I'm developing a time management application.

The architecture considers, that all the user does/plans can be separated in "areas" / parts of life (like "health", "job", "family", "self-development" etc. -- the concrete list depends on the user).

The second hierarchy level are the "activities". Actually nearly always that's "projects" like "building a website", "getting a certificated developer", "getting a driver's license". But some activities are things, that the user might just want to do without a special goal * (s. below), e.g. "doing sports" or "reading books".

What is an adequate word for such activities?

Maybe "doings"?

types of activities

  • project: A finite activity with a defined goal and usually restricted by the time and other factors.
  • doing: An activity without any goal; here "the path is the goal". (Btw.: can the word "doing" be used in this context in singular?) Or maybe occupation?

Just to round the concept up:

The third level are "actions" (or maybe "tickets"? or maybe "tasks"?), e.g. "read the manual" or "lunch with colleagues at 1 p.m.".

The fourth and last level (that's optional) are "tasks" (or maybe "sub-tasks"?) like "call the colleagues to make an appointment" or "by cinema tickets".

* To the meaning of "goal" in this context:

A goal is something, we want to reach through an activity. And: After (or in the moment), when it's reached, the activity becomes obsolete / is finished. A goal should be concrete enough to be (in principle) reachable and verifiable. Short, it should be SMART.

  • "I do sports to win the world championship." The "win on the world championship" is a goal.

  • "I do sports to become fit." Here there is no goal (in this meaning), because "becoming fit" is not concrete and so absolutely not measurable and achievable. Sure, this activity has a purpose/sense. But no goal.

  • "I do sports to be/stay fit." That might be even a much better example of an activity without a goal. Here there is no concrete, measurable, etc. goal. And more than this, it's also not achievable for the following reason: If I define it like this, I am already fit. So I cannot achieve it, at least because it's already achieved. Also here: This activity of course has a purpose/sense. But no goal.

  • Entertainment? Leisure? Hobbies? Pastimes? (Incidentally, both sports and reading do have goals—no pun intended with the former.) – Jason Bassford Dec 27 '18 at 15:36
  • @JasonBassford Thanks for the comment! "both sports and reading do have goals" -- It's a to you or in my special context up to the user. Anyway, for me reading has no finite goal. To have read 50 books would be a goal. (Maybe a strange one, but formally well defined.) To take 10 kilo off is also a formally well defined goal. But IMHO just reading or sports usually aren't goal oriented. – automatix Dec 27 '18 at 22:45
  • @JasonBassford Alls the variants you suggested are good. But all these words accent the "fun factor". What I'm looking for is something like an opposite of the workd "project" as "goal oriented activity". – automatix Dec 27 '18 at 22:49
  • 1
    I read books because I'm interested in how they turn out. The goal of reading a a specific book is to finish it. The goal of reading in general, to me, is to gain enjoyment and satisfaction. The distinction you seem to be drawing is between something objective (practical) and something elusive (emotional or intellectual). Also, while the goal of sports may not be to take off 10 kilos, it may be to make sure that you never gain that weight. (Which is practical, if not having a clear end.) – Jason Bassford Dec 27 '18 at 23:18
  • Have you considered the very word you use in the question title - an activity? – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica Dec 28 '18 at 11:31

Activities like you describe are called hobbies. Here's the definition from M-W:

a pursuit outside one's regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation // Writing is just a hobby of his.

  • Thank you for your answer! Yes, usually such an activity will be a hobby. "Hobby" doesn't actually meet the gist, since the differentiating factor of this dichotomy (project <> wordWeWantToFind) is, whether the activity has a goal. – automatix Dec 27 '18 at 22:34
  • 1
    Ah, there's the rub. I wish to argue that somewhere deep down, every activity has a goal, else why do it? Your examples- reading and playing sports. Goals- stress relief, fitness, fun, bonding with friends, escapism. My example- woodworking, Goals- stress relief, a product I can admire and be proud of, doing something that isn't writing code. These are perhaps more subtle and intrinsic goals then my concrete and extrinsic goals when at work writing code- keep my bills paid, contribute to society, not get yelled at by the boss. (cont'd) – cobaltduck Dec 28 '18 at 12:26
  • 1
    But the goal still exists. You will have a hard time convincing me that anyone has ever done anything for any prolonged period without some small goal underlying it. – cobaltduck Dec 28 '18 at 12:26


NOUN An activity that someone does regularly for enjoyment rather than work; a hobby.

'his favourite pastimes were shooting and golf'


  • Thanks for your answer. Please read my comment to "hobby". – automatix Dec 27 '18 at 22:59

I would suggest using the word fun

1.3 Behaviour or an activity that is intended purely for amusement and should not be interpreted as having any serious or malicious purpose. (Oxford)

So the types of activities can be:

a) Project

b) Fun

  • Thank you for your answer! But such activities are not always intended "purely for amusement". The difference between them and "projects" is only the aspect of goal ("project" = activity with a goal, "this other activity" = activity without a goal). – automatix Dec 27 '18 at 22:01

My wife uses the term "play", as in, "Are you still playing on your computer?"

I confess I sometimes see a negative implication in the usage.


This is maybe to late. But I was searching for the same word and this is the first goodie answer.

Try the world "arbitrarily"

I don't remember the definition in English but it was something like an activity bounded only by the wishes of the one doing it. Or something like that.

  • May I inquire as to what a "goodie answer" is ? – J. Taylor Nov 13 '19 at 11:01

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.