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Cancer affects millions of people every year — meaning many, if not most, of us have been personally impacted in some form by the disease. 

Initiatives like World Cancer Day, celebrated annually on Feb. 4, work to raise awareness, educate the public, and advocate for action in humanity’s collective fight against the illness. And though there is not yet a cure, incredible advancements in cancer research, detection, and treatment are being made every day.  

Those steps forward are offering new hope and promising continued progress in the field. To celebrate that progress, we rounded up some of the biggest wins and most exciting developments from the last couple of years. Scroll to learn more, and click here for helpful cancer prevention advice from two oncologists who spoke with Nice News. 

New Screening Test Can Identify 18 Early-Stage Cancers

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A team of researchers from biotech firm Novelna developed a simple blood protein test that enables experts to not only identify cancer in plasma samples, but also differentiate between early-stage cancer types with “high accuracy.” 

The study involved 440 participants, both healthy people and those who had been diagnosed with one or more types of 18 solid tumors. The tumors tested represented cancers in all the main organs in the body. 

Writing in the journal BMJ Oncology this January, the authors said their work “could be a starting point for developing a new generation of screening tests for the early detection of cancer,” adding: “These findings pave the way for a cost-effective, highly accurate, multi-cancer screening test that can be implemented on a population-wide scale.” Here’s how it works

Novel Treatment Improves Outcome for Kids With Rare Brain Cancer

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A new treatment for a type of rare and deadly pediatric neuroblastoma combined chemotherapy with an angiogenesis inhibitor, which blocks the growth of blood vessels that promote tumor growth. Researchers found that 26% of patients who received the dual treatment saw improvement, compared to 18% in a control group. 

The 160 treated patients, with a median age of 5, enrolled in the Phase 2 clinical trial also saw better one-year progression-free survival rates. 

Simon Gates, professor of biostatistics and clinical trials at the University of Birmingham in the U.K. and lead author of the study, called the results “very exciting.”

“Currently, the outcomes are really poor for children who get this horrible cancer and so even seemingly small increases in the chance that a patient is going to be able to shrink their tumors is significant,” he told The Independent, adding: “These results hopefully get us closer to finding treatments for children who develop neuroblastomas.” 

Personalized Cancer Vaccines Are Being Developed 

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

In October 2023, a potentially breakthrough vaccine for pancreatic cancer entered a Phase 2 clinical trial out of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The trial will evaluate whether the mRNA vaccine — which is customized for each of the approximately 260 enrolled patients at the center and sites around the world — prevents pancreatic cancer from returning after a tumor has been surgically removed. Get more details here.

An mRNA vaccine for melanoma is also in development by pharmaceutical companies Merck and Moderna, with the drug entering Phase 3 trials in July 2023. According to midstage data released in December, pairing it with Merck’s immunotherapy Keytruda cut the risk of relapse or death from the most deadly form of skin cancer by almost half, compared to Keytruda alone. 

The vaccine could enter some markets by 2025, Moderna’s CEO told CNBC. The companies are also trialing it in patients with non-small cell lung cancer, and plan to expand to other types of tumors as well. 

Another melanoma vaccine, this type called a TPLO and again specifically personalized to the patient receiving it, is nearing Phase 3 trials. It’s being developed by biotech company Orbis Health Solutions. Company founder Thomas Wagner told ABC News of the work: “People used to ask me the question, ‘When will there be a cure for cancer?’ And I’ve been doing this for 60 years and I could never answer that question,” Wagner said. “Until recently, until the last three or four or five years.”

Here are three more cancer vaccines to look out for

Breakthrough Cancer-Fighting Drug Is “Gentler” Than Chemo 

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A new drug called blinatumomab, or blina, that has already been found to safely treat cancer in adults is now being used as an alternative to chemotherapy in children as well. 

Unlike chemo, blina attacks only cancer cells, not the entire body, so it creates fewer detrimental side effects. And it can be administered through a battery-operated pump that the patient can take home, so they don’t have to remain in the hospital for treatment. 

“Chemotherapies are poisons that kill the leukemic cells but also kill and damage normal cells — and that is what causes their side effects,” pediatric hematologist Ajay Vora told the BBC. “Blinatumomab is a gentler, kinder treatment.”

Blina is approved in the U.S. for both adults and pediatric patients with B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia, but is only being used off-label for kids in the U.K. One of those children is an 11-year-old named Arthur, whose leukemia did not respond well to chemo. His family called blina “a little bit of sunshine” when compared to Arthur’s previous treatment — and he’s now cancer-free. 

Scientists Identify “On/Off Switch” for Breast Cancer Metastasis

Lingyin Li and Songnan Wang/ Stanford University

Over 80% of advanced breast cancers fail to respond to immunotherapies, but research out of  Stanford University and the nonprofit Arc Institute has revealed one potential reason for the troubling statistic.  

A team of scientists discovered a protein called ENPP1 that acts as a sort of “on/off switch” in breast cancer’s ability to both metastasize and resist immunotherapy. Publishing their findings in December 2023, they determined that ENPP1 is produced by healthy cells and cancer cells in and around a tumor, and that patients with high levels of the protein are linked to higher resistance to immunotherapy and greater instances of metastasis. 

The results of the study could lead to more effective treatments and more accurate prognoses. “Our study should offer hope for everyone,” said biochemist and lead author Lingyin Li in a news release

Quest to Cure Cancer in Golden Retrievers Advances Human Research, Too

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Golden retrievers, known for being one of the most popular dog breeds, are, unfortunately, particularly susceptible to cancer. On a mission to understand why they’re at risk (and how to help them live longer), scientists have been studying their genes. 

Through those efforts, they discovered a genetic variant associated with a longer lifespan of nearly two years, which is equivalent to an additional 12-14 years for humans, The Washington Post reported in November. 

This research is directed “at one of life’s biggest mysteries, not just in dog science but in human health,” Elinor Karlsson, the director of vertebrate genomics at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, said. “Why do some people live longer than others? Why do some dogs live longer than others? We don’t know why, but this study is starting to get at that question.”

The hope is that with more information, we’ll get closer to increasing our furry friends’ odds of living longer. “Almost all golden retriever owners understand this statistic and are passionate about finding a way to reduce the cancer rate in the breed they love,” added Kelly Diehl, the senior director of science communications for the Morris Animal Foundation. 

RELATED: All Women Over 40 Should Be Getting Mammograms, New Breast Cancer Guidelines Urge — What to Know

AI Tool Identifies Lung Cancer More Accurately Than Traditional Tests

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A team of U.K.-based researchers published a study in November 2022 on how AI can spot lung cancer, finding their algorithm to be more accurate than the current tests doctors use. 

The algorithm was made using data from the CT scans of nearly 500 patients, all of which had large lung nodules. Researchers analyzed the scans via radiomics, “which can extract information about the patient’s disease from medical images that can’t be easily seen by the human eye,” a press release explained. 

