Leisure Time

How to Fill Leisure Time Intelligently and Some Powerful Reasons You Should

To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilization, and at present very few people have reached this level. ~Bertrand Russell

When you come home, tired and stressed, the last thing you want to do is think. You want to relax and cut loose. For most people that means zoning out in front of the TV or joining friends at the bar for some chemical stimulation.

Is this really the best way to use free time? Are all intelligent pursuits draining and tedious?

No. The feeling of discovery that accompanies learning is rejuvenating and empowering. When you succumb to laziness and fill your leisure with mindless activities, you’re sacrificing your most valuable possession — your individuality.

Your leisure is the only time you have for self development. It’s the only time you aren’t bound by contract to the interests of your employer. It’s the only time you have to develop your intelligence and discover what you really love. Are you willing to give up your “self”?

Using leisure intelligently isn’t a sacrifice, but it is an adjustment. You’ll need to become independent and deal with questions from people who don’t get it. Here are some tips to help you fill leisure intelligently.

1. Make it a ritual – Your brain is more powerful than you think, it just needs to be stretched. The only limit on the amount of thinking you can do is the one you set for yourself. Get in the habit of devoting a portion of your leisure time to an intelligent activity and do it every day. With practice you’ll find that your mind enjoys the stimulation. If you go back to your old routine, you’ll find it remarkably boring.

2. Question your companions – If you try to make a change, it’s inevitable that your companions will question you. Why are you reading that book? Why don’t you watch TV with me like usual? It’s tempting to succumb to this because we enjoy our companions and want to please them. Instead of giving in, throw a question back at them. Why do we always waste our time doing such and such? Isn’t there a more beneficial way we can use our time? Another great strategy is surrounding yourself with people who are superior — they will naturally bring you up to their level.

3. Get active – Inertia is powerful. If you plant yourself on the couch right after getting home, chances are you’ll stay there all night. Keep your mind and body alert by staying active. Hitting the gym right away will boost your energy and help you relax. Taking a walk is a great way to detach yourself, sort out your thoughts, and get some exercise. If you make it a habit to stay active, you’ll find energy you never knew you had.

4. Study a subject that interests you – Most kids grow up hating school because they’re forced to study subjects they have no interest in. Education doesn’t have to be this way. Studying a subject you want to learn about is entertaining as well as enlightening. By developing your mind, you can open up new career opportunities and create a more interesting personality.

5. Schedule your TV time – The screen is a great medium, but I think we can agree that the majority of programming is garbage. If you turn on the TV and start surfing, chances are the show you find won’t be entertaining. Make the most of your TV time by scheduling it beforehand. Pick out your favorite programs and only watch TV at those times. If you have DVR you can save time by skipping commercials. Don’t make turning on the TV be the first thing you do when you enter a room.

6. Experiment with various activities – The purpose of using leisure intelligently isn’t to pass a test or memorize a set of facts. If what you’re doing doesn’t interest you, move on to something else. Don’t be afraid to leave books unfinished if they bore you. Follow your curiosity. Dabbling in a variety of subjects will improve creativity and give you a wide range of ideas to blend together.

7. Find a good hobby – A hobby is a great way to develop skills and interact with other people. Some of them can even generate income. A hobby builds on itself. You start out knowing nothing and gradually build a repertoire of skills. Even if these skills aren’t particularly useful, the process helps you learn how to learn. Once you’ve developed one set of skills from scratch, the next set is even easier.

8. Avoid addictive time sinks – Gaming is a great way to engage the mind and develop strategic thinking. But when it becomes an obsession it takes away more than it gives back. The same is true with any addictive activity. When you feel yourself becoming addicted, pull yourself away. A game shouldn’t consume your entire life and enjoying it in moderation will keep it fresh longer.

  • http://www.shiatsublogger.co.uk Tony Brown

    Agree with everything you say. I have reduced my TV time and now read, study Chinese medicine, go out and develop my shiatsu practice, and go dancing with my Wife. Much fitter now mentally and physically and have developed a nice little blog.

    Sometimes I think why do I have go out to do shiatsu or dance but once out there the energy comes and I feel great.

  • Dave

    I agree, very good advice. I used to spend all my time watching Tv or lounging with friends. It was fun for a while, but eventually it just got depressing and I realize that I was not doing anything with my life so I started doing many of things you’ve suggested.

  • Captain Obvious

    No kidding, everything in post is freaking simple. Everyone knows it, but most people just don’t care. Sad, but true. At least it makes it easier for non-retards to succeed.

  • http://www.iwillchangeyourlife.com Peter

    Great article.

    Just wondering about this line though: “Your leisure is the only time you have for self development.” To me, there are so many ways people can work on their self development in the workplace. Memory, communication skills, interpersonal skills, and speed reading are just a few examples.

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    There is some truth to that, Peter, but it really depends on the job. Free time is the only time you have to develop what YOU really want, even if it doesn’t benefit your employer.

