Alternatives to Time Wasting Activities
The probably most important topic on this website is self-development and of course I see it as an alternative to time-wasting tasks. Because if you take the time for this essential thing in life and you are also in a phase of deliberately avoiding distractions, you will see positive results in your life within a short time.
To be a better version of yourself, though, you first need to know what you want to achieve in the different areas in your life. Therefore, I recommend you create brain dumps first. Personally, I am looking forward to reviewing my brain dumps every 3 months. Seeing which goals I have already achieved or which ones I am very close to is incredibly motivating. But even completely rejecting goals that I thought were my goals, while I developed in a completely different way, and having had the strength to put my energy into my new goals, is also a good feeling.
Even writing a diary can be a great help. Failures, successes and their causes can be read again and the former can be avoided in the future. Memories that have already been forgotten, surface through the diaries and it is even possible to recognize coherences better.
In recent years, I took or received a lot of photos from friends and collected them all. I own a collection of images and videos that are several dozens of gigabytes in size. Unfortunately, I never or only rarely look at them actively and probably that’s the same for many people. To appreciate the images, you can also borrow a projector or watch them on a large monitor or TV. Taking your time for every picture and not just swiping it with your finger is also a way to appreciate them. Viewing the pictures with friends and reminiscing can also be a great experience.
Seeing what you have done in the past and who you were can also show who you are and in which direction you are developing and might also clearly show what you want to change in your life.
Even as a teenager I often tried to draw my heroes and all I had back then were comics that served as a template. In the Internet age, there is a large selection of templates, no matter what you intend to draw. That a template can be difficult to draw is no excuse anymore. You can always find an easier one. And you can also draw completely without distracting technologies. A pen and a sheet of paper and possibly an eraser if a pencil is used is all you need.
In the information age, where we are flooded with facts, half-truths and opinions regarding every conceivable topic, it is often very difficult to keep those three things apart. Anyone interested in a particular topic can read books about them written by trusted authors and with scientifically proven facts. Having complete background information instead of morsels of knowledge is extremely valuable and correlations can be better recognized that nobody else recognizes without this knowledge. Who knows, maybe the intensive and not distracted reading leads to an innovative invention or to finding a better job. But also readings such as novels which are completely based out of the imagination of the author, can be very pleasant to read if made of paper and the smartphone/tablet is fully turned off. Visualizing what was read in your mind can also encourage creativity.
My personal tip: check out your local library. You are often allowed to read books on-site without being a member. Often there is snug seating and if you do not like a book after all, you can put it back on the shelf right away. If a book is exciting and you want to read it on the go or at home, however, you can borrow it as well. There’s no need to be frightened of a membership either because it is very budget-friendly these days.
Selling/giving away items
People who are victims of consumerism will probably have whole furniture or even rooms crammed with things that are not needed. Many will jump up now and claim for each item, “I'll certainly need that someday,” but the truth is that it makes no difference if this item is there or not, because in many cases alternatives will be used. If e.g. the whisk not found, although one exists in the household, alternatively a fork is used for stirring. Decluttering can also be good for your soul because if your home only contains things that are needed or loved, you feel better in it. You may even earn so much money that you will get closer to your goals, or you can even relocate to a smaller flat because you do not have to pay so much rent for so many items anymore.
The most important and at the same time one of the simplest natural languages in the world is English. Whoever masters it even to a small extent, is able to communicate with a large part of the population on earth. But even if you only visit a country for a short vacation, learning the language can yield some benefits. It is always more polite if you speak to people in their countries using the respective national language rather than English, which makes you more likable. In addition, learning foreign languages is said to promote intelligence and memory.
Sewing, knitting, crocheting, etc.
For months or even years, I collected my clothes, which got damaged. Sometimes there are also favorite parts that got holes in some accident or maybe a loop for hanging them which was accidentally torn off. When the bag of worn out clothes is full again, I get needle and thread out, sit down and start sewing. It is not exactly the most masculine of all occupations, but in regard to this activity, old world views should be left in the drawer. “But I can’t sew!” many will claim now. But as written above, we live in the information age and your favorite video platform is guaranteed to have dozens of videos that can teach you how to sew within minutes.
Compared to a new acquisition, repairing clothes or objects in general is also undoubtedly the best you can do for our planet, people, animals, yourself and your wallet.
Woodturning, carving, grinding, engraving, modeling, etc.
There are an incredible number of ways to creatively work with materials such as clay, wood, paper, metal or even stone. Simply visiting a wood carving class in an adult education center in the next town for a first glimpse or watching a simple training video on the internet about origami cranes can help you figure out what suits you. It does not have to be creative and certainly not a work of art. With manual work, you can also create other things that support you in everyday life and promote productivity. A simple letter opener made of wood or metal, for instance, can eliminate the disorganized image of torn-open envelopes and create a pleasant working environment.
