100 things to do when you have the time

Posted by @ 8:01 am on March 12th, 2012

“There are people who say, ‘If music’s that easy to write, I could do it.’ Of course they could, but they don’t. I find [Morton] Feldman’s own statement more affirmative. We were driving back from some place in New England where a concert had been given. He is a large man and falls asleep easily. Out of a sound sleep, he awoke to say, ‘Now that things are so simple, there’s so much to do.’”
—John Cage, Indeterminacy

100 things to do when you have the time

  1. Doodle. Look for new styles, new approaches.
  2. Draw a picture of a friend. See how many different ways you can do it, such as how few lines you can use.
  3. Recite something you once memorized: a poem, a song, a story, a monologue.
  4. Memorize something new.
  5. Write a review of something you like.
  6. Go over the steps in a procedure or a process.
  7. Explain to a friend a thing you know, or think you know.
  8. Write a song, or cover a song.
  9. List the projects you’re working on, or want to work on. Set a deadline for completing one of them.
  10. Review every thing that you’ve done in the past week, the past month, the past year, the past five years, the past decade.
  11. Reread your diary or journal. If you don’t keep one, reread old sent emails.
  12. Describe something in as many words as possible, then as briefly as possible.
  13. Make up a riddle or joke.
  14. Make a puzzle for others to solve.
  15. Play a Dadaist/Surrealist/Oulipian writing game, such as automatic writing, the Exquisite Corpse, the Cut-Up Technique, homophonic translation, lipograms, …
  16. Write a story or poem entirely in your head.
  17. Observe whoever is around you. Note what they’re doing.
  18. Observe how the energy levels in a room change over time.
  19. Perform John Cage’s “silent piece” (4’33”). Pay attention to both the aural and the visual.
  20. Perform random FLUXUS pieces, then try inventing new ones.
  21. List all of your interests. Prioritize them.
  22. Compose a view.
  23. Explore a texture (a fabric, a liquid).
  24. Examine a nearby text. Why is it the way that it is?
  25. Explore a space: a room, a building, a street, a city.

  1. Examine everything that you have on you. Where did they come from? Why do you have them?
  2. Examine a nearby thing. Who made it? How? And from what?
  3. Walk in any direction.
  4. Relax, rest, stretch.
  5. Eat or drink something and closely observe how it changes you.
  6. Explore your feelings.
  7. Observe how your own mood and behavior change over time.
  8. Stay as still as you can for as long as you can.
  9. Interview a friend.
  10. Interview yourself.
  11. Meditate.
  12. Refuse thoughts.
  13. Invite thoughts.
  14. Name the movie you haven’t seen that you most want to see, then watch it.
  15. Ask a friend to suggest a movie you should watch—something they think you need to see. Then watch it. (Recommend one to them, in return.)
  16. Call or write to a friend you haven’t spoken to in some time.
  17. Watch someone behave and try to figure out what they’re thinking, feeling, wanting.
  18. Name a book that you’ve meant to read for years. What’s stopped you so far?
  19. Read that book. Read the first and last pages, if nothing else.
  20. Open a dictionary at random and read every word on those two pages.
  21. Make a list of every item in the room.
  22. Ride a train or a bus as far as it will take you, then ride back.
  23. Wander. (Drift.)
  24. Practice an accent. Spend all day using it in public.
  25. Try a new exercise or work out routine or stretch.
  26. Practice new dance moves.
  27. Pick two random items or concepts, then brainstorm connections between them.
  28. Make up a Magic card. Make up a whole new game.
  29. Invent a new word or expression that others might actually use, then try getting them to use it.
  30. Introduce two friends who don’t know one another but should be friends.
  31. Set up a single friend with another single friend.
  32. Visit a local business you’ve walked past but never gone inside.
  33. Start conversations with total strangers.
  34. Go to a café and eavesdrop on conversations around you. Write them down.
  35. Do the opposite of whatever your inclinations are. Avoid your usual habits and routines.
  36. Read a random Wikipedia article.
  37. Read the first and last sentences of every book you own.
  38. Describe yourself.
  39. Listen to an album that was once important to you that you haven’t heard in years.
  40. Write down the name of every person that you know.
  41. Write down the name of every place you have ever been.
  42. List every food you’ve ever eaten.
  43. Fast.
  44. Eat something you’ve never eaten before, especially if it’s a vegetable or a fruit.
  45. Try eating a food you’ve made up your mind that you don’t like.
  46. Cook a meal for a friend.
  47. Give something precious to a friend.
  48. Call a distant relative.
  49. Take a long bath, the longest bath that you’ve ever taken.
  50. Using  a map of where you live, color in every place you’ve actually been.
  51. Walk extremely slowly from one location to another.
  52. Pick a simple task and do it as simply as you can.
  53. See how many faces you can make.
  54. Do yoga.
  55. Do something that you think you cannot do.
  56. Stand on a street, watching people and cars that pass. Where is everyone going?
  57. Dress outrageously and step out.
  58. Follow an animal, like a squirrel or pigeon or cat. How does it spend its time?
  59. Study a tree or another plant incredibly intently.
  60. Smell things. Describe each smell in painstaking detail.
  61. Write down your earliest memories.
  62. Ask someone older than you to describe what the world was like before you were born.
  63. Inquire as to where distant friends have gone.
  64. Spend a whole day asking ridiculous questions.
  65. Be contrary. Disagree with everyone and everything.
  66. Read an argument by a person you think wrong.
  67. Do something you hate. Find a way of doing it such that you like it, even love it.
  68. Resolve to change something about yourself.
  69. Think about where you would like to be in five years.
  70. Think about where you’d like to be in fifty.
  71. Finish something you’ve given up all hope of ever completing.
  72. Enjoy the feel of the weather, whatever it currently is.
  73. Realize that you have time.
  74. Strive to be happy.
  75. List 100 more things to do when you have the time.

for Michelle Tupko
Chicago, 24 November 2007 – 10 March 2012

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