13 Cool Non-Digital Hobbies For You

Passions that don’t involve hours and hours on a screen — so you can get a digital detox while learning new skills

A wooden table covered by paint, brushes, and a paint palette, with a blank white canvas and a blue pencil in the middle of the colorful chaos.
Photo by Marko Blazevic from Pexels

While our world sprints on and on faster than we can keep up, there’s still some things we can do to keep moving forward — like learning a new skill. In this day and age, a lot of our hobbies and passions are digital-based, along with many of our jobs and communication networks. These include photo manipulation, digital art, UI/UX design, data analysis, coding and game development, graphic design, blog writing — the list goes on and on.

Sometimes, though, we want to take a break from the digital world, learn something that requires our body to move more than just dragging around a mouse or typing on a keyboard. If you want to find a skill that will hopefully get you off your screen while doing something cool and productive — you might find some value from this article.

A male magician in a yellow vest holds a ripped card in his left hand, his right hiding the torn-off corner.
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

Card Magic

Do you have an old deck of playing cards laying around? Maybe you got them when you were a kid, or maybe they’re you’re kids abandoned Christmas gift from seven years ago. Either way, you might want to put this deck to use.

If you’ve seen magic Youtube videos or watched something like America’s Got Talent, you’ve probably seen some pretty insane card tricks. Card magic is something that’s seems nearly impossible, but is deceptively easy and simple to learn — at least, in the beginning. It’s a great hobby to get into, as there’s hundreds of tricks you can learn, hundreds of card decks you can collect, and thousands of people you can impress.

Some great YouTube channels you can turn to to learn your first few tricks are A Million Card Tricks, Milson Productions, and even Chris Ramsay. Learning card magic is rewarding, but it can also be frustrating. My advice? — Take breaks. If you try to learn every single card trick in just one session, you’re going to hate card magic. Set a pace for yourself(e.g., one trick a week) and slowly build up your card magic knowledge.

Another branch of card tricks is cardistry, which Chris Ramsay also has many tutorials on. Cardistry is the art of flourishing and displaying playing cards in a flashy, captivating matter — and there’s no doubt it’s something that’ll leave your friends wide-eyed and shocked.

A woman breakdances in the middle of a large, busy street, a bustling city surrounding her.
Photo by Keenan Constance

Dance & Vocals

Dancing and singing has probably been something that’s crossed your mind as a potential hobby or even career — most likely in your childhood. However, it’s not something that seems realistic to us as we get older, and we never follow this passion.

Maybe it’s time to try it again.

Vocals and dance are a great way to express yourself and get some exercise, and while you’ll need to practice and work hard to get to a good level, in the end, it’s worth it.

To start off with dance, you could start of as simple as Fortnite and TikTok dances. Easy as that. Learn them from simple YouTube videos, and work your way up to harder, more complex choreographies.

For singing, it’s a little trickier, as you should probably have a professional teach you. Once you’ve decided you want to give singing a try, you could pay for an in-person vocal coach, or use something like Outschool(ages 3–18) and sign up for an online class.

A woman sketches on a cream piece of paper with a piece of charcoal in a dimly lit studio.
Photo by cottonbro

Drawing & Animation

In a world where digital art is everywhere, sometimes it's easy to forget that traditional art still exists. While there are definitely advantages to digital art, traditional art also has its many appealing details. You can a use number of different materials and mediums like charcoal, watercolor, acrylics, pastels, chalk, and, of course, simple graphite pencils.

Another great art form that has been extremely digitized is animation. Nowadays, there are dozens of animation softwares to create everything from a simple 2D short film to whole 3D, stylized movies. But remember — it all stemmed from the simple act of dragging a pencil across a paper, hundreds upon thousands of time to make a ‘moving’ image. You can start out with something as simple as flipbooks.

YouTube channels to get you started with drawing include Sam Does Art and Jazza. The key to growing as an artist is consistency, get into a pattern(e.g., one drawing a day, one painting a month) and continue to get better and better, mastering your art.

