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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

15 Productive Things to Do When Bored (So Time Is Not Wasted)

15 Productive Things to Do When Bored (So Time Is Not Wasted)

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 told you that there are lots of simple, productive things to do when bored? You’ll start to feel motivated again, and you won’t have wasted hours of your life on staring at a wall.

Here are 15 productive things to do when you’re bored. Try some out and find which one brings the most motivation and joy to your life.

Productive Things to Do at Work

If you’re bored at work, try doing one of the following to stay productive.

1. Cut Down Distractions

Is there anything in particular that’s distracting you? If you’re looking for productive things to do when you’re bored, zone in on what specifically is slowing down your productivity.

Social media is a popular detractor, for example[1]. Sign out of your social networks so you can focus on things that actually matter.

Other distractions may include the small task your boss gave you that you haven’t done or the pile of emails waiting for your attention. Even if you only eliminate one distraction, it’ll be a step in the right direction.

2. Do 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 doctor’s appointment, sending off an email, or writing up that memo you’ve been avoiding.

3. Do a Bit of Work

This may sound obvious, but try to do some work when you’re bored at work! Work is probably the hardest thing to do when you’re bored, but it’s still possible to muscle through the lethargy and get things done.

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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 free time making a to-do list of everything you want to get done once you find some motivation. This may also help you set goals for the week. 

4. 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 by tapping into time management skills. You can double-check your schedule and send follow-up emails to create more time for things you care about.

By removing all of your stressors, you’ll be a lot more prolific.

If you’re not sure what you’re concerned about, try to use some down time to do a few minutes of meditation at your desk. It’ll create the space in your mind to help you figure out what’s worrying you.

Productive Things to Do at Home

If you’re at home, there are tons of productive things that help you be productive. Try any of the following to avoid wasting time.

1. Declutter a Room

One of the reasons why you’re not as productive as you want may be that you have too much clutter.

Some productive things to do include tidying up your desk, removing books you’ll never read from your bookshelf, or throwing out the excess clothing you haven’t worn in three years. Pick a room and get started!

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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. Decrease 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.

Another easy way to decrease stress is to go for a short walk. Being in nature will do wonders for your mood, so take time to get outside. One study specifically found that contact with nature boosted an appreciation of humor, as well as more interest in personal development[2]

3. Learn Something

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 through TED Talks.

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.

You can even tackle something big and try to learn a new language (or at least get started). Look up a few new words and you may find you get motivated to keep going!

4. Dig Into Data

Information isn’t the same as knowledge. Are there names, terms, dates, statistics, places, or something similar you need to ingrain in your head?

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Studying data or maps is one of the most productive things you can do when bored. This will also help you when you find a lull in any conversation—throw out one of those interesting trivia facts you’ve recently learned to get the conversation moving again!

5. Read 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.

Fiction also serves the purpose of taking you out of your own world for a while. You can dive into a fantasy world or a mystery and get lost, forgetting about your boredom completely.

If you’re not sure what to read, check out this list: 30 Books That Everyone Should Read At Least Once In Their Lives.

6. Read Non-Fiction

Reading a biography about someone in your profession or an account of historical events relevant to your career can be one of the best productive things to do when you’re bored. Time can be well-spent watching, reading, or listening to something that inspires you.

Non-fiction also includes self-help books. If you find you have a general lack of motivation in life, there are tons of books to help with this. What to learn to be more mindful? Find a book on that topic. The possibilities are endless!

7. Try Something New

If you take the time to find an activity you’ve never tried, you’ll be learning more about cultural differences and yourself. These activities can be very productive.

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.

8. Try Being Artistic

If you don’t feel like doing something career-related, try something artistic! Studies have shown that engaging in artistic past times improves well-being and even has a positive effect on those with dementia and Alzheimer’s[3]

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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.

If you prefer to stay on the couch, try writing a poem or knitting. There are tons of great ideas to get you started.

9. Get Some Exercise

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 and improve your physical health. If these sound too taxing, try a slow yoga routine or some light stretching.

Whatever you do, just try to stay active to get your brain back on track!

10. Give Some Attention to 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.

Learning mindfulness can bring productive things to do in life.

    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.

    11. Hang out With Friends or Family

    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, 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

    Featured photo credit: Tetiana SHYSHKINA via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Matt OKeefe

    Matt is a marketer and writer who shares about lifestyle and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on November 27, 2020

    15 Office Design Tricks That Will Increase Your Productivity at Work

    15 Office Design Tricks That Will Increase Your Productivity at Work

    Where you work has an enormous impact on how you work – on your ability to focus (and stay focused) and your overall ability to be productive. That means the design of your office, whether you work at home or in a larger company environment, is of supreme importance. This isn’t just about Feng Shui, this is about producing results and getting things done.

    According to studies done on workplace and productivity, the most significant factor in determining an employee’s ability to focus is their physical environment. In fact, it’s been said that a well-designed office can increase your productivity about 20%. However, despite the studies and statistics, nearly half of the employers interviewed don’t consider workplace design a good business investment.

    So what is a productivity hack to do? What if you work in an environment that doesn’t promote focus?

