Reading time: 5 minutes.
You sit down on your couch after a long day of working. What to do next? Watch some YouTube videos? Start scrolling on Instagram? Read something on Reddit? Sometimes it’s hard to make a conscious decision about what you would actually like to spend your time on. Spending your time in a conscious way is, however, very fulfilling. In this article, we’ll help you to learn something new instead of scrolling on your phone.
Knowing what you’d like to spend your time on and then actually taking the time to start doing that can be quite a challenge. It takes effort and willpower. It’s easy and tempting to simply fall back into a pattern we know all too well – grab your phone and start scrolling. If we’re not careful, this subconscious habit could cost us two hours per day on average.
The goal of this article is not to make you feel bad about scrolling. It can be a nice activity and a nice way to ease your mind. It’s not about never scrolling on Instagram again. It’s about finding a better balance between scrolling on your phone and spending it on something else – in this case, to learn something new.
Learning something new takes 20 hours
The time to go from “knowing nothing to being pretty good”, is 20 hours. The time we are spending on social media and games on our phones is two hours on average, per day. That’s 14 hours per week – more than 60 hours per month. So in that time span of 60 hours per month, we could in theory become pretty good at three skills!
Now, this is easier said than done. Of course, you’re probably not going to spend 60 hours per month on learning a new skill (If you are doing this – awesome!). Dedicating that time to learning a new skill will take mental energy, which you sometimes simply do not have. It’s easy to say you want to spend 20 hours per month on learning to play the guitar. The hardest part is sticking to this intention.
The good news is that there is plenty of time to use. Even spending one sixth of the 60 hours per month on learning something new, will give you 10 hours per month. Lots of time to win. Lots of things you could start learning.
How much time do you have to spend?
It’s a good side note that these 60 hours we’re talking about is the average worldwide. You might be spending only one hour per day on social media or games, or you might be spending three hours per day. Also, you might be dependent on social media for work or staying in contact with people close to you during the pandemic.
When to spend it?
You can decide for yourself how much time you’d like to dedicate to learning something new. Maybe you would like to spend three hours per weekend on learning French. Maybe you’d like to dedicate half an hour per evening on learning to write articles. Maybe you’d love to meditate for 20 minutes every morning. Depending on the amount of time you’re spending, you could start with setting your intention.
Setting your intention and sticking to it
Let’s say you would love to learn baking sourdough bread. We’ll take a fictionary example here. You could be spending one hour and 45 minutes per day on social media and games. However, you are only comfortable with spending one hour per day on those things. This would mean you could set aside 45 minutes per day to spend on baking sourdough bread.
Make sure to book this time for yourself. Making it concrete, for example by scheduling an hour every morning to knead the dough and taking 30 minutes in the evening to bake it every other day. This would then add up to 45 minutes each day. Scheduling this time in your calendar really helps to set the intention. Create blocks in your calendar that take up this time. Sticking to your intention becomes a lot easier when you set aside the time to achieve it.
Another thing that helps in sticking with your intentions is to communicate your intentions with people you see often. Telling them what you’d like to do will create a social contract. They might ask you how it’s going so far, reminding you of it and helping you achieve your goal. You could even use this in a two-sided way. If someone close wants in on the challenge as well, you could both set an intention and remind each other of it.
Dealing with slips
Also, make sure to prepare to stray sometimes. It’s okay if you forget to spend your time on your intention once. It’s completely normal – you’re human after all. The most important thing is to not let that one time influence the next time. Measuring your success and progress by the amount of times you did spend your time on your intention instead of focussing on the times that you slipped, will make sure you keep having a positive outlook on it. Focus on the times you did make it happen, instead of on the times you didn’t. After all, it is supposed to be fun! Missing your scheduled intention-time once will not have a big influence as long as you stick to it most of the time. Be kind to yourself.
Deciding on what to learn
Now it’s time for the fun part! There is a whole arsenal of things you could be doing. To learn something new is both fun and motivating. Picking something that fits you will be very exciting. Maybe you already have something in mind. If you don’t, there is an amazing list full of ideas: the NoSurf Activity List. This list is written by a community of people that would love to get off their phone and start doing something new. There are some really fun and enjoyable things on the list – lots of things you can learn in 20 hours.
Let us know!
If you decide to start to learn something new, let us know! We’d love to hear what great things you’re up to in the coming months. You can reply in a comment or let us know through email or social media.
Enjoy your spare time! Hope you spend it on something that’s meaningful to you.