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It’s never too late to take up a new hobby. Life offers so much choice, it’s difficult to know which chances to take. New hobbies can come from the most unexpected of places – even playing video games can jump-start a new fascination Can A Video Game Jump Start Your Next Rewarding Creative Hobby? Can A Video Game Jump Start Your Next Rewarding Creative Hobby? Whether it's music or art, video games can teach and motivate you where other learning tools fall flat. Read More .

Sure, it can be expensive: courses can teach you expertly, but they still cost Learn a New Hobby Today with 10 Popular Udemy Courses Learn a New Hobby Today with 10 Popular Udemy Courses Our hobbies are taking a back seat. Thanks to online classes, you can do something about it. Here are 10 popular Udemy courses to get you off the couch, and into a new hobby. Read More . Others are completely free and will increase your cognitive and non-cognitive health. All in all, hobbies make you a happier person 5 Creative Hobbies That Will Make You a Happier Person 5 Creative Hobbies That Will Make You a Happier Person Read More : they’re low-risk, so if you’re not very good, the only thing that’s harmed is your dignity – there’s no pressure. That care-free environment has great consequences for both your home-life and your career. In fact, FastCompany’s Kevan Lee says:

“When Google began its famous 20% rule (employees could spend 20% of their time exploring fun, passionate side projects), the result was a more productive, more creative 80%.”

Here are just a few ideas to improve your life:

Learn a New Language

No one regrets learning a new language; it has so many positive effects!

As well as improving your grasp of your own language (and your confidence in expressing yourself), bilingualism improves your memory and open-mindedness, helping you embrace and properly comprehend another culture. It also looks great on your resume, making you more employable; Lingholic argues:

“Between two candidates with the exact same skill set and experience, the person who is bilingual is arguably much more likely to get the job.”

Socially, of course, you can meet new friends, or even get a pen-pal. The modern equivalent is HelloTalk Language Exchange: social networking with foreign speakers. It’s an international group of helpful natives, who are themselves trying to learn a different language.

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duolingo

Your cell phone can be useful too. Possibly the best free app to fully immerse yourself in bilingualism is Duolingo Learn A Language And Translate For Practice With Duolingo (Now Open To All!) Learn A Language And Translate For Practice With Duolingo (Now Open To All!) The internet has given us some fantastic tools for language learning, and Duolingo is the latest site to give it a go. It's just come out of closed beta and is now available for everyone... Read More (also available online), which helps you slowly build up words into compound then complex sentences. The service covers written and spoken language together, so you get a more complete appreciation of what you’re being taught.

Its range of activities and ease of use means it has over 25 million users worldwide.

There’s a range of great apps that’ll help with a new foreign tongue Five Free Apps to Help You Learn A Foreign Language Five Free Apps to Help You Learn A Foreign Language Whether you're gearing up to go on your summer holidays, studying for exams, or just want to expand your mind, it's always a great time to learn a foreign language. Read More ; alternatively, Google Chrome’s Language Immersion How To Use Chrome To Learn A Foreign Language While Browsing The Web How To Use Chrome To Learn A Foreign Language While Browsing The Web One of the more natural ways to learn anything is to immerse oneself in that environment. In fact, if you stay in a foreign country for any length of time, you naturally pick up some... Read More extension is a smart way of casually learning something new. It simply translates words or phrases randomly on sites you frequent. You might even see it at work on MakeUseOf!

Start A Blog

Blogs used to have a reputation, likened to having a diary that you proudly display to the world – despite the world not actually caring. Fortunately, they’ve shed this facade. They do, in fact, give you an opportunity to focus on a particular aspect of life, whether that’s the arts, technological tips, or even an account of the frustrations of commuting.

blogger

It’s an opportunity to shamelessly wallow in emotion, air your grievances, and unload the thoughts cluttering up your mind.

Jonathan Appleton recently set up My Doctor Who Stuff, a blog dedicated to his collection of Doctor Who merchandise and the memories attached to each, and prompting readers for recollections, reflections, and general musings on the show. Blogging, he argues, is great because you can start any-time you want, and in most cases, it’s free too:

“There’s something very liberating about that. I take the view that any kind of writing you do – whether it’s a blog, an article, a short story or script, a list of instructions, even a very dry report for your manager at work – will, in some way, broaden your experience and make you a better writer as a result.”

He is, however, an avid writer and reader, but blogging has its benefits for people who don’t see their future in the artistic industries. Editing your own work and finding those pesky red-underlined words will improve your spelling, grammar, and punctuation, and likely increase your vocabulary. The brain, after all, is a muscle that needs exercising just as any other.