They used AUC, or “area under the curve,” to measure accuracy. Per the release, an AUC of 1 indicates perfection and 0.5 indicates random guessing. The AI tool the researchers developed had an AUC of 0.87 when it came to identifying cancerous lung nodules — higher than the Brock score, which clinics currently use and has an AUC of 0.67. 

Though the AI research is still in early stages, it has big potential. “In the future, we hope it will improve early detection and potentially make cancer treatment more successful by highlighting high-risk patients and fast-tracking them to earlier intervention,” said lead author Benjamin Hunter. 

Gene Identified as a Possible Target in Fatal, Treatment-Resistant Brain Cancer 

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A team of researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles identified a gene that plays a key role in the growth of glioblastoma multiforme, a rare and lethal brain cancer that has no known cure. The research suggests that focusing on this gene, called P300, could help provide a therapeutic target for GBM, which is highly resistant to standard chemotherapy.

Brain cancer is notoriously difficult to treat. David Largaespada, a cancer researcher at Masonic Cancer Center, explained to M Health Fairview that “the tumor cells that we need to kill are behind this blood brain barrier, so many potentially useful drugs never actually get to them.” 

This makes UCLA’s findings — published in Nature Communications in October 2022 — a possible breakthrough discovery. 

Read more about it here

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In 1948, six years before the civil rights movement would officially begin, Gordon Parks became Life magazine’s first Black staff photographer. During his nearly three decades with the publication, he made an indelible impression not only on its glossy pages, but also on American society as a whole. 

Parks produced powerful photo essays that drew the public’s attention to issues like segregation and racism, but the artist was neither expected nor felt compelled to only chronicle topics connected to the color of his skin. He would often say that there was “no special Black man’s corner” for him there, according to Life. Indeed, he was also a fashion photographer and felt as comfortable snapping shots of celebrities as he did scenes related to social justice.  

Gordon Parks/Heritage Art/Heritage Images/via Getty Images

In addition to shooting still images, he was also a filmmaker — directing the iconic 1971 film Shaft — as well as an author, musician, painter, and composer. And each of his artistic pursuits served as conduits for his humanitarianism and activism. 

Parks was born into poverty in Fort Scott, Kansas, in 1912, the youngest of 15 children. He gravitated toward photography early on, intrigued by images of migrant workers he saw in a magazine while he was working as a waiter in a railway car. 

“I saw that the camera could be a weapon against poverty, against racism, against all sorts of social wrongs,” he told an interviewer in 1999, per The New York Times. “I knew at that point I had to have a camera.” 

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He purchased his first one at a pawn shop in 1938, and with no professional training, honed his skill to such an extent that, at age 29, he won the Julius Rosenwald Fellowship. He was awarded $1,800 — the equivalent of around $35,000 today — to support his burgeoning career. The grant helped him make his way to Washington, D.C., where he began working in the photography section of the Farm Security Administration and then the Office of War Information. 

With these agencies, he was able to “break the color line in professional photography” while creating striking images that shed light on “the social and economic impact of poverty, racism, and other forms of discrimination,” according to the Gordon Parks Foundation

One of his most iconic photos, taken in 1942 and titled “American Gothic,” features Ella Watson, a cleaning woman who worked for the government. Echoing the famous 1930 painting by Grant Wood, she stoically holds a broom and a mop. 

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“I had experienced a kind of bigotry and discrimination here that I never expected to experience. … At first, I asked [Ella Watson] about her life, what it was like, and [it was] so disastrous that I felt that I must photograph this woman in a way that would make me feel or make the public feel about what Washington, D.C., was in 1942,” Parks said of the shot, per the Minneapolis Institute of Art. “So I put her before the American flag with a broom in one hand and a mop in another. And I said, ‘American Gothic’ — that’s how I felt at the moment.” The image is currently on display at the Harrison Photography Gallery in Minneapolis through June 2024. 

In 1944, Parks left his position with the Office of War Information to work on the Standard Oil Company’s long-running documentary photo project. Around the same time, he was making a name for himself by freelancing for various publications, namely Glamour, Ebony, and Vogue. Before the end of the decade, he would pitch his first photo essay to Life magazine. 

The story focused on the gangs running rampant in Harlem in New York City. To ensure he had the inside scoop, he befriended a member of one of the gangs. Accompanied by the young man, just 17 years old, Parks snapped stunning, expressive pictures of both the brutality and humanity he witnessed. The resulting images, a collection published in 1948 called “Harlem Gang Leader,” impressed editors so much that they offered him a position as staff photographer. 

Parks continued to shoot for Life until 1972, per the Times, the same year the magazine discontinued as a weekly publication. But he didn’t stop creating. He published memoirs, novels, and poetry, directed films, and wrote the music for a 1989 ballet titled Martin, about the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  

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In 1988, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Ronald Reagan. And though he’d never finished high school, he received more than 50 honorary doctorates from colleges and universities. He continued evolving his various artforms until his death at age 93 in 2006, and his work continues to be exhibited decades later. 

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Nairobi, Giraffe Manor, the building with giraffes strolling nearby.
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Ever wonder what it’s like to sleep under the waves or live like royalty in an Irish manor? How about vacationing in a room suspended on the side of a cliff? Thanks to hotels taking accommodations to new heights (literally), these kinds of epic adventures are enticing travelers from around the globe.

Whether you’re a thrill seeker, animal lover, or just someone seeking an out-of-the-box itinerary, the 13 hotels below offer extraordinary experiences you’ll treasure in the moment and remember long after you come home. Memorable travels await! 

Remote Lighthouse-Turned-Luxury Retreat: Pater Noster | Sweden

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Nestled about five miles off Sweden’s west coast is Hamneskär, an island with a lighthouse (and little else) that was once used to warn sailors of perils. Today, the tiny isle is home to an award-winning hotel that embraces its remote setting as its selling point. “We asked ourselves: What is luxury?” Erik Nissen Johansen, one of the designers, told the BBC. “Everybody felt that this was one part of the answer: an isolated island far away from everything in raw nature.”

With a capacity of two dozen guests, Pater Noster — which means “Our Father” in Latin and was a common prayer by sailors — is a nine-room hotel that offers small cottages that once belonged to lighthouse keepers and their families. Along with panoramic ocean views, amenities include a sauna, an art trail, a charming vegetable garden, and kayak tours. 

Get Cozy on a Cliff: Skylodge Adventure Suites | Peru

Calling all thrill seekers: You can now spend the night in a transparent bedroom suspended on the side of a mountain in Peru. Opened in 2013, the Skylodge Adventure Suites is the “first ever hanging lodge in the world,” per the company’s website 

Visitors must climb over 1,300 feet or hike “an intrepid trail through ziplines” to get to the suites. Upon arrival, guests will experience sweeping views of the majestic Sacred Valley from a 24 feet by 8 feet capsule made out of aerospace aluminum and weather resistant polycarbonate. Each suite also includes a dining nook, private bathroom, interior lights powered by solar panels, and of course, an intense adrenaline rush. 

