At your leisure: Good Times!

Are you taking advantage of your free time?

Most of us spend our days scrambling to get everything in. So when school or job breaks offer up a chunk of free time, we can be at a loss for how to fill it. Rather than zoning out until the hours dribble away or filling up the time with busy work, consider these fun – and frugal – alternatives. suggests, “if you work hard, I mean really hard, you have to play hard during the breaks, to even the universe.”  Their hard-playing suggestions include building the biggest snowman possible, ice skating, creating something (“Music, film, art, anything that you enjoy and can showcase your talents”), and visiting a zoo, museum, symphony orchestra, or theatre.

Other ideas: “Find a good book, curl up by a fire, and read, read, read.”  And “Spend quality time with family. This may not be on the top of your priorities, but once school starts you won’t get the chance even if you want to.  Take a little time to connect with the family.” See their article Work Hard, Play Hard: Things to do during the Winter Break for more excellent things to do – and a few not to do – while you’re on holiday.

In Endangered Arts, Psychology Today talks about “a meandering chat” and notes that “Few things are in fact as pleasurable and fertile as engaging in good talk.”  They cite Daniel Menaker, author of A Good Talk: The Story and Skill of Conversation, who says, “”Non-goal-oriented conversations are a great luxury now.” He explains, “It’s not like it’s simply nice if you can have them—conversations are necessary for creating wisdom about the self and others.”

Even when newfound time is the result of a mandated furlough, there can be benefits. In her Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article Work Zone: No-pay (and no work) furlough can provide opportunity to recharge, Cindy Krisher Goodman reports that, while these cost-cutting measures by businesses, schools, government, or other organizations are considered by some employees to be “a temporary pay cut… this forced unplugging from work can mean truly reconnecting with family and friends.”

And in the (Minneapolis-St. Paul) Star Tribune piece Upside of forced downtime, Kim Palmer shares stories of “idled workers” who are “making the most of their furloughs by exploring new interests, volunteering or just kicking back.” Palmer notes that, “There’s even a new term for it: funemployment, along with websites where the funemployed can find free and low-cost activities or connect (”

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