My idea of spending free time more productively were to read books, assimilate knowledge from any source. With less access to internet and gadgets while in school & college, there was a lot of time available to churn what I have read and heard about; and try to do something with that knowledge gained. As the devices and internet became cheaper, my consumption increased a great deal that I ended being a obsessive consumer of information but I do very little with what I have gained.
The tasks which we have cut out ourselves in the name of productivity are called Masked Productivity. I read a blog in which the author describes about a casual encounter with an inventor Russel Kirsch. Reading, listening and watching has been done again and again for generations. The new age gadgets like smart phones, e-readers and tablets makes it more and more easy and compulsive to read, listen and watch. In the rush of overfeeding the senses we forget that all these devices were invented only because few people did something which was never done before. We end up being chronic consumers and leave the awesome creation part to a select few.
From the time that I read that blog I have begun to be conscious of what I do, if not I would have missed some wonderful opportunities of meeting new people, churning up ideas at work and also some good relaxing sleep. Be aware of those masked productivity tasks; they make you tired, miss out good opportunities, deprive you of me time and may be prevent you from creating something.
This talk is also about how to avoid the impulse to read almost everything we see in our social feed and news readers http://www.hanselman.com/blog/ItsNotWhatYouReadItsWhatYouIgnoreVideoOfScottHanselmansPersonalProductivityTips.aspx