If you struggle with discipline, gaining an audience forces you to commit; something that definitely improves your home-life. Scheduling posts will impose a structure on your week and make your time management more disciplined – that is, if you can keep up with blogging. It’s something that Jonathan has wrestled with himself:

“Once the novelty of launching the thing has passed, it can feel a bit of a slog to keep up a steady stream of new content. Another difficulty is that if it’s your own project you obviously don’t have an editor pressing you to meet deadlines and screaming down the phone at you (I probably have a rather dated view of what editors do…). Then there’s the associated stuff which you need to do to generate interest – Facebook page, Twitter feed…

The main thing is to keep it fun and enjoyable which, let’s face it, if you’re blogging about something you’re passionate about shouldn’t be a problem. I’m still finding my way with this issue but I’ve concluded that it’s better to focus on quality over quantity: the Internet really eats up content and successful blogs need to have new material online regularly, but one well written, considered piece will be preferable to three or four flimsy bits of fluff knocked off in a rush.”

Jonathan chose WordPress as his blogging platform, but others turn to Blogger (here’s a great comparison of the two Blogger vs. Wordpress.com: A Complete Comparison Blogger vs. Wordpress.com: A Complete Comparison The two undisputed kings of the free blogging sphere are Google's Blogger and the content management system-turned-host WordPress.com. While both offer what every free-thinking democracy-guzzling thought-cannon wants – a place to express themselves – there... Read More ), while Tumblr has also proven popular How To Easily Create a Blog with Tumblr How To Easily Create a Blog with Tumblr Read More . Whether you’re blogging as a business 5 Secrets To Small Business Blogging Success 5 Secrets To Small Business Blogging Success Blogs are great for getting to know your clients, their worries and interests, and for pulling in more business. But a poorly-executed blog can cause more harm than good. Read More or casually, there are loads of options 5 Best Blog Sites Other Than Wordpress and Blogger 5 Best Blog Sites Other Than Wordpress and Blogger Read More – heck, even Evernote offers the service Turn Evernote Into A Blogging Platform With Postach.io Turn Evernote Into A Blogging Platform With Postach.io There is certainly no shortage of blogging platforms available to users for free. WordPress and Tumblr alone are a great way to keep a blog, but there are a few creative alternatives out there. A... Read More !

Learn to Play an Instrument

Swathes of us are musically gifted, but have untapped potential. Knowing you’re not the next Adele Why Adele Is Wrong to Stop You Streaming Her New Album Why Adele Is Wrong to Stop You Streaming Her New Album Adele is refusing to let services such as Spotify and Apple Music stream her new album 25. Which is a boneheaded decision that's bad for her, her fans, and her record label. Read More doesn’t stop you from singing, picking up a guitar, or trying out the triangle.

It’s ideal as a means of self-expression and of relieving stress, and can also increase confidence. After mastering a few chords – or even a few songs – you’ll want to show your new skill off to others. You might just start off performing to family and friends, but then again, you may have further ambitions to start or join a band. Having pride in yourself is a huge and important leap.

Learning to play an instrument could be the first step towards something great. And if it doesn’t take off, at least you’ve challenged yourself, and obtained a new skill. You could even volunteer to play for your community! Having this enjoyable hobby in your life is a source of happiness for thousands of folk.

Ah, but how do you get started? Simply pop onto YouTube Learn The Basics Of Any Instrument With YouTube [Stuff to Watch] Learn The Basics Of Any Instrument With YouTube [Stuff to Watch] YouTube can teach you to do just about anything, and that includes playing an instrument. Today we'll focus on piano, guitar, bass guitar and drums. Read More . There’s a good first move. There’s a good chance that lessons on how to play all instruments are available on the video depository. The banjo? Yep. The triangle? That too. Admittedly, instructions for the glass harmonica are lacking…

Naturally, the Internet offers a great amount of free tuition Learn to Play an Instrument with 7 Free Online Music Lessons Learn to Play an Instrument with 7 Free Online Music Lessons Online music lessons can be your first learning step for any instrument. Some of the best music lessons are also free on the web. We pick seven instruments and the best teachers for them. Read More , but failing that, you can even make music on your iPhone 7 Free Apps To Make Music On Your iPhone 7 Free Apps To Make Music On Your iPhone Read More ! Alternatively, your mobile device could support your hobby, helping to fine-tune your musicality. Try Pro Metronome (on iOS and Android), which can aid your sense of tempo and rhythm. It may seem a pointless tool, but can help you obtain consistency; beginners especially subconsciously alter speed depending on the beat’s difficulty. A metronome will better your technique when practising alone or with friends.

Pro Metronome

Pro Metronome has a smart, sleek interface: simple but well-realized with the added benefit of creating playlists and customization. One of its nicest features is the ability to change its tone, so its default Blip can be changed into Drums, Voice Counting, or a Traditional sound.

Play Racquet Sports… Via the Wii

Soccer and American Football are drummed into most students, but racquet sports also offer a number of advantages aside from simply having fun. Tennis, squash, badminton, racquetball: it doesn’t matter what you try – all of them will make you healthier, promoting cardiovascular well-being, and developing your dexterity and agility. Your stamina and concentration will increase, as will your hand-eye coordination.