Two small vintage rubber bands sit on a white piano, delicate, emboridered white lace dangling in the top left corner.
Photo by Asiama Junior

Musical Instrument

Music is something that connects everybody, makes us feel things within just a few seconds, and many people long to create it — but don’t necessarily want to cultivate their voice. You can still create gorgeous, heart-wrenching music through musical instruments.

You might’ve played an instrument as a child but long ago gave it up. Here I’m telling you that you should start it up again. Learn that instrument, or a new one. For beginners, you might want to start off with piano, guitar, or even the recorder. Instruments like violin and the flute are harder and with more moving parts, but if you want a challenge, try them. Buy(or rent) an instrument, start with some music books, and train your body to create beautiful tunes that bring your audience to sniffles, sobs, and smiles.

As for YouTube channels, for violin TwoSetViolin and CandenzeStringsNC are great; Pianote for piano; Sarah Jeffery is great for beginner recorders, and guitar channels include GuitarZero2Hero and Guitar Compass.

There are also free and paid apps that can help you learn instruments like SimplyPiano and SimplyGuitar, as well as GarageBand.

A young man mid-jump in front of a bright blue sky with a plexiglass, net-less hoop above him.
Photo by Pixabay

Sports

When you think of ‘spending time away from screens’, you might think of outdoor sports like basketball and soccer. As kids, a lot of us played this, and then slowly drifted away from them once we got busier with our jobs and families. However, exercise isn’t something that should be overlooked, and sports allow you to hit two birds with one stone — get fit, and learn something cool.

When practicing a sport, it’s great to have some friends learning with you, and even better, a coach and mentor who can help you. If you really want to get into a certain sport, you might even want to consider buying into a beginner class to help you get started. Having a mentor who knows that they’re doing isn’t only good for teaching you, but can also give you an inspiring idol that you look up to.

If you want to slide into a sport more casually, find an old sports ball laying around or get a used one cheap, and play at a local park or recreation center. Slowly build up your skill, then invite some friends for a game. The sky’s the limit from there.

A man listens to a beat with his headphones in front of a computer showing music production software and a recording microphone.
Photo by Davis Sanchez

Songwriting/Song Producing

There’s a good chance that you like listening to songs on platforms like Spotify or iTunes, but what if you could have a song on there too — and even make money from it? That might sound impossible, but really anybody can do it.

Songwriting and song producing are both vital skills to have if you want to get into the music industry, and although it’ll take a lot of time to learn your creative processes, softwares, and overall making of a song, if you keep going and don’t give up, you’ll be able to do it.

To learn how to write a song, YouTube channels like Andrew Huang, and this music-making playlist by Annie Dang might help. For a peak into the music production side of things, check out xole and TAETRO. The channel Make Pop Music also has great resources for both songwriters and song producers.

Songwriting is a creative process, and after watching a few ‘how to write a song videos’, you’ll discover that there’s no set formula to write a good, or even just decent, song. You have to keep trying different ways, and through trial and error, hopefully you’ll end up with your first(albeit bad) song.

Song producing is a more technical process, but it’s still something you can’t follow an exact step-by-step guide to do. It covers everything from adding MIDI instruments and the beat to mixing and tweaking vocals to sound their best.

Once you’ve finished your song, you can publish it onto music platforms through websites like Ditto and CD Baby. For some more insight into the music publishing world, check out Damian Keyes and his informative videos on publishing and marketing for artists.

A young woman sits on a wooden chair in a room open to sunlight, her feet resting on a small, circular wooden table.
Photo by Min An

Reading

Yes. Reading counts as a hobby.

Reading is something that can be extremely productive and informative, and also as entertaining as your favorite movie or TV show. It’s a great option if you want to have a way to wind down away from screens, or learn something with a non-fiction book. You can choose to read just a few books every year, or go crazy and start reading a few books every day. It’s up to you.

