Avoiding internet shopping

So, it is 10:09am and I have just sat down to have my midmorning coffee. And as per usual I’m comfy on the sofa with my laptop in front of me about to open Facebook and have a game of Cookie Jam. Yes I know, “What a waste of time!”. However downtime is downtime and we are all entitled to that. A little mindless activity to while away your relaxation time is totally acceptable in my book.

The other thing I do during my downtime is browse Pinterest for craft ideas. Oh, how I can waste hours on that. But it more often than not inspires me to jump up and get creating soon enough.

All that being said, and the reason for today’s post is, that one of my readers, Sally, sent a email last week asking me to write a post about alternative downtime activities to avoid resorting to online shopping.

A harmless game that doesn’t cost a cent and in no way clutters up your home is one thing. Cruising the internet for creative inspiration another, but online shopping, that is a whole other kettle of fish. Sometimes very costly and cluttery fish at that. Especially costly if indulged in by people who can ill afford to be wasting their hard earned cash or who already has a cluttered home.

Now don’t worry, I am not going to suggest that you could spend your downtime decluttering, because to most people that would come under the category of work. And even I am not that keen to declutter. Although I have been known to enjoy it enough to consider it downtime in itself, but would still not list it as a downtime activity.

Anyhow, I have stated my two downtime pointless indulgences but I am sure there are many more. For example…

  • Reading
  • Knitting or other easily portable craft
  • Catching up with friends on Facebook.
  • Meditating
  • Watch some inspiring YouTube videos ~ Ted Talks or similar.
  • Browse recipes online for later inspiration when organising a weekly menu plan or to get out of that ‘same old same old” cooking rut. (I should take my old advice here.)

…just to name a few. Also I googled ‘Alternative activities to avoid online shopping’ and found this little gem…

www.365lessthings.com – Day-157-alternatives-to-shopping

And also this one

How to Program Your Mind to Stop Buying Crap You Don’t Need

I confess I have been known to browse and buy from both old school craft stores and online ones as well, but for the most part, when it comes to shopping of any sort, just thinking about where I would fit an item and how much stuff I already own is enough to put me off buying things.

So does anyone else have some downtime activities that helps them relax that doesn’t involve online shopping. Why not share your experience in the comments.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. There are many!
    – cooking
    – baking
    – inviting someone over or meeting someone for a walk in the park
    – knitting
    – sewing (mostly recycling worn out clothes)
    – making cards (mostly recycling “paper garbage” like e.g. wrapping paper etc)
    – writing and sending cards
    – walking
    – “thing-finding” (do you know Pippi Longstocking? She has this game “thing-finder” where she just walks the streets and collects whatever she finds. I find, I also find lots of “treasures” on the street that are still usable or natural things that I can craft with etc. etc. )
    – cycling
    – watching youtube
    – reading
    – calling someone
    – painting/drawing
    – taking a bath
    – taking a long shower and pamper myself a little more than usual
    – lighting a candle and having a cup of tea
    – mending or greasing things (it feels so good to finally sew that button on or fix that hole, take care of one’s bicycle, clean one’s shoes etc.)
    – studying (as in, looking up or training things you always wanted to know but didn’t come around learning yet, that can be anything from “what is the difference between all those citrus fruits?”, “how does one install a lamp?”, learn a new knitting technique, study a language, etc.) – obviously it should be something that really interests you and not necessarily about something that feels like “work” to you
    – playing music/singing/dancing
    – playing a card or board game with someone
    – arranging things also is a source of joy for many people, be it arranging flowers, redecorating a shelf or solving a jigsaw puzzle. Personally, I often “play with my china” as my boyfriend puts it. I like setting and arranging the table, even if it’s not needed… 😉 Kind of like the teddybear tea parties I had as a child… 😀

    I think, I can think of more free passtimes than anything else… 😀

  2. Excellent topic, Colleen, and great links not only to your article but to the lifehacker article and within the lifehacker article (in particular The Simple Dollar article he refers to – this really touched a nerve with me – “buying” instead of “doing”. I have been very guilty lately of not having time to sew or craft so in the small bits of time I do have, I buy something related to those hobbies … not a good idea)

    Good list, Sanna! I would also add, if you have a pet, spend time with him/her, walking, grooming, or just playing. (I’m reminding myself as much as anyone else :))

    • That certainly is not a good idea. I have encountered others, and been guilty myself, in the past of spending more time hobby shopping than actually participating in the hobby. Hence why I am still using up those supplies after 12 years.

