Did you know that the English language didn’t have a word for boredom before 1766?? But since then, boredom has crept into our daily lives. In fact, according to a survey of nearly 4,000 Americans, 63 percent reported feeling bored at least once every 10 days.
But why are you so bored? Motivation isn’t the problem. It has to do with biology.
You become bored when your brain lacks dopamine, the “reward molecule.” As a result, you feel less excited and happy. Sounds bad, right?
The truth is, boredom isn’t just normal; it can be beneficial.
According to Sandi Mann, a senior psychology lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire and the author of The Upside of Downtime: Why Boredom Is Good found that boredom encourages us to unplug.
“We’re trying to swipe and scroll the boredom away, but in doing that, we’re actually making ourselves more prone to boredom, because every time we get our phone out, we’re not allowing our mind to wander and to solve our own boredom problems,” Mann writes.
Additionally, research has shown that if we can’t find stimulation when we are bored, then we make it up. As a result, this sparks creativity.
What’s more, boredom allows us to engage in self-reflection and become more altruistic. And being bored can even be good for our mental health.
The catch? You have to make the most of your free time. And here are 101 productive things to do when you’re bored.
Reflect On Your Routine & Think Ahead
During your free time, you may want to conduct a self-evaluation. Identify an area in life where you would like to improve or change and look at how you’ve been doing. And from there, make a plan so that life runs more smoothly.
1. Get a grip on your daily tasks.
How do you spend your days? There may be activities that are not very productive in your daily routine that can be replaced with more productive ones if you examine them. The workday will also be less repetitive and boring if certain habits are periodically changed.
2. Compose a to-do list.
You feel more in control of your time and gain a sense of accomplishment when you cross items off your to-do list. You’ll feel more prepared for the next day when you write a to-do list.
3. Evaluate your schedule.
Make sure you don’t get caught off guard. Make sure you are aware of upcoming projects and activities at work by checking your schedule. As a result, your performance will be improved, and you will avoid impromptu planning and decision-making.
Currently, there are plenty of mobile applications that can assist you in your work, like Asana, Trello, or Wrike.
4. Take a moment to reflect on your habits.
In order to build a successful career and fulfilling personal life, you must develop good habits. However, if you want to build and stick to good habits, it is just as important to reflect on them.
Review your morning routine, work breaks, and planning habits to get started. Do you think your approach is effective? If not, take steps to change things up.
5. Plan your week ahead.
I usually plan my week’s activities on Sunday evenings. There isn’t a plan for every minute of the week. However, I like to know what I’m going to do after work, what fun activities I can do on weekends, and what my weekly workload will be.
You can also do a weekly or monthly review. And, for non-negotiables, you can even plan a year in advance.
6. Describe the accomplishments you made last month.
There are two purposes to this. Whenever we’re aware of our accomplishments, we feel proud, motivate ourselves to keep going and set bigger goals. Additionally, it can serve as a reminder if you don’t work on something that needs to be done.
7. Analyze your time management skills.
The most valuable resource you have is time. The best way to remain productive is to understand how you spend your time.
Tracking your time and focus automatically is possible using a time-tracker tool like RescueTime or Clockify. The dashboard can then be explored if you have some spare time.
- What is distracting you?
- How do you waste your time?
- When are your most or least productive?
- How can you change your behavior?
Using these questions, you can reflect on your time management skills and improve them.
8. Make a weekly meal plan.
You can eat healthier and save time by planning your meals in advance and meal prepping. As a result, grocery shopping will be much easier and faster.
9. Plan your wardrobe for the week.
Have you ever had to leave the house within ten minutes and had no idea what to wear? Even worse, the outfit you did want to wear needs to be dry-cleaned.
Get ready for a few different occasions by putting together a couple of outfits. When you’re in a rush, you already have a good wardrobe prepared and don’t have to make decisions on the fly.
10. Take a second look at your tools.
The tools you used once worked well for you, but not anymore. In fact, they may be making you less productive.
Get rid of what you’re no longer using or isn’t helping you. Find out what tools you could use to improve teamwork, collaboration, and communication, such as a new project management tool or calendar app.
Do Something Work-Related
I know. This isn’t the most exciting thing you could do. But if you’re truly bored, why not get ahead or catch up on your work?
