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

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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.

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    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 January 13, 2022

    How to Use Travel Time Effectively

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    How to Use Travel Time Effectively

    Most of us associate travel and time with what we’re going to do one we get to our destination. Planning and mapping out what to do once you arrive can certainly make for a more pleasurable vacation, but there are things you can do while you are on your way that can make it even better.

    Sure, you can plan for the things you’re going to do on your vacation while you are travelling en route – but what about making use of that time for other things that you don’t usually do when you’re at home? You don’t need to have your gadgets with you to do it, and you can really connect with yourself if you take the time to manage your life while heading towards your vacation destination.

    Here are some great tips to help you with your time management while you travel, some of which are more conventional than others. Nonetheless, you can find out what works best for you and apply them accordingly depending on when and how you are travelling.

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    1. Take Your Time Getting There

    As I write this, I’m on a flight to San Francisco. Flying is the fastest way to get from place to place, and for many people it’s really the only way to travel.

    But I’ve often taken the train or ferry on trips so that I have extra time without distraction to get more done. I’m not worrying about navigation or lack of space to do what I want to do. Instead I’m able to focus on getting stuff done during the time I’ve got without feeling rushed. For example, when I took the train from Vancouver to Portland, it was an eight hour trip and I managed to get a ton of writing done and closed a lot of open loops. It also was less expensive than flying, which was a bonus.

    Sometimes taking the long way to get somewhere on vacation can be the best thing for you to get somewhere with your life.

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    2. Go Gadget-Free

    This is going to be a tough one for a lot of you. But why do you need to bring your gadgets with you when you go on vacation? It isn’t be a bad idea to leave all but one of them behind, and only pull out that one when you absolutely need to do so. In some countries, you’d be wise to be discreet with them anyway since flaunting them in front of those that are less fortunate than you isn’t a good practice. While it may not seem like flaunting to you, in different cultures it can definitely come across that way.

    If you can’t go gadget-free, then at least go Internet-free. If you use a task management app that requires syncing across your multiple devices to be effective, remember that if you only have the one device with you then it can be the “master device” for the time being and will store your data locally anyway. Just sync up when you get home.

    3. Reflect and Prepare

    Finally, going on any sort of excursion gives you the perfect opportunity to reflect on where you’ve been. The fact you have removed yourself from where you usually are can give you a perspective that you simply can’t get when you’re at home. You may want to journal your thoughts during this time – and by taking more time to get to your destination you’ll have more time to dig deeper into it.

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    After a period of reflection – however long that happens to be – you can then begin to not only prepare for the rest of your travels, you can prepare for the rest of what happens afterward. The reflection period is important, though. You need to really know where you’ve been in order to properly look at where you want to be. Time away from things gives you that chance.

    Conclusion

    Traveling isn’t always about where you’re going and how quickly you can get there. In fact, it’s rarely about that at all.

    More often it’s where you’re at in your head that will dictate how much you benefit from traveling. So don’t just go somewhere fast. Instead, take your time on the way there and take the time to connect with not only where you are but who are while you’re there.

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    If you do that, you’ll have a better chance to be who you want to be when you leave.

    Featured photo credit: bruce mars via unsplash.com

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