Time is precious – in fact, motivational speaker Dennis Waitley calls it “the most precious element of human existence.” And though there are many things in life that we can’t control, one thing that we can control is how we choose to spend our days.
Most of us would agree that we want to use our time in the most valuable way possible – whether that be taking some much-needed downtime, learning a new skill, or helping others.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of 12 rewarding ways to spend your time, which we hope will offer you some inspiration.
1. Explore the art of gardening and growing plants
Gardening and growing plants is a meaningful and fulfilling way to spend your time that not only makes your living space more aesthetically pleasing, but also has a lot of health benefits.
As a meaningful activity, studies also show that gardening and growing plants can help to reduce stress, depression, and anxiety, and boost self-esteem. Plus, surrounding yourself with greenery is a great way to improve your living space, connect with nature, and boost your mood.
If you want to get into gardening, but you’re unsure where to start, then you might want to check out the gardening section of our website. Here you’ll find information on everything from superfoods that you can grow from home to tools that can make gardening easier. We also have a range of gardening courses available through our site, with you can explore here.
2. Start a blog about something you really care about
The reason that blogging is so rewarding is because it allows you to organise your thoughts and feelings, explore a topic you’re particularly passionate about, and share your knowledge and experience with others. It can also help you to track your journey.
For example, some people find it helpful to keep a blog throughout a long illness – to not only help them cope with their emotions, but also to help others that might be going through the same thing. Others start a blog when they take up a new hobby, to document their progress and offer tips and advice to anyone else who shares a similar interest.
You can blog as little or as much as you like, and you also don’t need to worry about sharing it with others until you’re completely ready. Blogs can feel very personal and some people need a little time before they feel comfortable enough putting it out there for the world to see. Though it’s also okay if you decide that you never want to promote it to others and keep it for your eyes only.
Some of the best free blogging websites for beginners are Tumblr, WordPress, and Medium. To find out more about how you can start your own blog, why not take a look at our article; How to start a blog in 6 easy steps?
3. Empower yourself through exercise
As the saying goes; strong body, strong mind. Exercise helps us to connect our body and mind – and our bodies are usually capable of achieving far more than our minds think that they are.
This is one of the things that makes exercise so rewarding and empowering; there’s always room for growth and development, and for achieving what you might have once thought was impossible.
Making time to exercise is also a form of self-care because it makes us feel good. Taking the time out of your day to go for a 5K run, do some yoga, or take a gym class will allow you a window of opportunity to spend some quality time with yourself.
Exercise offers multiple rewards, and it’s unusual to finish a session without feeling a sense of accomplishment. You may end your exercise session on a high because you completed your run in record time, or feel more relaxed after a gentle yoga session because you took the space and time to clear your mind.
For added benefits, you could try exercising outside. Research shows this can optimise physical performance, reduce stress and mental fatigue, and improve mood and self-esteem.
If you’re looking for ways to stay active, head over to the fitness and exercise section of our website. Here you’ll find everything from Tai Chi, to running, cycling, walking football, and dance classes.
4. Connect with nature
The world in which we live is vast and full of beautiful sights – some of which are much closer to home than you might think.
Connecting with nature is a rewarding, spiritual, and often humbling experience that can not only help to reduce stress, but can also be a way of provoking thoughts about our existence and place in the world.
Alongside gardening and growing plants, other ways to connect with nature include:
- Bird watching – Bird watching is an excellent way to connect with the natural world because birds are all around us.
Observing the habits and behaviour of common birds can provide us with a great opportunity to find beauty in something that we might take for granted. And searching for rarer birds is an exciting and fulfilling way to spend your time – especially if you’re lucky enough to spot one!
- Stargazing – Like bird watching, oftentimes the most rewarding ways to connect with nature are the simplest. In the case of stargazing, all you have to do is look up.
While birdwatching is a great way to find beauty in the small occurrences around us, stargazing gives us the opportunity to contemplate the vast infinity of the natural world that extends beyond what we know.
Stargazing can be also a great way to relieve stress and allow the worries and pressures of everyday life to melt away. Looking up at the expanse of stars and planets can really help to put things into perspective.
- Go on a camping or hiking holiday – Sometimes, the best way to connect with nature is to leave the hustle and bustle of modern life behind and take off into the wilderness.
The UK is filled with beautiful areas such as Snowdonia, the Lake District, and the Cairngorms, which are full of sights and scenes perfect for a camping or hiking holiday. So why not take some time away and lose yourself in the splendour of the natural world?
Our article, 32 ways to connect with nature and feel inspired has plenty more ideas if none of the ideas above takes your fancy.
5. Create a vision board
Vision boards are a great way to explore and realise your goals and dreams, and to identify what you’re most grateful for.
A vision board can be any sort of board that includes images (and sometimes words) to act as a powerful and positive daily reminder of whatever you want to be, do, or have in your life.
Vision boards are often linked to the Law of Attraction, which is the idea that the way we think directly impacts the positive or negative experiences that we have in life. So the more optimistic your approach, the more likely we are to have positive experiences in reality. This ideology has become increasingly popular since the release of the 2006 book: The Secret.
When it comes to creating your own vision board, there are really no rules. Vision boards can be as big, small, or creative as you like. Most people create them by hand using a corkboard, photos, cutouts from magazines, and inspirational quotes. You could dedicate an hour, an afternoon, or a whole weekend to this exercise, and you may well want to add to it over time as you progress on your journey.
To find out more about the rewards associated with creating a vision board, plus tips on how to get started, why not take a look at our article; How to create an inspiring vision board?
