13 Productive and useful things to do in your free time

Today’s guest post is by Melissa (@m.goodphotos on Instagram), a brilliant student who’s going to share her advice on how to productively use the time you spend not revising. At Adapt, we get so many requests for advice around this! Whether you want to spend your free time doing education related activities, or you’re looking for fun, non-educational activities, this post has it all! Keep reading to find out how to spend your free time productively.

A lot of students struggle to find free time, especially with exams and mocks coming up. Free time is easy to find if you know how to look for it, just taking a 20-minute break can be classed as free time!

Take a quick break between pieces of homework to de-stress yourself. Frequently students, similar to myself, don’t know what to do when they accumulate a lot of free time. Instead of taking a well-deserved break, we revise more and more until we nearly reach a breaking point, and only then do we take a pause. But ultimately that means that we burn ourselves out and end up being less productive.

I’m going to talk about different things you can do during your free time/breaks from revision to use that time productively. I’ll suggest ideas for both educational and non-educational things, as well as short things you can do in a 5-25 minute break from revision!

Educational things to do in your free time

If you are stressed and worried about exams and want to do something fun but still useful in your free time, there are many things that you can do. Some of my favourite examples of these types of activities would be:

  1. Read a book. It doesn’t have to be an educational book or the one you are studying for English Literature. It could be a book that you picked up in the library or one that has been collecting dust on a shelf. Just by reading a chapter a day, the knowledge you gain is wondrous. You might not notice it but your vocabulary and sentence and paragraph structures have increased, automatically making you a greater English student! In fact, numerous studies have shown that the biggest predictor of academic succcess is NOT going to a good school or having parents who went to university, but reading for pleasure. Go to GoodReads if you need some inspiration on what to read!
  2. Watch a historical drama or an insightful documentary. I’m not suggesting you go binge all of David Attenborough’s numerous TV shows. But I am suggesting that you watch something fascinating that benefits your knowledge in some way! For example, watching ITV’s Victoria would be great for a history student aspiring to learn more about the exalted monarch.
  3. Do quizzes!! Honestly, this is so fun! Whenever I do any work on my laptop I ALWAYS have Sporcle open. It is great. You can find a quiz for nearly everything. I find this an excellent way to revisit topics I am struggling on in school but it’s fun so it doesn’t feel like revising. They also have a lot of non-educational quizzes which is a foolproof way of expanding your awareness of the wider world.
  4. TED Talks. I adore TED Talks; they’re an exceptional way to learn something unusual, related to school or not. You can easily find TED Talks on YouTube and they have a lot of topics from “Facebook’s role in Brexit — and the threat to democracy” to “How climate change could make our food less nutritious”. What is great about TED Talks is that if you commute to school you can listen to a TED Talk on your journey there. I know that Apple’s Podcasts app has an immense range of TED Talk shows to listen to (which are free to stream), all you have to do is type in ‘Ted Talks’.

Non-educational things to do in your free time

If you find that you have a lot of free time on your hands, doing something educational whenever you have the chance isn’t going to be too fun. The following are some of my personal favourite free time activities- they don’t even require a lot of effort!

  1. Meet up with friends. This is such an easy thing to do, pick up your phone and organize a meetup point with one or more of your friends. You don’t have to do something strenuous. You could just go for a coffee, go to the cinema, play a sport or just chill out somewhere calm.
  2. Play games. You could play a board game with a sibling or just a simple one on a tablet. Either way, games keep you occupied for hours and can be a great way to relax at the end of a wearisome study session.
  3. Meditate. This is a suggestion that my school keeps pressing on students. My classmates and I all laugh about it but apparently, it helps you to feel calm and at peace with yourself. It is supposed to help the growth mindset and to remove the fixed mindset. Meditation has been around for centuries and is so helpful to relax and detox every day. 
  4. Take up a new hobby. I am talking about something non-sport related. This could be joining a local club, it could be Girl Guides, Cadets, or Scouts. You don’t have to join an association. You could just start baking, sewing, singing/choir, acting, writing or cooking. All of these are propitious for your mentality for the modulation of stress.
  5. Join a sports club. Sports are more long-term commitment. You’ll be part of a team and they will rely on you to turn up to training sessions and matches! You could try:
  • Netball
  • Rugby
  • Swimming
  • Sailing
  • Cricket
  • Football
  • Hockey
  • Horse Riding
  • Ballet
  • Wrestling

Useful ideas when you have 5-25 minutes of free time

You might have just come back from school and have 15 minutes to spare before you go to the music club. Before you go you want to do something fun or useful to help you later on when you get back. Here are my best suggestions to fill those gaps:

  1. Use the Adapt App!!! It is super easy to use and will significantly help you if you are short on time. You can type in what homework you have and set times to do all of them. You can add revision topics (they have topics that cover the entire syllabus for EVERY subject and exam board in the UK) or just little reminders (like tidy the study or change the bedlinen) to make your studying/chore/activity time run smoother.
  2. Scroll through Pinterest for revision ideas. If I ever have a spare 5 minutes I take that time to scroll through Pinterest to find motivation for revision as well as new ways to lay out revision notes. This has helped me remarkably with increasing my average grades. A clear set of colourful hand-written (or typed) revision notes makes life so much easier, so why not dedicate a little bit of time to inspire yourself to make your notes that much better?
  3. Organize your desk. Before you go out for the night or go to a club, organizing your desk is a good thing to do. This isn’t the most fun activity but it will mean that when you go to study the next day your desk is tidy and ready for you to get down to work straight away.
  4. Listen to your favourite song(s). Get up and dance!!!!! This will make you feel happy and calm, therefore putting you into a better mindset. It should be a song that makes you happy so that you can get on with your day and be motivated. Listening to a motivational song in the morning (like Don’t Stop Believing by Journey) improves your mood for the whole day!

I hope my tips have inspired you to do something useful and productive with the free time you have and to spend that time wisely. It is really important to have some time to yourself, especially if you have any major exams/mocks coming up!

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