11. Reduce your workload by prioritizing your tasks.
I’m a big believer in the Eisenhower Matrix. Tasks are divided into four quadrants according to this system. Next, tasks are arranged according to columns and rows. In the columns, tasks are sorted by urgency, while the rows indicate the importance of each task.
The four quadrants are as follows:
- First Quadrant: Do
- Second Quadrant: Decide
- Third Quadrant: Delegate
- Fourth Quadrant: Disregard
You should devote your attention and energy to the first quadrant items before you do anything else. So that you can accomplish these priorities, you should limit them to three per day.
Whenever you have the availability, anything in the second quadrant will be scheduled. The third quadrant will then be delegated or outsourced. If there are any items remaining on your list, you can remove them.
12. Organize your backlog by priority.
“If work is piling up, it’s time to prioritize your backlog as best as possible, suggests Mario Peshev, CEO of DevriX. “Compile all of those tasks in one place and categorize them by priority, urgency, or complexity.”
“You can push through the most important tasks first and free up some time to sort out the rest of the backlog or tackle the lowest hanging fruits by reducing the number of activities you have to complete,” he adds. It may be helpful to see the bigger picture in one place if you need to delegate or even outsource certain tasks.
“Having the opportunity to reflect may expose opportunities to hire for a new role.” Alternatively, you may decide to hire an assistant or take time away from activities that waste your time without producing results.
13. Stay up-to-date with the latest industry news.
Knowing what’s happening in your industry, if there’s any interesting news, and what your competitors are doing is important.
14. Get feedback.
You can’t improve without feedback. Don’t be scared to ask your team and or manager for it.
15. Update your resume or LinkedIn profile.
How long has it been since you last viewed your resume?
Your resume or CV is much easier to update while you still remember your work responsibilities. The act of thinking about all the ways you add value to your team can also boost your ego. It’s okay to brag about your professional achievements.
Furthermore, since LinkedIn accounts serve as digital resumes, you should maintain an up-to-date profile and provide information relevant to the job. Making a LinkedIn profile is a good idea if you don’t already have one since it allows you to connect with other people and keep up with what other people are doing in your industry.
16. Find a new place to work.
Working from home can become a bit monotonous after a while. By finding a new location to work in, you can shake things up and boost your productivity. Cafés, parks, or coworking spaces could be good options.
17. Prepare to ask for a raise.
For you to achieve your goal of getting a raise, you need to do a lot of research and preparation. Make sure your request is reasonable, sensible, and timely by doing some market research. Aside from that, it never hurts to explore other possibilities.
Declutter and Organize
When you’re bored, what’s the most productive thing you can do? Declutter your life and get organized.
18. Clean your desk
How long has it been since you cleaned your desk?
Spending so much time there accumulates dirt, both visible residues, such as food wrappers, and tiny residues, such as stains, dirt, dust, and germs.
Start by tossing anything that doesn’t serve a purpose and/or makes you happy. Sort your physical stuff into three piles: sell, donate, and throw away. Afterward, disinfect your desk, keyboard, mouse, screen, and any other daily-used objects with a cloth.
19. Make your space more organized.
Now that everything is clean, it’s time to organize everything and find a place for them if they do not already have one. Basically, this refers to all kinds of stationery materials, documents, decorative items, or electronic devices.
20. Organize your phone and computer files.
All filenames should be replaced with normal filenames and organized into folders. Also, just like the garbage on your desk, remove any files or apps that you no longer use.
21. Update your passwords.
You might want to consider changing your passwords if you’ve had the same one for a while. To prevent forgetting, write this down on your phone or on a notepad.
22. Prepare email templates.
Make your life easier by creating email templates if you receive similar emails that require similar responses.
23. Remove all the accounts that don’t add value to your life by unfollowing/unfriending them.
Take a moment to consider what you consume on social media. What does it make you feel like?
Followers who trigger negative feelings and thoughts should be unfollowed. Likewise, if they don’t provide any useful information, inspiration, or entertainment to your life, they’re not worth your time.
24. Back up important documents and photos.
Ensure that all your important files are backed up. All of them. You should make as many backups as possible. A lot of us have learned the hard way how dangerous it is to keep everything in one location.
25. Get your closet in order.
Organize your clothes and declutter them so you know what’s where. Feeling extra productive? Color-coordinate your clothes.
