If there’s one piece of advice I could give anyone it would be this: Do NOT waste your time.

Your time is precious, limited, and life’s most wonderful gift.

Everyone handles their time differently. Some people wake up to a pre-planned day, or a certain routine they like to follow. They write everything down in a planner. They make to-do lists. They set hard goals. It’s what helps them stay productive and in control of their life. There are also others in this world that totally wing it. They prefer spontaneity and taking what life throws at them one step at time. There is nothing wrong with either approach, as long as you are achieving what you set out to. You are who you are, and you do what you have to do.

No matter how you handle time and scheduling, there are always moments of idle or free time. Sometimes it is spent doing much-needed relaxing, but others it feels like it slips away unnecessarily. How do you know you’re not actually wasting this time?

Well, what exactly is a “waste” of time? It’s different to all people. Watching TV can be viewed as a waste to one, while doing a crossword could be a waste to another. Everybody has their own perception of “wasting” just like everyone has their own methods of productivity. What I’m referring to are the ‘in-between’ moments we all encounter on a daily basis. This is the time that can so easily be lost in translation, and can cumulatively have a tremendous impact on our lives.

Think about the times you’ve spent sitting in a car, train, bus or plane waiting to get from Point A to Point B. What about that hour before going to bed or the hour after you wake up in the morning, with not much going on? Perhaps you have a free Saturday or Sunday with nothing on the agenda, how effectively do you use that time? How about the hours one spends aimlessly looking at nonsense on their phone? Is that time a waste?

Any time in life can be considered a waste if that’s what you allow it to become.

Here’s one piece of advice for getting the most out of that time: Learn from it. What better way to live your life successfully than to absorb as much knowledge as you can? This isn’t necessarily the kind of learning that takes place in school or the workplace, but the kind we ignite from our sheer interest and curiosity. It’s the learning that allows us to expand our horizons, indulge our passions and open our minds to the diversified world we live in.

Here are a few ideas for filling your spare time and learning something new in the process:

  1. Learn a foreign language. Buy an audio tape to learn how to speak that dialect you’ve always wanted while you’re sitting in your car on the way to work.
  2. Expand your vocabulary. You don’t have to learn a whole new language, why not just learn more of your own? Sign up or get one of those mini calendars that teaches you a new word everyday.
  3. Read a book. It’ll challenge your perspectives far more than scrolling through Instagram can.
  4. Pick up a new skill or craft. Maybe you have a crafty mind, but have never taken the time to learn an actual craft. What’s stopping you from learning how to knit yourself that cute scarf you’ve been telling yourself you would for years now.
  5. Listen to podcasts. If you do like listening to something on your daily commute, why not try something new? There are tons out there and it’s not hard to find one that best fits your wants.
  6. Exercise your creativity. Paint. Draw. Color. It’s good for your heart and mind, and the outcome can make you feel very proud and accomplished.
  7. Go on mini adventures. Drive to that park or mountain you’ve been meaning to check out. Take the afternoon to go somewhere you haven’t been before.
  8. Write. Keep a journal or write online. Submit your work. Find out more about writing for Her Track here.
  9. Try a new kind of physical activity. Take a walk. Go on a run. Try an exercise class. Meditate. Do some Yoga.
  10. Volunteer. It’s a great way to learn about a cause and helping out all in one.
  11. Learn to play an instrument. Love music and always wanted to play an instrument? What is stopping you from learning one?
  12. Catch up on current events. Read the news. Watch some live coverage. Understand what’s going on in the world around you.
  13. Take the current events one step further and get involved socially. Figure out how you can stand up and support your beliefs without investing much time.
  14. Learn to cook. Cooking is a great like skill to learn. Broaden your horizons and learn new recipes instead of your classic Kraft mac and cheese on Thursday nights.

These are just a few examples of how you can make the most out of your free time. You can become an extremely well-rounded person by taking a few minutes every day to soak in as much information as you can. Imagine how much more productive you’d feel at the end of the day knowing you spent every valuable piece of time doing something that mattered.

We as human beings have so much capacity to learn new things. We can always learn new skills and hobbies. Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Nobody picked up a paintbrush for the first time and became the next Van Gogh. You don’t just put a pen to paper and somehow create the world of Harry Potter overnight. You become who you want to be through trial and error. You obtain your ideal self through practice and perseverance. You continually help yourself learn with every opportunity you get.

Don’t worry, you can still relax and watch a movie, or scroll through your Instagram and take a nap. We’re all entitled to relaxation and rest.

My point is that we spend a lot of idle time preparing for our busy time, instead of using it to learn more about out interests, and engage our passions in hobbies.

When you look back on your life, that kind idle time will be what you appreciate and remember the most. It won’t be the Netflix series, iPhone games, extra-long naps or mornings you spent hungover until 2PM. It’ll be the moments you were inspired, educated and challenged to be a better version of yourself. 
Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” – Henry Ford

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