“Home Sweet Home”… those are usually such comforting and welcoming words! You may have uttered them after returning from a trip, or even at the end of a long, tiring day at work.
But lately, with so much time spent in your home due to social distancing and shutdowns, it may be feeling like too much of a good thing! So you may be asking yourself, “What productive things can I do from home?”
There are many interesting, fun, and productive activities you can do without ever leaving your home. Practical things like learning a new skill, taking an online class, crafts, hobbies, gardening, reading, volunteering, and fun family things such as playing cards or creating new recipes.
Productive Things to do at Home
Here is a list of 64 creative ideas to get you going.
- Make a list. I think the very best way is to create a long list of things you think you could do. Grab a notepad and just start writing down everything you can think of.
Don’t worry so much if it is a great idea or not. Just write down what comes to mind. And keep the list handy because as you do things during the day you will find that more ideas pop into your head. Write them down right away before you forget about them.
Then start going through your list at least once a day and weed out the ideas that are not as appealing. Do this on a daily basis and you will find there are plenty of productive things for you to do at home.
Career Opportunities from Home
- Find a new or better job. Just because you may be laid off and stuck at home does not mean you can’t be looking for a better career. Perhaps you can start looking for a new job that not only pays better but is also more fulfilling.
- Attend Virtual Job Fairs. If you need a new job or just want a better job, a virtual job fair is a great way to find one right from your own home. No need to go anywhere, just log in via the internet and apply to the jobs you are interested in.
Most of these virtual job fairs also have the ability to interview you right then and there so make sure you dress the part if that is a possibility. And make sure your webcam (or phone) will be aimed at a good-looking spot in your house that has good lighting and a nice background.
And don’t forget the old adage about doing virtual job interviews…make sure you wear nice pants in case you need to stand up!
Search on the internet and you will find many virtual job fairs you can attend. And remember, there are actually more jobs now than ever that you can work from the comfort of your own home!
- Search the online jobs boards like Monster, Zip Recruiter, and Indeed. They are loaded with job opportunities.
There is an online course for every possible subject these days from computer programming to make some extra money working from home.
- Expanding your skillset by taking an online course is an easy way to be productive while at home.
Some places to check out online courses:
Adobe – Photography/Photoshop
Codecademy – Computer programming/coding learning all free!
Coursera – All subjects
edX – University courses
Skillshare – Short courses
Udemy – All subjects
Many public learning institutions offer free online courses in a variety of topics. Harvard University has free courses on everything from business to computer science.
Stanford University also provides the opportunity to take courses about engineering, health, and the arts. So no excuses not to improve your education.
Improve Your Financial Situation
There are many great ways to be productive at home and improve your financial situation.
- Pay bills. Yes, no one likes to pay bills but it has to be done. Set aside a specific time each day or once a week to get those bills taken care of.
Take a little time and set up a bill-paying system. You can do this the old fashion ‘manual’ way with just some index cards and a little box or find a free bill paying app on the internet.
- Start a budget. Since you are now keeping up with your bills in a logical and methodical way it is a great time to track how much money you actually spend each month and what you spend it on!
Break down a list of the different areas you spend money on from your bank statements. Total them up and you will probably be surprised to actually see what you are wasting money on each month!
- Reduce your monthly spending. Now that you track what you are spending money on, look for areas you can cut back.
- Pay off your debts. Do you own money on credit cards and pay interest each month? Help get rid of that with your savings from your new budgeting system! And while you are at it cut back the number of credit cards you have to just one.
- Participate in online surveys. This is a way to make a little extra money on the side and also have some fun. There are surveys of all types available to try. Swagbucks and Survey Junkie are probably two of the most well-known websites to check out.
- Set up a savings account at your bank if you don’t have one. Figure out how much you can put in that account each month and stick to it.
- Sign up for cash rebate deals online. Examples are Ebates and Checkout 51. Go to their websites and learn how if you make purchases via their apps you earn cash rebates that they send you in the mail or electronically. Ebates has thousands of retailers that participate and it is all very simple to set up and use. The extra money is great!
- Start investing in your future. There are many ways to invest that are relatively secure. Do some research and determine which ones are best for you. The stock market has ups and downs so devise a long-term strategy.
- Create an additional source of revenue. There are many great ways to make money from home. Just be careful to not get caught up in scams that are not legitimate. The internet is full of “make money at home” scams.