If your closet is already in order, focus on another area in your home like the kitchen cabinets or garage.
26. Organize your inbox.
While you should be checking your emails on a regular basis, it never hurts to go back through them once in a while.
There’s also that random email we all get promoting different newsletters and advertisements. This is a good time to go through your files and keep only those you deem necessary.
27. Answer all email threads.
It is likely that you will discover a couple of emails that slipped under your radar earlier when checking your inbox. With some spare time, now might be a good time to catch up.
28. If you’re waiting for a response from a colleague, follow up.
Your thread wasn’t the only one left hanging. If you’ve been waiting for a response from colleagues or clients for days (or maybe weeks), now is the time to follow up.
29. If you are no longer interested in a newsletter, unsubscribe.
You should unsubscribe if you haven’t opened their emails in a while. It’s a simple way to keep your inbox clutter-free.
30. Keep your email folder organized.
Despite the fact that you want to read emails right now, they’re just a little too long to read. Use your downtime to create a quick folder so you can quickly find those emails later on.
Work on Your Professional and/or Personal Development
The little things you do that make a big difference at home, in the workplace, and in your relationships are the most important ones.
31. Join Toastmasters.
According to a Princeton University study, listening to a well-crafted story is similar to being inside it.
Putting it another way, if you tell someone about an unforgettable experience seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland, their brains will make them feel as if they were actually there. It’s a great way to make your words more compelling and make people pay attention.
32. Find your next book.
It is possible to learn and grow in all aspects of one’s life through reading, both personally and professionally. When you’re bored at home or at work, you should find and buy your next book.
Need some suggestions? We’ve got you covered.
33. Listen to a podcast about productivity/industry.
There are other options if reading isn’t your thing. Instead, look for a podcast that will help you grow on platforms such as Spotify, SoundCloud, or Apple Podcasts.
34. Watch a TedTalk.
You might be tempted to stream the latest Netflix series when boredom strikes. TEDTalks, however, are much more brain-nourishing.
Also, there are plenty of TED videos. I mean, a lot. Choose mini-lectures that relate to your interests, passions, work, or relationships.
35. Put some goals on paper.
You can think of career goals as milestones in your life. As you progress, they break your career into sections.
36. Create a SWOT matrix.
You can use a SWOT matrix to determine the direction of your project independently or as part of a team.
37. Find your ikigai.
“Ikigai is a Japanese term that means “a reason for being,'” explains Calendar co-founder John Hall. Of course, if you’re a fan of Simon Sinek, you ikigai, or reason would be your “why.”
“According to the Japanese, everyone has an ikigai,” he adds. “You just need to determine what that is for you.” If you’re in a slump, it may seem impossible. However, the process is relatively straightforward. Your passion, mission, vocation, and profession must all be in alignment to form ikigai.
“You can do this by grabbing a piece of paper and drawing four circles. In the first circle, you’ll list what you love,” states Hall. “In the second circle, you would record what you’re good at.” Write down what you believe in the third circle. Lastly, in the fourth circle, state how you make money – or how you can make money. What overlaps in the center is what motivates you to get out of bed each morning.
38. Test your personality.
Would you like to know yourself better? Various personality tests are readily available.
There are many personality tests available on the internet, but some of the most popular are the:
39. Be available to help your colleagues.
A successful workplace requires collaboration skills. Boost yours by offering help and advice to your peers.
You can also learn from your coworkers by helping them. As well as strengthening ties, it can also help build a stronger and more effective team. Later, when you’re not bored, you may also need their assistance.
40. Improve your leadership skills.
Taking initiative is integral to managing up. When no one else is available to do something, then you should do it yourself.
A good example would be studying management tactics, like enrolling in an online management course. There is always room to improve and demonstrate to the higher-ups that you are capable of more responsibility — even if you aren’t in a leadership role.
Learn Something New
In addition to being useful, new skills can make you a more well-rounded person in both your professional and personal lives.
41. Speak a new language.
Your life can be transformed by learning a new foreign language. As a result of learning a language, you can:
- Experience fun places and interact with locals
- Learn something fun as a challenge
- Enhance your career prospects
42. Play the guitar.
According to research, guitarists’ brains function slightly differently than the average person’s. Playing guitar chords and reading sheet music can open up new neural pathways and rewire the brain in a positive way, which can enhance cognitive function.
