10 Fun Things to Do After Work That Don’t Involve the Couch

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Lorelei Yang718
Wonky consultant with a passion for words
July 10, 2024 at 3:17PM UTC
For many, if not most of us, a long day at work means all we really want to do afterward is go home, curl up on the couch and zone out to some mindless television. I know I, at least, am guilty of post-work junk food and Law and Order: SVU marathons on a fairly regular basis. However, planting ourselves on the couch at the end of the day isn't necessarily the best choice for our bodies or our minds. 

Why should you find things to do after work?

How you spend your after-work hours has a huge impact on your overall life and happiness. If you want to be happy, successful and fulfilled, the 16 or so hours you're outside the office each day need to be maximized to help ensure that you're making the most of your life. If you're spending your after-work hours whiling the time away in front of the television, odds are you aren't investing time in your personal growth or personal life.

10 Things to do after work.

While many post-work activities can be both fulfilling and enjoyable, the following 10ten ideas will appeal to a broad range of people. Even if they don't all appeal to you, they're a good starting point for maximizing your time after leaving the office. 

1. Get dinner, drinks or a snack with friends.

Humans are social creatures, so using your after work hours to catch up with friends over drinks or dinner is always a good idea. I personally find that spending an hour or two catching up with friends over some great food and conversation is incredibly restorative. This doesn't have to be an expensive activity, either — even in big cities like New York, there are always plenty of amazing happy hours or inexpensive fast-casual places you can go to. I'm also partial to dessert meetings for ice cream or a cookie instead of dinner if the group I'm meeting with is looking to keep spending at a minimum.

2. Hit the gym or go for a run.

Going to the gym or heading outside for a run can be a great way to unwind after work. Exercise is beneficial for both the mind and body. Working up a sweat will make both your body and mind stronger, which is good for your overall health and mental state. To keep things interesting, you can switch your workout up on a regular basis so your routine doesn't get repetitive.

3. Take a class to learn a new skill.

If there's something you've always wanted to pick up, such as a new language or hobby, an evening class is a good way to develop this skill. Adult learning classes also offer the benefit of serving as an opportunity to make new friends, which isn't always easy to manage as an adult. 

4. Engage in a hobby.

Conversely, if you have an existing hobby that's fallen by the wayside, maximizing your time outside the office to engage in it can be incredibly beneficial. Taking time to paint, knit, write, tinker or otherwise engage in your passions after work will add valuable texture and interest to your life.

5. Read.

Many adults' reading drops off sharply as compared to their school-aged years. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2019, the typical (median) American reads only four books over a 12-month period. Reading more is a great way to enrich your life. Books are a portal to a different world and a way to transport yourself to new places. They're also a great way to expose yourself to new ideas.

6. Catch up with family.

Using your time outside work to be around your family is incredibly valuable. Unfortunately, many people don't spend as much time as they'd like to with their families. Reversing this trend by spending more time with your family members when you're outside the office will make your life richer and fuller.

7. Explore.

Exposing yourself to new places and experiences is an important means of enriching your life. This can be tailored to your personal interests: if you like music, you can head to a new concert venue and listen to a new act. If you're interested in art, you can go to the museum to check out a new exhibit.

8. Plan for, and work toward, your career advancement.

It's never too late to invest in yourself and your career advancement through continuous learning, going back to school or pursuing an advanced degree. Spending your time outside the office studying for the necessary standardized exams for going back to school, applying to graduate school if you're interested in it or exploring career advancement opportunities is always worth it.

9. Meditate.

Taking up meditation has a range of benefits, including better sleep, lowering stress levels, improving attention and more. Even if you don't feel frazzled on a day-to-day basis, you're still likely to see many benefits from a regular meditation practice. If you've never tried meditating before, it's easy to get started with an app like Calm.

10. Cook a great meal.

If you're the type that derives enjoyment from cooking as a process, taking time to put together a delicious meal and test a new recipe or two can be an incredibly productive and relaxing way to spend an evening. Personally, I love spending time trying new soup recipes in the winter — the process of finding new recipes, shopping for ingredients, prepping everything and seeing how it all comes together is truly enjoyable for me.

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Lorelei Yang is a New York-based consultant and freelance writer/researcher. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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