How often do you find yourself staring blankly into the distance, bored out of your mind?
Most of us get stumped about how to deal with boredom, which is why we’ve compiled a list of some of the most productive ways you can spend your time instead of being bored.
Boredom is a “mid-point”
If you think of emotions and states of mind as a scale, boredom sits pretty much in the middle. At least when it first sets in. It’s a fairly neutral state, to begin with.
That means that what you choose to do with that boredom has the power to elevate or deflate you. Which is why we want you to have a list handy for when you need to make a good decision on how to deal with your boredom.
Fifteen productive things to do when you’re bored
1. Go for a walk
Fresh air is a wonder drug. It makes you feel happier, keeps you healthy, and connects you with nature. And most of us don’t get enough of it.
So if you find yourself with nothing to do, instead of reaching for the remote to go into episode eight on your binge-watch marathon, why not pause and step outside for a pleasant stroll?
The fresh air and sun will do you good, and you’re also getting exercise in!
2. Do a “life audit”
Many of us feel like we’re underperforming in at least one area of life. It’s normal to feel this way.
Boredom is the perfect opportunity to take stock of your life and see where things are going well and where you could use some improvement.
You can use a life wheel/ level 10 wheel to help you out. These wheels break life down into 8-10 categories (depending on the wheel you use) and ask you to rate each category from 1 – 10. Categories include things like relationships, money, career, and physical health.
Once you’ve completed your audit, you can make some plans for your next steps.
3. Read a book or listen to a podcast
Books are the original TV. And in some ways, they are better. You get to take stories someone has written and imagine them for yourself, creating vivid universes and allowing you to escape from reality for a while.
And thanks to audiobooks, you don’t even have to read books to enjoy them anymore; you can listen to them instead.
If fiction isn’t your thing, you can also read non-fiction books or listen to a podcast that interests you.
4. Tidy your house
A pen over here, a pair of headphones over there. We’re constantly moving things around and inevitably leaving them in random places (unless you’re in that small minority that tidies up after themselves, in which case you can probably skip this idea!).
Over time, we accumulate a lot of random mess. It’s not dirty per se; it’s just a bit unsightly.
So why not take the opportunity to go around the house and put everything back in its place.
After all, tidy house, tidy mind, right?
5. Reach out to a loved one
If it’s been a while since you talked to a family member or friend, this is the perfect time to pick up the phone and get in touch.
Sit down on the sofa with a drink and snack of your choice and make it an “event” to call or text someone special to you.
If someone is busy, keep cycling through until you get through to someone. If no one is free, then send people messages to let them know you care about them and are thinking about them, and schedule a time to catch up at a later date.
6. Pick up a new skill or hobby
Boredom is a great time to unleash your creativity. Which means it’s the perfect time to take up a new hobby or learn a new skill.
Go to YouTube or Skillshare and look for videos to get you started. It can be anything, for example, filmmaking, dancing, coding, and juggling.
The best thing is, if you don’t enjoy it, you can just find a new skill to try next time.
7. Update your CV/ Portfolio/ LinkedIn
When was the last time you updated your CV? Unless you recently applied for a job, it’s probably been a while.
Even if you’re happy in your current position, you should strive to keep an up-to-date CV that reflects your current skill set and work contributions.
That way, when a promotion comes up, or it’s time for a change of scene, you’re already prepared to apply.
8. Do some digital decluttering
If you’re anything like me, you collect apps and photos like Pokémon cards! But it gets to a point where you can never find what you’re looking for on your phone because there is a lot of unnecessary media in the way.
Take this opportunity to delete the apps and photos you don’t want anymore (like that terrible meme your co-worker sent in the group chat that instantly got saved to your camera roll).
And while you’re at it, you should probably take a look at your inbox, too and get yourself down to 0!
Working a desk job is highly sedentary. And if you’re working from home, it’s even more so.
And a lot of us aren’t very good at stretching regularly to keep our bodies nimble and in working order.
So use your boredom to get a deep stretch in. You can do it P.E class style or pop on a yoga video and get your mindfulness on.
10. Go through your wardrobe
Are you guilty of looking at your wardrobe and proclaiming you have “nothing to wear” despite it being full to bursting?
Sounds like it’s time to reorganise your wardrobe, then.
Bring the clothes you like that fit you to the forefront of your closet and pack away or donate anything that either doesn’t fit you currently or doesn’t bring you joy.
You don’t have to be active during boredom to be productive. You can instead indulge in some more stationary forms of self-care.
A lovely, relaxing bath, catching up on your favourite show, lighting a candle and meditating… Whatever makes you feel better.
You might be wondering what the difference is between self-care and wasting time watching Netflix or doing nothing.
And the difference is intention.
When you make a conscious decision to take that time in your day to zone out or do nothing, you’re in control.
But if you default to TV as an avoidance mechanism (i.e. to counteract the negative feelings of boredom) and use it as procrastination, it no longer serves you.
12. Meal prep
Meal prepping saves time, money, and washing up. So using this boredom time to do so will really help “future you” out.
Make a menu for the week, batch cook your meals and then store them in the fridge or freezer.
If you’re not a big fan of having set meals dictated ahead of time and prefer a more flexible approach, try batch cooking ingredients separately (like pasta, quinoa, chicken, peppers, mushrooms etc.), so you can easily pick your favourites and mix them together for a healthy meal in minutes.
13. Make a vision board
When we’re bored, our minds can wander to the bigger questions in life. Where am I going? Do I even know what I want for myself?
Cue – vision board.
Whether it’s on Pinterest or old-fashioned collages in your journal from magazine cut-outs, create a visual representation of your goals.
You can then come back to this in the future whenever you need motivation.
Life can be stressful, and journaling is a brilliant way to relieve that.
Take some time to grab your journal and write down all your thoughts and feelings. Have a conversation with the pages as the ink seeps through the paper.
It takes a bit of getting used to if you’ve never done it before, but the end result is cathartic – you feel literally lighter as if a huge burden has been lifted.
15. Work on a side hustle
If there’s one thing that defines the working world of this century, it’s the side hustle. Of course, it’s not necessary to have one, despite what “experts” may claim, but if you have a passion or talent for something, why not make a little pocket change for it?
You’d be surprised at how many different things people are ready to pay money for. So if you’ve always wanted to start a side hustle, consider this your sign to just get going.
It’s free to start, and you will learn as you go.
You don’t have to accept boredom anymore
The way you use your boredom can literally change your life. Boredom can feel like life is happening to you but using one of our handy boredom helpers, you’ll feel in control of your life again.
Which productive boredom busters are you excited to try?
Let us know in the comments!
For more life hacks, check us out on Instagram at @malpaper