Being bored in a natural state in our human existence. But being bored does not mean you have to be unproductive. There are many productive things to do when you’re bored that will lead to self-improvement.
Instead, consider some of these other options for productive things to do.
In general, there are five categories of things you can work on when you are bored:
- Personal Development
- Career Development
- Health and Wellness
- Make Your Space Beautiful
- Hobbies and Inspiration
When you are looking for productive things to do, my first recommendation is to pick a category you want to focus on with the time you have.
If you find yourself bored often, you’re not alone. Try to diversify the categories you focus on when choosing productive things to do.
In time, you will find you develop habits and hobbies. Eventually, you will find yourself bored less often as you will have activities to turn to.
Let’s take a look at productive things to do in each of these categories.
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In general, personal development is encompassed by skills that improve your quality of life and facilitate employability. This includes a wide scope of activities.
Technically, some things I have in “Hobbies and Inspiration” can fall under personal development.
But for things category, I wanted to focus on productive things to do that will improve your productivity skills, expand your mind, and develop soft skills.
You all know I am a huge fan of reading, whether audiobooks, digital books or hardcopy books.
This is my personal go-to item when I am bored and why it is at the top of my productive things to do list.
Read books that will teach you new skills and expand your knowledge.
When I am looking for book recommendations I like to go to Bill Gates’ Reading List.
Find a nice, scenic place and pick up a good book.
Bonus points if you listen to an audiobook and go for a walk at the same time.
2. Take time to self-reflect
Self-Reflection is overlooked by too many people, but it is also one of my top productive things to do. You want to self-reflect consistently and often.
Check out my recommendations on what questions to ask regularly during your self-reflection.
3. Create a personal development plan
Are you navigating your life to a plan? Or are you wandering around hoping you find a direction you are happy with?
If you feel like you don’t have a specific direction for your life, a personal development plan may be what you need.
Here is a great post all about how to create a personal development plan.
Using the time you are bored to plan the direction of your life certainly seems like a productive thing to do.
4. Set goals
If you aren’t up for undertaking an entire personal development plan, which is certainly no small task, I would recommend to at least take the time to set personal goals.
Check out this resource to learn how to set SMART goals (yes, it’s an acronym and it stands for something!).
5. Start calendar blocking
I have mentioned calendar blocking before. This is a very efficient tool to manage your time and productivity.
And if you are bored with nothing to do, you probably aren’t calendar blocking.
This video from Amy Landino is how I both got into and learned calendar blocking.
6. Start a Bullet Journal
Bullet journaling is another great way to organize your life and thoughts.
Matt Ragland has an entire channel devoted to bullet journaling! I highly recommend you check it out.
Here is a video to get you started on your journaling habit!
7. Call someone you love
Let’s face it, how often do you ACTUALLY talk to someone on the phone to just…talk?
Make time to catch up with someone that you wish you connected with more often. You never know who is having a hard time and just needs someone to talk to until you actually call them.
8. Work on your confidence
We could all be more confident, and it would probably really help us out personally and professionally.
Spoiler, one of the tips is to READ…I really won’t ever stop harping on that.
9. Practice your communication skills
Communication is so incredibly critical in all aspects of our life, and yet how often do we actually take time to work on our communication skills?
Excellent leaders and public speakers aren’t born with amazing communication skills, they have honed them over years of practice.
Not sure where to start? Learn how to make friends and influence people.
Just because you have a job doesn’t mean your career development should only occur while you are work.
In fact, we tend to be so consumed with day-to-day work AT work so that we don’t actually focus on career development specifically.
So, career development is a great thing to focus on when you are looking for productive things to do.
10. Learn a new skill relevant to your industry
Notice how I didn’t recommend a new skill FOR your job. These skills you will inevitably learn while at work.
Instead, pick up a skill that you are unlikely to learn during work hours. It might be a skill that is typically performed by a different function or group.
Learning these skills will provide you a more holistic perspective of the business and industry. As well as a greater appreciation for people that are outside of your direct function.
“That isn’t my job” shouldn’t be in anyone’s vocabulary. Be ready to take on as many challenges as you can!
It will only make you a more valuable and appreciated employee…which leads to great things for your career.
11. Revamp your LinkedIn profile
LinkedIn profile outdated or a bit drab?
Take some time to spruce it up!
12. Send messages to catch up with your LinkedIn connections
It’s easy to fall out of contact with old co-workers. But you never know who will become indispensable in the future, or even has interesting opportunities and information to share.
Stay in touch with your old co-workers. The best way to do this is to send them a LinkedIn message every few months.