    Check these 15 factors and make changes where you can. A little adjustment can produce a lot of impact.

    Lighting

    Lighting is one of the most important factors in staying focused and feeling inspired to create, yet it’s one of the most overlooked and least invested in. Bad lighting can cause fatigue, eyestrain, headaches and overall irritability. Dark spaces can actually produce depression.

    If you work in a company office:
    You probably have no control over your general lighting so bring in your own, if need be. Consider using natural light bulbs or a light therapy device.

    If you work from a home office:
    Open the windows and doors and let natural light in. Using lamps in a variety of areas for cloudy days or when it’s dark.

    Chair and Table

    If you’ve ever sat at a desk to do work but found yourself adjusting, stretching and moving too often to actually stay focused, then you’re aware of the importance of having a correctly fitted table and chair. In today’s work environment where so many of us are sitting for most of our day, it is critical that your throne fits your body probably.

    Consider these quick ergonomic checks:

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    • Eyes 24-36 inches from the computer screen. The top of the monitor should be below or at eye-level.
    • Feet should be on a foot rest or resting on the floor.
    • A slightly reclined chair posture is best to reduce pressure on your spine and minimize lower back pain.

    If you work in a company office:
    Ask for an adjustable chair. Add pillows for your lower back or bum, if you need it. Many companies will also provide risers for computers to adjust the height of your computer screen (and a separate keyboard to keep your hands and wrists in the ideal position)

    If you work from a home office:
    Invest in a decent chair or at least use a few pillows to make the chair more comfortable. If the table is too high, add pillows to your chair. If it is too low, consider buying leg risers from your local hardware store and using books beneath your computer to raise the screen. Use a separate keyboard.

    Clutter

    Your mama was right, it’s important to clean up your room. Clutter may help the creative mind create, but it isn’t necessarily helpful for focus and productivity.

    If you work from a company office: While you can’t control the cleanliness of the office at large, do keep your own environment around you clean. Spend 10 minutes every morning or evening making sure things are put away, filed, organized and generally out of sight so you’re not distracted by it later.

    If you work from a home office: Because you work from home, the entire house or apartment is potential for distraction. If you can afford it, hire a professional cleaning service to keep your home clean. If not, schedule a specific day and time to clean your home. Commit to doing daily pickup at a specific time. And spend at least 10 minutes every day making sure your office  is organized and tidy.

    Room Color

    The colors around us all have an effect on our moods and brain function. It evokes both a physical and emotional response. So choosing the right colors for your work space has the ability to affect your productivity. For instance, blue has been said to illicit productivity. Mind you, too much of anything can be overwhelming, even color.

    If you work from a company office: Bring in items from home that are a certain color that inspire you and keep you focused. Use postcards, magazine cutouts, even just blocks of color will do.

    If you work from a home office: If you work from home, you have much more control over the colors around you. Consider repainting a wall, adding color to the table you work at, or hanging pictures that are dominated by a specific color.

    Room Temperature

    Most offices keep their temperatures around 65-68 Fahrenheit but it turns out that this might not be good for productivity. Warmer rooms actually make people more productive.

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    If you work from a company office: Most offices are regulated by somebody else, so bring a space heater, sweaters and blankets to your work space.

    If you work from a home office: Depending on the season, open the windows or adjust the heat or a/c so that you’re more comfortable and warm. Pile on the sweaters in the winter or add a space heater to your feet.

    Room Scents

    Like the color of the space you work in, our sense of smell can powerfully affect our mood, mindset and thus our productivity. Consider adding scents to your work space to jar your mind into focus when you start to notice yourself drifting off.

    Try using these scents to stay focused:

    • Pine – Increases alertness
    • Cinnamon – Improves focus
    • Lavender – Helps to relax you during a stressful work day
    • Peppermint – Lifts your mood
    • Citrus (any) – Wakes you up  and lifts your spirits

    If you work from a company office: Most people will not appreciate added scents to their work environment so you’ll need to keep it subtle. Keep essential oils in your bag or drawer and when you’re in need of a boost put a few drops on a handkerchief or cotton ball.

    If you work from a home office: Use candles, incense or essential oils. You can also simmer herbs and spices in the kitchen to fill your home with a warm scent.

    Noise Level

    The noise level in a work environment can vary greatly depending on the size of the team you work with, the office design and company culture. But make no mistake, the noise around you affects your ability to stay on task. Not only can it be distracting, it can also raise stress levels making your ability to sustain productivity far more difficult.

    If you work from a company office: Bring in noise cancellation headphones and use music services like Spotify or Songza and choose concentration boosting sounds, like white noise.  Find out if your office offers quiet work spaces for times when you need the utmost focus.

    If you work from a home office: Sometimes the complete quiet can be as distracting as an office. Use a service like Coffivity to mimic the noise of a coffee shop, which has been said to help with concentration.

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    Air Quality

    Air quality can drastically affect our ability to focus and think clearly. Get this: OSHA estimates that the total annual cost of poor air quality in office environments costs employers $15 billion “due to worker inefficiency and sick leave.” Yeah, it’s serious business.