Training your brain
A very important activity is the training of the brain. Especially if you did not have a job that used most of your brain after graduating from school or college. Unfortunately, the brain is in danger of quickly becoming deserted and you yourself are in danger of going daft. This may sound harsh, but anyone who is getting daft does not notice the process because you are going daft, after all. You do not any longer know your multiplication table or even react with “Why should I be able to complete the multiplication table?” These could be indicators that your brain may become deserted. But today, there are a variety of apps and websites that cover areas such as logic, memory, sensory, speech and numeracy and train them well. But unfortunately, other skills are affected as everything only happens in front of a screen. For this reason, I also recommend training your brain without modern technology. This can be a simple sudoku or crossword booklet (available at any kiosk) or tricky toys, such as a magic cube. And even if juggling tends to be turned into ridicule, I can recommend to simply try it. It trains both halves of the brain at the same time as it aims to improve coordination, motor skills, spatial thinking, ability to react and peripheral vision, and even trains the body. Allegedly, juggling is also supposed to increase self-confidence, train the weaker hand, reduce forgetfulness and increase attention. And it does not incur any costs unless you want to buy good balls once. But juggling can also be done with crumpled paper, and almost anyone without strong physical or mental disabilities can learn it. Therefore, you don’t have any excuse to not just try it.
Meditation is one of the things that many people turn into ridicule or see as pointless. But I think you should not be prejudiced and should try something before even forming an opinion.
Personally, I found meditation to be something rather esoteric, but when I practiced it myself for several months, it helped me to get through more stressful times, and I got a clear head, was able to do my tasks better and faster, and was much more focused on important things.
Playing a musical instrument
Some people have already learned to play at least one musical instrument in their lives, but have unlearned it through a hard or routine job, study or other things in life and I could even bet that you have already played an instrument and would love to play it again but you do not have the time, have developed other hobbies or unfortunately let yourself be distracted by less important things. Whatever it is, it has made you drop something that you once loved to do or would like to do. Think about how great it would be to play an instrument now and play a beautiful song flawlessly. Wouldn‘t that be nice?
Training your body
New Year resolution #1 for many people probably is to train their body, which usually does not happen, though. First of all, I recommend that you stop making resolutions if you have not seriously scheduled time for it the same day anyway. Now that you have time, however, there is hope for your dream of an Adonis-like body.
Start small, for instance with 10-15 minutes of training every morning. At first it can be a split training, which I love to do. So, one day you do pushups to train your shoulders and then different crunches to train your abdomen. Then use the remaining time for squats. If you do not feel challenged or barely sweat, increase the repetitions or even sets.
A very good way to get fitter again is walking or hiking. Sounds pretty easy but a longer hike of 3 hours minimum and a little uphill will exhaust you pretty quickly, which can also bring a good night's sleep.
Socializing and offline projects
Everyone knows at least one person who has board games that might have been gathering dust for quite some time. Just ask in your circle of friends or in group chats you frequent, who has got which board games? Then pick an interesting one and ask around who is up for playing the game with you.
There are also simple games that can be played with just pen and paper or with simple dice, such as Scattergories or Yahtzee.
Aren‘t board games entertainment media? I would say no, because with these, the focus is on the social aspect that takes place in person. As a result, you also leave your comfort zone, as you must leave the house (if not in your own house). And I would like to recommend turning off your smartphones or at least activating flight mode for the game night. There is nothing worse than meeting your friends again, whom you may not have seen for a long time, and at least one of them plays a game on the smartphone, while it’s others’ turn, or watches a show or satisfies their addiction otherwise. Should it happen that friends let their smartphones distract them, you might want to address it discreetly and just playfully challenge that person and bet they will not manage to keep flight mode activated for 3 hours straight.
It does not just have to be games, though. With friends, you can also start joint projects that are offline and have absolutely nothing to do with entertainment media, such as jointly managing a garden with your own vegetables, assembling a puzzle together (I recommend 1000 parts), going on a short trip with a small group, a wellness weekend with friends, or go completely crazy and visit the theater or the museum in your city.
Things that need to be taken care of
Lastly, of course, I’ll also mention the unpleasant things that we have to do in life, but probably are procrastinating since a long while. Actually, I would also recommend to rather tackle the unpleasant things as the first thing in your day, because you have more energy available in the morning and all other tasks that follow are much easier to do, as these are a lot more fun for that and other reasons. I've made a conscious decision not to have them at the top of the list, though. The reason for this is that this list is often used by people who want to get away from bad habits or even an addiction, such as excessive consumption of entertainment media. However, choosing unpleasant tasks as alternatives creates an uncomfortable feeling and the alternatives are linked as something bad. It is not really conducive to feel bad already when withdrawing one thing.
But if you are wondering what kind of unpleasant tasks I am talking about, then I have a small list for you: tax returns, home or apartment repairs or repairing items, house and family work, scientific homework, …