  3. I recently bought myself a grown ups version of a colouring book, alas I got a bit frustrated because I wasnt very good at it. So I did a crossword instead!

    Im a recreational reader, I dont have a problem with re-reading books either.

    • Moni, I bought a coloring book for grown ups too. I haven’t tried it yet.

      • Deb J – I think I might need to start with a kid colouring book.

        • I find the kid ones so juvenile that it bothers me. The one I bought has flowers on it and they should be pretty easy. I will graduate up once aaaaaaaI feel more able.

    • Those colouring books look lovely but I have decided, without even trying one, that it would bore me to tears. But that is me, I think for others they would be a great relaxing way to wile away some downtime. My mother-in-law has one and loves it. And I didn’t think of puzzle books. Crosswords and sudoku are favourites of mine. Haven’t done any in a while though. And it is funny that I prefer the paper version than digital. Something about writing the words in myself I think.

      • I wanted something mindless to do. I’m hoping to find some that have scenery.

      • Colouring would be just so stressful for me. I’m not good at putting colours together and I’m sure I wouldn’t be that neat.

  4. I don’t do much shopping of any kind. I have found that I don’t like to do much shopping online because I can’t see the product. If it is an item I use all the time then I don’t mind getting it online if it is cheaper there. Other than that, I prefer to be able to see the product and try it on if it is some type of clothing.

    • I so agree Deb. I am a very tactile person and like to see and feel items before buying them. Dimension, feel and the intricate detail are lost on the digital version of shipping in my opinion. And some shopping websites are soooooooooo badly made. There is one papercraft one here is Australia that is so bad I won’t shop there anymore except to buy my adhesives because they are so cheap there.

      • Yes, some online shopping site are really bad. I.ve seen numerous ones that are a pain to navigate or have really cheap stuff. You also have to be careful they are legitimate.

  5. Well, I may not be the right person to ask, because I consider shopping (of any variety) to be one of the most stressful activities on the planet. Too many decisions!

    My “guilty downtime pleasure” is Netflix. I’m a huge movie buff and nothing relaxes me quite like getting lost in a good film – or even a rerun of something like Andy Griffith or the Twilight Zone! But if I REALLY want to have fun, I choose one of those terrible disaster flicks – you know the ones… tiny budget, horrible special effects, laughable plot – absolutely nothing to take seriously. 🙂

  6. Hi Colleen,
    For me a good one is creating a detailed meal plan for the week. Research the recipes, plan it out, make your groceries list etc. For anyone working long hours a meal plan is a life saver so this is great favour you can do for yourself instead of shopping.

    Great post.


  7. My own personal favorite is birdwatching which I can do from my window or by going for a walk or a drive. Yes, you do need to purchase binoculars and a field guide (online!!) but it’s something you can do just about anytime, and just about anywhere.

    Might I also suggest volunteering for something. If you have lots of downtime you can volunteer for a regular ‘job’ but if you simply want something to do on occasion there are also plenty of options. If you are spending your downtime sewing or knitting or gardening for a charity you may have a bit more incentive than just doing something to fill in time.

  8. Hi Colleen, I love my downtime!!!

    sit & look out window
    think of stuff to declutter
    think of (non-clutter) gift ideas
    think of how to repurpose something that I want to keep but don’t have a current use for
    have tea or coffee & chat
    work on my budget (yes, I find this relaxing!)
    go to the library (we can walk there) and read their magazines and borrow their books 🙂

    • Hi Peggy,
      I think we have very similar downtime activities. I’m especially glad to hear I’m not the only one who enjoys working on my budget!

  9. Hi Colleen, I used to be a big online shopper when I was working. I used to get emails from a dress company that I liked & they would have massive sales that I couldn’t resist. Guess which clothes have been the first to be decluttered! They were never as nice as they looked online but just filled a void for work. Now if I have some vege out time I play spider solitaire or freecell on my iPad, my husband likes to play sudoku. I also think if you are planning a holiday you can do so much research online & it doesn’t clutter anything.

    • Hi KathyA, shopping online can really be hit and miss that is for sure. I have bought craft dies online only to find that in reality they aren’t very good. Some online retailers don’t really think about their customers needs when setting up their web sites. I have encountered some very sloppy efforts in that area. This makes it harder to find what you are after or to get a full idea of the item they are selling. I then find I have to get more detail from other sites to get a better picture, measurements etc. All the information that should be on a good site in the first place. That is why I would rather shop in a proper store where I can touch the item I am trying to buy. And given there aren’t any really good craft stores in my area I don’t end up buying much. So I’d call that a probortunity that saves me money.