    If you work from a company office: Talk to them about installing air filters. If there is a way to bring in fresh air through windows or doors, arrange to have them opened for at least a portion of the day. If nothing else, get a personal air filter to have on your desk or nearby.

    Also, get a plant (or better yet, have the company buy and use more plants in the office!). Plants are great at filtering the air and providing clean, purified oxygen.

    If you work from a home office: Open windows and doors and let in the fresh air. Install an air filter or get a portable air filter to keep near your desk. And, yes, you too should get a plant.

    Different Spaces

    If you can manage it, give yourself more than one space to work from. Putting yourself in a new space with different qualities and things to look at quite literally shifts your brain and helps you stay focused.

    If you work from a company office: Many offices offer a variety of environments to work from: your personal space, lobbies, break out rooms, conference rooms, kitchens and eating areas and, if you’re lucky, they also provide lounge areas. Use all these spaces to vary your routine. Make sure your supervisor knows so they don’t think you’re slacking off and know tat you’re actually getting more done!

    If you work from a home office: If you work at a desk, add a comfortable couch or chair to the room. If your space is less flexible or ultra tiny, think about more creative ways to change your work space. Rotate the pictures on your walls every couple of days. Sit on the other side of your desk. Get a lamp and multiple colored bulbs. Or go work at a café, the library or in a park.

    Organization of People

    Most employers organize employees around job function or in specific divisions. Instead, studies show that people are more creative and productive when they are sitting with colleagues that share the same goal or client. Not only are you able to get answers and generate solutions quicker, but because you’re directly accountable to the people around you, you’re more likely to stay on task and productive.

    If you work from a company office: Ask your employer if you can experiment by clustering your group together in a conference room for a day or a week. Get feedback from everybody involved. Show the results. If your company won’t make permanent adjustments, perhaps they’ll allow you to work together a couple times a week when the conference room or lounge area is free.

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    If you work from a home office: This is a little bit more difficult because when you work at home you’re not with colleagues. You can recreate a similar space digitally, however. Create a Skype group and have everyone logged in during working hours. You can do morning accountability and check-ins while remaining available for questions, solution-finding and general banter that promotes creativity.

    Idea Storage

    Ever been working hard when you’re suddenly distracted by a great idea? At first you try to push it away, but then the next thing you know you’re 20 pages deep into an online search on the topic. Ideas should be encouraged and cultivated, but when they come right in the middle of another task it can be incredibly distracting. Instead, create a place to store your ideas that’s easily accessed from your work space.

    For both a company and home office: Keep pads of paper around, have a chalk wall, get a white board – when you have a spark of inspiration write it down right away to get it out of your head then return to the task at hand. Then, at the end of the day or when you have free time, collect all the ideas and review them. With a little time and space you can better decide if it’s worth pursuing or better to leave it on the back-burner.

    Refreshment

    Our brain needs nourishment to keep going, especially when we’re driving hard and staying focused. You can let a rumbling stomach go on for only so long before the brain shuts down. Assuming your different is like wanting your car to keep driving without having to stop and fill it with gas. A novel idea, but not realistic.

    If you work from a company office: Pre-make snacks for the day and/or week. Or, bring in prepackaged snacks. Keep in mind that junk food has properties of diminishing returns so if you’re buying your food prepackaged think nuts, fruit, unsweetened yogurts, and hummus and crackers. Likely, your company provides coffee, tea and water so you don’t have to worry about supplying that for yourself.

    If you work from a home office: If you work from home, this can be a key distraction. Try to reduce the number of times you walk into the kitchen each day. To do this, keep quick and   easy snacks pre-made or prepackaged ready and near your desk. Keep a water bottle nearby. And consider bringing a kettle into your office and stocking tea and coffee so you’re   not tempted to wander around the house and lose time poking through the pantry.

    Bring in Nature

    We are biological creatures, first and foremost. So we are deeply affected by our access to (or lack of) the natural world. It’s important for our psychological and physiological functioning, which directly affects our ability to be productive.

    If you work from a company office: If you don’t have windows in or near your work space, bring in pictures of the outdoor world. Keep a picture of something natural as your screensaver and/or desktop wallpaper. Take walks outdoors at lunch or in between major tasks. Just a few minutes outside in the fresh air and sunshine can boost our mood and shake out the doldrums. Be sure to add a plant to your desk, too!

    If you work from a home office: Keep the shades open and, if you can, let in fresh air. If you can’t see anything natural out of your window, keep pictures of the natural world as your screensaver and/or desktop wallpaper. Take walks. Or, just step outside and put your feet on the ground. Put plants in your office – research shows that having live plants in your office makes you more productive, happier and less stressed.

    Digital Space

    For most people, our primary work is housed within our laptops and our physical environment simply the backdrop to our digital lives. Make sure your computer has software that helps you sculpt the digital environment that best elicits productivity. Use focus apps like this one or this to decrease distractions. Or design your day using intervals with an app like this one to keep you at your peak focus throughout the day.

    Featured photo credit: Phil Desforges via unsplash.com

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