Hurricane Irene will have some 50 million people along the U.S. East Coast dealing with the path of Hurricane Irene this weekend. Many will be wondering what to do with all the free time, with nowhere to go, and few stores or transportation systems including roadways and subways open.

Might as well make the best of a bad situation. Here are five survival tips to pass the time and even better yourself, family and friends during the storm.

Five ways to pass the time while hunkering down during Hurricane Irene :

1) Start writing a book. Most everybody has said at one time or another they want to write a book. Make the best of Hurricane Irene's gift of time and start writing on that book.

So what if you never finish it? Getting started will take away that one big excuse, and perhaps you'll get so ingrained you might one day finish it -- knocking another off that bucket list. Ladies and gentleman, start your writing engines.

2) Read a book in a new category. Expanding our minds and knowledge is the one thing we never seem to get enough of these days. The world spins at such a furious pace. We're always connected, and always on the go. But that's all going to change for a day or two, especially for those about to get hardest hit by Irene. Read a book, but reach for a different category to make it more interesting and beneficial.

If you enjoy history but typically read mysteries, take a dive down that path. One recommendation: Issac's Storm by Erik Larson is an excellent work about the great Galveston hurricane in the late 1800s. You won't be able to put it down, and it's available on Kindle and other eBook formats. Or better yet, if you are spending time hunkered down with family and friends, take turns reading a good book out loud to one another. Or, have a designated reader. It's a great tool for bonding, listening and learning.

3) Become a storyteller. Back in the day before smartphones and cable television storytelling was a cultural delight. Also, it was a necessity. If you are alone, call up a friend if phones are still

working and tell them a story, or have them tell you a story. If you are with another or others, arrange storytelling times, and see how fun, interesting and informational it can become.

4) Do a deep house cleaning. Those piles of magazines that keep adding up, or that furniture that never seems to get un-dusted -- well, now is your time. No excuses, right? Start cleaning, and don't stop until you drop. Soon, the storm will be over and your house will be shined up on the inside. Then, you can focus on picking up outside without anxiety over the inside. You'll be nice and tidy once Irene makes her way out of the area.

5) Make a plan. Lists are the best way to organize your live. Get a pen and a notebook or open a notepad on a laptop computer or a tablet device. Make a long-term objective plan, and several short-term accomplishment tasks to meeting those long-term objectives. You feel to rushed all the time? Make one list of how to feel less rushed, and several task lists of how you will start to reach that goal once the storm passes.

Or, maybe you are ready to get in shape and don't want to wait until a New Year's resolution. Outline what you will do, and start by doing pushups or sit ups in the house -- but put down your course of action on paper, and kick it in gear.

Stay safe, cook something good that permeates the house throughout the storm, and good luck making the best of your time. If we just do one of these tips, we'll all be better off. Should Irene give us lots of time and we're able to tackle them all, the storm may end up being more of a blessing than a curse by the time it's over.

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