There are a lot of productive things to do when bored. On Quora, user Visakan Veerasamy proposes the use of elimination. I took that theory one step further, expanding to also include two other types of activity. Here are fifteen productive things to do when bored based on the principles of elimination, consumption and work.

1. Eliminate clutter

One of the reasons you’re not as prolific as you want, may be that you have too much clutter. Productive things to do when bored include tidying up your desk, removing books you’ll never read from your bookshelf and deleting the smartphone apps you never use. Not only will you have done some housecleaning, the task might also give you energy to move on to the next, bigger task.

2. Eliminate distractions

Is there anything in particular that’s distracting you? If you’re looking for productive things to do when bored, zone in on what specifically is slowing down your productivity. Social media is a popular detractor, for example. Sign out of your social networks so you can focus on things that actually matter.

3. Eliminate concerns

Are you worried about something? Is that concern getting in the way of your productivity? Deal with the problems that are keeping you from spending your time as well as you should. Examples include tasks like double-checking your schedule and sending follow-up emails. By removing all of your stressors, you’ll be a lot more prolific.

4. Eliminate the unnecessary

There are a lot of things in our lives that might be nice, but are distractions to our productivity because they’re not necessary. Find out what those things are and remove them from your place of work.

5. Eliminate quick tasks

Even if you don’t have enough energy for a big task, you might have enough to do a small one. Check off items on your to-do list that can be done quickly like making a phone call or sending off an email.

6. Consume knowledge

When you’re bored is an opportune time to learn. Productive things to do when bored might be to read how-to books or watch YouTube tutorials.

7. Consume data

Information isn’t the same as knowledge. Are there names, terms, dates, statistics or something similar you need to ingrain in your head? Studying data is one of the most productive things you can do when bored.

8. Consume fiction

You have to be careful with this one; you can’t just watch an episode of your favorite TV show and call the time you spent productive. But time can be well-spent watching or reading or listening to something that inspires you.

9. Consume non-fiction

Non-fiction is less risky for your productivity than fiction, but it’s also a treacherous path. Still, reading a biography about someone in your profession or an account of historical events relevant to your career can be extremely productive things to do when bored.

10. Consume culture

By consuming culture not only are you enriching yourself; you’re also trying a new experience. Taking part in activities you haven’t done before can be very productive things to do when bored.

11. Work on your work

Work is probably the hardest thing to do when bored, but it’s still possible to muscle through the lethargy and get things done. If you’re unmotivated, remind yourself that your time best spent is doing the work that pays your income. A cash incentive goes a long way towards productivity.

12. Work on your craft

If you don’t feel like doing something career-related, try something artistic! Creative activities like painting or creative writing could be the perfect productive things to do when bored.

13. Work on your physical health

If you don’t have a lot of energy to do something mental, hopefully you at least have the energy to partake in a physical activity. Some productive things to do when bored are running, walking, biking and lifting weights. Any kind of exercise is likely to free you from boredom.

14. Work on your emotional health

Is there a personal issue that’s making it hard for you to be interested in anything? If so, address it. You’ll find productivity a whole lot easier.

15. Work on your mental health

Boredom is often in reality something akin to anxiety or depression. Try doing mental exercises that help you focus on positive experiences and mindfulness to alleviate you of what you’re perceiving as boredom. A few simple steps towards improving your mental health can go a long way, not only towards productivity but your happiness in general.

Featured photo credit: Ed Suominen via flickr.com

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