5 Free Productive Things to Do at Home

We have all been there – struggling to find something else to watch after binging the entire season of Tiger King and Dare Me. You then have a choice: either start a series you aren’t really interested in or you do something productive.

Since I started working from home, I gained 3 hours a day from not having to get ready & commute. I am waking up an hour later but my net gain is still ~ 2 hours a day. I have definitely reached the nothing to watch on Netflix point multiple times already.

Thankfully, there are a wide variety of productive things you can do at home for free to keep yourself occupied. Below is a list of 5 of my favourite productive things to do.

1 – Learn a New Skill / Topic

There are a number of sites offering free courses on a wide range of topics including marketing, business, WordPress etc. In Canada, if you have a library card, you will be able to access the quality courses offered on Lynda.com for free. Google Lynda.com and the name of your library for specific instructions. Fun fact: Lynda.com is owned by Microsoft after Microsoft acquired LinkedIn in 2016.

If you are more interested in academic topics that are normally offered at universities, check out both Khan Academy and MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW). I can’t tell you how much Khan Academy had helped me through my undergraduate degree. Their videos were easier-to-understand than some of the in person-lectures I had. MIT’s OCW is created by none other than the prestigious college hence you can have confidence in the quality of the material it offers.

If cooking is your thing, I personally think Youtube is one of the best free resources for people who want to learn to cook. Here is the list of my favourite cooking channels:

Laura in the Kitchen – Italian, family-friendly comfort food, desserts
Very Good – Chinese home-cooked meals
Maangchi – authentic Korean food
Natashas Kitchen – Western-classic dishes with stunning visuals

2 – Review Your Finance

Anytime is a good time to look at your finance if you don’t already do it regularly. If you are unsure where to start, my 2-part What You Can Do to Prepare for A Recession series will provide you with a good starting point.

This is also a good opportunity to set aside some time to talk to your partner about money as it is something a couple often fights about but rarely talks about. One of the personal finance books I reviewed in this post here talks specifically about ways you can initiate a money conversation with your partner constructively and safely.

3 – Read a Book, or two, or 10

The public libraries in my area have been closed indefinitely due to Covid-19. From what I have read, it seemed most cities are on the same boat right now. If you don’t have a selection of books at home or weren’t able to check out more books before the libraries closed, ebooks are your best friends!

With the free Libby app, you can borrow e-books using your library card for free the same way you would at a physical library. You can put a hold on, renew and return the books all on the app itself. The app works on your phone and tablet and your progress can be synced across platforms.

Alternatively, the non-profit Internet Archive released the National Emergency Library (NER) late March “to address (the) unprecedented global and immediate need for access to reading and research materials.” There are 1,4 million digitized books on there for you without a waitlist.

For extra fun, I would recommend joining the Goodreads community. It is a review site for books that I find very useful when I am looking for the next book to read. Also, you can set a reading challenge for yourself to track the number of books you’ve read this year.

4 – Plan Your Next Grocery Trip

This is serious because my last grocery trip took some serious planning. For a few days, I watched cooking videos for inspirations and wrote down all the ingredients I will need for the dishes I plan on making for the next week or so. I went out for groceries twice in the last 3 weeks and managed to have just enough before the next trip.

I also over-prepare my list as I expect some items to be unavailable at the couple of stores I go to. If it was any other time, I would simply go to another store if the first one doesn’t have what I need. It is important now to go outside as little as possible so I get what I can at the first store and adapt my meal plans for the week. This won’t be easy unless you spent time preparing your list.

Before I head out to the grocery store, I organize my shopping list again by department (produce, snacks, meat etc). This way I can make my shopping trip as efficient as possible without having to go back and forth different aisles.

5 – Clean / Deep Clean Your Appliances

Eric has always been very diligent about the routine maintenances for his cars – oil change, tire rotation, fluid top-ups etc. Probably because of that plus luck, we haven’t had any major issues with any of our cars so far *knockonwood.

Home appliances work the same way. If you take care of them by cleaning them regularly, less dust/oil will build up so they will stay in their tip-top shape longer.

Here is an article with cleaning methods for the most common home appliances. If you want to make it more fun, there are all sorts of printable cleaning schedules online you can download for free like the ones here and here.

You can either find a weekend to tackle them all at the same time or clean one appliance at a time. If you are determined to take care of your appliances the right way, this would also be the perfect time to build your schedule,

The best part? You can play Netflix or a podcast in the background while you “work”!

Leave a comment below and tell me what productive things you have been doing after the finale of Tiger King!