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When You’re Bored, Do These 15 Productive Things

When You’re Bored, Do These 15 Productive Things

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Matt OKeefe

Freelance Writer, Marketer

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How to Fight Information Overload

How to Fight Information Overload

Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

What you need to do is focus on these 4 steps:

  1. Set your goals.
  2. Decide whether you really need the information.
  3. Consume only the minimal effective dose.
  4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming too much information.

But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

The Nature of the Problem

The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem. This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

When we see some half-baked blog post we don’t even consider reading it, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it. We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

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No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on. The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control. Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it. But first…

Why information overload is bad

It stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here. When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work, or enjoy your passion.

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So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with your goals.

1. Set your goals

If you don’t have your goals put in place you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

2. What to do when facing new information

Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans then skip it. You don’t need it.

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If it does then it’s time for another question. Will you be able to put this information into action immediately? Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks? Or is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away? If the information is not actionable in a day or two (!) then skip it. (You’ll forget about it anyway.)

And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant. Self-control comes handy too … it’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future then SKIP IT.

3. Minimal Effective Dose

There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour Body,Tim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs. Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life. Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming more information

Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

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Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

In Closing

As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance. I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over. I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

Feel free to shoot me a comment below and share your own story of fighting information overload. What are you doing to keep it from sabotaging your life?

(Photo credit: Businessman with a Lot of Discarded Paper via Shutterstock)

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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