Stay in a Castle: Adare Manor | Ireland

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Adare Manor, an enchanting retreat on an 842-acre estate in Ireland, gives guests a fairytale vacation. From the outside, the castle hotel looks fit for a royal family — from the 52 ornate chimneys and stone walls to the magical (and meticulously manicured) gardens. The interior is also brimming with neo-Gothic splendor, featuring large fireplaces, original 19th century art, and velvet furniture.   

The activities are equally impressive. Guests can experience falconry, cycling, and archery, along with carriage rides. And simply sitting on one of the garden benches and admiring the epic view is likely a memorable activity in itself. 

Get Close to Giraffes: The Giraffe Manor | Kenya

Imagine for a moment you’re enjoying your morning breakfast on a balcony with giraffes popping by for a visit in between sips of coffee. That’s not a mere daydream — it’s a wildly wonderful scene you can experience at The Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya. The boutique hotel is located in a breeding sanctuary, which has helped Rothschild’s giraffe populations rebound while providing guests with a unique opportunity to witness the animals wander the land — and maybe even stop by your door to say a quick hello.

A special appreciation for giraffes is apparent in many aspects of the hotel, from the wildlife photographs on the walls to the conservation initiatives. The establishment also assures that the giraffes have not been trained or domesticated and “have 150 acres (the equivalent of approximately 113 football fields) of indigenous forest on which to browse natural food sources.” Rather, “it is simply a fortunate advantage of the breeding program that the giraffes enjoy being fed by visitors.” 

See a Very Starry Night: Arctic TreeHouse Hotel | Finland

At the Arctic TreeHouse Hotel in Lapland, Finland, cozy suites provide stellar glimpses of nature — notably the northern lights and midnight sun, which can be admired from your bed, thanks to panoramic views from the windows. The suites are adorned with Scandinavian design details and Lapland-inspired touches to give a nod to their unique location. 

Guests can choose from an array of activities, like snow sports in the winter and spring and biking in the summer and fall. Depending on the time of year, the hotel also receives visits from reindeer

Go All Aboard: The Hotel Chalet | Tennessee

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Occupying the grounds of the Chattanooga Choo Choo train station, The Hotel Chalet is a completely reimagined retreat. Train carriages were transformed into suites and adorned with touches from the ’20s (like deco lighting and velvet sofas) and artwork from local artists. Even the courtyard’s bar was made from a caboose car. 

Given its iconic location, it’s no surprise the hotel looks straight out of a photograph from another era — especially the vibrant lobby and cozy parlor (Elsie’s Daughter).

Slow Down With Farm Animals: Coombeshead Farm | England

More than 60 acres of lush greenery surround the Coombeshead Farm: a cozy hideaway located in the heart of the Cornish countryside. The bed and breakfast is also a working farm and bakery, offering guests a real-world slice of farm life — complete with the smell of fresh bread wafting through the air, jams and morning buns available for breakfast, and a valley full of farm animals.  

The rustic restaurant features a menu that revolves around the produce and animals of the farm, focusing on sustainability and respect for the environment. In addition, the events calendar consists of hands-on workshops, like bread baking, watercolor painting, and etching. 

Sleep Inside a Snow Globe: Buubble Hotel | Iceland

Located in a forest in Iceland, the Buubble Hotel gives a new meaning to “sleeping under the stars.” With transparent, rounded walls, this quirky snow globe-like stay is dubbed the “5 million star hotel” thanks to its mesmerizing view of the night sky.

Per Condé Nast Traveler, the bubbles — named Una, Asta, Thorunn, Valdis, and Maria — are  “kept inflated by a slight over-pressure from a noiseless ventilation system” and include “heating elements with thermostat” so the stay is warm and cozy even during the chilly winter months. 

Think Pink: Madonna Inn | United States

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When it comes to themed novelty stays, The Madonna Inn is in a league of its own. Established in 1958 and located about 15 minutes inland from the central California coast, the inn offers 110 unique themed guest rooms oozing with individuality and outrageously quirky charm. There’s a pink suite, a jungle room, and an antique car room. Fun fact: The hotel allows for guests to swap rooms during multi-night stays, so visitors can make the most out of their experience and see the range of themes. 

In addition to the eclectic rooms, the inn is home to a bakery, cocktail lounge (featuring pink bar stools), an iconic restaurant, a retro-style pool, and signature pink courts for playing basketball, pickleball, and tennis. 

Dream Under the Sea: The Muraka | Maldives

If you really want a stay that takes novelty to new levels, it’s hard to beat The Muraka: a luxury residence in the Maldives that allows guests to sleep underwater (cue The Little Mermaid soundtrack). While the top floor is above the waves, the bedroom is set underwater so guests can see remarkable views of the ocean before drifting off to sleep among the sea life. 

For guests who want to experience the blue views but would rather sleep above sea level, the residence is part of the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Resort, which offers traditional (but still very luxurious) villas with ocean scenery and an “undersea restaurant.”

Taste Tropical Life: NIHI Sumba | Indonesia

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Situated on an archipelago in Indonesia, the NIHI Sumba Hotel has 27 villas — each with stunning views of the Indian Ocean and Nihiwatu Beach. But the standout of the stay is the range of unique activities, such as swimming with horses and “golfishing” at a boathouse with eco-friendly balls that biodegrade and slowly release fish food into the ocean. 

Perhaps among the most special is NIHI’s on-site sea turtle hatchery program that aims to “improve the hatchlings’ chances of survival” by rescuing eggs from village markets, placing them in their hatchery, and then releasing the baby turtles into the ocean. 

See Mars-Like Dunes: Sossusvlei Desert Lodge | Namibia

Reminiscent of Mars, Sossusvlei Desert Lodge sits on a private 31,000-acre reserve in Namibia surrounded by expansive valleys and sand dunes that seem to go on forever. The serene setting is the perfect backdrop for the tranquil oasis, which features a private plunge pool for every suite and retractable over-the-bed skylights.

The hotel also offers myriad opportunities for guests to explore its surroundings. Enjoy a picnic breakfast after you walk across ancient sands; spend the night stargazing; get a bird’s-eye view of the vast desert expanses in a helicopter; and take advantage of specialist-led tours to get the inside scoop on this special place.

Live in a Fisherman’s Boat House: Klima Bay | Greece

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Fishermen’s houses (known locally as “syrmata”) are restored into luxurious beachfront stays at Klima Bay. Located in a traditional seaside village in Milos, Greece, the colorful suites were previously used to store fishing boats in the winter. According to the hotel, the color of each house is especially significant because the fishermen used to match their boat’s color to their house.

Now as a hotel run by third-generation Melians, the houses feature local touches (like pomegranates in bowls), along with private terraces and a garden to experience authentic island life.  

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Ambie Hay/ Facebook

Thrifting is an increasingly popular way to shop (and a great way to spend an afternoon), but what if we told you it could be a full-time job? 

