The perfect leisure-time activity

Can you please help me? I’m bored. I’m looking for an activity to do in my leisure time. What I’m looking for is:

  1. An activity that’s free. So an activity like going to the movie theater or a baseball game isn’t what I’m looking for.

  2. An activity that requires full concentration (because there’s no way to get bored if it requires full concentration, as such an activity is guaranteed to keep someone occupied).

  3. An activity that I can enjoy for as long as I want.

  4. An activity that I can enjoy any time I want.

  5. An activity that’s addicting.

  6. An activity that’s time consuming (because time flies when you’re having fun).

  7. An activity that I can enjoy, whether I’m ALONE or whether I’m WITH OTHER PEOPLE (I guess that’s called a social gathering, a party).

Is there an activity that meets all these criteria? Thank you very much for your help.

Learning how to post threads in the correct internet forum?

Not very much is absolutely ‘free’ - going to the library, maybe. Are you discounting exercise?

It’s not totally free, in that there’s a start-up cost, but the ongoing cost is very low: learning an instrument. I can while away hours playing my bass, and you can play alone or in a band / ensemble. Low-end guitars and basses are better than they’ve ever been (I can’t speak to drums or brass or anything like that), and once you have the basic gear, you’re just buying picks and strings. I play bass fingerstyle, so my ongoing cost is about $30 a year for new LaBella strings.

Soon one of our knitting Dopers will come along and tell you all about the joys of needlework.

Me, I’d advise nature study, or Ted Talks. . Or check out the list of all time must see classic movies at IMDB and borrow those at your library for free or a pittance. Watch alone or with friends.

… or just masturbate. A lot.

Maybe chess. There are free games on-line. You can watch tournament games in real time. You can read books. You can re-play great matches of the past. There are usually local get-togethers in cities where you can play flesh & blood opponents. Those opponents will know of other get-togethers, so you can play multiple times a week if you wish. Some of the people you meet will be adequately obsessed that they’ll be happy to meet you for individual play.

Not many women involved, though.

Well, I could see how that wouldn’t mesh with his point 7) in a majority of cases. However, even in those cases, the expected results are bound to not be boring either.

Moved to IMHO from Great Debates.

And I’ll be the first to suggest running or walking. With one caveat: In order to fit all of the criteria listed, you must be running in nature, not on pavement in the city.

Fishing may also fit the bill, you you can’t do that all year depending on where you live.

Certain video games would qualify as well.

If you have a GPS or a smartphone, I suggest geocaching. It meets all of your criteria, especially the ‘addicting’ one. Bonus criteria: Provides some exercise.

Reading is the perfect answer. Nothing has consistently given me more pleasure than reading. It can be low cost to free (library), completely portable, requires full concentration, and is highly addicting once you get the habit.

There are some limited social aspects as well, like book clubs and stuff at the library.

Reading does offer social benefits, even at a party where no reading is going on. The last book you read often makes an interesting conversation starter. Finding a book or genre in common can make for great party talk.

Play a music instrument.

I was also going to suggest running.

1. An activity that’s free. Running is free but you will need shoes and appropriate clothes which can be had for not a lot of money. If you decide to participate in organized events/races there is often an entrance fee, but for most short events the cost is <$20. Marathons can cost over $100.

2. An activity that requires full concentration. I wouldn’t say running requires full concentration; you can adjust your focus as you see fit. It is easy to chat with a running partner while maintaining a minimul level of focus on the surroundings to avoid accidents, or you can be completely in the zone. You can also concentrate on things like your pace, breathing, and even music if you choose to run with some sort of mp3 player.

3. An activity that I can enjoy for as long as I want. Easy, run for as long or as short as you want or have time for. Training for an event may recommend a certain level of devotion to improve your physical limits and avoid injury. While training for an event I’ve run almost every day for months at a time, but have also gone through periods of time when I don’t run at all. You can quit any time.

4. An activity that I can enjoy any time I want. You can pretty much enjoy running year round, even in WI:). You just need to deal with the elements or find free access to a treadmill.

5. An activity that’s addicting. Many runners comment that their sport is addicting. I know I feel like “something is missing” when I can’t get out for a run for a few days.

6. An activity that’s time consuming. The amount of time you spend is entirely up to you.

7. An activity that I can enjoy, whether I’m ALONE or whether I’m WITH OTHER PEOPLE. You are free to run solo and many cities have free running clubs.

I’m a big fan of jigsaw puzzles and can lose myself in them for hours, even w/ my ADD addled brain.


Mathematics. :slight_smile:

Of course reading is a great choice. Check your library, community center or college (if there’s one nearby) for reading groups, there’s likely something available. If you’re a religious sort, consider Bible/Torah/Koran study as well.

Someone suggested chess…I’ll expand that to the wider world of boardgaming, which has had a real resurgence in the last decade or so. There are lots of online sites where you can play different games for free; check out BrettSpielWelt,,, and boardgaming-online, as examples. Or find a local gaming store or hobby shop; they often host open gaming nights where people bring their games to share. Sometimes the store will have copies available as well. Highly social, requires full concentration, can eat up infinite time, often there are solo options. Addictive? Just wander around for a while, and you’ll know what addictive really means.

I was just thinking about this the other day:

When I was a kid, I used to love to go fossil collecting. Luckily, I lived in an area with a lot of creek beds. I was thinking to myself "I should get back into that.’’

Then as an afterthought, I realized that this is an activity that would cost me zero dollars.

It is not free and there is startup cost but computer gaming can occupy your mind for a while. A lot of Games go on sale for $5.