When most people get bored, they just sit there and don’t know what to do. They watch the clock tick and the time pass by, and then several hours are gone.
But what if I tell you that when you really are feeling bored and don’t know what to do during your downtime, there are a ton of simple things you can do to feel (and really be) productive?
Here are 15 productive things to do when bored based on the principles of elimination, consumption, and work.
Start by removing things that are getting in the way of your motivation, productivity, or peace of mind. These things often take little time and can be done over a series of days or weeks to fill up those little spaces of boredom you find yourself in.
1. Eliminate Clutter
One of the reasons why 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 cleaning, but the task might also give you energy to move on to the next, bigger task.
This guide will help you make decluttering easier: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)
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 Stress
If your concerns are more emotional and are causing you stress or anxiety, take five or ten minutes to try a short meditation practice. You can stay on the couch or do it lying in bed, so it’s perfect for when you’re feeling a lack of motivation.
Interested in building motivation through meditation? There are plenty of theme-specific guided meditations and can be found easily through a quick Google search.
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, sending off an email, or checking your child’s homework for the evening.
There are so many sources of information at our fingertips on a daily basis. If you’re not sure what to do, try consuming some of this information through the various means at your disposal.
6. Consume Knowledge
When you’re bored, it’s an opportune time to learn. One of the most productive things to do is to learn anything on the internet. It could be watching YouTube tutorials, or learning facts and skills on any of these sites.
If you prefer audio to video, look up a podcast on a topic that interests you. You can sit back, relax, and still learn something when you’re bored.
7. Consume Data (or Maps)
Information isn’t the same as knowledge. Are there names, terms, dates, statistics, places, or something similar you need to ingrain in your head?
Studying data or maps is one of the most productive things you can do when you feel bored. This will also help you when you find a lull in any conversation—throw out one of those interesting facts you’ve recently learned to get the conversation moving again!
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. However, you can pick up some meaningful fiction books and start reading. Here are some recommendations to get you started: 30 Books That Everyone Should Read At Least Once In Their Lives.
9. Consume Non-fiction
Reading a biography about someone in your profession or an account of historical events relevant to your career can be an extremely productive thing to do when bored. Time can be well-spent watching, reading, or listening to something that inspires you:
- If you’re a book worm: 10 Best Inspirational Books That Can Change Your Life
- If you like videos and want to learn something: 20 Most Inspiring TED Talks of All Time That You Should Not Miss
- If you prefer to just listen: 15 Really Good Podcasts to Keep You Motivated and Reach Your Goals
10. Consume Culture
By consuming culture, not only are you enriching yourself, but you’re also trying a new experience. Taking part in activities you haven’t done before can be a very productive things to do when bored. If you don’t want to get out of the house, watch a documentary on other cultures. This will open your mind and offer you a different perspective on the world.
If you’re bored, that means you have time to get things done. While you may not be motivated to tackle a big task, try working on little things to keep moving.
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.
If you’re really having a hard time doing any work, spend your down time making a to-do list of everything you want to get done once you find some motivation.
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. Even if you’ve never tried these things before, give it a go! Even if your painting doesn’t look anything like the image in your head, you will have taken a step in the right direction and tried something new.
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 you’re bored are running, walking, biking, and lifting weights. Any kind of exercise is likely to free you from boredom. If these sound too taxing, try a slow yoga routine or some light stretching.
14. Work on Your Mental 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.
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.
Practicing mindfulness and meditation can calm and relax you. Other ways to tackle your mental and emotional health include meditation, journaling, talking with friends, or exercising. Pick the one that works for you and get started.
15. Work on Your Relationships
When you are bored and have some down time, consider calling a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, ask your mom or dad to grab a coffee with you, or see if your partner wants to go for a short walk. Even if it’s just a few minutes, the people you care about will appreciate the gesture, and you’ll feel better after spending time with someone you love.
More Productive Things to Do When Bored
- I’m Feeling Bored: 10 Ways to Conquer Boredom (and Feeling Too Busy)
- What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually)
- Why Your Free Time is Boring
Featured photo credit: Tetiana SHYSHKINA via unsplash.com