At least it is for Ambie Hay, who goes by “Palm Beach Thrifters” on social media. When she’s out and about in Palm Beach County, Florida, scouting for her clients, Hay follows their wishlists to find what they’re seeking. And when she comes across incredible antiques and vintage pieces that aren’t on the list, she posts them to her Instagram page, where she shares thrift items and their locations with her 196,000 followers from all over the world. 

Ambie Hay/Facebook

Her goal is simple: to promote secondhand shopping by encouraging people to check out local thrift stores. 

“Thrifting is such a blast, but it really takes a lot of time, and a lot of people are working or they have children at home,” Hay, 61, told Nice News. “That’s where I got the idea that well, at least I could post because I’m out there anyway.”

Hay, who worked in retail for 25 years, closed her own design boutiques to pursue her passion for thrifting and become a full-time reseller. Around five years ago, she started an Instagram account “to show others and to help the thrift shops because they’ve helped me so much.” 

“I found so many beautiful things in these stores, and I know how hard the volunteers work, and the thrift shops are always affiliated with charities,” she added. “And I thought, how can I give back to my followers? How can I give back to the thrift shops?”

Ambie Hay/Facebook

She’s been able to give back to her local shops by featuring vintage treasures on her account, offering the publicity and exposure they might not have otherwise had. “One of the [thrift stores] the other day said, ‘Oh my gosh, we had a group of women down from Tennessee, and they came in because you mentioned our thrift shop,’” she recalled.

For Hay, who’s originally from Kentucky, thrifting runs in the family. Her interest in it began when her mom would take her to Goodwill as a child, and she now thrifts with her nieces and nephews.

“I really love seeing that the younger generation now is embracing vintage pieces and secondhand shopping. I think it’s just fantastic,” said Hay. “I can see that it’s getting bigger and bigger.”

While the resale industry in the United States is slowly increasing — the number of businesses has grown by an average of 3.5% per year on average since 2018 — Americans still throw away more than 34 billion pounds of used textiles each year. 

Ambie Hay/Facebook

But people like Hay are helping to reduce waste by turning consumers away from fast fashion and its detrimental impact on the environment. 

And she’s starting ’em young: Hay wants to teach children about the importance of thrifting with her children’s book, published in 2021, focused on “the importance of recycling.”
As per her website: “Thrifting is proof positive you can earn money, save money, give back, and have fun all at the same time! … Thrifting is not a trend, it’s the future!”

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Painting, drawing and artwork concept. Young smiling woman artist standing making drawing on canvas feeling creative vector illustration
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What do you like to do in your free time? That simple question might be surprisingly difficult to answer. It makes sense: With responsibilities, to-dos, and major world events, the pursuits that bring us joy often get overlooked. However, having fun isn’t frivolous; it’s necessary.

Research shows that when we’re doing uplifting activities, our bodies produce “happy hormones” — including serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins — which help us bond with others, feel empathy, learn, and regulate our digestion. And a Swiss study revealed that “playful adults” led happier, healthier, and more satisfying lives. 

In honor of January being National Hobby Month, we compiled a list of hobbies for you to consider sprinkling into your routine for a dose of play (and a mental health boost). You may notice the more you embrace enjoyable leisure activities, the more other areas of your life improve, like your mood, relationships, focus, and well-being. In this sense, engaging in a hobby can truly be a gift that keeps on giving. 

Note: If you’re nervous to try something new, take Adrianna Adarme’s advice on hobbies from her book The Year of Cozy: “Be OK with not being good.” Forget perfection. You’re doing this for fun, after all! 

Write Poetry

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There is something soul-filling about reading poetry, and writing poetry delivers its own set of benefits. Research shows this creative practice may provide comfort and boost your mood during stressful periods and even help combat loneliness. For daily inspiration, read the Poem of the Day from the Poetry Foundation.

To get started: Intimidated just by the thought of writing poetry? Remember, you’re writing for you! Look into short-form poetry, like haikus or limericks, which can feel more attainable. We also recommend reading MasterClass’ “11 Rules for Writing Poetry for Beginners” guide.

Collect Something You Love

Chances are we all gravitate toward something that can be a joy to collect. Maybe stickers, shells, postcards, or stamps. Or perhaps it’s something more specific, like colorful coasters from each U.S. state, memorabilia from your favorite artist, vintage playing cards, first editions, or quirky Halloween decorations. Whatever it is, the experience of anticipating your next find and creating a collection that makes you smile is what matters. 

Dr. Shirley M. Mueller writes in Psychology Today, “The anticipation of the reward is more exciting to our pleasure center than possessing it. This explains, in part, why collecting frequently transcends a mere pastime and often becomes a passion. It gives sufficient pleasure that the participant wants to continue it more and more vigorously.”

If you’re worried about clutter, consider the “one in, one out” method, which is essentially making the effort to let go of something you don’t need (via recycling, donating, etc.) every time you get something new.    

To get started: Reflect on something you enjoy (or enjoyed as a kid), think about what could be realistic for your space and budget, and then start browsing around to see what speaks to you. 

Explore Your Family History

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If you’re interested in learning about your lineage, consider looking into genealogy as a hobby. The internet holds a wildly massive world of information about your family history, which can deepen your understanding and appreciation of your roots — and possibly introduce you to long-lost kin you didn’t know about. You may even feel inspired to write a story of your own

Keep in mind, this experience can possibly lead to an emotional reaction. Harvard Health explains, “Discovering ‘new’ family members through DNA genealogy testing can trigger a wide range of emotions, including happiness, anxiety, sadness, or even anger.” Before you begin, it’s recommended to reflect on the motivation for your search, provide space for family members to share their thoughts, and prepare for the results. 

To get started: Interview family members who might have knowledge about your shared genealogy.  Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org are also good places to assist with your search.  

Start a Reading Challenge

According to Statista, reading is the second most popular hobby in the U.S. (the first is cooking/baking). If you’re already a book lover and interested in putting a twist on your reading routine, try a reading challenge. 

For example, The 52 Book Club’s 2024 Reading Challenge is an effective and enjoyable way to branch out and discover different authors and genres. Or take advantage of Goodreads’ Reading Challenge, which allows you to set your reading goal (how many books you want to read throughout the year) and track your progress as you turn your pages. 

To get started: Pick a challenge, or make one of your own, and start reading away! 

Sculpt With Polymer Clay 

There are so many ways you can use polymer clay to craft unique pieces for your home — from cute figurines to vases and dishes. However, polymer clay is one of our favorite ways to make jewelry. 

It’s not only easy to work with and requires only a handful of tools to get started, but the process of making the shapes is soothing and meditative (think: pretty Play-Doh). Not to mention, you end up with creative jewelry you made yourself.

To get started: Look into this polymer kit or visit your local crafts store. 

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Learn a New Language 

If you regret not remembering everything you learned in your high school foreign language class, your brain will want to say “thank you” (or arigato, merci, or gracias) for finally taking up this hobby. Learning a new language is shown to boost mental agility, increase empathy, and lead to benefits on a neurological level. You may also find yourself feeling more curious and improving your memory

To get started: From apps like Duolingo and Babbel to online classes and free YouTube tutorials, there are many language learning resources to jumpstart your road to multilingualism.  

