Minimalism and Hobbies
Slow Living

8 Easy Ways To Make Time For Hobbies

Can’t find the time to do what you love? It starts with setting priorities and building habits. Here are my tips for making time for your hobbies.

I once had a basket filled with blue yarn ready for a quiet night of knitting with a podcast. But that quiet night never happened. And looking at that basket only reminded me I should make more time for my hobbies.

Didn’t I like knitting? Why wasn’t I doing more of it?

Then I realized knitting just wasn’t happening. I moved my basket into a cupboard and never looked back.

Maybe I’m missing out on a beautiful world of knitwear. But feeling guilty about it was just taking up my time.

And I thought about all of my other hobbies and everything I’d love to do with my free time.

The list was endless: yoga, meditation, reading, journaling, painting, watercolors, hiking, weight lifting.

And there was the paraphernalia to go along with those aspirations: weights, sets of colored pens, pastels, stacks of notebooks and unread novels. It only made me feel guilty to have all these things laying around reminding me of wasted time and ill-spent money.

Minimalism and Hobbies

So just like with an overflowing garage, I started clearing out my hobby clutter. I asked myself: can I narrow it down to just a few hobbies that would be priorities? I don’t have time to do everything, but I would love do at least a few things – instead of nothing.

Because it’s better to take small steps than to concoct ambitious plans with too many options that only leave you overwhelmed.

I narrowed my hobbies down to reading, writing and meditation. These are the non-negotiables that add the most meaning to my life.

Then I scheduled them in as I would anything else. When my list became shorter it began to feel more manageable too.

Free Time and Minimalism

Penciling hobbies into a calendar makes them feel like a plan, not like a pleasure to indulge in whenever you’re not too tired.

It’s important to keep our expectations realistic and not beat ourselves up over not doing enough.

And it’s just as important to do nothing at all – without feeling guilty about it.

A curated and edited list of a few favorite hobbies helps us avoid overwhelm and reinforces the importance of those activities in our lives.

Because it’s not always a case of not having enough time. We often expect too much from our time and overestimate how much we can pack into a day.

And did I really want to knit anyways?

Narrowing my hobbies down opened up space that I used to spend feeling guilty about doing too little.

Minimalists and Hobbies

After all, it’s that guilt that often stops us from taking action.

We tell ourselves we’re just not the kind to exercise in the mornings, or that we’re too tired to pick up a thick Victorian novel on a Monday.

And if we do cross-cardio for a week, we then give up after missing a few days. We get down on ourselves and wonder why it’s so difficult and why we always fail.

What if we just did a few stretches in the morning?

What if we prioritized what’s most important and then made space for it by letting go of our unrealistic expectations?

Instead of feeling bad for not reading enough, why not read just one chapter before bed?

Instead of feeling guilty about not meditating regularly, why not try a guided meditation on our headphones during our commute?

Taking small steps is infinitely better than doing nothing.

Reading and Knitting

Small steps empower us by reminding us how great it feels to do what we love. And then we want more of that in our lives.

If you just can’t seem to make time for what you love, here are some tactics to help.

8 Ways to make more time for doing what you love

1. Write a list of everything you’d love to do in your free time.

From yoga to water polo to baking, or anything else you’re passionate about.

2. Narrow your list down to a few priorities.

In the same way you’d declutter a wardrobe, ask yourself what really brings you joy. Is there anything on your list that feels more like an obligation?

3. Once you’ve picked a few priorities, get rid of any clutter related to the activities that aren’t that important right now.

Donate the golf equipment, or take the dusty yarn to a charity shop.

Alice in Wonderland

4. Put the items needed for your priority hobbies in visible areas.

If you’d love to read more, put a novel on your nightstand or download an audiobook.

5. Schedule in your hobbies – and free up space to make them happen.

Let go of any non-essentials and activities you do out of obligation.

6. Get some accountability.

Join a book club in real life or on Goodreads. Meet up with a friend for a weekend run in the park.

7. Turn your hobbies into habits.

Mark down on your calendar the days you’ve made time for your hobby. Then aim for at least a one-week streak. Seeing a streak on your calendar will make you less likely to abandon a new habit.

8. Don’t be hard on yourself if you fall short.

Re-evaluate your expectations and cut them down to make them more manageable.

Getting the most of your free time, and finally making space to pursue what you love, starts with small steps that turn into habits. By decluttering your hobbies, you’re making time for what’s most important.

Read more about living intentionally in What is Slow Living?

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14 Comments

  • Anna Jo

    These are great tips; I especially love your point with turning hobbies into habits. In my quest for work-life balance, I trimmed it down a bit and accepted the fact that perhaps I will never able to fit in everything I want to do in one day. So most of the time, it’s during the weekends wherein I get to take time and focus on hobbies that I didn’t get to spend time on after my work week, like painting for example.

    • Dee

      Thank you, Anna Jo. I’ve had to cut down a lot as well, but it’s been really worth it to focus in on the important things and to make time for them. I’d rather do a few things relatively well than have too much on my plate.

  • Theresa

    Great article! I’m going to have to apply some of these to my own life. I’m always biting off wayy more than I can chew, and it gives me so much guilt!

    • Dee

      Thank you, Theresa! I know that feeling, and my expectations are so high sometimes that even when I lower them it still turns out to be a lot 😀

  • Tracey Bacic

    I think you’re right. It’s a good tip. I always feel guilty about not writing in my journal ‘enough’. I’m going to schedule in 30 mins a day for it. That will be my beginning.

    • Dee

      Thank you, Tracey! I haven’t been journaling much lately and I need to get back into it as well. I’ve heard about apps that track your habits and progress – and how motivating it is when you’re on a “streak” with something – and I’m going to try it out.

  • Dixie

    I stumbled on this post at the perfect time. For months, I’ve felt like I barely have enough time to do things that I like, and it’s getting more stressful every day. Thank you for this very practical tips, I’ll give it them try 🙂

    • Dee

      I’m happy you’ve found it useful, Dixie! I’ll have to go back to some of these tips myself because it’s felt too busy lately for me, too 🙂

  • Charmaine

    Perfect timing! This post popped up in my email today, after an overwhelming weekend at an arts and crafts market. I want to change directions with my art, but feel guilty about abandoning all the unused supplies that will result. What was once a hobby has evolved into a side business and is no longer what I want to be doing. Time to take action and make those changes! Thanks for the inspiration to get started.

    • Dee

      I’m so happy to hear that! And I know that feeling.. it’s hard to leave behind something you’ve invested so much time, money and supplies into. But I think especially in the creative field you always have to grow and follow your passions – or else that creativity will turn into drudgery.

  • Brittany

    Dee,
    This post was just what I needed to hear! Thank you! I had some “hobbies” I no longer enjoyed bringing guilt into my day, but it never crossed my mind to eliminate them. Now I can focus on what truly brings me joy. Thank you again for such a thoughtful piece!

    • Dee

      I’m so glad you’re finding it helpful, Brittany! Hobbies can be like that.. and we keep them going because we expect they should be enjoyable, even if they no longer are.

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