Free time.

We’re always wanting more of it, a better version of it, or searching for productive ways to spend it. I’m either a fully-scheduled person or (more often) a screen-obsessed blob who needs, more than anything, to get out of the house. I share below that my antidote is to wander around Los Angeles on foot, because at least the uneven sidewalks and hiking paths keep me distracted from scrolling on my phone.

Work, relationships, news—the noise and productivity take a toll on us, and we often need to remind ourselves to rest.

Sometimes though, just resting and “doing nothing” is exactly what we need, even if that includes screen time. Work, relationships, news—the noise and productivity take a toll on us, and we often need to remind ourselves to rest. Otherwise, our body and mind can force us to a complete stop. (Did anyone else get that end-of-year flu? Pretty sure our collective humanity was telling us to slow down. Or, more likely, it was just a bad flu season).

Here at The Good Trade, we’ve been talking about the ways we spend free time when we have it. Personally, I’m being more honest about my guilty pleasures and embracing the things that I like as just that—nice things that make me feel good. No matter how embarrassing.

**One thing to note is that our team doesn’t reflect every walk of life! For example, none of us have children. We want this piece to open up a dialogue about free time that includes parents, people with multiple jobs, students, retirees—you name it, we want to hear from you.

Consider this an open thread: let’s all talk free time in the comments below!👇

Managing Editor

My favorite free time activity is to beat myself up for having free time. Lately, I’ve been working on removing the guilt I carry about it. It’s okay to do something just for the fun of it, and it’s okay if I’m not “productive.” I’m trying to let the facts lead instead of assigning judgment to whatever it is I’m doing, even if it’s binge-watching Instagram stories. We judge ourselves far too harshly for doing things that bring us joy, especially when they don’t bring us cash.

If I have an hour, I like to play a game (to keep me away from my phone, let’s be honest). I switch it up between video games and board games, depending on my mood. I’m currently digging The Sims 4 on PC and Spiderman on Playstation 4. I’m also obsessed with screen-free games like Rivals for Catan, Biblios, Qwixx, and Patchwork. All great for two players!

If I’m not in gaming mode, I’m cleaning up after my house rabbits and watching someone play The Sims on YouTube (come on, I know you have a guilty pleasure too—share it in the comments!). I also love catching up on Late Night comedy’s takes on political happenings because if we’re not laughing, we’re crying, right?

If I have three hours, you’ll likely find me walking somewhere. Maybe I’ll walk to a yoga class, shower, and start dinner prep if it’s a work night. Most nights, though, I’m distracted and only get through the dinner part of things. *Deep judgment-clearing breath* Trivia Tuesday is usually the only evening of the week I’m not holed up at home.

If it’s not a “school night,” I walk to the outdoor mall near my apartment and, instead of shopping, I people watch. I love strolling through Barnes & Noble and letting my mind wander. I browse glossy magazines, poring over layouts, critically examining advertisements, and scoffing at the price tags on what they call “this season’s must-haves.” I leave my phone at home or tuck it into the bottom of my bag; my lizard brain LOVES that thing, so I need to be intentional about how much access I have.

If I have a whole day, you’ll still probably find me walking somewhere, but outside of my neighborhood. My husband and I are on a budget, so walking and hiking are our go-to forms of entertainment. We don’t have kids, so it does allow us more flexibility on our weekends to get up and go somewhere new, which not everyone has. After our adventure, we sometimes head to a new brewery and play card games. If we don’t have work the next day, we snuggle up and watch movies late into the night. Alternative: we spend a large part of the afternoon cleaning. The amount of cleaning that two adults and two rabbits require is astonishing in my household.

Social & Community Lead

I have a hard time with “free time”—much in the way I have a hard time sitting still. In a world that prioritizes work over everything, I find it near impossible to take the necessary time to rest, recharge, and all that good stuff. That said, I’m learning how my body responds to being over-worked and I’m making downtime a 2020 must.

If I have an hour, I am usually on my phone (*loud sigh*, big whoop, I know I’m not the only one!!!). Hopefully, that time is spent reading the news, learning something, or bookmarking new places to try (I’m a sucker for every restaurant Bon Appetit shares and I have them allllll saved in my Google Maps, regardless of whether or not I plan to visit the city they’re located in). Sometimes, it’s just Instagram, Twitter, etc. and I’m learning to be okay with that. 

If I have three hours, I am outdoors! I’ve been trying to get some longer, more strenuous hikes in lately. Depending on the weather conditions and time of day, I’ll try to make it out to Angeles National Forest for a few favorite five to eight-mile hikes, which take the better part of three hours. If I’m being strict with my time, I’ll head to Griffith Park or Brand Park, and the rest of the three hours is spent grabbing coffee or a bite with my guy or a good friend—or both!

If I have a whole day, I am in my ceramics studio! I try to split my weekends with one day in the studio, one day for R&R. A ceramics day looks like putting on my coveralls and getting to work, whether that’s throwing, trimming, hand building, or general studio tidying. A rest and relaxation day moves a little slower and almost always includes coffee in bed. If I’m lucky, I’ll get some outdoor time in or meet up with friends to do something together (museums, neighborhood exploring, grabbing a bite). I try not to plan too much; I prefer to go with the flow!