Nurture Your Green Thumb

Cultivating a garden is a beautiful way to nurture life and watch it grow before your eyes —- and it’s also a great form of exercise that provides a whole host of health benefits. It’s been shown to decrease anxiety and depression and increase emotional well-being, and a study of over 2,800 participants found that daily gardening reduced the risk of dementia by 36%

If you’re tight on space or interested in growing something more low-key, consider herbs. According to Gardenary, the plants are low-maintenance, don’t require lots of sunlight, and are able to thrive in limited space. 

To get started: Decide what you want to grow and where you want to keep your plants, and check out our list of must-have gardening products

Make Unique Flower Arrangements 

Much like gardening, working with flowers fosters a connection with nature, which is beneficial in itself. It’s also a wonderfully meditative way to tap into the creative process of working with colors, shapes, and textures — and you end up with a beautiful arrangement that can brighten your home or be a just-because gift for a friend. 

To get started: Before heading to your local grocery store or farmers market, watch the video above for some tips from Rajiv Surendra (whom you may recognize from Mean Girls). Then grab your favorite vase, some floral shears, and let your creative juices flow!  

Try Punch Needling

Videos of punch needling are all over social media — and the act of actually doing the needling is just as (if not more) relaxing as watching the process. The super simple form of embroidery involves “punching” thread through monks cloth, which creates a small loop of yarn. 

The method is commonly used to create rugs, cushions, and other textiles, but it can also be used to create smaller items like pillow covers, wall art, totes, stuffed animals, and so much more. Best of all, this craft involves repetitive steps, so you can easily get into a flow while unwinding and soaking up the benefits of making something with your hands. 

To get started: Explore the range of punch needling kits, including desert-themed and floral designs. 

Embrace Outdoor Activities

Birdwatching soared in popularity during the pandemic, along with forest bathing (or shinrin-yoku), which “involves taking deep breaths and experiencing the forest with full presence,” per Stanford University. Both are peaceful ways to unplug, connect to the present moment, and slow down. They’re also activities people of all ages can enjoy, either solo or with a group, for hours or just a few minutes. 

To get started: Research local birding clubs and guided forest therapy communities — or simply go outside and look around at the nature in your neighborhood. 

Start Stargazing 

Tired of looking down at your screens? Astronomy is all about doing the opposite: looking up! From learning the names of stars and constellations to participating in celestial events, the sky’s the limit when it comes to exploring the cosmic world. 

To get started: Sky and Telescope recommends getting binoculars and diving into sky maps. Then grab a chair and cozy blanket, sit back, and simply gaze up at the majestic universe above awhile.

More Hobbies You May Not Have Thought to Try:

  • Calligraphy
  • Mixology
  • Ebru art
  • Embroidery
  • Origami 
  • Tai chi
  • Pizza or pasta making
  • Roller-skating
  • Painting
  • Ceramic-making
  • Cycling
  • Woodworking
  • Pressed-flower art 
  • Dance classes
  • Host game nights
  • Throw themed parties
  • Restore furniture
  • Get into upcycling 
  • Puzzles
  • Make curated playlists

RELATED: 15-Minute Activities to Give Your Brain and Body a Boost

rats play
Victor Golmer/ iStock

Science has long shown that play is beneficial to humans: In children, the behavior aids in emotional and cognitive development, and in adults, playfulness has been linked to an increased ability to cope with stress.

Now, a recent study has added to that body of research by investigating which neural circuits are involved in play — and the findings could lead to a better understanding of how it can be used in therapeutic settings. 

Publishing their work in the journal Cell, a team of scientists sought to analyze rats’ neural activity during play, specifically looking at whether or not neurons within a region called the periaqueductal gray, or PAG, lit up. The PAG is a structure involved in instinctive behaviors like pain perception and defense mechanisms, and the team hypothesized that play is also an instinctive behavior.

To test this, they put on their gloves and began tickling the rats. According to The Washington Post, the animals enjoy being tickled, as evidenced by their emitting vocalizations akin to laughter in humans. 

aire images/ moment via Getty Images

“They’re vocalizing a lot during the tickling,” lead author Natalie Gloveli, a graduate student at the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience Berlin, told the outlet. “And they jump around when they’re being tickled. They look for your hand, they chase your hand.”  

RELATED: Bumblebees “Play,” First-of-Its Kind Study Finds: “It Is Mind-Blowing”

She and her colleagues observed that a significant increase in neural activity within the PAG occurred as the rats were being tickled. The team then blocked activity in those cells, and found that doing so interfered with the rats’ ticklishness and desire to play. 

“The really surprising thing about this paper is that the PAG is not only involved in producing the behavior that’s used in play, but it actually seems to be involved in the motivation to engage in play,” said Sergio Pellis, a behavioral neuroscientist at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, who was not involved in the study. 

These findings, and understanding the neurobiology of play in general, “may assist in developing targeted interventions to help people, especially children, struggling with the absence or dysregulation of such states due to underlying medical conditions or environmental circumstances,” added Gloveli. 

And per Pellis, the results of the rats study also confirm just how deeply ingrained play is — as well as the “potential value of play being used therapeutically.” 

Play therapy has been used for decades in mental health settings in the treatment of both adults and children, and is defined by the Association for Play Therapy as “the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained Play Therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development.”

Inspired by the rats to start incorporating more play into your life? Read on for some expert tips. 

But First — What Is Play?

According to Jeff Harry, a positive psychology coach who speaks internationally on the importance of adults infusing play into their daily lives, it’s all about immersing yourself in a moment. “I define play as any joyful act where you forget about time,” he explained on an episode of the NPR podcast Life Kit, adding: “It’s when you are your you-est you.”

Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, agrees. In his book Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, he defines it as a “state of mind that one has when absorbed in an activity that provides enjoyment and a suspension of sense of time.” 

Learn Your Play Style

Based on thousands of interviews and observations throughout his career, Brown delineated eight types of play personalities that adults fall into: the storyteller, the collector, the competitor, the creator/artist, the director, the joker, the kinesthete, and the explorer. Understanding which personality type, or types, you identify with may help you make space for the kinds of playful activities that you’ll connect to the most. 

Learn about each personality, and take a short quiz to find out yours

Challenge Your Inner Critic

One thing that can hinder our attempts at playfulness as adults is our inner critic — the voice inside our heads that often tells us we’re being embarrassing or saying or doing something wrong. Harry recommends engaging with your inner critic to get a better sense of how much of its feedback is just plain untrue. Speaking to Life Kit, he suggested going as far as naming the critic — something goofy, preferably — and then writing down all the things it says. 

Then, cross out the negative statements and replace them with opposite sentiments about yourself. Next time you’re in a playful moment and your inner critic shows up, you can kindly inform them that you’re hanging out with your inner child now instead.  