43. Learn how to draw.
All of us were born with the ability to draw as a basic skill. Unlike reading and writing, drawing comes naturally to people.
Regardless of what language one speaks, drawing is a form of communication that everyone can understand.
44. Know photoshop.
A basic understanding of Photoshop is a must for everyone. For anyone who works in graphic design, web design, or even just wants to use Photoshop at home, Photoshop is an essential tool. Being able to add this skill to a resume is a great addition since it is such a valued skill.
45. Cultivate a green thumb.
You may not realize it. But, there are a lot of benefits of gardening. Besides encouraging you to move, gardening can reduce stress and improve your mood. Plus, you’ll build up your self-esteem as you enjoy the flowers, herbs, vegetables, and fruits that you’ve grown.
46. Practice Tai Chai.
Your body and mind will benefit from learning Tai Chi. Practicing this can help alleviate health conditions associated with aging and promote relaxation and stress release for people of all ages. Stress can be mitigated by Tai Chi, which is its most significant benefit.
47. Sewing, stitching, and patching.
Sewing, stitching, and patching are excellent skills because they are so versatile. Plus, there’s nothing like repairing a pair of pants when you’re in a pinch.
48. Basic car repairs.
Repairs on your car can drain your bank account quickly. But if you take the time to learn new skills, you can do most of them yourself. Changing your oil, fixing fuel filters, and changing alternators are things you can do even without possessing specialized skills.
49. Learn to code.
As you learn and practice programming, your problem-solving and logical abilities will improve. Additionally, it could complement your existing skills or open-up new career opportunities.
What can you do to stay competitive and stay up-to-date? Consider “upskilling.” It is simply learning self-directed on top of your existing skillsets through online courses or being open to new jobs and responsibilities.
Improve Your Health & Wellbeing
You’ll be more productive if you’re the healthiest and happiest version of yourself. In addition, you will feel better as a result.
51. Stretch or go for a walk.
In spite of what you might think, walking or stretching a little is actually a very productive activity when you are bored. A good dose of oxygen in your brain will help you concentrate better, feel better, and even be more creative.
Additionally, we all know the benefits of exercise for health and fitness. If you get bored, walk — even if it’s just in the hallways or taking your dob around the block.
Practicing meditation has numerous health and mental benefits. For instance, practicing mindfulness calms the mind, increases gratitude, and focuses the mind.
Calm or Headspace are mindfulness apps that can be used if you’re not familiar with how to meditate.
53. Take up a new sport or fitness class.
My best friend and I decided to try pickleball recently. We both agreed that we would not become good enough to participate in a tournament. However, we had a good time and tried something new while squeezing in some physical activity.
54. Prepare your favorite meals or desserts in a healthier way.
You can find healthier versions of your favorite food online, no matter what it is. There’s nothing to lose. Other than maybe a few extra calories.
55. Take part in a YouTube workout.
Hundreds of workout videos can be found on YouTube if you don’t have much time or prefer to exercise at home. There is something for everyone, whether you’re a beginner or prefer a more vigorous exercise.
56. Learn a TikTok dance.
The choreography to these 15-30 second dances is incredibly fun, and you will have hours of fun learning it. Alternatively, you can come up with your own moves and challenge others to learn them.
Journaling or keeping a diary can help you deal with difficult feelings while also passing the time. Also, journaling encourages self-reflection.
58. Get lost in your hometown.
There’s probably a hidden gem or two right under your nose in the area you live in — even if you think you know it like the back of your hand. You might find your new favorite spot by searching for nearby parks, walking tours, or outdoor spaces.
59. Plan your next getaway.
It has been proven that simply planning an amazing vacation improves our mood. Allow yourself to daydream and look forward to something exciting.
60. Make medical and dental appointments.
If you stay on top of your health, you probably already have your 6-month physical or dental appointment booked. But, sometimes, these fall through the cracks. So, go ahead and make sure that they’re in your calendar.
Additionally, if you have any other concerns, such as mole or deteriorating eyesight, schedule these appointments ASAP.
Discover Your Creative Side
Creativity increases brain plasticity and releases dopamine, a natural antidepressant.
