How to Spend Your New-Found Free Time

In less than a week, the ways we all go about our lives have changed quite drastically. Instead of waking up for classes and lining up in the Tim’s line, we’re moving out of residence and checking to see if our profs have figured out how to proceed with the rest of the semester (bless their hearts). I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling a lot of stress – and a lot of boredom.

As someone not living in res who hasn’t yet received further instruction on how to proceed from profs and who is trying to practice proper social distancing, I’ve had a lot of fun finding ways to fill up my free time. After all, when was the last time I didn’t had a single responsibility? I couldn’t tell ya.

If you don’t know what to do with all the extra time on your hands, I have some tips for you based on how I’ve been passing the time myself!

Play nostalgic games

What better way to pass time than the exact same ways you lost track of time growing up? I’m talking Webkinz, Club Penguin (well, the remake of Club Penguin), Poptropica, etc. With all the extra stressors in our life, we could all do with a dose of comforting nostalgia. Not only do these games provide that, but they're also just fun, in a nice simple way.

As for me? I could spend weeks playing The Sims nonstop if it weren’t for other responsibilities. I got The Sims 4 for free over the summer, but it’s currently on sale for $4.99 USD, which a super fair price given how entertaining the game is.

Learn a new skill

If you want to be more productive with your time, how about you learn a new skill? Over the summer I downloaded a free graphics editing software, Inkscape, and ever since I’ve only been able to tap into its most basic features. With the extra time on my hands I’ve been looking into some of the more advanced features the site has, and now I can proudly say that I am more skilled than I was a week ago.

While I’ve decided to learn to do more complex graphic design in my free time, there’s a lot of different skills out there for you to learn. If you have the right materials, you could learn to sew, knit or crochet! You could try cooking a new recipe using ingredients you already have on hand; Supercook is a great website for pulling together a meal using what’s already in your pantry. Or say you want to develop some skills that would be considered more ‘professional’ – in that case SkillShare is your friend, as they have a number of free classes on everything from starting an e-commerce business to getting published.

Find creative ways to get a workout in

If you’re someone who loves to get their daily workout in at the AC, you’re probably struggling with the fact that the gym is closed and group ex classes are cancelled. That said, it isn’t the end-all be-all! You can still get moving, it just might be a bit different than you’re used to.

If you don’t mind being outdoors, it’s still perfectly healthy to go for a hike, run or walk – just make sure you’re doing it solo or with people you are social distancing with! This has the added benefit of getting you outside of your house and relieving some of the stress you may have accumulated from being pent up indoors.

If you’d rather stay home though, still try to get your blood pumping! There are plenty of YouTube accounts out there with fitness content for you to absorb: Yoga with Adriene has a huge collection of flows in varying lengths, POPSUGAR Fitness has a lot of dance-inspired workouts and FitnessBlender has a bit of everything, including some bodyweight workouts! A lot of trainers with their own fitness programs are even releasing free 2-week home workout plans so that you don’t need to give up exercise.

Do all those “I wish I had time for…” things

If presented with the task, I am positive that you could make a list of things you’ve been putting off because you “don’t have the time.” Well now you do, so get to it! You haven’t read a book for fun since you were 14? Pick one up off your shelf, dust it off and leave the world for a few hours. You’ve wanted to rearrange the furniture in your bedroom for weeks? Make it happen. You feel left out because all of your friends have watched Love is Blind, and you haven’t gotten around to it yet? Same, but that’s changing this week! Take your free time to do all the things you’ve complained about not being able to do because you were too busy. It might not be productive in the most academic sense, but with fewer academic commitments to worry about at the moment, you can afford to check some of those lower-priority tasks off your to-do list.

Study for your classes

If you have no clue what to do for your classes because all of them were structured around in-person tutorials or labs, then disregard this. But chances are, you have at least one class with an assignment that was to be handed in online anyways or readings that will still be relevant regardless of what changes may need to be made. Try to get some of that work done now so that when you do know how to move forward with the rest of your classes, your workload is lighter. Your future self will thank you!

A lot of changes are being thrown at us all at once and it can be a struggle to handle it – especially because we can’t fall back on our normal routines to distract ourselves. All we can do is try our best to fill up our free time in ways that keep our mind off of the stressful factors in our lives. Make sure to be smart and stay safe, but also have fun!