Right now, most of us have more time on our hands than we’ve had in years. Even if you still work from home, as I do, the break from social life likely freed up your schedule more than ever. During this time, many people have managed to rekindle old passions, such as baking, biking, blogging, and binge-watching movies.
In my case, I gave up painting in 2019 to focus on working more hours to pay for my tiny home. Since the COVID-19 shutdowns, I’ve started painting again. I’m also trying to set client work aside more often so I can work on my novel. Even my Spanish lessons have seen a voluntary uptick.
What projects have you not found the time, strength, or will to touch in a long time, but you would love to get back to? Here are some easy tips to help you get back on track.
1. Get Some Rest
With so much time on your hands, you might feel immediately pressured to get things done and make the most of that time. After all, the last thing you want is to walk away from the experience feeling as if you achieved nothing. Don’t give in to this too easily.
Sometimes, doing nothing is exactly what you need. Many people suffer from burnout at work and now struggle to get accustomed to working from home. Get some time to catch up on rest and relaxation first, so you’re ready to tackle your hobbies later.
2. Choose Wisely
As we get older, more and more of our pet projects get set aside in the names of family obligations and financial responsibility. Before you know it, you’ve lost touch with half a dozen or more hobbies you had in your younger years. The great news is that it’s rarely ever too late to get started again. The bad news is that you won’t be able to do it all at once.
Take a good look at the time you have on your hands, estimate how much more of it you might have for a while, and then plan accordingly. In my case, I had a list of about 10 things I want to get done. So far, I’m focused only on painting, writing, and Spanish. Everything else can wait, for now.
3. Set a Specific Time
Relaxing is great, but if you get too used to doing nothing, you will do nothing for a long time. Complacency is the ultimate killer of ambition, progress, and eventual success. To break away from that complacency, set a commitment you can keep. If you break that commitment, make it up some other time.
I generally try to paint on Friday afternoons after I clean my home. Yesterday, I chose to work on my novel instead and plan to paint today as soon as I hit the publish button on this article. When it comes to Spanish, I tend to do my lessons between 10 PM and midnight.
4. Get the Right Gear
A few weeks ago, a friend reached out to me on Twitter and asked for advice on writing material. She used Microsoft Word for work and did not want that “work feeling” when she was writing her novel. I gave her a list of other Word Processors I had used over the years, as well as info on my phone-and-BlueTooth-keyboard setup.
In my case, prior to COVID-19, I did my painting indoors. Now, I paint outside. I bought a lawn chair and use it upright for painting. When I’m done, I get a blanket, recline it, and read a good book. Always ensure you have whatever gear you need to not just pursue your hobbies, but to do so comfortably.
5. Try a New Angle
Unfortunately, you could do all these things and still not be able to pick up the thread where you last left off. Maybe you can’t seem to finish that three-year-old painting or your story has been stuck on Chapter 8 for five years. Here are some examples of what I mean by tackling it from a different angle:
- Read your book instead of writing it. Sometimes re-immersing yourself in the story requires starting from the beginning.
- Read another book in the genre you have in mind. When I was writing The Moreau Witches, I read mostly other Victorian-era books that year, primarily from Sheridan Le Fanu, Thomas Hardy, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
- Take a class related to the hobby you’re trying to revive. My current book touches on Egyptian mythology and I am now taking my second Egyptology online class.
- Watch videos or movies that illustrate your hobby. These could range from YouTube tutorials showing you how to bake microwave brownies to music lessons.
6. Share Your Work
You’d be amazed at how much inspiration you can find from sharing your work with others. When you share your work, you also feel more motivated to create something worthwhile. You might ask a friend to read a chapter of your book or have a jam session on Zoom.
When it comes to my paintings, I share them all on Twitter when I’m done. I am a terrible painter and only do these for fun. Even so, I get a lot of great feedback and the encouragement from tweeps never fails to put a smile on my face.
Have you been struggling lately with rekindling a hobby or relearning a skill you previously mastered? What are some of the things you tried that have helped you find your way back into that old, productive rhythm? Share them with me in the comments below!