Learn a Craft
Arts and crafts aren’t just for kids anymore! You may even have art supplies sitting around the house that you have forgotten about. If you have or had kids around, you may still have paints, markers, colored pencils and pads just waiting to be given a new life.
If not, you can easily pick some up on your next trip to the grocery store or your local arts and crafts store, at any price range.
- Revisit an old craft or try out a new one. Did you like to sketch or do ceramics in your previous life when you had more free time? What a great time to get creative juices flowing! Everyone has hidden talents and you may find one of yours!
- Consider painting, knitting, sewing, scrapbooking, jewelry making, or even coloring. The list is endless! A great place for ideas is the social media platform Pinterest. They have so many wonderful pictures to inspire you.
- Learn how to do calligraphy and make cards for friends and family. And remember to be kind to yourself when learning a new skill. Practice makes perfect. Just have fun with it!
- Refinish a tired-looking piece of furniture. Start small with something that is not too difficult. You might be so impressed with the results, that you make this an ongoing new hobby.
Before you say no to this, realize it is so much easier than you may think to grow things. And watching the progress as things grow can be addicting!
- Create an indoor garden. You can buy seeds for veggies, flowers or herbs at the grocery store or local nursery. Grab a small bag of soil and you are on your way to some nice surprises in the weeks ahead.
- Get outside and give your outdoor plants some TLC. Puttering around in the dirt, weeding, pruning, and planting clears your mind every time! Spending spare time outdoors is always so uplifting.
- Consider swapping plants with friends and neighbors to add variety to your garden.
Music is Great For The Soul
- Play an instrument. Do you have a piano that you ignore as if it were just another piece of furniture? How about that old guitar you picked up from a garage sale and never got around to learning how to play?
There is no better time than right now to loosen up and give it a try. Check out some YouTube videos and find great tutorials on music. Beginners welcome!
- Dance. Just crank up the music and move. It is a sure way to lift your spirits and get some exercise at the same time! And if you don’t have a willing partner, dancing alone may be even better.
Consider your home a no-judgment zone. Don’t forget that dancing is a great exercise and also good mental therapy.
- Write a song. Play or sing it proudly! Writing lyrics is a great way to use your imagination, express your feelings and challenge your mind.
The Great Outdoors
Now that the weather is milder in most areas, how wonderful it feels to get outside and breathe in the fresh air.
- Take a walk or a bike ride, or just sit in the yard listening to the birds. You will be surprised at the wonderful experiences you can have ‘outside’ right at home.
- Tidy up around the yard and exterior of the house. Do you have a droopy gutter, peeling trim, dirty windows? Now is the best time to tackle those trouble spots. You can enjoy the beautiful day and be productive as well!
- Go outside in the evening and gaze at the stars. There is a whole universe out there if you just look up! Get a telescope or even just use binoculars to look at the largest planets like Jupiter.
Did you know you can actually see four of Jupiter’s moons with just binoculars? You can! Astronomy is an intriguing pastime to get involved with and you can do it from your own backyard.
- Grill outside! Nothing more fun and relaxing than having a cookout. For some reason, food cooked outside always tastes better. It is also a great way to connect with the world compared to indoor cooking.
Or if you live in an area where is it permitted build a fire and make some yummy s’mores! Or just sit and watch the flames flicker in the evening sky. If you can’t build an actual fire get a fire pit and set up some chairs around it.
You probably enjoy spending time in front of the TV or on social media, but let’s face it, those activities are not a productive way to use your time. There are so many other productive and fun ways to spend your extra free time, that can also fire up those brain cells.
- Crossword, Jumbles, or a Sudoku puzzle are fun and challenging exercises for your mind. Those options may sound old school, but they are actually just as much fun as ever.
- Lots of free game apps are available on your phone. Anything from “Words With Friends” to “Candy Crush” to “Solitaire.” There is a huge assortment of games you can play on your own or with others.
- Discover a new language. Learning a foreign language is fun, challenging, and in some cases very useful. When you start to travel again knowing a second language will open up many new places you can go and fit right in. There are countless apps and websites to assist you. Many are free. Check out Duolingo or Babbel to name a couple.
- Learn a new skill that you didn’t have time for in the past. There are tons of “how-to videos” on YouTube from learning how to cut your own hair, to DYI home repairs.