There’s also a huge community surrounding books, with many videos that can help you find new books, along with just giving you a laugh. Some channels include Jack in the Books and his other channel Jack Edwards, cari can read, and jessethereader.

When starting out reading, it’s important to read a lot of books in a lot of different genres, so you can pinpoint exactly what types of books you like to read — whether it be fantasy, mystery, contemporary, romance, or a mix of all.

A tan young woman raises her hand to her hair to show her many gold-and-silver rings and necklaces.
Photo by Ari Roberts

Jewelry Making

You might have some jewelry in your closet, or maybe you’ve gifted it to a friend or loved one. But have you ever thought of making jewelry? It could be for yourself, for gifts, or even as an income stream on a platform like Etsy, where you can sell your handmade products.

There are really two types of jewelry making. Chain-based, and wire-based. Chain-based jewelry uses, well, chains to make things like necklaces and bracelets, and sometimes even earrings. Along with chains, you also use things like charms and beads as accents.

The second main type of jewelry is wire-based, which uses wire to make rings and earrings, and sometimes to make chains to create chain-based jewelry. For decoration, things like crystals and gems are often used for wire based jewelry.

If you’re just starting out, I recommend you start with chain-based, as it’s easier and simpler, albeit with less creative license. You can buy a cheap $15 set on Amazon, and while it won’t be of that high quality, you can slowly build up your materials until you're creating top-notch bracelets and necklaces.

You can also go to craft stores like Michaels to get beads, chains, pliers, and other tools you need to make jewelry. As for YouTube videos and channels to help you get started, this jewelry making playlist by mymandarinducky is good for starting out with chain-based jewelry, the channel iulia can help give you a boost in chain-based jewelry, and this video from itsawildmaya is great if you want to start out with wire-based jewelry.

Some other jewelry categories include polymer clay and resin earrings and necklaces. Polymer clay is mostly used for earrings, and sometimes charms, and some good channels to help you out are Polly Collective, MyVian, and Fern&Mitch Handmade. Resin is used for mostly necklaces, and works with other things like glitter, charms, and flower petals. To get started with working with resin, this video by HGTV Handmade and this video by typicallyychloe should help you out.

A woman in a red sweater sews with a white sewing machine in a brightly-lit room, a small pile of clothing in front of her.
Photo by cottonbro

Sewing & Fashion Design

When it comes to sewing, it’s not just shirts and dresses. You can create bags, masks, scrunchies, wallets, gloves — anything you can dream of. And, of course, you can still create clothes.

When just starting out, you might find that hand-sewing is something that you enjoy — but it depends on what you want to do with sewing. If you want to enjoy the calmness and ease of it, hand-sewing is probably your best bet, as it focuses on the process of sewing. If your goal is more to create and even start a business or make gifts for others, you might want to invest in a cheap sewing machine, which focuses more on the product of sewing.

For fabric, I recommend you go to an in-person store to purchase your cloth, so you can really understand what you’re buying. You can go to Michaels, or something like Joannes.

If you’re a beginner with no prior experience, you should probably start sewing smaller, easier projects like scrunchies or face masks. This sewing project video by Rosery Apparel might give you some more ideas on what to create.

After you’ve got a handle on the basics of sewing, you might want to try creating clothes from sewing patterns, or even trying to create your own patterns for custom clothes.

While you might be interested in the idea of designing your own clothes, you might not be that interested in the idea of the actual sewing production. If this is the case, what you might want to do is fashion design, which is the process of creating a sketch or blueprint of an outfit or article of clothing.

A baker puts berries on the top of their white cake, chocolate dripping down the sides.
Photo by SHVETS production

Cooking & Baking

Whether you’re favorite type of meal is a backyard barbecue full of sizzling meats and simmering potatoes, or a dinner of pasta and perfectly-baked croissants filled with all sorts of delicate delights, we all have at least a little bit of foodie inside of us. While many of us cook meals for ourselves and our family pretty often, most of us don’t consider ourselves chefs or bakers, carefully cultivating our craft to the point of near perfection.

