Business of Life

Ideas, Information & Inspiration

Productive Hobbies to Fill Your Free Time

10 mins
What you’ll learn
  • The Importance & Benefits of Having Productive Hobbies
  • The Negative Effects of Non-productive Hobbies
  • Positive Hobbies to Consider Picking Up
by Marcus Life Learning Team

Although many of us might say our favorite hobby is spending hours bingeing the latest shows or mindlessly browsing social media, there are tons of great (and more productive ways) to spend your free time. Losing all track of time on social media is nothing like losing all track of time in a garden, yoga studio or fishing boat. Actively engaging in a hobby that brings you joy has countless benefits. The time you invest is productive and rewarding. Enrich your downtime with a constructive hobby.

Image of someone holding a potted plant.

Define Constructive

Hobbies are anything but one-size-fits-all. Just as one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, one man’s stamp collection is another man’s bowling trophy. Hobbies don’t have to generate extra income, but that’s sometimes an added perk. Hobbies don’t have to result in masterpieces of staggering genius, but many do. They don’t have to help you stay fit, make new friends or learn something, but that’s often an unexpected bonus. Engaging in any hobby is a constructive use of your time if you love doing it. 

Chances are, you’ll be prouder of the coffee table that took three tries to build than the store-bought one. You won’t care if your neighbors think you’re nuts for starting a home brewery. Of course, your hobby needn’t produce anything. Maybe you just plan to join a book club or visit more museums. Maybe you’ve always wanted to collect vintage TV-themed lunch boxes. As long as your hobby is both stimulating and satisfying, it’s constructive.

Image of someone meditating.

Being Productive in Your Spare Time Matters

In business, Marcus always advocates being purposeful. That applies to leisure time too. On the rare day that you have absolutely nothing to do, you probably find ways to fill the time. That’s just human nature. People like having a purpose because they feel a sense of accomplishment when they fulfill it. Someone who spends a whole day playing solitaire or watching reruns of “The Office” often misses that gratification. Here are some downsides of nonconstructive hobbies:

Feeling Depressed and Suffering from Low Self-Esteem

Anything that doesn’t actively engage your mind and arouse your passions can be considered unproductive, and nothing lowers self-esteem like being unproductive.

Not Being Altogether Present

Another danger of wasting time is missing life in the moment. People who take up a hobby spend hours creating, learning and solving problems. They’re so absorbed in the activity at hand that they even forget to eat. On the other hand, people who have nothing compelling to hold their attention tend to dwell on the past or worry about the future. They’re never truly present in the moment.

Image of someone swinging from a bar in air.

Living with Stress

Psychologists and medical doctors alike agree that constructive hobbies are huge stress busters. People need an outlet for all that angst that builds up at the office, on the freeway or during finals week.

Escape the Ordinary

Finally, to put it bluntly, people who don’t engage in productive hobbies tend to be less interesting. Be the one to shake things up. Announce that you’ve launched a podcast, started hosting murder mystery dinners, or enrolled in a trapeze class.

The Benefits of Having Constructive Hobbies

If you’re into restoring classic cars or practicing nail art on your friends, then the rush you get from your hobby is reward enough. However, there are plenty of side benefits:

Image of someone playing chess.

Greater Patience

Evolving technology has its drawbacks. In this world of next-day shipping and instant gratification, patience is harder to come by. A hobby, especially an activity that you’ve never tried before, slows everything down. Learning to fence, write computer code or play chess takes time and patience with yourself. There’s no autocorrect option; only practice makes perfect. Your hobby will become more and more rewarding as you patiently work to improve.

Increased Brainpower

The brain craves new information. It loves uncharted territory. There’s nothing wrong with sticking to a hobby that you enjoy and are good at, but never stop challenging yourself. Try some new hobbies now and then. Even if you don’t stick with them, you’ll keep your brain engaged.

Expanded Social Network

Thanks to the internet, like-minded hobbyists have numerous ways to connect. You can find someone who shares your love of extreme ironing. Yes, that’s a thing. A kindred trainspotter or bottle collector is just a click away, so use your hobby to expand your social network. All the experts agree that socialization is vital to mental, emotional and physical health.

Springboard to Other Interests

Not every hobby you try will work out, but hang in there. You may decide that you despise gardening but are fascinated by bumblebees or ecology. Wine tastings might bore you to tears, but you may be intrigued by the winemaking process. Metal detecting could evolve into creative metalworking. Your ultimate hobby could be loosely related to another one, so keep an open mind.

Better Time Management

A hobby will help you organize and manage your time. If you have to go to improv class or just can’t wait to get back to your origami, you’ll work through your mundane to-do list faster.

Constructive Hobbies to Consider

Your options are virtually limitless. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Book Scouting

Book scouts are bookworms who double as detectives. They comb flea markets, garage sales, estate sales and thrift stores for rare, valuable books. Scouts have the knowledge to recognize a potentially valuable edition when they see one. They’ve done their homework on factors like condition; even a pristine, hard-to-find title might be worthless if the original dust jacket is missing. They’ve learned how to decode publishing information and look for distinguishing features such as first-run publishing errors. Anything unique or unusual can boost value. Interesting stories about authors often drive demand. For instance, John Kennedy Toole committed suicide when he failed to find a publisher for “A Confederacy of Dunces.” His mother peddled his blurry, beat-up manuscript until Percy Walker agreed to publish it. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1981. Copies in good condition are nearly impossible to find. The American Library Association’s Rare Books and Manuscripts section has a lengthy list of FAQs about identifying rare books. AbeBooks, Raptis Rare Books and Vialibri are also good online resources.

Image of someone cooking on a stove.


If you like the outdoors, try this exhilarating treasure hunt. Participants use mobile devices or GPS to either hide or track down containers, or geocaches, in precise locations around the world. The caches hold “treasures” that are typically only of sentimental value. There’s a log inside each cache that you sign and date when you find it. You then return the treasure to its hiding place for someone else to find. The race is on to be the first player to find each cache. Geocaching is perfect for you if you like to travel, hike and navigate.

Food-Related Hobbies

Let your imagination run wild. You could take a passion for food in dozens of different directions. Are you also a good writer? Find an unusual blog niche like the origins of herbs and spices or famous dishes. Ask people in your church or neighborhood for recipes, and create a community cookbook. If you’re handy with a camera, take a course in food photography. You could hire yourself out to local restaurants and design their menus around your photos. If your cooking repertoire is rather ordinary, get creative to make it more fun. Play around with ingredients and sauces you’ve never tried. Study wine pairings. If you’re serving coq au vin, learn a little basic French to wow your spouse or dinner guests. With any luck, a cooking-related hobby will increase your interest in nutrition and keep you fit. It will also save you money.

Art-Related Hobbies

If Sketching and Painting Don’t Strike Your Fancy, Think Outside the Paint Box:
  1. Illustrated journaling
  2. Sand art
  3. Lego art
  4. Comic book or cartoon art
  5. Anime
  6. Collage art
  7. Papier-mâché art
  8. Graphic art
  9. Stationery and card design
  10. Zentangle
  11. Jewelry making
  12. Tie-dyeing
  13. Clothing design and sewing
  14. Doll making and dollhouse design

Take into account that, depending on the medium, art hobbies can be expensive.

Hundreds of other options include everything from archery to candle making to cosplay. Join Toastmasters. Learn to cut hair. Become an antiques expert. If your hobby fulfills a physical, mental, emotional, spiritual or monetary need in your life, it’s constructive and worthwhile.

  1. Do you currently have any productive hobbies to fill your time?
  2. What hobbies mentioned above interest you most?
Photo of Marcus Lemonis