Declutter and Clean Up
Getting started can be like pulling teeth for most of us. You may have accumulated lots of stuff over the years, much of it no longer needed or used. Organizing expert Marie Kondo advises us to hold onto to only the things that spark joy.
Tacking one small area at a time is the best approach. And once you start, you will begin to feel lighter, and likely want to keep going!
- The best place to start cleaning up is with that junk drawer! Or drawers if you have more than one. I bet it is full of things you didn’t even remember you had!
Yes, sometimes you get lucky and find exactly what you are looking for in the junk drawer but you probably have to admit that you usually just add to it instead of finding a use for whatever items are in there.
- Throw out expired foods and spices from kitchen cupboards, and pantry. Discard or donate any utensils, pans, bowls, and dishes that you no longer use.
There are most likely many items in your pantry that are pushed so far in the back of the shelves you forgot they are there. Take an inventory and see how much ‘new space’ you can make.
- Sort through closets and drawers, and donate clothes, shoes, and purses that you no longer wear but are in decent condition. Or box them up for a future yard sale.
Pretty much the same as your pantry you will most likely have many articles of clothing you have never worn in years and will never wear again! For some reason, they stay in the closet though.
It is usually just because it is easier to push them aside than to make that tough decision to get rid of them.
- Make a game of it. Have your kids (or partner) join in the fun. Say something to them like, “Ok, who wants to play a game? Whoever can find the most toys, games, books, stuffed animals to donate wins! Winner gets their choice of a treat!”
- Paint rooms that need refreshing. Or just touch up peeled and scuffed areas. Sometimes painted walls can be easily cleaned up and don’t even require repainting. There are many new-fangled cleaning aids that work almost like magic to make scuffs and marks go away.
- Rearrange furniture. This will likely inspire you to clean and declutter the room as well. It’s amazing how just moving the sofa to a different location can be so refreshing and uplifting!
- Consider a home improvement project. Wallpapering the bathroom or putting up a new backsplash. Maybe even replacing that dingy old carpeting.
Often the carpet just needs a good cleaning and it will look almost like new again. Plus, cleaning your carpet gives the whole house a nicer smell.
- Sort through those boxes full of old photos. Organize them in photo albums, or scan them and create a photo book of your favorites. Frame some or make photo collages.
- Repurpose items to give them a second life. Old calendars or coffee table books often contain beautiful art or photos that can be framed. Shirts and dresses can be cut up and used for quilting.
Fun Family Activities
- Play a board game. Pull out those dusty old games and jigsaw puzzles. Rediscover how much fun those used to be before screens took over your life!
- If you have younger kids, arrange scavenger hunts. Build forts in the family room using blankets and pillows. You can use old boxes, sheets, and blankets to make a heck of a fort that can bring a lot of enjoyment to the youngsters.
- Round up everyone for a cooking or baking project. Then toss out a blanket on the floor and enjoy an indoor picnic with the food you just made.
If you are doing the ‘indoor picnic’ treat it just like you are going somewhere…make up some nice sandwiches, cut up some fruit, add in some lemonade and you have a very nice event.
- Plan a movie night, popcorn included! There is no better way to bond with family members than laughing at or crying over a favorite movie and talking about it later. Connect your computer to your TV with an HDMI cable and everyone can join in! There are many free movies online line to choose from.
- Read a book. Reading can transport you to new worlds. Especially now when you may be feeling cabin fever; a good book is a great way to “see” new destinations and “meet” new people.
There are many awesome self-help books that are inspirational and educational while still being entertaining.
- Meditate. Just focussing on your breath can have a calming effect. This is a great way to clear your mind and improve your mental health. Many people say that meditation is the number one way to create a higher level of happiness in your life. It can be even effective only doing it a few minutes a day.
There are numerous meditation websites, podcasts, and videos you can find online that are free and will get you going in the right direction.
- Exercise. Consider Yoga or Tai Chi. There are many free classes on YouTube and some excellent instructors that make you feel as if they are talking directly to you. Your physical health is a vital part of a productive life and you can have great fitness just by exercising at home.
- Write poems or stories. Writing is a wonderful way to use your imagination and express your thoughts and ideas.
- Start a journal or revisit an old one. Putting your feelings on paper is very healing and liberating. A great way to deal with problems and worries is to get them off your chest.
