Making Time For Hobbies Is Hard But Important. Here's How To Do It

Have you ever been told that you need a hobby? While receiving this advice can feel like an insult — and sometimes is even intended as one — that doesn't make it bad advice. Partaking in a leisure activity reduces stress levels and improves your overall mental well-being. And no, doom-scrolling while mindlessly bingeing shows on Netflix doesn't count. Actively watching meaningful shows or movies that engage your mind or challenge your beliefs? That counts.


If you wish you could engage in a hobby but just don't feel like you have the time, it may actually be a matter of priorities. Next time you sit down and start scrolling Twitter or TikTok, use your smartphone's clock app to start a stopwatch. When you've finished, take a look at how much time you spent and then multiply that by how many times per day you tend to sit and scroll. With a little restructuring, that 30, 60, or 90 minutes a day could be put into cultivating a hobby. Here's how. 

Explore your interests

If you've been operating in full adult mode for years – juggling work, managing a household, maintaining relationships, and potentially parenting – you may have lost touch with your actual interests. It's time to get back in touch with them. Try to remember what you were interested in before you took on a full-time job and a home of your own and start there. Were you obsessed with making your own jewelry in high school? Loved every minute you spent running track in middle school? Revisit those sparks.


If you're still not sure where to start, take a look around your current life. Do you have a dog? Try out a nearby hiking trail with your pup in tow. Love your houseplants? Take it to the next level and start planning out a basic garden. If the first hobby you try isn't the right one for you, don't give up. Keep trying new things until you find the one that clicks. 

Block out time

Once you've chosen a hobby or two to go ahead with, it's time to get serious about setting aside time to actually do the things. Remember that scrolling time you totaled? Choose one day of the week and make the choice to put your phone away for that amount of time and work on your hobby instead. If you normally spend an hour after work scrolling to unwind, on Thursdays you now build miniature food for dolls (or whatever your thing is) for that hour instead.


Experiment with finding the right day and frequency for your specific hobby and schedule. If you typically save all your chores and errands for the weekend, you may want to schedule your hobby time during the work week. If you go nonstop all week and leave your weekends wide open for relaxation, start incorporating your hobby into that time slot. If once a week feels too burdensome, start with once or twice a month. The most important thing is that you schedule your hobby time and honor that commitment to show up for yourself. 

Involve other people

Involving other people in your hobby isn't just a way to add some extra fun and socialization. It also helps to hold you accountable. If you know you're not likely to follow through on an appointment with yourself, invite a friend to join you for hiking, painting, baking, wine making, or whichever hobby you've chosen. You won't want to bail on your friend once your plans have been made, even if you would have bailed on yourself.


If you're not sure any of your current friends or family members would be interested in your hobby, go outside your circle. Search Facebook or Meetup for groups centered around your hobby and get involved. Find a local event to attend or put together a group of individuals who gather regularly via video chat to work on projects together. You could end up with a whole new social group you can really relate to. 

Keep it simple

When you start a new hobby or revisit an old one after a long period of time, it can be tempting to jump right into a large and/or advanced project. However, small successes at the beginning are what you need to get that dopamine flowing and keep you coming back to your hobby. Otherwise, you'll end up getting burned out, overwhelmed, and frustrated, which leads to giving up and going back to your old habits.


If you just started crocheting, don't set your sights on an intricate birthday party dress for your pug. Instead, aim to produce a single granny square or to master each of the six basic stitches you'll need to make future projects. Each time you perfect another stitch or churn out a new square, you'll feel a surge of dopamine that will keep you coming back for more success. As a result, your skill level will steadily increase and you'll be ready to take on bigger projects with time. 

Break projects down

Once you've mastered the basics of your new or newly revisited hobby, you'll want to start tackling real projects. Rather than looking at these projects as a whole, break them down into achievable goals that correlate with the amount of time you have available. If you're setting your sights on running a 5K race, start out with the goal of running a mile. Once you've mastered a mile, shoot for two miles, and eventually three. Then, start focusing on your speed and time.


Once you've reached each individual goal, you'll watch your project come together. Take a moment to reflect on your experiences along the way and how much you enjoyed each step. If you absolutely loved your first project, get started on breaking down a second one. If you didn't enjoy the process as much as you thought you would, start over with a different hobby. It's all part of the process of prioritizing your own well-being.