Why Smart People Use Spare Time To Do Nothing At All

How to make use of spare time like Buddha did

Want to know how to make use of spare time?

We all have those spare 10 minutes every now and then.

If the average person added up all the times in their life when they’ve had 10 minutes to spare, they’d end up with more than a year.


Check out these stats about the average time we spend in various idle states.

  • British people spend nearly six months of their life in a queue (1)
  • The average person spends 7 years lying awake at night (2)
  • The average American spends 38 hours a year stuck in traffic (which adds up to 0.3 years in a lifetime). (3)
  • The average person spends six months of their life stuck at a traffic light. (4)

Add those facts up.

In total we spend 10.4 years of our lives just waiting, 7 years of which is in bed, and the remainder divided between little moments of waiting throughout the day, like when we’re waiting in line.

Given that we also spend 25 years of our lives asleep, we really don’t have much time.

how we waste our time


How I Personally Learned To Value Time

When my father died in 2014 I was suddenly struck by how incredibly valuable time is.

Up until that point I had never truly appreciate how precious the moments of our lives are.

Standing up in front of my whole family at my father’s funeral and talking about this life and how he had spent his time… it truly affected me.

My father’s funeral was a painful lesson. As I was talking about his life, I was hyperaware of my own life and my own frailty. I was aware that one day someone would be telling the story of my life while I was lying in a coffin.

I vowed to make the most of every moment of my time, to never waste a single minute. I determined then to find the best way how to make use of spare time.

If I had ten minutes of spare time, I would make use of all 600 seconds.

Turns out ten minutes of spare time is a lot.

Not long after I’d vowed to make the most of every moment, I started to learn just how much we can do in as little as ten minutes.

Here are some impressive things we can do in just 10 minutes of spare time

  • The average person can read 2000 words
  • Walk 804 metres
  • Run 3379 metres
  • The average person will think 714 thoughts
  • And have 600 heartbeats
  • The average person could speak 1540 words
  • And type 400 words

Meanwhile, in those same ten minutes of spare time, a meteorite will travel 6, 600, 000 metres though space, which is the equivalent of travelling all the way around Earth one and a half times.

So yeah, ten minutes is quite a long time.

Every time I had a spare ten minutes, I was determined to make the most of it.

Within the first month I discovered literally hundreds of different things to do when you have spare time.

Some good ways to make use of spare time 

  • For starters, the absolute best things to do in ten minutes are these mindfulness exercises. They will boost your mental health in 10 minutes and you can do them anywhere. Try them. They’re game changers.
  • Look for new clothing or products in flyers / online
  • Read a random Wikipedia page
  • Stretch
  • Go for a quick walk
  • Clean your home
  • Organise the apps on your device
  • Check Facebook and hit LIKE several hundred times
  • Come up with new ideas for work
  • Recount the favorite moments of your life (for a quick boost of happiness)
  • Draw
  • Match your socks
  • Schedule an appointment
  • Do the dishes
  • Throw your garbage out
  • Make a grocery list
  • Pay a bill
  • Check your emails
  • Sing
  • Finding someone to talk to
  • Snuggle your pets
  • Learn computer shortcuts
  • Plan what to do for the rest of the day / week
  • Learn why you procrastinate
  • Read a blog article
  • Groom
  • Power nap
  • Learn a recipe
  • Visualise the next thing you need to do (can be very helpful if you’re at work)
  • Write your to-do list
  • Recite affirmations
  • Practice a random act of kindness
  • Learn foreign words
  • Send a text to someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time
  • Tell someone something you think they would love to hear
  • Practice mindfulness.

what to do when you have 10 minutes to spare

Above is just a selection of some of the ways we can make use of spare time.

There are literally hundreds of different ways to spend spare time.

The Best Thing To Do In Ten Minutes Of Spare Time

There is a very good reason why we often have ten minutes to spare: because we actually need them.

In the 21st Century we humans are obsessed with being busy (so much that we actually delude ourselves into thinking we’re always busy) .