Bonus points for following up on a LinkedIn conversation with a coffee date.
13. Start a side hustle
Always wanted to start that side business?
Seems like you have extra time since you are bored.
Conquer your fear and just START!
14. Update your resume
Most people update their resume when they are about to start job searching. But this means you may go YEARS without updating your resume.
This can cause you to forget significant achievements in your career.
Try to update your resume regularly, at least every 6-12 months.
You don’t need to slave over the verbiage if you aren’t actively preparing for a job search. Instead, focus on capturing all the major milestones you’ve accomplished. You can spruce up the verbiage later.
15. Research salaries in your industry on Glassdoor.com
It’s always good to keep tabs on how everything is progressing in your industry.
Salary trends are no different.
Spend some time on Glassdoor and do some market research on salaries for your position, positions higher than yours, and other positions you may be interested in.
Having a current understanding of salary trends will help you establish your goals.
16. Research competitors in your industry
Similar to understanding salaries, you should know what your competitors are up to.
Scour news sites, Yahoo finance, and industry-specific news outlets to understand your industry.
Having a good grasp on the competitive landscape for your organization will make you a more valuable employee, and allow you to make more evidence-based decisions.
17. Review your organization’s goals and align your work to them
Most of us cringe as the process of goal setting that is forced on us by the employer.
But it is important to understand the value of this exercise. The employer is TELLING you what they are out to achieve. Their most important strategic objectives.
Whether you are an employee or business owner, you always need to prioritize business objectives.
So make sure your work and assignments align with the overall business objectives. If they don’t, you need to go on a mission to understand why.
18. Find local networking groups in your industry
Networking groups can be a great place to further learn about your industry, as well as make valuable professional connections.
You can usually find local networking groups on LinkedIn and industry-specific groups.
19. Research training opportunities
Does your employer allow you to take training opportunities?
If they do, now is a great time to do some research and determine which classes or courses you would want to attend.
Don’t be shy about ASKING for the training opportunity you want, rather than waiting to have one assigned for you.
How much time do you spend managing your personal finances?
You should not be spending an exorbitant amount of time managing your money, as you should have good tools and processes that you have developed for doing so.
But regardless, you need to be spending SOME time.
If you haven’t developed these processes or learned these tools, this is a GREAT time to work on this category. These items around your personal finances are certainly productive things to do.
20. Create a monthly budget
If you don’t have a budget, YOU NEED ONE.
Check out my post on how to create a monthly budget.
Budgets don’t need to be complicated. In fact, a simple budget is going to be most effective.
21. Start managing your finances on Mint.com
Mint.com is an amazing tool to manage your finances. You can have control of all of your accounts, budgets, goals, etc. in one place that automatically updates everything for you.
No manual capturing of your expenses.
But Mint.com does have a learning curve, like any tool. But if you take some time to learn it, it will pay DIVIDENDS in helping to manage your finances.
22. Shop around for better deals on your monthly expenses
Spending a lot of money on auto insurance?
Did you know if you call around and get quotes you will LIKELY find something cheaper?
It’s just no one ever does, paying the same premiums (that “slightly” increase occasionally) for YEARS.
Do the same for all of your expenses that are the same month-to-month.
23. Re-evaluate all your monthly subscriptions
Do you really need to be subscribed to Netflix, Hulu, Disney +, YouTube TV while also get Amazon Video as part of your Prime subscription?
Take a look at the automatic charges you have going through every month, and evaluate whether you REALLY use those subscriptions (and need them).
24. Set up autopay on your bills
Now that you have a budget in place, take time to set up autopay on your bills.
This will prevent you from missing due dates on bills and incurring overdue payment fees.
And now that you are using Mint, you will have an easy way to keep track of all of these charges.
25. Research better reward credit cards
Do you use credit cards wisely by paying off your FULL balance every month?
If you do, take some time to evaluate the reward programs on your credit cards and whether there are better options for you.
Make sure to check your credit score before signing up for new credit cards.
In fact, if you are really responsible with credit cards you should check out how to churn credit cards:
26. Look at better banks for checking and savings accounts
Are you with a big bank that is constantly changing rules on you?
“You need X in your savings account to avoid fees”
Take some time to research your options.
I am a big fan of Ally bank, but there are other great banking options too.
27. Create a debt payoff plan
Do you have a plan for how you are paying off your debt? You should.
There are varying methods of how to pay off your debt.
Determine which one is best for you, and put it into practice!
28. Learn about investing
No debt? Have an emergency fund? Looking to get into investing?