Think Back to Childhood

Remind yourself what it is that you find fun by reminiscing about your youth, recommends Meredith Sinclair, a former schoolteacher and author of Well Played: The Ultimate Guide to Awakening Your Family’s Playful Spirit.

“When you were a child, what were your favorite ways to play?” she elaborated to the New York Times. “And when was the last time you had these same types of feelings as an adult? What current activities bring you close to that same unabashed feeling you had as a youngster?” 

Recalling those activities can help you pick up a new hobby, adapted for adulthood, perhaps. If you loved rolling down hills as a child, consider finding a grassy park near you and running (or rolling) to your heart’s content. If you loved drawing, pick up an adult coloring book and unwind with it on the weekends. 

Incorporate Micro Moments 

Sinclair also suggests taking advantage of small opportunities to play throughout the day. Per The Times, “It could be dancing in the kitchen while you cook dinner or reading something that makes you laugh while you’re in the grocery line. Belting out a song during your drive home.” 

Indeed, music in particular is a great way to add more play into your life. In a 2020 blog post, Brown emphasized the ability of song and dance to activate joy and produce “states” of play.
Try making yourself a playlist with uplifting songs you can sing and move along to as you run errands, work, or just hang out. Here’s one to get you started.

GrapeImages/ iStock

There are few things you can do that can have as positive an impact on your physical and mental health as exercise. Physical movement comes with upsides like boosting brain function, lowering blood pressure, and reducing the risk of disease. Furthermore, there aren’t too many everyday activities — from walking to grocery shopping, climbing stairs, or playing with your kids or grandkids — that aren’t made at least a little easier by engaging in regular exercise. 

So is there an ideal time to work out? At the end of the day (pun partially intended), most experts agree that getting regular exercise at any time is better than getting none.That said, a body of research does point to the potential benefits of moving your body first thing in the morning. 

RELATED: Isometric Exercises Can Lower Blood Pressure: Here’s How to Add Them to Your Routine

One recent study determined that participants who performed moderate-to-vigorous exercise between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. had lower body mass indexes than those who did so midday or in the evening, while another found that morning workouts reduced blood pressure in both men and women. 

There can be psychological benefits to starting early as well. “You’ve gotten it out of the way and you’ve got the whole day ahead of you and you can check that off your list,” Jack Raglin, an exercise psychologist and professor at Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington, told Today. “Even if it’s tough to pull yourself out [of] bed, you may be pleasantly surprised how good you feel once it’s done.”

And per Healthline, in addition to potentially increasing your store of energy for the day, a morning exercise routine may come with fewer distractions and unexpected events that would otherwise be competing for your time and attention. The outlet also suggests that morning exercise can inspire you to make healthier food choices for the rest of your day, and, during the warm summer months, help you avoid the discomfort and dangers of exercising in hotter afternoon temperatures.

Feeling motivated? Read on for five types of morning workouts you can do bright and early at home (or anywhere, really) — no equipment required.

Plyometric Workout

Per Web MD, plyometric exercise involves short bursts of concentrated effort, utilizing speed and force. Think jumping (rope optional), doing pushups, running, and kicking. 

There’s no shortage of plyometric workouts available on YouTube. Press play above for a six- minute overview of five plyometric exercises that can be modified for all fitness levels, and then performed at your own pace and intensity. Or enjoy this plyometric workout, consisting of just four moves that can be done in 10 minutes, courtesy of SELF (and Jennifer Garner’s personal trainer, Simone De La Rue).

HIIT Workout

HIIT workouts (HIIT stands for “high-intensity interval training”) have been a darling of fitness experts for a long time, and for a great reason — they’re short and highly effective. As the name suggests, brief intervals of all-out exertion are broken up by quick rest periods, which improves cardio conditioning and strength building. 

Yoga

To ease into your day in a peaceful manner, while still getting your blood pumping and muscles contracting, yoga is a great option. Committed and casual yogis alike praise its ability to connect you to your inner self and the outside world, and depending on the style you choose, it can work up a serious sweat. 

Additionally, a study published in March 2023 found that yoga could help prevent frailty, an age-related condition linked to an increased risk of death and decreased quality of life. 

RELATED: The Best Free Online Yoga Classes for Older Adults

Stretching

Many of us may be under the (false) impression that stretching is strictly a quick warmup we’re supposed to do before getting to the “real” exercise. 

The above 15-minute stretching workout by Mady Morrison, which has garnered an impressive 78 million views as of this writing, upends that assumption with an invigorating sequence of stretches that focus on flexibility, mobility, and relaxation. For those of us who aren’t morning people, it’s a great way to start your day with movement that isn’t intimidating but will still make your body feel fantastic. 

Stairs Workout

Have a flight of stairs in your home or neighborhood? If so, say hello to your new gym. Pushups, planks, toe taps, and bursts of cardio are all rendered extra effective when you pair them with stairs.

As you can see, there’s no shortage of workouts to add to your morning routine. Here’s to starting off your day in the best possible way!

Tatiana Bass/ iStock

With blizzard conditions hitting several states and snow turning national parks into winter wonderlands, the cold season is in full force. For many, that means staying indoors a lot more than usual — and that means making sure you have necessary reinforcements in the form of entertainment, self-care, snacks, and more. 

We put together a list of products that will make your next snow day an epic success, whether you stick to the comfort of home or venture into the great, white outdoors. You’ll find everything from hot chocolate on a stick and bubble bath to a cordless electric snow shovel. And as a bonus, here’s a peaceful playlist for peak coziness

RELATED: Try These 19 Indoor Activities to Stave Off Boredom When It’s Cold Outside

Wordle The Party Game

Courtesy of Hasbro Gaming

Calling all Wordle players: Hasbro and The New York Times teamed up to create an analog, party version of the popular game, and it’s perfect for cozy indoor days. Take turns coming up with the secret word, write it on the dry erase board, and compete to see who can solve it in under six tries. 

101 Incredible Patterns

Courtesy of Amazon

Curl up with a cup of hot chocolate (see below for one of our favorites) and this nature-themed coloring book to while away the day in peaceful repose. Created specifically for adults, it contains 101 intricate designs to provide hours upon hours of meditative activity. Grab these colored pencils to go with it

The Honest Company Bubble Bath

Courtesy of The Honest Company

Cold days call for hot baths. Though tons of products claim to create tubs full of suds, many of them don’t actually deliver. This writer can tell you from personal experience, however, that The Honest Company’s offering is a rare exception: a few capfuls under warm, running water and you’ll be up to your ears in bubbles. Plus, it’s hypoallergenic and comes in four formulations. 

Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times

Courtesy of Bookshop

Winter often serves as a metaphor for the dark seasons of life. In this bestseller by Katherine May, she recommends embracing the opportunities those periods can offer, namely the “transformative power of rest and retreat.” It’s excellent reading material for a snow day. 