Why do we need those spare ten minute chunks of time every now and then? To refresh our minds. To slow down.

Just like your car needs oiling every once in a while if it’s to keep running smoothly, your mind needs oiling too… just, not with Mobil. Your mind needs to be kept fresh with periods of non-activity and non-thinking.

As we go through a day our minds gradually fill up.

You wake up in the morning and you’re thinking of getting to work. Then you’re working for hours on end, trying not to get too stressed.  Then you’ve probably got some family complication to deal with…

Stress and thoughts snowball.

One single thought gets the ball rolling.

Stress and negativity get worse.

The whole thing gathers speed.

Then BAM! Headache.

how stress snowballs


That’s why you need to spend 10 minutes doing nothing

Doing too much tires the brain. It makes us stressed. It gives us a headache.

That’s why we need to spent ten minutes doing nothing.

Society thinks it’s cool to be in “Go mode” the whole time. Wrong. That way just leads to fatigue, stress, and illness.

Stress is the world’s number one killer. And one of the very best ways to stop stress is simply to give yourself enough downtime when you’re not doing anything.

And that is why it is so important to spend your spare ten minutes doing nothing.

Those spare ten minutes are given to us so we can remove a build-up of thoughts and stress. So that we can relax the mind. And when the mind is relaxed we are less likely to become ill. 

So, what is the best thing to do when you have ten minutes? What’s the best way to make use of spare time?

Simple. Hit RESET.

resettinng your mind

How To Make Use Of Your Spare Time By Doing Nothing

The best way to make use of spare time is to do nothing. Because when you do nothing, you tune out all the mental-noise.

We need enough downtime to make sure we don’t make ourselves ill from too much uptime.

Only, we don’t just want to do nothing. We want to empty the mind.

To empty the mind we focus on one simple thing, like the breath. In other words, we meditate.

One definition of meditation is focusing on one aspect of the present moment. 

You could focus on:

  • your breath
  • the sky
  • a relaxing sound
  • imagery
  • nature
  • anything relaxing

Meditation is the act of focusing your mind on one thing (often the breath) while (usually) being still. This empties the mind. It let’s us relax and unwind. And it prevents us from becoming ill due to stress.  

Meditation lets your mind and body switch off so they can heel, so they can purify.

And the best part?

You can meditate in your spare ten minutes wherever you may be.


Why you should spent your spare 10 minutes meditating

You can  spend 10 minutes meditating no matter where you are:

If you happen to have ten minutes to spare because the bus is late, you can meditate on your breath while you wait. Same thing when you’re waiting in a queue. Same thing when your colleague shows up late. Same thing…

You can meditate wherever and whenever and you can do it in ten minutes.

By spending 10 minutes meditating you will:

  • Relax your mind
  • Increase your productivity (because a rested mind is more productive)
  • Improve your health (a relaxed mind makes a healthier body)
  • And feel totally Zen

In my book Zen And Now I reveal how you can meditate anytime, anywhere. So the next time you have a spare 10 minutes you can meditate. 




Spent your spare 10 minutes meditating.

You’ll be amazed how much you get out of this.

I like to track my meditation times. i have a specific way of tracking my time. And from that I know that those spare 10 minutes add up to several hours. So by spending those 10 minutes meditating, you end up having spent several hours every week making your mind healthier.

The next time you’re wondering what to do when you have ten minutes free, remind yourself: There is a reason why you have ten minutes spare. Because you need those ten minutes. You need them to reset and to refresh your body and mind.

That’s why whenever I have a spare ten minutes these days, I meditate.

Got spare time right now?

Learn 31 meditation techniques for free in this guide.


And that is the best thing you can do in 10 minutes.

These 10 minute meditation sessions are game-changers. They refresh you, restore you, and get you up and running again.

What are your favorite things to do when you have a spare 10 minutes?

Leave a comment.




About Paul Martin Harrison 495 Articles
Paul Harrison is a meditation teacher, author and journalist based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential. Don’t miss Paul’s inspirational and enlightening book Journey To The Buddha Within You.

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