But what’s stopping you from doing just that?

The world of food is nearly endless, filled with new innovations and recipes to explore — and you don’t have to become a professional chef or bakery-owner in order to enjoy the art of making food.

A great way to start exploring cooking and baking as a hobby and not a chore is to follow dessert and snack recipes, with fairly easy steps and simple ingredients. YouTube channels like Nino’s Home and HidaMari Cooking offer short but sweet videos on unique, interesting foods you can create yourself.

You also might find yourself wanting to dig a little deeper and find a niche to get really into(read: obsessed)when it comes to baking and cooking. This could be something as random as ice cream roll making or as specific as macaron baking. Get an overall sense on what you like to cook and bake, and start filling you and your family’s with delicious, scrumptious food.

Two women of different nationalities sit at a wooden table in a busy cafe, talking to one another.
Photo by mentatdgt

Learn a Language

There’s no doubt that learning a language is no small feat — but it’s something that can be immensely rewarding and a great way to spend your time and work your brain. You can learn a language from your own family that you never learned, or even try to master a small, practically unused language you’ve never heard of before. You could even learn sign language!

While having lessons and being able to talk with a native, or at least fluent, speaker of the language you want to learn, you can become pretty fluent by yourself. You can use softwares like Rosetta Stone, Duolingo, and Babbel. There are both paid and free ways to learn your chosen language, so choose depending on your preferences and goals.

Learning a language could be great if you’re a traveler and frequently journey to foreign locations, or if you’re just bored every day and want to learn something new.

On a crinkled white bedsheet, a brown scrapbook page is filled with cut-outs and pictures, with a small flower next to it.
Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

Journaling & Scrapbooking

It’s a great feeling — to look back on photos and past works, to see where we were and how far we’ve come. A great way to keep track of both the small, mundane things and the big, monumental events in our lives is documenting it all down(whether physically or digitally) through journals, diaries, and scrapbooks.

You can go the bare minimum and write down a few sentences every month or so in a Google Doc, or get really into it, creating gorgeous aesthetics and color palettes to frame and decorate your paragraphs and pictures.

There are many YouTube videos like this one to help you get started with scrapbooking and journaling, and whether you do it for fun, for business, for family, or for being able to remember your life, the good and the bad, journaling and scrapbooking are great ways to spend your time.

A young girl wearing a yellow dress holds a metal puzzle in her hands.
Photo by Monstera

Puzzle Solving

There are dozens of types of puzzles, from actual, literal jigsaw puzzles, to crosswords, to nearly impossible escape-room-in-a-boxes. You can do them physically on paper, or online with apps and websites. While sitting on a chair, slowly filling in a crossword might seem like something your grandma might do, puzzles are a great way to exercise your brain and improve your logical and critical thinking — all the while having fun!

Some free websites you can use to solve puzzles include BestCrosswordPuzzles, WordSearchPuzzles, and even the trending website Wordle! There are also popular apps like Wordscapes and Sudoku, so you can solve puzzles on the go. If offline puzzles are more your jam, consider getting into Rubiks Cubes.

If you really want to get into puzzles, you might even want to try making your own! You can start off with simple crosswords or wordsearches for your kids and your friends, and then build your way up to creating whole escape rooms in your bedroom!

As humans, we crave some way to be happy, satisfied, and content. A great way to accomplish that is to learn new skills and new information, to grow and change, to become smarter, or stronger, or more talented.

No matter what hobby or skill you choose to pick up, know that there’s going to be a time where practicing and refining your skills will, well, sorta suck. But eventually, you’ll reach a place where your skills are completely and utterly brag-worthy.

Now that’s a goal worth shooting for.

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Writing. Technology. Entertainment. And that feeling of jumping from hobby to hobby aimlessly.

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The Electronic Pen

The Electronic Pen

Writing. Technology. Entertainment. And that feeling of jumping from hobby to hobby aimlessly.

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