Popbar Hot Chocolate on a Stick

Courtesy of Popbar

Obviously, hot chocolate was going to show up on this list: Say hello to all-natural chocolate-y goodness on a stick. This package contains two dark chocolate, two milk chocolate, and two white chocolate, and each flavor is kosher and gluten-free. Don’t forget the marshmallows

Kusini Tabletop S’mores Maker

Courtesy of Kusini

Speaking of marshmallows — snow days are perfect for making s’mores, which don’t require a campfire. Standing over your kitchen stove with a stick is one option, but another is Kusini’s adorable tabletop s’mores maker. It’s electric, so no open flames, and it comes with four roasting forks and storage for your chocolate and graham crackers.

Frontier Soups 

Courtesy of Frontier

A comforting bowl of soup is another snow day staple, and while the homemade variety is typically the most nourishing, having some tasty, high quality mixes on hand to help with the process is A-OK too. Each pack includes 8-10 servings of dry soup mix and lists the ingredients you’ll need to complete the recipe, like broth, shredded chicken, and tomato puree. 

Lasko Oscillating Tower Heater

Courtesy of Lasko

No fireplace? No problem. Opt for a space heater instead. With electricity bills skyrocketing these days, many of us are resisting blasting our central heating systems as much as possible. Lasko’s remote-controlled ceramic tower heats rooms quietly and efficiently, and it comes with built-in safety features to protect it from overheating. 

UGG Women’s Aarti Robe

Courtesy of UGG

UGG’s cozy Aarti robe is the ideal companion for crisp mornings, chilly evenings, and all the moments in between. Made with a super soft sherpa material, it’s machine-washable and comes with a removable belt, fluffy hood, and deep pockets. Choose from a variety of colors and sizes, up to 3X. 

Bedsure Electric Blanket

Courtesy of Bedsure

Another great way to stay warm when the weather is cold, this electric blanket by Bedsure comes in a wide array of colors, and has six heating levels and four time settings. It includes a three-hour automatic shut-off for peace of mind. 

The North Face Men’s Insulated Jacket

Courtesy of The North Face

Who says you have to stay inside during a snow day? If you are planning to venture out, though, you’ll want to bundle up. North Face is known for its quality outerwear, and this stylish hooded men’s jacket is a great example of why. It’s water-repellent and features 70%-recycled polyester insulation throughout. Check out the brand’s options for women as well

The North Face Beanie

Courtesy of The North Face

It’s an old wives’ tale that we lose 50% of our body heat through our heads, but that doesn’t mean you should leave your noggin unprotected from the cold. This beanie from The North Face does the trick. It’s lined with jersey, so it’s extra soft and cozy, and it comes in a huge selection of colors. We also love the Rhodina style for a little extra flare

VOLTASK Cordless Snow Shovel

Courtesy of Voltask

You aren’t going to get far from the house if your sidewalk is full of snow. Instead of waiting for the neighborhood kids to come around peddling their snow-shoveling services, tackle the task with this cordless electric tool. A mix between shovel and blower, it’s lightweight (a little over 11 pounds) yet powerful enough to move up to 350 pounds of snow per minute. 

Woof Pupsicle

Courtesy of Woof

Some dogs love snow, but if your pup is confined to the house and can’t let off steam, you’re going to need something to keep them busy indoors. Enter: The Pupsicle, a refillable treat-holding toy that will entertain them for hours. For a non-food-focused activity, consider this adorable hide-and-seek plush puzzle

L.L. Bean Snowball Maker

Courtesy of L.L. Bean

It wouldn’t be a snow day without a (mild) snowball fight, and nothing beats the perfect rounded ammunition. This neat tool packs snow into spheres, so you and the fun seekers in your life can create a whole arsenal in minutes. More interested in making a snowman? Check out these fun props. 

Yaktrax Pro Traction Snow Cleats 

Courtesy of Yaktrax

Keep safe on the ice and snow with these attachable cleats, available in four sizes. The heavy duty rubber frame straps securely to your shoes and high-strength stainless steel coils provide 360-degree traction on slippery surfaces.  

Kühl Wool Baselayers

Courtesy of Kühl

Staying warm is all about layering, whether you’re going outside or kicking it on the couch. We love Kühl’s long underwear options for women. The brand uses its trademarked Kaskade Bottom fabric, a blend of merino wool and modal, to offer breathable, naturally odor-resistant insulation. 

EcoNour Windshield Cover

Corutesy of EcoNour

If you have to venture out by car, the last thing you’re going to want to do is spend extra time standing outside scraping ice and snow off your windshield. Save yourself the trouble by popping on this waterproof windshield cover, which will protect your vehicle from frost, sleet, hail, and other winter weather — it’s also effective against and leaves and heat from the sun. 

Levoit Smart Cool Mist Humidifier

Courtesy of Levoit

Keep dry winter air (and dry winter skin) at bay by investing in a humidifier to up the moisture levels. Once you determine and set your ideal humidity level, this device uses a smart sensor to detect changes and adjust automatically. Pro tip: Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the 3-liter tank for a relaxing touch.

girafchik123/ iStock

“So little time, so much to do” is a phrase we’ve all likely said (or sung) about our lives. Although we can’t add extra hours to our days, we can use the time we do have more strategically. 

Time management techniques are intended to do just that, providing guides to help us approach our lives with fewer distractions and more control. Studies show good time management is linked to enhanced job performance and well-being and lower levels of anxiety. On the other hand, poor time management is associated with high levels of stress and low productivity

Of course, time management can’t fix everything. A color-coded calendar can’t make up for an overpacked schedule, and no technique can address every personal difficulty we face in life. But if you’re looking to amp up your productivity, the below time management hacks might be just the things to get you where you want to be.  

Eat That Frog

“Eat That Frog” is the strategy of tackling an important task first thing in the morning before you do anything else. For some, this might be a major to-do item that you’re most likely to put off, or it may be one that you find tedious but have to get done (like filing taxes or cleaning the bathroom). 

The concept, proposed by author Brian Tracy, is based on a quote often attributed to Mark Twain: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” According to Tracy, “It doesn’t do you any good to stare at the ugly live frog in front of you, this big task. If you simply resolve to take action and get it over with, your entire life will be uninhibited by the daunting tasks that once prevented you from moving forward.”

Best for: those who tend to procrastinate (and really, who doesn’t every now and then?). 

Task Batching

Research from the American Psychological Association suggests that we can lose up to 40% of our productivity when we shift between tasks and have to adjust to a new mental setting. Task batching — grouping similar tasks together in “batches” to complete all at once — is designed to avoid this constant switching as much as possible. That way, you spend more time in a productive zone and less time in the hazy in-between. 

Best for: bringing more structure and organization to your life, according to Indeed

Time Blocking 

As the name suggests, time blocking breaks up your day into “blocks” of time that are often grouped by specific tasks or chunks of tasks. This technique often uses a calendar to help you visualize your schedule, so you know exactly what to do throughout the day and where to direct your focus. 

“It’s a powerful technique for finding some stability in a chaotic setting,” Cal Newport, the creator of The Time-Block Planner, told Today.