61. Begin a DIY project.
If you’re bored, there’s no better time to tackle that DIY project from your Pinterest board that you’ve been planning for months. The result will be something pretty or useful, as well as the satisfaction of creating something with your own two hands.
62. Make a productivity playlist.
Music has a direct impact on productivity. What music do you listen to when you work? Whatever it is, prepare a playlist that will inspire you to accomplish your goals.
63. Take a photo walk.
Walking with fellow photography enthusiasts and snapping photos is what photo walking is all about. In case there are no such events near you, or if you don’t feel comfortable doing it with others, you can do it on your own. Just take pictures of things that catch your attention as you walk around your neighborhood.
64. Make a vision or inspiration board.
Crafts like this are common around the turn of the year, but you can start anytime. This is particularly true since vision boards typically depict your inspiration for the present-day version of yourself or your future plans.
Need inspiration? Check out Pinterest, your favorite magazines, and blogs for images, words, and role models that reflect the values you strive to embody every day.
65. Unleash your artistic side.
Take up painting, drawing, pottery making, or even writing. Don’t worry about your talent level. It doesn’t matter if you’re good at it or not. Moreover, creativity grows as you exercise it.
66. Whip up a new recipe.
Take a cue from Gordon Ramsay and cook something you’ve never done before. Adding some health and/or exotic touches is a plus.
67. Organize your favorite memories in a physical photo album.
Most of us have thousands of photos stored on our personal computers and phones. All those pictures aren’t as memorable as childhood photo albums, are they? Create a physical photo album or scrapbook with your favorite memories.
68. Change the decor of your room or workspace.
An inexpensive redecoration can transform the atmosphere of a room completely. Just add some color, change the lighting, or hang some wall art.
69. Make your own website.
Create a design that reflects your personality. Blog about your experiences, expertise, or interests. Better yet, start a video blog.
70. Start a side business.
Do you have a hobby you’re good at that you can use to make money? If so, get your side hustle going when you’re bored — ideally with the help of your online calendar.
Train Your Brain
Known as brain plasticity, your brain has the ability to learn and grow as you age. But you need to train it regularly for it to do so.
71. Solve a sudoku puzzle.
In any field, Sudoku puzzles can enhance your thinking skills.
72. Memorize details.
As much as we try, we forget a lot of details in our everyday lives. Memorizing simple things such as inspirational quotes or client emails or phone numbers stimulates the memory part of your brain.
73. Calculate without a calculator.
There are some people who struggle with math. I definitely fall into that camp. The thing we use math on a daily basis.
One exercise you can try is not using a calculator when going over a small budget. After you have completed your work, make sure you check it through.
74. Use the opposite hand when writing.
You will be able to think more clearly if you change up small details that have become habitual in your mind. As a result, your brain is stimulated, and new parts of your brain may be used to function.
75. Strengthen your focus.
Another meta-skill that affects many others is focus. For maximum creativity and productivity, you need to be able to focus your mind on one thing at a time.
When you are busy multitasking or jumbled with other thoughts, you cannot focus well. Fortunately, focusing can be improved with effort, as with many mental and physical activities.
Connect With Others
We’re social creatures. Take advantage of this by spending more time with your favorite people (and furry friends).
76. Catch up with a friend or a family member.
Get in touch with your favorite cousin, best friend, or mom and simply chit-chat.
When you can’t chat right away, schedule a time to speak when you both have free time. Even though scheduling can be challenging, there is always time to reconnect with someone you care about.
77. Attend a networking event.
What is the number of networking events you attend each year? According to a study of 1,000 entrepreneurs, 78% attribute their success to networking.
Become familiar with the people in your industry. Besides learning new things, you can find new work opportunities and valuable advice.
78. Reconnect with a long-lost friend.
Have you ever lost contact with a friend that you still consider dearly? Maybe you can rekindle the friendship if you send them a message.
79. Contact professionals you admire.
Making connections with peers in your field is a great way to boost your visibility. Understanding how to approach your career can be helped by identifying leaders you admire and respect in your field. You can gain valuable insight into your own career path by interviewing a mentor or industry leader you admire.
Mention mutual connections, such as shared alumni affiliations, or work you’ve done in their field when you contact your professional hero.
80. Spend quality time with your pet.
The only thing your pets have is you. Buy them a new toy, give them some extra cuddles, or take them to the park..