- Research vacation or day trip ideas for the future. Envisioning new places and adventures brings excitement and something to look forward to. Create a vision board with photos of your dream destinations.
- Listen to inspirational podcasts or Ted Talks. You will discover some fascinating people with rich experiences and advice to share. There are many great podcasts these days on subject matters like finance, personal development, mindfulness, religion, sports, and just about anything else you can think of.
Podbean is a great podcast app that is easy to use and you can find just about everything there.
- Spoil yourself with a spa day. Make a little extra time for yourself and relax in a bubble bath, give yourself a facial or just polish your nails. Consider this your well-deserved free time.
- Discover your roots. You can spend hours building your family tree. Sites like Ancestry may have a wealth of information about your family dating back generations. You took for granted that you had ancestors, but doing this research really brings them to life and opens your heart.
- Create a “bucket list” of things you always wanted to do in life. While your travel plans may be a bit on hold lately it is still a great thing to make that list. Even if you decide not to actually go to places on your bucket list you can always find videos online to watch about them.
Remember, a bucket list is not just about places to go it is also about things you want to do in your life. Maybe read a certain book, write a book, or get a degree. Whatever it is you dream about doing write it down.
We all need time to unplug. Even if you aren’t working outside the home these days, or caring for young kids, you can probably use a break from the noise inside your own head.
Listening to the news, especially these days can create anxiety, sadness and fear. To regain a sense of calm, you can engage in a variety of relaxing activities.
Reach Out to Others
We are social creatures. Being together brings a feeling of warmth and connection. Not to mention just catching up and sharing some laughs. Start by making a list of people that mean something in your life and start there.
- Write letters. Yes, people still can send letters in the mail to loved ones or friends! This is a great use of your time building a skillset you may have neglected. Being a better writer always has benefits in many ways for you.
If you are not into writing, call, text, or Facetime (live video chat online) with friends and relatives.
- Keep up on social media. A little time on Facebook to see what your best friend is up to, or to watch funny animal videos is certainly fine. You are probably already doing this anyway!
Just remember, you can also waste a lot of time doing social media. It is easy to think you are “busy” spending time doing nothing of value on the internet.
- Plan a Zoom party and bring your own drinks and snacks. Or be brave and Zoom from your kitchen, while you all prepare a new recipe together. Many of today’s technologies offer free video conferencing that you can use in a variety of ways.
Maybe you can start a club and have weekly meetings online to discuss shared interests.
- Volunteer from home. Consider calling to check on elders in your faith community or through a local agency. Contact agencies to seek out other possibilities.
There are also many ways to volunteer online without leaving the house. Check out VolunteerMatch as an example. They have connections with over 100,000 volunteer organizations around the world. You are guaranteed to find something fulfilling to do with your time.
- Learn how to manage your time. If you have more time on your hands than you know what to do with OR you feel there are never enough hours in the day to get things done it is the perfect time to work on your time management skills.
And yes, this is something you can do at home and it is very productive! One thing productive people always do is manage their time. Study after study has shown that people who are not productive in their lives generally do things on a regular basis that are a waste of time.
Time is literally your most valuable asset. All successful business leaders think about time management. Put in a little effort yourself and get the most out of your time.
While maybe not your top choices, there are some really practical and productive things that you can get off your to-do list during this spare time at home.
- Organize your computer. Has it become impossible to find anything on your desktop lately? Does your email date back to 2019?
Deleting old stuff and making folders will make your life so much easier in the long run. Turn your free time into time well spent!
- Set goals for the year ahead. This is one of the best and most productive ways to utilize your extra free time. Whether it is planning home improvements, or exploring a career change, getting those goals on paper is the first step.
Make a list of what you want to accomplish and then map out the steps and timelines.
- Update your resume. Resume formats have changed over the years. It may be a good idea to do some online research to see how yours stacks up.
This is also a great time to add any new jobs or new skills and remove outdated or irrelevant information.
- Create a meal plan. Meal plans save a lot of time by laying out what you will eat a week in advance. You can do all your shopping at one time if you have a well-thought-out grocery list.
This is a great list of productive things you can do at home. Now you have no reason to be bored or unproductive!
You can use this time to organize your home, reconnect with your family, get in shape, expand your knowledge, set new goals or discover hidden talents. Whether your nature is active or laid back, there are endless activities to fill your free time until you can move freely about the world again!
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