Courtney Jay
Associate Editor

For me to feel like my best and most “balanced” self, I take my free time very seriously; at the beginning of the week, I look at my calendar and think about how I am going to manage time, my time, and make a point to nourish my mind, body, and soul with things that bring me joy. This includes going to the farmers market on Sunday and having a stocked fridge for the week; working out/doing yoga at least three times a week; and giving myself time to enjoy one to two social activities with friends or going to an event that allows me to learn new things. Obviously this ideal schedule does not happen every week, but I love setting goals for myself to experience life a little more intentionally and fully.

If I have an hour,
I will work on my professional goals, like taking time to plan my social media shares for my blog. Being an Enneagram Three, I sometimes feel guilty if I am not using my free time to be productive. However, I definitely listen to what my body and mind need to refuel and will use yoga or working out as a way to get myself re-inspired. I have been loving taking online classes from Kait Hurley—her classes are cardio-meets-yoga and are never longer than 60 minutes, with about six minutes of meditation at the end. They are perfect for a quick workout and mindfulness practice in the comfort of my own living room.

If I have three hours, I will most likely be cooking dinner and cleaning the mess I make afterward. I love to cook and do so most weeknights. After cooking, I spend time tidying our house; this includes putting away all my clothes that got strewn about our room that morning during my frenzy of trying to figure out what to wear. Alongside, I always leave 30 minutes to an hour to read before I go to bed. It has been the only thing that gives me a truly restful night’s sleep.

If I have a whole day,
I will spend it being leisurely; sleeping in, drinking coffee in bed, and cuddling with my cats. I also make it a point to have nourishing social time in a day, whether it’s going on a hike with a friend or making dinner plans at night. My favorite day is one that is slow but energized with creative projects and time spent with loved ones. One of my 2020 resolutions is making this kind of day more of a priority!


Like my coworkers, I have a complicated relationship with my free time. Sometimes I’m so busy that, when I do have a spare minute, I mindlessly reach for my phone and scroll my social feeds. But time is precious, and the more I remember it is finite, the easier it is to embrace every moment (free or not) as a gift. So, when I do have a minute, an hour, or even a day of unblocked time, I’m doing my best to fill it with the things and people I love (2020 goals).

If I have an hour, I’m playing catch up and doing my best not to waste time. Hour blocks are the hardest for me, so unless I have something scheduled, it can quickly slip away. When I’m intentional, though, I pick up a book, catch up on texts and emails, or call family and friends.

If I have three hours, I’m getting things done. I love three-hour blocks, and I try to give myself this chunk of time before work every day. You can find me writing, walking my dog, and easing into the workday. I also like to catch up on the news and read the latest nonfiction article or two (Catapult and Longreads are my go-to’s). Right now, my morning routine also includes getting ready while listening to The Daily.

If I have a whole day, I’m either running errands or getting outside of the city—it really depends on how my week is going and whether I need to play catch-up or take a daycation. If errands are in order, you can find me grocery shopping, swapping out library hauls, perusing Goodwill, and taking my dog to the dog park. If it’s a daycation, I’m probably hiking with my partner in the mountains and ending the day at a craft brewery.

Staff Writer

I’ve spent a lot of time in my life swinging between two extremes: being exceptionally busy with no downtime or having zero plans and barely moving from my couch on the weekends. And I don’t think either of those is healthy or sustainable! So this year, I’m working on a balance and savoring the quality of my free time.

If I have an hour, to be completely honest, I am definitely watching some sort of media. I have an impulse to binge, so if I have free time, I’ll use it to catch up on the next episode of This Is Us or Schitt’s Creek. Most days that I have a free hour are workdays, so I’m typically trying to shut my brain off a bit. Sometimes, my fiancé Jovanni and I will prep our dinner, settle in on the couch with our pets, and watch Chef’s Table or something we equally enjoy.

If I have three hours, I’m most likely reading or wedding planning (hah). I love being fueled by a sense of productivity, especially if I can do it on something exciting, like picking a floral vendor from the comfort of my couch. Otherwise, I’m more likely on my iPad/phone reading a book I’ve checked out from the library; in another attempt to shut my brain off, these usually skew to be fiction or crime thrillers. I sometimes try to make plans on these days, so I can be social when I’ve already left my house. If it’s a weekend, the possibilities are endless, and then I have guilt about not being able to do more with that time. To be completely honest, I’m most likely having a nice homemade brunch and then immediately napping. 😊 If I’m able to be out and about, I like to visit thrift stores and bookstores, local boutiques in the community, or enjoying a non-alcoholic drink somewhere (I think I’m officially too old to day-drink). I really love my local Jersey City area, and we’re right next to NYC, so there are always places we can hang out and wander.

If I have a whole day, I would say a day road trip is always on my itinerary (weather dependent). We’re lucky to be close to many lovely little towns, like New Hope, PA, and Montclair, NJ. Both are within driving distance of the Catskills or the beach, so I always love exploring new spaces. If it’s not as nice outside or I’m tired, I’ll try to plan the day ahead of time with Jovanni, which could range from errands and then relaxing, or maybe doing a movie marathon complete with popcorn and hot chocolate. Full disclosure is that I am aiming to be more active in pursuing new hobbies/skills this year, so hopefully, when I check back in on this a few months from now, I’ve added more things like “baking classes” or a “makeup masterclass” to my free time.


Emily Torres is the Managing Editor at The Good Trade. She’s a Los Angeles transplant who was born and raised in Indiana, where she studied Creative Writing and Business at Indiana University. You can usually find her reading or writing, caring for her rabbits, or practicing at the yoga studio.