guitar. You can even find lessons on YouTube, or simply attempt to play your favorite songs by ear!


12. Meditate

We live in a fast-paced, distraction-ridden world that can often weigh us down. Many may see meditation as a waste of time. But only through the act of mindful meditation can we reduce stress and bring ourselves a sense of focus and peace. From the CEOs of LinkedIn and Ford to entertainers like Oprah and Paul McCartney, meditation has gained a steady following in recent years.

Contrary to popular belief, meditation isn’t about emptying your mind. You don’t even need to close your eyes. You need only set a timer (start with 5 minutes if you haven’t meditated before), and focus on your breathing. If your mind wanders, gradually bring it back. The purpose is not to be free of thought and feeling, but to be able to notice the thoughts and feelings as they come.

Check out Headspace for their quick guide on meditation, as well as their guided meditation app. Read our previous post on meditating at work. Read books on meditation. Or simply form the habit yourself as you go.

Check out our previous blogs on getting a productive start to your morning and the importance of digital health and wellness.

Make sure to follow our blog for more guides and posts on productivity and all things entrepreneurship.