No matter the type of work you do or how busy your work life is, there are pockets of time throughout the day you simply get bored at work or on your day off. Feeling bored is okay, and even normal. In fact, an article in Psychology Today shares research showing 90 percent of American adults experience boredom at some point in their daily lives, as do 91- to 98 percent of youth.
Andreas Elpidorou, Philosophy Professor at the University of Louisville comments that “boredom is both a warning that we are not doing what we want to be doing and a ‘push’ that motivates us to switch goals and projects.”
Experts argue that some of the factors that contribute to boredom at work include:
- Lack of flow
- Lack of autonomy
- Lack of self-awareness
- Being overqualified
- Doing tasks that don’t align with your interests
How Workers Spend Time at Work
Did you know that time wasting is a huge problem in the workplace? People do all sorts of things when they are bored that aren’t work-related, and this costs businesses millions of dollars in losses every year.
To put it in perspective, check out these infographics regarding time wasting in the workplace:
What to Do When Bored at Work or Home
Boredom has a way of taking over your mind and body and can lead you to make bad decisions like sleeping on the job, checking out your social media, shopping online, or watching your favorite show.
The good news is that boredom doesn’t have to be a negative thing. You can harness it and use that time to do something productive. So, if you find yourself bored at work or home, see it as a “call to action”. That is, use your boredom to make a change in your life or do something challenging.
In this list of productive things to do when bored, we’ve categorized the activities to suit your current state of life.
11 Productive Things to Do When Bored at Work
1. Make it All About Emails
I) Unsubscribe from emails you no longer find useful
You probably have hundreds or even thousands of unread emails in your inbox. Chances are, 80 percent of those emails are from newsletters you signed up for ages ago but no longer read them. If you don’t read them, you don’t need them – it’s as simple as that.
Save yourself the extra scrolling time (and the risk of missing important emails) by unsubscribing to newsletters you no longer want to receive.
Stressed about unsubscribing from these emails? Don’t be. You can bulk unsubscribe using a tool like UnrollMe. It’s free and comes with cool features like “Roll-up”, which combines email subscriptions into a single email.
II) Clean out your spam folder
Sometimes, legitimate emails end up in your spam folder, and unless you check, you’ll miss out on crucial personal and work stuff. If you’re unable to focus on tough tasks, don’t go down the ‘boredom’ lane. Use this time to check your spam folder and filter junk emails out.
III) Write thank you emails
Have co-workers, clients, or customers you appreciate? Shoot them a quick “Thank you” email to show your appreciation. They will be thrilled, and such a small and painless gesture can do wonders for your customer relationship, as well as in improving team camaraderie.
2. Take a Walk
Whether you work from home or from a traditional office, taking a stroll when feeling bored can help your body and mind get the much-needed change of surroundings. Nature walks, in particular, have been found to improve your mental and physical health.
If you’re in an urban area, take a walk in the nearest park and enjoy the fresh air and change of scenery. Your body and brain will thank you! Just don’t take the phone with you.
3. Invite Another Bored Colleague to a Coffee Chat
Or grab a coffee with the CEO. Meeting your coworkers or even your CEO over a cup of coffee can help build strong work relationships. It’s especially important for remote workers who no longer have water cooler chit chat or lunch break gossip for their social fix.
Interacting with colleagues or your boss can also help you discover more about the company and learn how you can improve certain aspects of your work.
4. Clean Up Your Computer Desktop
Is your desktop filled with old files, folders, unimportant images, and other junk? How about giving it a little tidying up? A cluttered desktop can distract and slow you down. Not to mention, interrupting smooth workflow since it makes finding important files or shortcuts in all the clutter tedious.
In that same spirit, spice up your computer desktop. Get creative with your desktop by adding a funny background image or arranging desktop icons in a fun and creative way, like around a Milky Way image. While this may not seem strictly productive, the fact is, you stare at your desktop most of the time. Making it a source of your smile or laughs can make your days worthwhile. Don’t you agree?
5. Update Your Passwords
Regardless of where you work nowadays, most of your work must be accomplished virtually. This makes data security a top priority. When bored, consider making your passwords less predictable and updating all your passwords. You don’t want hackers intruding, do you?
6. Stay Current on Industry News
Usually, the first thing people do when they get bored at work is to browse the web. Why not make it productive by checking out blogs or news sites related to your industry? Just be sure to pick out articles that are fun and interesting to read.
7. Do Some Job Hunting
If you’re constantly feeling bored at work, it could be a sign you’ve become stagnant in your career, and need a new challenge. Most people start out passionate about their jobs, but this enthusiasm fades with time due to many reasons, including micromanagement, toxic workplace culture, and lack of recognition and rewards.
Instead of staying at that job you find boring just because you feel comfortable, you’ll feel more enthusiastic and fulfilled if you land a job that’s more challenging. A company with excellent work culture, employee recognition, and reward programs will not only motivate you but also keep you excited at your job.
8. Learn a New Skill
What’s that one skill you’ve always wanted to learn? Is it coding or graphic design? The next time you’re bored at work in the office, find a resource that teaches about that specific skill. It could be a free Udemy or Coursera course or a YouTube video.
9. Ask for New Projects
Ever thought of being proactive at work? Well, this might be your chance to ask for new projects or challenges from your project manager or boss. Kill that boredom by crafting an email explaining that you’re up for a challenge. A great boss will welcome the idea of creativity and your initiative to develop new skills.
10. Offer Help to Colleagues
Team collaboration is essential for workplace productivity, and what better way to show this than by offering to help colleagues? Some may be swamped with their work and would appreciate a helping hand.