But it’s difficult to take up. What’re the rules? Will you make a fool out of yourself? How many people will bear witness to said embarrassment?

Why not try the Wii or Wii U instead? Wii Sports shipped with the console as a way of showing off its controls, and as a reaction against those articles slamming video games as being unhealthy. Here was a game that would encourage exercise, improve your game, and give you a tasters of different sports. No doubt, many fell in love with the ease of ten-pin bowling, but its tennis application was promoted the most. Since then, a whole army of related fitness games have swept onto the market Top 5 Wii Fitness Games To Get Into Shape From Home Top 5 Wii Fitness Games To Get Into Shape From Home Read More , notably Wii Fit.

Big-name franchise like Mario and Sonic have also jumped on the bandwagon… and proved themselves rather popular. If you don’t class (k)arting as a sport Excited About Mario Kart 8? Relive What Came Before! Excited About Mario Kart 8? Relive What Came Before! A lot of game franchises start off slowly and gradually build up a following. But Mario Kart burst into the gaming world and has never stood for anything less than brilliance. Read More , how about Mario Super Sluggers, Sega Superstars Tennis, or the Summer and Winter Olympic titles?

Engaging with sports via your gaming system is a great way of getting fit in the comfort of your own home, while also improving reflexes. Games offering various sports mean you’ll have a chance to explore a new activity which you can then have a proper go at down your local leisure club.

On a personal note, I never liked Physical Education in school, but have since found badminton and squash in particular hugely enjoyable. I got into the latter after attending a badminton session at my local leisure center – but the tutor didn’t turn up. I drifted over to the squash courts to look for him, and despite not knowing anything about the sport, was intrigued by the game.

Even hearing that you have to wearing goggles or risk being blinded by the fast-moving ball didn’t put me off! All those odd lines on the court may look confusing, but Curly’s Pocket Guide app can help you understand Learn The Rules To Any Sport With One Of The Slickest Apps You've Ever Seen [iOS] Learn The Rules To Any Sport With One Of The Slickest Apps You've Ever Seen [iOS] Every four years, we all become sports experts. The Olympic Games give many of us a chance and a motivation to watch sports events we otherwise have no contact with, and the upcoming London 2012... Read More exactly what it’s all about.

It’s high-octane exercise that requires dedication The Unexpected Lessons My Daily Exercise Habits Taught Me The Unexpected Lessons My Daily Exercise Habits Taught Me For beginners, exercise and fitness apps are a distraction. It gets confusing when the health habit is so intertwined with gadgets. These discoveries and lessons might help you make better choices. Read More , instils quick reactions, and encourages endurance. It shouldn’t be something that a sports-hating guy enjoys, yet its heaps of fun, and I implore you to give it a go… if only to take out some of your frustrations from the day! Indeed, hobbies can be a way of recovering from the worries of your career. A 2014 study into creative activity concluded that those with creative outlets were:

“… more likely to feel a sense of relaxation outside work and to feel greater control and a sense of mastery. At work, meanwhile, those with a creative hobby were more likely to help others and to be more creative in the performance of their job.”

What Other Hobbies Improve Your Life?

A strong argument can be made that all hobbies improve your life. If you enjoy it, it’s worthwhile – whether that’s vlogging Life as a Vlogger: What's It Like? We Asked 10 YouTubers Life as a Vlogger: What's It Like? We Asked 10 YouTubers Read More , scrapbooking 7 Digital Scrapbooking Tools for a Mess-Free Hobby 7 Digital Scrapbooking Tools for a Mess-Free Hobby Scrapbooking can help you step away from nonstop productivity to relax and unwind with a stress-free activity. Opt for digital scrapbooking with these seven tools. Read More , photography 5 Useful Websites For Photographers 5 Useful Websites For Photographers Read More , or learning how to code 8 Tried & True Tips For Learning How To Code 8 Tried & True Tips For Learning How To Code Skilled programmers have been in high demand for years now, and it doesn’t look like that demand is about to go down anytime soon. But even if you don’t intend to make a living as... Read More .

What hobbies have you recently taken up and why? Or maybe you’ve stuck with the same one for numerous years: what’s its pulling power? Any hobbies you’re unsure about? Let us know below!

  1. Steve
    January 30, 2016 at 4:06 am

    My hobbies? Beekeeping & high school swim Reffing. #Retirement #AintLifeGrand

    • Philip Bates
      January 30, 2016 at 12:01 pm

      Beekeeping must be a fascinating and massively rewarding hobby, Steve. One of my neighbours has done it for years and seems to love it!

      • Steve
        January 30, 2016 at 7:06 pm

        I heartily reccommend it! You are correct - it's a fascinating, frustrating and rewarding hobby. Sometime the bees don't read the same books as I do, but I'm learning to accommodate them. :-)

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