8 useful things to do with your time

Before lockdown, our research showed Brits spent an average of over four hours on their phone every day, adding up to a whopping 1,522 hours a year or 63 days – and new research shows screen time has only increased amid UK’s current lockdown restrictions¹.

To help Brits put their time into bettering their skillset or learning something new, we’ve looked at 8 aspirational new skills or useful tasks and how long it typically takes to complete them, showing that this extra time could be used for good.

1. Learn a new language

The US Foreign Service Institute estimates that it takes roughly 480 hours to become fluent in a ‘Group 1’ language, such as French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish and Swahili².

With people spending an average of 1,522 hours per year just looking at their phone, this time could instead be used to master three new languages. Experts estimate this extra skill could even earn you a 2% pay rise³.

Apps like Duolingo make it easier than ever to learn a language in your free time and allow you to put that screentime to good use.

2. Become a yoga teacher

Teaching the art of yoga can be very rewarding and it can take less time than you think. The first level of certification takes a minimum of 200 hours. This generally takes three to five months on average, however it also works out to be six hours a day for a month, if you wanted it to be more intensive.

3. Read the classics

Many people love to read, but often say they don’t have the time to do it as much as they’d like. However, spending less time on your phone or binge watching during lockdown, could make this the perfect time to cross off those books you’ve never got round to. 

It takes over 98 hours to read the entire A Song of Ice and Fire book from the Game of Thrones series, 60 hours to read the Harry Potter series, and 26 hours to read The Lord of the Rings⁴.

4. Learn to code

If technology is your thing, you could use the time to develop your abilities and learn a new tech-related skill.

Learning to code can take roughly 140 hours⁵, and can teach you valuable skills which can open new career directions and get yourself ahead in an increasingly tech-centric work environment. If smartphone users gave up some of their streaming, gaming and social media time, they could walk out of lockdown with a great new skill which could even encourage your next career move! 

5. Train for a marathon

While it is undoubtedly a huge commitment, with the nation being unable to head to their favourite gym for their exercise, there’s never been a better time to rise to the challenge. The recommended minimum training at roughly 90 hours over 16 weeks⁶.

6. Knit a scarf

A great skill to have is knowing how to knit. It is said to take around 15-20 hours to knit a scarf, depending on the size of the needles, and the speed you are doing it. This is the perfect skill to take up if you’re into giving handmade gifts or like to have something to do while sitting in front of the TV.

7. Meditation 

Wellness is always an important thing to spend your time on, but it’s even more prevalent now that there’s more time on our hands, gyms are closed and social situations are currently on hold. So using this time to learn how to meditate is the perfect way to help relieve some anxiety and stress. 

According to the meditation app, Headspace, becoming a master in basic meditation techniques should take 10 days⁷, if done every day. 

8. Video editing 

Another task which can help boost your career and perhaps even earn a little extra cash is learning how to edit videos. Whether you have been thinking about improving your social media content, or are interested in more artistic projects, now is the time to learn exactly how you can get that perfect shot. 

For high end programs such as Final Cut, you could learn all the basics you need in just 2-3 days⁸.


[1] https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/coronavirus-screen-time-phone-use-iphone-a9433251.html

[2] https://blog.thelinguist.com/how-long-should-it-take-to-learn-a-language 

[³] http://money.com/money/137042/foreign-language-fluency-pay-salary/

[4] https://contently.net/2014/10/15/voices/humor/infographic-long-take-read-famous-works-literature/

[5] https://skillcrush.com/2017/08/07/how-long-does-it-take-to-learn-to-code-online/

[5] https://skillcrush.com/2017/08/07/how-long-does-it-take-to-learn-to-code-online/

[6] https://www.runnersworld.com/uk/training/a760108/rws-basic-marathon-schedules-get-you-round/

[₇] https://help.headspace.com/hc/en-us/articles/115008040007-How-long-does-it-take-to-learn-

[₈] https://www.solointel.com/how-long-to-learn-basic-video-editing/

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