40 things to do with a bit of extra time

Annie Grace | January 2019 | 10 minutes

Annie Grace, author of This Naked Mind and The Alcohol Experiment, shares 40 things to do with that extra time you gain when you cut out the booze. Give some a try this month, you might find a new hobby!

One of the incredible (and sometimes surprising) benefits of taking a break from alcohol is how much time is freed up. We don’t realize how much time we actually spend on alcohol. From planning drinks out, to traveling to and from happy hours, picking out drinks, thinking about what we will drink, the hours of actual drinking, getting home afterward, sleeping in, and the hours spent in bed feeling hungover, drinking is an incredibly ‘time-expensive’ pastime.

I’ve had the privilege in my work to speak with tens of thousands of people who have taken a break, or given up drinking completely. Since time is arguably the most precious and irrecoverable resource we have as humans I thought it was worth compiling a list, with my readers’ help, of 40 things you can do with a bit of extra time.

  1. Start practising mindfulness. Take the time to really consider your thoughts and feelings. Added benefits of more mental peace and happiness.
  2. Join a TaeKwonDo gym. This is one that I personally did, and I am now a blue belt and know how to break boards - bonus!
  3. Train for and run a 5k. Or a 10k. Or even longer! In fact, many people have reported running marathons with their new-found free time.
  4. Enjoy a walk. Getting outside has a profoundly positive effect on our wellbeing.
  5. Pick up a new sport.
  6. Check out an alcohol-free pub or bar. They seem to be popping up all over the place! Check out a few options in Alcohol Change UK’s city guides.
  7. Get your groove on at an early morning alcohol-free dance party with Daybreaker or Morning Gloryville.
  8. Work in the garden. Studies show that digging in the dirt has an incredible anti-anxiety effect.
  9. Read! I’ve always loved to read but my first year alcohol free I read a whopping 74 books! Loved that extra time.
  10. Enjoy a sporting event. You may find it hard to believe it will be fun without a pint but I’ll bet you’ll discover that it’s the love of the game, not the alcohol, that makes sports so much fun.
  11. Ride the rides at an amusement park, get an adrenaline rush and laugh like you are a kid again!
  12. Journal. Writing is incredibly therapeutic - and enjoyable. Plus this is the gift that keeps on giving as you’ll be able to look back on it in years to come.
  13. Ride your bike. Rediscover the speed and freedom that comes on two wheels.
  14. Visit a museum. Entertainment and knowledge all in one!
  15. Explore the outdoors. Fresh air, new friends and incredible exercise.
  16. Write some letters. It feels good and you can surprise people you love with snail mail.
  17. Take a cooking class. Satisfy your inner foodie and meet some new friends.
  18. Go to your nearest station and take the first train you see to a different town or city. Get your adventure on.
  19. Puzzle. This might just be me but I LOVE puzzles. The more pieces the better.
  20. Go bowling. Go with some friends or join a league. Competitive and fun!
  21. DIY! Tackle a home improvement project - satisfaction and entertainment.
  22. Take a nap. Cosy self-care at its best.
  23. Try yoga. Stretch, relax and challenge yourself.
  24. Join a spin class. Fun, music and high-intensity exercise make you feel great!
  25. See a movie. Zone out for two hours while being fully entertained. Perfect!
  26. Go on a coffee date. Lattes and boardgames. Bliss!
  27. Volunteer. Gets you out of your head, and helps others in need. Winning!
  28. Go to the library. Enjoy the afternoon in this peaceful, cosy and often-overlooked setting.
  29. Launch a business. Hundreds of readers have reported finally having the time to launch the business they have always dreamed of.
  30. Grow your business. For entrepreneurs, time is money. No alcohol means more time. Ergo no alcohol = more money. Win, win, win.
  31. Get out on the water. Fishing, boating, or even a ferry ride! Water is soul-soothing.
  32. Get a puppy! Guaranteed daily walks and cuteness to boot. Though remember, reader: a puppy is for life, not just for Dry January®.
  33. Learn how to paint. Easier than you think (anything goes!) and so much fun!
  34. Go on a bus tour. It’s amazing how much there is to learn about our local surroundings.
  35. Get crafty! Have you heard of diamond painting? Or sticker mosaic art? What about adult coloring books. Hours of meditative entertainment.
  36. Pamper! Manicure? Pedicure? Haircut? A professional shave? Even a luxurious bath. Mmmmmm.
  37. Play some cards. Fun, friends and lots of laughter. Why don’t we do this more!?
  38. Learn to play an instrument. Come on, you know you’ve always wanted to pick up the guitar, or learn how to actually bang on the drums. Now is your moment!
  39. Climb. Find your local climbing gym and get some altitude! A true rush and a great place to meet people sans alcohol.
  40. Picnic. There is not much better than eating outside on a blanket. And you can double up here and take a snooze when you are done with the food. The perfect way to spend the afternoon.

At the age of 26, Annie was the youngest vice president in a multinational company, and her drinking career began in earnest. At 35, in a global C-level marketing role, she was responsible for marketing in 28 countries and drinking more than a bottle of wine a night. Knowing she needed a change but unwilling to submit to a life of deprivation and stigma, Annie set out to find a painless way to regain control. Annie no longer drinks and has never been happier. She left her executive role to write this book and share This Naked Mind with the world.

The Alcohol Experiment: 30 days to take control, cut down or give up for good' by Annie Grace is available now, (HQ, £12.99)’. You can also check out her blog here.