Last weekend was cool and rainy. I was ahead of my work, and I was trapped inside. Suffice to say; I got a little restless because I was bored with a capital B.
Here’s the thing though, being a little bored is not always a terrible position to be in. Research shows that boredom has the ability to inspire creativity. And, because boredom gives us a brief escape from the daily grind — it’s good for your mental health.
The catch? You have to get bored the right way. If that’s confusing, then there are 25 productive things that you can try the next time boredom strikes.
1. Plan way ahead.
If you want to be productive, then you need to make a plan. Of course, this isn’t always something that you have the time to do. But, if you ever feel restless between meetings or on a dreary Sunday, it’s one of the best ways to kill some time.
In my opinion, this should be a weekly activity. However, don’t be afraid to make plans for the next month or even year. It may sound overwhelming. But, this will let you book your priorities so far in advance that you’ll never have to worry about conflicts.
What’s more, it’s an effective way for you to get a head start on upcoming activities. You can also block-out some me-time in advance or identity tasks that can be assigned to others. It’s a win-win.
2. Tidy up your home or workspace.
Some people thrive when a mess surrounds them. But, for most of this isn’t true. In fact, clutter can be distracting and stressful.
Since you have some availability, pick an area and tidy it up. For example, if you only have a couple of minutes, throw the trash on your desktop, and file important documents. If you have nothing to do this weekend, you could organize your kitchen or clean out your bedroom closet.
3. Organize/clean your computer, phone, or tablet.
Just like your home and workplace, your electronics also have to be periodically be cleaned and organized. Some suggestions would be to remove apps that you no longer use, organizing your electronic files, and clearing your cache. You could also make sure that your contacts are up to date and backup any relevant digital data.
4. Clear out inbox.
If you don’t keep your inbox in-check, it can become so out-of-control that it can kill your productivity. Just think about the time you waste searching for important messages or trying to prevent it from interfering with your workflow.
Right now is the perfect time to tame your inbox. Go through and clear out your spam and unsubscribe to newsletters you aren’ reading. And, while you’re at it, set up filters and unify accounts.
5. Pursue a hobby.
Hobbies aren’t just fun. They can also help you professionally. Research shows that hobbies spark creativity, rescue stress, and improve your physical health. As if that weren’t enough, those with hobbies are more satisfied with their jobs and have a lower likelihood of burning out.
Just keep in mind that depending on where you’re at, you might have to be flexible. For instance, if you’re at home, then baking, gardening, homebrewing, or airplane modeling isn’t a problem. But, you probably can’t do them at your workplace, so you’ll have to opt for hobbies like writing, drawing, or coding.
And, who knows? Maybe your hobby can become a new business venture — or at least a way to earn a passive income.
I love to read. I have since I was a wee lad. And, it turns out that it’s one of the best activities to enjoy.
Reading has been found to strengthen your brain, vocabulary, and ability to emphasize. It can also reduce stress and bolster both focus and analytical skills. So, instead of complaining that you don’t have time to read, pick-up a book the next time you’re bored.
7. Play around on Spotify.
I use Spotify. But, if you’re using a different app like Apple Music, the idea is the same. Listen to educational or inspiring podcasts. Or create various playlists for activities like exercise or to drown out background noise.
I’ve also made a little game with one of my friends, where we create different playlists of our favorite songs and podcasts. Besides giving us something to talk about, it’s a great way to discover new auditory experiences.
8. Watch a TED Talk.
What’s not to love about TED Talks? They’re informative, motivational, and are always under 20-minutes. In my opinion, when you have some time to spare, this is the best way to spend it.
9. Compose a learning bucket list.
I’ve come across many lists that suggest when you’re bored; you learn something new. Obviously, that’s an excellent use of your downtime. The thing is, what exactly are you going to learn?
I might be an anomaly here. But, I’m not the type of person to say, “I’m bored. I think I’ll learn how to speak Italian today.” I’m more likely to wander around aimlessly until I bump into something.
To prevent, I have a list of things that I always wanted to learn. The next time I’m looking for something to do, I can refer to the list. To create your own learning bucket list, think about anything you’ve always wanted to know or try.