81. Organize a team-building activity.
Collaboration and trust can be fostered through team-building activities. It is also possible to improve motivation, foster strengths, and improve weaknesses. It is important that they have a clear purpose and are properly planned in order to be effective.
82. Invite family and friends to a gathering.
Often we don’t see our loved ones for days (or even months) due to our busy lives. Organize a get-together and spend some time together with your nearest and dearest.
83. Join a community that shares your interests online.
Whether it’s a reading club, fitness community, plant lover fan club, or something entirely different, there are all kinds of possibilities to connect with like-minded individuals. You’ll be able to share tips, motivate one another, and discuss your interests.
You can find volunteering opportunities near you by searching online. A volunteer experience at an animal shelter, food bank, or arts organization is one you won’t soon forget.
As a bonus, you might meet new professional connections or develop new skills.
85. Do a kind act at random.
Don’t ask for anything in return; just be good for the sake of being good. Whether it’s holding the doors for someone, picking up litter on the beach, or helping an elderly neighbor with their groceries, there are many ways to show your generosity.
Get Your Personal Life in Order
When you have nothing to do, there’s no better time to accomplish all the not particularly exciting but essential tasks in your personal life.
86. Go grocery shopping.
You can do your grocery shopping in the middle of the day when you are not busy. During your free time, go shopping for the week’s groceries.
87. Clean your house.
Have you already cleaned your desk or closet? Continue cleaning the rest of your house or office. An organized and clean environment will help you be more productive.
88. Make some home improvements.
Does your faucet leak? Is it time to paint your walls? Do you have a clogged garbage disposal? If it needs to be repaired, you can just get it done. Nevertheless, if you’re not sure how to fix it, you’re better off getting a professional to help. It’s helpful to work on a project while your professional is working away on home improvement work for you.
89. Batch cook.
Develop a meal plan and prepare a few meals in advance. Your daily routine will be simplified as a result. It’s also healthier and cheaper than ordering takeout.
90. Prepare your wardrobe for the upcoming season by updating it.
Consider shopping thoughtfully when buying clothing for the upcoming season. If you are able, buy things you will actually wear and choose brands that are ethical.
And, while you’re at it, donate or sell any clothing items that you no longer wear to make spare for your new purchases.
91. Detail your car.
You can save some money by detailing your car. As an added bonus, it will look new. Google some tips and hacks on how to do it yourself, then go to Amazon and purchase the products you need.
92. Use the principles of feng shui to rearrange your furniture.
In ancient China, feng shui was a system of traditional practices. The goal of the process is to improve the flow of energy within a space to enhance your well-being. If you want to refresh your space, look up feng shui principles and make some adjustments.
93. Organize your life in a binder.
Binders for storing important documents are called life binders. It includes paperwork, insurance policies, bills, passwords, and important contacts.
94. File your taxes.
Tax filing can be a tedious process. TurboTax, for example, makes filing your taxes relatively easy. As an added, you’ll get a head start instead of scrambling at the last minute.
95. Don’t put off those small tasks any longer.
Put an end to procrastination and complete those small tasks you’ve been putting off, like making your vet appointment, paying your bills, or sending a thank you note. The “I don’t have time, I’m too busy” game isn’t an excuse if you’re bored.
Taking time to relax is crucial for your physical and mental well-being.
96. Nap for a while.
Napping can cure a lot of things, including boredom. Get some sleep if you have some extra time. You’ll feel better both physically and mentally as a result.
97. Take the rest of the day off.
Sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it? In reality, sometimes all you need is a recharge. When you’re mentally and physically exhausted, you can’t focus and be productive.
98. Take advantage of color therapy.
Purchase an adult coloring book and start coloring away. You can use it to relieve stress and anxiety.
99. Rest your eyes.
You don’t have to take a nap to accomplish this. Even if it’s just for a moment, closing your eyes can relieve some of the stress caused by the computer screen.
100. Soak in a bubble bath.
For a little extra relaxation, add a few drops of essential oil to your bubble bath. You might want to bring a good book along with you if you don’t mind a little dampness.
101. Do nothing and let your mind wander.
It is okay to be bored from time to time. Often, boredom can spark creativity. As Gayatri Devi, a professor at the Pennsylvania State University, said: “Boredom is the last privilege of the free mind.“
Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!