  • http://onhappiness.blogspot.com Ryan

    I wrote a similar article about this a few months ago. After work, most of the things we think will make us happy end up doing just the opposite. We sacrifice a lot of long term happiness for the fleeting, quick fix happiness.

    http://onhappiness.blogspot.com/2007/02/dont-do-what-you-want.html

  • http://cheerfulmonk.com Jean Browman–Cheerful Monk

    I’m with Peter, when an exciting job started going downhill I stopped working 60 hours a week for the employer. But I still noticed and used the opportunities in the job to develop skills that would help me when I took the next step. Those extra hours, of course, were spent positioning myself for the future.

  • http://cheerfulmonk.com Jean Browman–Cheerful Monk

    I’m still pondering your statement “it really depends on the job. Free time is the only time you have to develop what YOU really want, even if it doesn’t benefit your employer.”

    What jobs are there that you can’t learn and grow from? I worked in a factory during the summer when I was going to college. I learned a lot about getting along with people with interests completely different from me. And I also learned a lot about emotional self-management and making the most of the present moment. Life is too precious to waste.

    Certainly my employer benefited, too. I was asked back every summer, and I got glowing recommendations when I needed them for a resume.

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    I think you’re right, that there is potential for personal growth in any job, even the worst ones. I just think jobs — especially ones that keep you occupied with menial tasks — don’t provide much time for intellectual growth.

    Truth is though, if you’re stuck in a job like that you should probably start looking for a new one.

  • http://cheerfulmonk.com Jean Browman–Cheerful Monk

    Yep, that’s the lesson there. Having a job you dislike is great motivation. My daughter wasn’t motivated scholastically until she started working at the local drive in during high school. It was great part-time work, but she realized many of her co-workers were doing it for a living. She decided she wanted something more than that for herself and ended up getting a Ph. D. in biopsychology.

  • http://www.sevenro.com.br Cidinho

    ~reads first paragraph~ When I come home I usually open the blogs I usually visit, this included =P Ok, ok, I’m still in 9th grade :P

  • http://www.facingthesharks.com FacingTheSharks

    Great article. I especially like #4, but I was kicking and screaming having to learn a new subject…law.

    I’m an artist that reads one word at a time. It takes me a long time to process complicated subjects, so I avoid them because I’m a slow reader.

    I don’t have a choice but to learn laws now, and it took me about four years of restisting, whining about it, hoping it goes away, and not understanding them. I kept at it, even though it was difficult and it stretched my brain from the right side (artistic) to the left side (logical), to where I’m starting to get it now.

    I still read slow, and it’s still complicated to understand, but somehow, the brain adjusts to learning a new subject. Beats me how, but now I almost want to go to law school. Okay, maybe that’s stretching it, but it’s cool how your brain can switch from one subject to another if you apply yourself to something, even if you don’t understand it at first.

    I guess it’s like learning a foreign language.

  • http://www.best-of-time-management.com/values.htm Pamela

    Great advice. Surrounding ourselves with great people is always a good idea. We can easily adjust to their actions and behavior without even know it.

  • http://www.psych101online.com Helen

    Nice tips. I agree with each one, especially with getting a good habit. We don’t have to spend every time we want to do something we like. If we can generate money out of those hobbies, why not?

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  • http://www.ladyperfection.wordpress.com Melissa

    You are right, no doubt. Unfortunately, I’m too lazy girl to use my leisure effectively. Although I’m fond of reading…hm. you made me think. thank you!

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  • http://www.fltrp.com Niu Yamin

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    I am contacting you to ask about the possibility of using the article “How to Fill Leisure Time Intelligently”, published on Sep. 12, 2007 on http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/intelligent-leisure-time-activity/ in our book New Standard College English: Fast Reading.

    Fast Reading presents students with texts in English language as used in real life by real native speakers, and with different types of writing. The publication will have only a limited print run and is exclusively for educational purposes within mainland China. As an education title, Fast Reading will have a comparatively low cover price, selling at around 20RMB (3USD) per copy.

    We would like to obtain permission to use a version of the article, abridged or adapted to make it fit the language abilities of the students, for the full copyright term of the book. I hope we will be able to arrange an agreement for this – please contact me at your convenience to discuss how we could proceed.

    Yours sincerely,

    Niu Yamin

  • syeda

    Fully agreed with what written there.i think its most important thing in ones life to do something for himself or herself.exactly t.v surfing is such an adiction you cannot give it up easily and at the same time its useless. i do it but after reading your words i will try to quit this habit .a dam mess of rubbish thought continue spining my mind especially after watching soap serials. i am in search of a good,time consuming and interesting hobby ,hope i will adapt one good thanks.

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  • Seenu Santha5071

    i felt it was very nice and energetic to me……….

  • Roaim

    ya

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  • http://www.facebook.com/amaya.bouthi Lee Jin

    Well i really want to start changing my life,i feel like a looser and i have nothing to do but sitting in front the computer and chatting on facebook.i really don’t know how to start changing!! :/

  • Kamile Ko

    The most acceptable way to spend leisure time for me is going out to see some performances, concerts, theatre performance :) It is because it helps me not only to relax, but also to learn something new, see how people act. But it is important to pick up good events, because now there is a plenty of low quality ones. For me to orientate helps this page- renginiai , for me it seems that it filters worthless events from suggested ones :)

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