Best for: creating order amid a busy schedule and helping anyone who wants to do more monotasking (the opposite of multitasking). 

The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a specific type of time blocking. Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s, the premise is to work in 25-minute increments followed by five-minute breaks. Once you’ve completed four “Pomodoros,” take a longer break, between 15 and 30 minutes. Wondering why it’s called Pomodoro? The name came to Cirillo when he was a university student and had trouble staying focused on his book. “I went to the kitchen, grabbed a timer, and came back to my table,” he explained. “The timer was red and shaped like a Pomodoro (tomato in English).”

Best for: According to Verywell Mind, this technique is especially effective for those who tend to get distracted or have trouble getting started on a task. 

Timeboxing

Similar to time blocking, timeboxing also involves using time to strategically break down your day and be more productive. However, timeboxing is focused on setting parameters around how much time you spend on one task. For example, allocating a maximum of two hours on a project or activity in an effort to avoid overworking unnecessarily. It also allows those with whom you share your calendar to see your availability. 

Best for: people who identify with perfectionism and people-pleasing, as timeboxing will help you set boundaries, according to Forbes

The 2-Minute Rule

Do you have an unending to-do list that’s intimidating just to look at? Start chipping away at bite-sized tasks with the 2-minute rule. 

Per Forbes, the 2-minute rule was popularized by David Allen in his book Getting Things Done. The idea behind it is that if you can do an activity in two minutes or less, you should do it right away rather than writing it down or putting it off. 

Best for: getting small tasks off your plate. This method is also an effective way to alleviate the stress and anxiety that can come with a mountain of tasks. 

Day Theming

Unlike the other methods on this list, day theming is a little more fluid. Instead of breaking up your day into bite-sized chunks or multiple time slots, this technique is about devoting certain days to a theme (or initiative, purpose, idea, etc). For example, you might dedicate a day to taking meetings, researching, or pursuing a specific project. 

Best for: If you have more flexibility and gravitate toward “big picture” thinking, day theming may strike a good balance between structure and fluidity. 

The 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 Rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, is the idea that 80% of output comes from about 20% of input. When applied to time management, the principle suggests that about 20% of the efforts produce 80% of the results. 

To apply this rule to your life, ask yourself when you’re most productive and then make an effort to use that time as efficiently as you can. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you avoid 80% of work. However, it can be a helpful rule to keep in mind when you’re prioritizing your schedule. “Identify the vital ingredients necessary to achieve your objective,” said time management consultant Dru Scott. “Do these things first. You will get the most results in the least amount of time.”

Best for: If you want to refine your schedule and get into a better groove, the 80/20 Rule may help you prioritize top tasks more effectively and work in a way that suits you and your lifestyle. 

Deep Work

While some items can be executed in short bursts (i.e. the 2-minute rule), others need more creative space, time, and focus. Enter, deep work: the practice of removing distractions and giving your brain’s full attention to one thing. 

The concept of deep work was coined by computer science professor Cal Newport, who describes the state as a “superpower in our current economy” and an activity that “generates a sense of meaning and fulfillment in your professional life.” Much like a deep conversation with a friend feels different from a surface-level chat, deep work fosters space for quality effort that feels good and extra satisfying.   

If you’re interested in testing it out, try scheduling deep work in the morning for 90 minutes to two hours, as studies show this is the sweet spot and range for most people when it comes to productivity.

Best for: According to Newport, deep work is generally best suited for working on a “cognitively demanding task.”  

Learn Your Management Method 

Not sure where to go from here? Take this quiz to see how well you manage time, and then compare your results to the above methods to learn which one is best for you. When in doubt? Eat the frog. 

RELATED: 8 Ways To Use Your Phone More Intentionally

Courtesy of Laurie Brooks

A group of good Samaritans — some old friends, others new acquaintances — get together for breakfast every few months in the Boston area. At the end of each meal, they surprise their server with a generous tip, an amount reflected in their name: the Thousand Dollar Breakfast Club. 

Founded by attorney Richard Brooks with the help of his wife Laurie, the club usually leaves more than their moniker suggests, however. One server recently received $2,050. It all depends how many members attend the meal, each making a $100 contribution to the tip. 

“I was a waiter, so I know what it’s like to get a tip,” Brooks, 64, told Nice News. “And I still remember my first tip that was big, and it was a whopping $20. And I still remember it because I was paying myself through school.” 

The idea for the club came to Brooks after his brother told him about a group meal he’d attended in which everyone brought $100 to tip the waiter. For years, Brooks has made a habit of handing out $100 bills to people at random to brighten their days, so his brother knew he’d love the concept. And he did. On the evening of Jan. 2, 2023, Brooks took to Facebook to launch his own iteration. 

“I want to start a group to go to breakfast, 10 of us, and we each bring $100 to tip the waiter. The Thousand Dollar Breakfast Club,” he wrote, adding: “Anyone can go.” Within a day, he had around a dozen people who wanted to join.

Three months later, they convened at an iHop for the inaugural meal, leaving their server $1,400. The club has expanded since that March gathering, with local and national news outlets reporting on its generosity. Brooks is keeping his email list to around 30 revolving people, though, mainly to ensure the group’s size doesn’t overwhelm their server.

Courtesy of Laurie Brooks

“It’s amazing how many people reach out to you in different ways,” he shared. “And I had a few people that wanted to join, and I was like, ‘You know, I have enough people in my group. What I want you to do, though, is start your own.’” 

The impetus of the breakfast club is to make a difference in strangers’ lives. And it certainly does. Roberto Rivas, a full-time teacher who waits tables at two restaurants on the weekends, nearly burst into tears after receiving a $1,600 tip from the group last June. He told The Washington Post that he’d been saving to buy his mother hearing aids, and the club’s generosity made that possible. 

“It’s awesome,” Tulio Maldonado, who was tipped $1,300 in September, shared with Boston news outlet WCVB5. “I got a lot of bills to pay, so that sure is going to help me out,” he added. 

But it’s not just the recipients who benefit from the Thousand Dollar Breakfast Club. Early on, Brooks realized that its members were lingering long after the meals were over. “People stayed for like two hours or two-and-a-half hours chatting,” he said, noting: “It was the camaraderie of everybody in the group.” 

And that warmth and inspiring effect sometimes extends even further. 

Recalling the club’s very first breakfast, Brooks said one of the restaurant’s other servers was standing near him after his group had finished their meal and left the tip. Brooks apologized to the young man, telling him it was just “luck of the draw” that he didn’t get their table. 

“And he looks at me and says, ‘You know what, sir? I’ve been watching this thing’ —  this is like a 20-year-old kid — ‘This was the most beautiful experience to watch it as it unfolded. I hope that when I’m a little older, I have enough friends together that we can all do exactly what you did, and I can have my own club,’” Brooks recounted. 

“That made an impression on that kid,” he added. “Maybe he’ll do it, maybe he won’t, but it certainly will change his view on life a little bit.”