6. Foster a dog or cat
Caring for an animal is a uniquely rewarding experience that can not only bring you companionship, but also an added sense of fulfilment and purpose. There are plenty of dogs and cats out there that are looking for some love, while they await their permanent home.
If you’d be interested in finding out more, then it’s worth contacting your local RSPCA centre or branch by email to find out whether there are any dogs or cats near you that need a temporary home.
The application process is completed over the phone and online, and if successful, the animal will be delivered safely to your home by an RSPCA inspector.
You can find out more and apply on the RSPCA website. Or, to explore more ways to spend time with creatures great and small, you might want to read our page on volunteering with animals. There are also plenty of ideas in our articles; 12 interesting roles working with animals and 13 ways to connect with animals.
7. Make improvements to your home or garden
Research suggests that in the UK we spend an average of nine hours per day at home (that’s 37.5% of your life!). So, why not get the most out of your living space by making a few home improvements?
Home improvements could include changing the colour scheme in your living room to something fresher and brighter, restoring or upcycling an old piece of furniture, or fixing that leaky tap in the bathroom.
When we make improvements to our homes and/or gardens, we tend to enjoy them much more, and often feel a sense of pride over what we’ve achieved – especially if we’ve learnt some new skills in the process. It can also help to boost the value of your property, which could be useful if you’re thinking about selling at some point in the future.
If you’re on a budget, our article, 10 affordable ways to improve your living space, has plenty of tips on how to update your bathroom and spruce up your garden without breaking the bank.
We also have a wide range of interior design courses available through our site which cover everything from how to put different colour schemes together, to how to create a space plan.
8. Volunteer to help others
If you have a few spare hours each week and want to give back to the community, then why not consider volunteering? Volunteering not only allows you to help others but also comes with feelings of satisfaction and reward, which can improve confidence and self-esteem.
There are a wide range of roles out there from volunteering with children and helping the elderly, to organising events and taking care of animals – so there’s something for everyone. To search for volunteer roles or get some inspiration, check out the volunteering section of our website. Or, our article, 18 meaningful ways to help others and give back to your community, has plenty more ideas too.
If volunteering in person isn’t for you, you can even volunteer from the comfort of your own home. All you need is a stable WiFi connection and a genuine desire to help. From offering a listening ear to helping to protect ancient trees in your local area, there are plenty of ways you can make a difference from home.
To find out more about what online volunteering options are out there and how to apply, you can read our full guide here.
9. Tackle your book bucket list
Many of us have a mental or physical list of books that we really must get round to reading, but that we always put off until later. If you’re looking for a rewarding way to spend your time, then why not start crossing some of those books off of your list?
Getting stuck into a great book is a chance for you to learn something new, take on a different perspective and go on an exciting journey – all from the safety and comfort of your sofa. There’s also a sense of accomplishment that comes from knowing that you have soaked up an entire book’s contents by reading the whole thing from cover to cover.
If you don’t have a book bucket list of your own, then we have plenty of articles in the books, literature, and writing section of our website which will hopefully give you some inspiration – from 27 of the best must-read novels to 20 of the best history books.
10. Write a letter to a friend or family member
Although phone calls and video platforms are a great way to stay in touch with friends and family, sometimes there’s just nothing like a handwritten letter to make someone’s day.
Handwritten letters take a bit of time and thought, and are less spontaneous than usual methods of communication. However, this can make them feel much more special. I know that when I receive a handwritten letter, I feel touched that someone has taken the time to write and send me a thoughtful message – especially because handwritten notes are a rarity nowadays.
Knowing that your letter could put a big smile on the face of someone you love is satisfying, and makes the time spent writing it feel very worthwhile. Writing to someone else by hand also encourages them to write back to you. Before you know it, you could have a pen pal, and something to look forward to in the post every now and then.
11. Learn or develop new skills
Developing a new skill is a rewarding way to spend your time. Not only can it help you to develop personally and/or professionally, but it often brings a great sense of achievement, especially if it’s something you didn’t think you could do.
Learning is an integral part of our existence and it affects how we interact with and relate to the world around us. When we learn a new skill, we often find that our world opens up just that little bit more, and this continues with every new skill that we acquire or master.
The skills you choose to learn or develop will be personal to you – but could include anything from learning how to fold origami to learning how to manage your own plumbing.
Whatever you’ve thought about learning, chances are, there’s a course or an online tutorial that will show you how to do it. The learning section of our site has over 50,000 courses for you to sink your teeth into – plus information about online resources that you can use for free and suggestions of skills you can learn from home.
It’s also worth getting well acquainted with YouTube because it’s full of tips and advice from people who’ve learnt or are currently learning new skills.
12. Practise self-care
It’s not uncommon for people to feel guilty when they take quality time for themselves. But it’s more important than ever to remember that taking ‘you’ time is an essential part of looking after your general health and wellbeing.
Self-care means different things to different people and can be about more than simply eating healthy balanced meals and getting enough sleep. It can also involve allowing yourself time to do the things that you enjoy, to relax and recharge. For example, having a long hot bath and a glass of wine, completely undisturbed. Or treating yourself to a movie morning in bed on a Saturday after a long week.
Sometimes, when we practise self-care we experience feelings of guilt or a sense that we should be doing something more productive – which can stop you from whole-heartedly enjoying quality time with yourself.
However, it becomes much more enjoyable and rewarding when you can accept that you deserve this time, and that you’ll be better able to tackle other things when you’re finished.
If you find this a challenge, then start small. Try to allow yourself at least half an hour a day to do something that you truly enjoy and can indulge in. Even if that just means reading a chapter of your favourite book.
Do you have any additional rewarding ways that you spend your free time? We’d love to hear from you! Join the conversation on the community forum, or leave a comment below.