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Forty-two percent of the U.S. workforce now works from home, according to the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. An additional 33% of U.S. adults are at home but not working, due to layoffs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns and social distancing rules in cities and towns across the United States have closed off traditional pastimes for many such as going the gym, hanging out at favorite bars, and other social activities.
Like most Americans, you're probably looking for ways to use your time constructively at home. Now, more than ever, is a great time to learn new hobby to keep yourself occupied and engaged. And you never know what could happen. Your new hobby might become a skill that could lead to a part-time gig or a full-time business. Here's a selection of cheap, easy-to-start hobbies to keep yourself busy.
Take up backyard photography
You can invest in a 35mm camera if you have the money to do so, but the cheapest, easiest, and most fun way to start your backyard photography hobby is with your smartphone or tablet. Start by doing closeups of the various things you have in your backyard, such as flowers, green plants, trees, garden sculptures, and your pets.
Aim to take clear photos in focus. Then experiment with photo filters with online photo editing software. You can even create artistic-looking photos using the photo filter and image editor in the Instagram app. Share your photos online and enjoy the feedback from friends and family near and far.
Doodle with a purpose
Release the undiscovered cartoonist in you with purposeful doodling. If you’re a doodler by nature, arm yourself with an artists notebook, pen, and markers. To create an interesting body of doodles, consider creating doodles in themes. For example, you can doodle stick figures, graffiti lettering, or scrawl your favorite song lyrics or poems. You can even doodle scenes around your home or memories from your past. Once you identify your favorite things to doodle, you might have the makings of a doodle book that you could publish.
Play classic board games
The world is saturated with online games, and those can get boring after a while. One really fun way to pass the time is to take out your classic board games and enjoy fun time with the people in your home. Enduring classic board games include Monopoly, Clue, Parcheesi, and Candyland.
Read over the rules or look them up online if you’ve lost the guidebooks that originally came with your board games. To make playing board games a hobby that lasts, set aside time to play them daily or several times a week. Pro tip: Only play with friends and family who really want to play along so that everybody has fun.
Read physical books
Given your normally busy schedule, the only way to enjoy a chapter or two from your favorite books might be on your smartphone or tablet during your daily commute or before bed. Since you’re at home, it might be time to enjoy the touch and feel of physical books once more.
If you have a bookshelf filled with books that haven't been touched in a while, dust off a few and enjoy the look and feel of words printed on a page. If you don’t have any interesting physical books at home, consider putting on your mask and heading to your local Goodwill, Salvation Army or other thrift store. At thrift stores, you can find lots of paperback and hardback books for a few cents each.
Write that book you've always wanted to publish
If you’re one of those people who have always thought about writing a book, being stuck at home is the best time to make it happen. Whether you want to write a how-to book or a romance novel, the key to success is setting aside time daily to write down your thoughts.
Start by writing a detailed outline of everything you want to include in your book. Then block off at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week to write. If you can manage to write a minimum of 500 words a day, you could have a 30,000-word book ready to go in about three months. Due to the pandemic, many of us have been stuck at home for almost a year — what’s three months?
Workout with a purpose
The benefits of health and physical fitness cannot be overstated when it comes to keeping healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Studies show that being physically fit and eating right are the best ways to beat the coronavirus if you catch it. You can workout daily in your home gym or outdoors even when lockdowns are in place.
In most communities, you can walk, run, bike, or roller skate or rollerblade daily as long as you don't violate social distancing rules. Succeed by setting up a daily schedule and sticking to it. Buy or borrow free weights to build muscle, burn fat, and lose weight as you wait for the pandemic to pass.
There are numerous interesting ways to pass the time during the pandemic. If you get bored with one hobby, search social media platforms and read hobby and crafting books to find new and interesting ways to keep yourself engaged, tap into your creative side, and stay excited and happy about life.