10. Practice your current skills.
Becoming an expert in your field can be extremely beneficial. It makes you more marketable. And you’ll be able to work smarter and more easily.
Whether if it’s keeping up with the latest industry trends, attending an online class, or working with a mentor, sharpen your ax.
11. Try something new.
Are you just sitting around the house? Why not hop in the car and try out something like geocaching or exploring a different part of town? Did you work up an appetite? Order dinner from a restaurant you’ve never patronized before.
When you try something new, you open yourself up to new opportunities and perspectives. And it forces you outside of your comfort zone.
12. Go for a stroll.
Spending time outside is one of my favorite activities. In fact, I cherish my daily walks with my dog.
Besides being good for us physically, it’s been found that walking can increase creativity levels. Additionally, being outside makes you happier, relieves stress, improves concentration, and boosts your energy.
Journaling is hands down one of the best things to do for your mental health. After all, it can help you manage anxiety, reduce stress, and cope with depression. Moreover, journaling can help you prioritize and solve problems, track your triggers, and practice gratitude.
14. Play a brain game.
Unlike Trix, games aren’t just for kids. In fact, chess, Sudoku, crossword puzzles, and even certain video games are worth your time. Why? They’re able to boost your mental focus and fitness.
Meditation is one of the most effective ways to help put your mind at ease. It can also improve your focus. The reason for both is that when you meditate, you’re brought back into the present.
Even better? It takes just 5-minutes of meditation to change your life. And, it can be done wherever you’re at.
16. Update your resume/online profiles.
When was the last time you updated your resume or online profiles? If you can’t remember, then now is the perfect opportunity to do so.
Even if you aren’t looking for a new job, you never know when the opportunity will knock on your door. It’s better to have these items up-to-date instead of scrambling to do so when you’re crunched for time.
Whether it’s attending industry events or introducing yourself to relevant online communities, expanding your network is a must. After all, there’s no better way to grow your business, improve your skillset, and stay afloat on trends.
18. Hang out with friends or family.
Be spontaneous and see if a friend wants to grab lunch. Pick-up the phone and call your parents. Or, plan a last-minute day trip with your kids.
In addition to strengthening these connections, it’s good for your overall well-being. In fact, according to an 80-year-old Harvard study, relationships are key to happiness and long life.
19. Deal with financial stress.
Did you know that 60% of Americans feel stressed about money? As a consequence, this could lead to anxiety, insomnia, and poor coping habits. It can even put a strain on your marriage.
To counter this, think about ways to alleviate financial stress. It could be improving your financial literacy, launching a side-hustle, or creating a budget.
20. Run an errand or two.
Why put off going to the grocery store, dry cleaner, or whatever errand you have to do? If there’s nothing else going on, go out and knock these off your to-do-list.
21. Plan your next vacation.
You might be grounded right now. But, just the act of planning your next vacation can make you happy. And, with so much notice, this ensures that you won’t worry about work while away.
22. Help others.
You don’t have to be selfish with your boredom. If there’s a colleague why needs assistance, lend them a hand. You could also volunteer or share your expertise through blogging or webinars.
If you’re bored, go somewhere quiet and spend some alone time reflecting. It’s a proven way to improve your self-awareness, provide perspective, and challenge your thoughts. Also, self-reflection helps you review and track your progress, as well as make sense of things,
24. Daydream or take a nap.
Some might scoff at this. But, daydreaming can make you more productive. The reason is that it sparks creativity, reduces stress, and assist in problem-solving.
Similarly, napping can reduce fatigue, increase alertness, and improve your mood. Naps can also speed-up your reaction time and better your memory.
25. Veg out.
Here’s the main takeaway from this article; you need to stop worrying about being productive 24/7/365. That may sound counterproductive. But, when you obsess over maximizing every minute, you’re putting unnecessary stress on your health and well-being.
Furthermore, this can diminish the quality of your work. It also puts a strain on your relationships. And, eventually, you’ll get burned out.
So, the next time you’re bored, just kick back and relax. Use this downtime to recharge your batteries and reconnect with your priorities. When you’re refreshed, you can come roaring back to work.