Valuable Ways to Maximize Your Spare Time in 2010


We all have those days when we come up with a million things to do, but instead, choose to sit on the couch all day and watch a Jersey Shore marathon. But there will be none of that in 2010. Take on the day, learn something new, do something productive, and help those less fortunate. Not only will your day be more lively, but you will have something else to talk about other than the latest celebrity antics. Here are some ways that you can maximize your spare time while enhancing your personal character and giving back to your community — all at the same time.

1. Pick Up a Camera
Capture those special moments in the lives of you and your loved ones. Years down the road everyone will appreciate that you did. Pictures make great gifts for the most important people in your life, and it’s easy for anyone to do. All you need is a camera and an eye for beauty. Check out our top ten most stylish cameras here for some ideas on how to get started. Take your new hobby a step further and scrapbook all the images to create a physical record of your memories.

2. Learn to Crochet or Knit

Learning to crochet or knit offers an array of possibilities for additions to your wardrobe. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll no longer have to dish out dollars for scarves, hats, mittens — or if you’re really ambitious — sweaters. You can either design and create your own or embrace your inner philanthropist and donate your knitted or crocheted creations to a local shelter. When the weather reaches these bitter temperatures, there are few greater gifts than a warm, comfortable blanket to wrap up in, especially for those who have little else.

3. Paint or Draw

Turn those in-office doodles into home decor. The best part of drawing and painting is that you can only get better, so the more you practice, the more rewarding it will be. Experiment with different techniques and watch your collection of wall art expand.

4. Learn to Cook

Learning to cook impresses others, saves you money, and has the potential to help others who are less fortunate. Learn to cook some hearty meals and you can donate them to Meals on Wheels, an organization that provides and delivers meals for those who are unable to prepare food for themselves. Get together with some of your other food-savvy friends and host a dinner party — but make plenty of extra leftovers to deliver to hungry seniors who are in dire need of some delicious nutrition.

Click here for ingredients that every home cook should always have in their pantry.

5. Grow a Vegetable Garden
Healthy for you, healthy for the environment, and an all around impressive skill to have. The green thumb is not as commonplace as you may think. In the winter months, substitute your regular garden for your own in-house herb garden. When your garden reaches full bloom, you can donate your excess produce to local soup kitchens.

6. Learn to Sew
Similar to knitting and crocheting, learning to sew will expand your sartorial options to include a wider variety of goods. No longer will you daydream about that perfect ensemble in your head, but you’ll be able to make it come alive yourself. Plus, any time a hem rips or you want to shorten a skirt, you’ll have the tools to do it at home instead of paying the extra dollars for a seamstress. And you’ll be able to make anything old in your closet new again by tweaking it with your own creative touch.

7. Train a Puppy
Organizations such as The Seeing Eye are always looking for people to adopt and train puppies to eventually become seeing eye dogs or companions. If you’re an animal lover, we couldn’t think of a more adorable way to help others while improving your happiness at the same time.

8. Learn a Language
The United States unfortunately remains one country where learning a second language is not a requirement — certainly not the best aspect of our education system. We think it’s time to catch up to Europe and jump on the bilingual bandwagon. Learning another language will not only enhance your resume, it will allow you to speak to a wider variety of people, and in some cases, may make your foreign travels easier. If you’re interested in spending time abroad to enhance your skills in a particular foreign language, you can sign up to become an ESL teacher (English as a second language), thus creating a mutually beneficial relationship in which you teach others English and get exposure to a new culture as well. For cheaper alternatives to enrolling in language classes, there are free Podcasts that offer language courses as well.