  10. The killer for me used to be the eBay app on my phone. Maybe 2 months ago I replaced it with the Duolingo app, and so instead of searching for things I might buy, I replaced the habit with doing a few language lessons instead. I am now apparently 57% fluent in French and 15% fluent in German. The way these percentages are climbing already startles me as to how much time (and money!) I must have been spending before on online shopping.

  11. Hi, Colleen. I enjoyed reading this. I prefer brick-and-mortar shopping over online shopping, if I really need to buy something. I will spend time browsing and researching products that I need online before buying from a physical store.

    Downtime activities:
    – reading
    – coffee!
    – listening to music or playing an instrument
    – writing
    – playing board and card games
    – solving crossword puzzles, brainteasers and word games
    – sports/exercise
    – museums and art galleries
    – going for a walk and exploring new places
    – photography
    – cooking and making my own spice pastes and mixes
    – gardening
    – chilling out and just being in the moment surrounded by nature.

  12. My favourite passtime/downtime is cooking. If I’ve had a stressful day at work it’s great to come home and fill the house with wonderful aromas.

  13. Some excellent ideas, thanks Colleen. For me it is the lunch breaks that catch me out as they’re too short to do the outside activities I love, but still long enough to browse online shops and do damage. I think I will now be using those lunch breaks to watch Ted talks, plan interesting meals to cook, research various projects and of course read blogs such as yours!

  14. I like to read my favorite blogs and participate in my favorite forums:
    Nutrition, wheat free blogs and forums
    My favorite style blog and forum
    Catch up on Facebook
    But if I’m looking for something really mindless, I play Spider Solotaire

  15. Oops! Solitaire

  16. I don’t understand how crafting isn’t considered a clutter generator. In most cases, the crafter has more than made more than whatever it is than they need, and probably their friends need no more of it either. How is it different than the enjoyment of shopping? Both take time and money and generate more stuff to do something with. Many crafts are dustcatchers or wall hangings, and very few people need more of either!

    Also limiting me is I find most people who give crafted things as gifts do so because they wanted to make something and thus they find someone to send it to. (I don’t wear knits but it hasn’t stopped me from getting knit stuff. I don’t need more blankets, but here comes a quilt. A relative took a potting class and sent us various vases he had made that we have no use for.) I’m delighted if someone makes me something I need, but usually the recipient is an afterthought, or at most considered when choosing colors. I don’t want to be that crafter!

    I have never managed to resolve an interest in crafts with an interest to declutter my house and not clutter my friends’, and so I have two small boxes of jewelry-making-related things I haven’t touched in years. (The rest of the craft stuff I got rid of). I want to do beadwork again, but I don’t need more jewelry!

    • I can’t dispute any of that Kayote. Crafting is most certainly a clutter generator. However I would hazard a guess that of all the clutter you have gotten rid of from your home most of it is stuff you bought. Not stuff you made and not stuff made for you. So although crafting sure has its issues when it comes to clutter shopping is a far worse idle pastime.

    • Kayote, I have to agree with you for the most part. I love to cross stitch but gave it up because it bothers my hands some but mostly because I have no one to give it to and I don’t need any more. I also gave away all my floss to a friend who has a big family and they all love getting cross stitch items from her. I know what you mean about receiving things you don’t want. A friend of mine gave me a quilted item and we don’t use it. I’m hoping I can convince Mom to give it away this year.

  17. I LOVE jigsaw puzzles – I have a few and I am so looking forward to doing certain ones again. like re-reading a book, it is lovely to find those little nicely colored pieces again and remember where they went… yes. winter is coming.
    I own a stereo and I do like listening to music. I turn it up and dance through the place like noone is watching. great thing in the morning.
    A bit like Sanna – I also like playing with my things though I dont set the table 😉 my hobby is rather decluttering and rearranging the nice things that I have. I became a neat-freak and I also like to “bring things home” It became a daily habit.
    I also like thinking about arranging my home, like sitting there and imagine different styles and colours and then I “feel” the place much more somehow.

    • I’m so glad to hear other people redo jigsaw puzzles. I remember every winter when I was a kid the puzzles would come out, and they were like old friends. My in-laws don’t see the point of redoing a puzzle and keep buying new ones. Which also boggles me, because I can buy them for less than a dollar at rummage sales so spending way way more than that makes no sense to me.

      I suppose it helps a missing piece or two doesn’t bother me. 🙂

  18. Not sure these fall in the same category as you are looking for:

    Long walks (or short ones)
    Kitchen experimenting (can I make something rather than buy it?)