Most people wait until the end of the year to perform a self-assessment. But you don’t have to wait that long. You can do it more often, say monthly, to stay ahead of your performance improvement tactics. When things are slow at work, write a self-assessment and learn where you can improve.
Pro Tip: Tired of not knowing where your time goes at work? Try Traqq, a time tracking app that helps you track your time and monitor your performance levels. Traqq exposes areas of weakness in your schedule and enables you to improve your time management skills, so you can become more productive.
6 Productive Things to Do on a Day Off
So, it’s your day off, maybe a weekend, and you’re feeling bored to death? Don’t sweat it. Here is a list of productive things to do at home on your day off.
12. Clean Up Your Physical Workspace
Working from home and feeling bored on your day off? Consider sprucing up your home office. You probably spend more than six hours each day on your desk, and keeping it tidy and organized makes it easier for your mind. Sort and organize files, arrange those sticky notes, and get rid of things you don’t need or will never use, like a jammed stapler.
13. Review Your Spending
Times are hard, and every penny you manage to save can go a long way in easing your financial strain. If you’re at home bored, use this time to manage your finances. For instance, review your credit card statements to get a clear picture of your spending and make necessary changes.
In addition, research various money-saving tips and start applying them.
14. Prepare Your Weekly Grocery List
It’s not every day you get time to go grocery shopping. A day off gives you the perfect opportunity to stock up your pantry and fridge. Creating this list when you have the time ensures you include everything on the list and do all the shopping at once. This will save you unnecessary trips to the grocery store in the middle of the week.
15. Tend to Your Plants
If you love nature and have home office plants to inspire your work days, you can use your day off to show them some TLC. Plants make us happy, and watching them bloom gives us satisfaction. Take care of your plants by watering them, pruning them, and even talking to them!
16. Get Your Groove on
Bored at home on your day off? Music will elevate your mood and keep you fit. Put on your favorite music, get up, and dance! After all, science has proven that music heals the soul.
17. Wash Off Your Boredom, Literally
Did you know that taking a bath or shower can be therapeutic, especially when tired and bored? So, fill that tub up, add some bath salt, and soak in to soothe and relax your body and mind.
5 Productive Things to Do When Bored on a Plane, Bus, or Train
Do you wonder what you can do to pass the time and help shorten the time of your travel? Here are some top fun ideas:
18. Watch a TED Talk
TED Talks are educational and inspirational talks from experts covering a diverse range of topics. These short lectures are informative and entertaining, and a great way to pass your time productively when traveling. Here are some popular TED talks to check out!
19. Listen to a Podcast
Like TED Talks, podcasts cover a wide range of topics to inspire you and keep you informed. The best part is that you can listen to podcasts anywhere and anytime, including on a plane, train, or bus.
20. Read a Book
Reading is enlightening, and the more books you read, the more enlightened you become. So, instead of staring out the window or listening to other passengers snoring, put on your noise-canceling headphones, and read a book you find interesting.
And thanks to technology, you no longer need to carry a hard copy. A site like Open Library offers digital lending, and all you need is a library card that you can get by simply providing an email address.
21. Update Your LinkedIn Profile and Make New Connections
Virtual networking platforms like LinkedIn can be beneficial to your professional development and career. It helps you build valuable relationships with people in your industry.
If it’s been long since you updated your LinkedIn profile, now you have a productive activity to do when bored at home.
22. Organize Your Schedule
You can spend your day off reviewing your upcoming schedule and plan your schedule up to a week or month. If you’ve had issues with your schedule, now is the perfect time to rectify them.
5 Productive Things to Do When Bored in Quarantine
23. Download a Networking App
Living in quarantine, isolated, can be hard and can even lead to depression, which will only make the situation worse. You can make your time in quarantine more productive and engaging by networking.
Networking connects you to professionals that share your interests, enabling you to stay on top of your game. Reaching out to friends and professionals to share ideas and discuss what’s happening in the business world exposes you to opportunities that could advance your career.
Thanks to technology, you can network in the comfort of your home via apps like:
- Bumble Bizz
- Facebook Groups
24. Take an Online Class
Just because you can’t go back to work doesn’t mean you can’t take that opportunity to advance your skills. Go on and take that leadership, management, or baking class. You have all the time to complete several online classes and get certified.
25. Revisit Your Long-Term Career Goals
Being locked up in quarantine with no friends or family to visit is a recipe for boredom. Why not spend that time pondering where you want to be in two, three, or five years? Which goals have you already achieved, and which ones are pending? Use this time to revisit your career goals and define them more clearly.
26. Eat Healthy Meals
Hydration is crucial, more so when you’re not feeling well. Water refreshes and keeps you healthy. On the same note, eat healthy snacks and food. Avoid junk, sugary, salty, and processed foods and instead stick to healthier options recommended by your doctor.
27. Start a Garden
What better way to wait out a quarantine than start a garden in your backyard? Research plants that do well in your area and prepare a spot in your yard. Simple farming won’t require much equipment or money – you can make do with what you already have.
6 Productive Things You Can Do When Bored at a Party
Bored at a party? Here’s a list of fun things you can do to survive the night:
- Call a friend or family to catch up
- Strike a conversation with new people
- Reply to emails
- Organize exciting games like truth or dare, beer pong, or a drinking game
- Observe other people at the party
- Check out your social media, stream funny cat videos, download a new game from the app store or plug in your earphones and listen to music you actually enjoy
The list of productive things to do when bored is endless. However, not all of them will work for you. Experiment with a few to see what works best for you.
And when working, don’t forget to track your time. This ensures you stay on top of your schedule and take the necessary breaks. Otherwise, you risk getting burnt out, giving boredom a real chance to creep in.