Make sure you educate yourself before you start seriously investing money.
This is a great resource to start learning about investing.
Health and Wellness
When I was growing up, the most common phrase I heard from my parents is “without health, you have nothing”.
I mean literally, if you are dead you don’t have anything.
That instilled a very serious commitment in me to take care of my health.
So if you are looking for productive things to do, you can never go wrong with taking care of your physical and mental health.
29. Find a cycling class
Cycling classes are a great way to get a really good sweat, and a lot of the time you can just drop in without signing up for a membership.
30. Go for a walk
Going for a walk while listening to an audiobook is one of my favorite activities when the weather is nice.
I sometimes walk for 2-3 hours at a time absorbing my audiobook.
It really is killing two birds with one stone.
31. Meal plan
How well are you REALLY eating?
A lot of poor nutrition comes out of a lack of preparation, similar to a lot of things in life.
If you take the time to plan your meals out for the week you are much less likely to accidentally end up at a fast-food joint because you have nothing in your fridge.
I like to cook bulk meals on Sunday that will last me the majority of the workweek.
32. …and create your grocery list
Once you’ve planned out your meals, create a grocery list.
This will make it really easy to go grocery shopping and only get what you need.
33. Learn meditation
There are a lot of proven benefits to meditation, but I won’t lie. It is HARD to learn how to properly meditate. It takes time and commitment.
But if you are able to learn how to meditate, it will really help you quiet your mind and reduce stress levels.
So if you find yourself anxious and stressed often, I highly recommend learning how to meditate.
34. Create a morning routine
Getting the day started with a solid morning routine will get you off on the right foot.
So take some time to determine how you want to start your mornings and build healthy habits.
Maybe you want to set aside time to read every morning or go to the gym.
Whatever it is, planning it will make it more likely to happen.
35. Go for a bike ride
If you aren’t into walking, going for a bike ride is a great alternative option.
This is more about a leisurely bike ride, for exercise, I would recommend a cycling class instead (unless you actually are a cycler and know what you are doing out on the streets).
36. Go to Yoga
Yoga is another great way to reduce stress levels but also, depending on the class, get a pretty good workout in.
If you are particularly inflexible, I highly recommend yoga.
Flexibility will make your day physically easier.
37. Try Crossfit
I am a huge proponent of strength training for women. I think that if you work on being physically strong, it will instantly help you feel more capable and confident.
Crossfit is an easy way to get involved in strength training. Most Crossfit gyms have “on-ramp” programs, which is a series of lessons for beginners to learn movements properly.
Give Crossfit a try, it can have a huge impact on your life and health.
38. Watch the sunrise or sunset
Sometimes, you just need some quiet time to relax. This is a good way to do it.
39. Find a therapist
If you need help with your mental health, please don’t shy away from seeking it out.
Even if it is just “normal” stress and anxiety. Sometimes, we just need a bit of extra help or a place to vent.
Make Your Space Beautiful
Having an organized, clean living space will help you be more productive in general.
If your space is in disarray, it is probably a big factor in why you are unproductive.
If you create a cleaner, more inspiring living space then you will instantly FEEL the desire to be more productive.
40. Organize your closet
Yes. You know you need to do this.
I like to take the approach of if I haven’t worn it in the past year, it gets donated.
But there are a lot of organization methods out there.
Whether you are adopting a minimalist approach and building a capsule wardrobe or taking the Marie Kondo approach, you probably need to do a deep clean of your closet.
41. Clean out your inbox
Just like physical clutter, digital clutter can also cause stress.
You CANNOT tell me that red notification of 1,000 unread emails on your phone does not bother you.
Unsubscribe from email lists, delete junk emails, and get your inbox in order.
42. Make a real photo album (not digital)
We have so many photos on our phones, but how often do you go back and look at photos from a years ago?
I really love physical photo albums. I’ll still sit with my mom and look at hers when I go back home.
I think having physical photo albums is a nice thing to have around to look through with family, friends, or by yourself. And it is a lot of fun to put one together.
43. Clean your fridge
Do you have a method of how you store food in your fridge? What goes where?
If you don’t, putting one together will make it a lot easier to track what is in your fridge. You’ll end up throwing away less food and overall being less wasteful.
44. Organize your pantry and kitchen drawers
Same thing applies to your pantry and kitchen drawers.
You know where your kitchen is cluttered…tackle it!
45. Clean out your bathroom cabinets
We often stock up on all sorts of bathroom items and end up losing track of what we actually have.
Re-organizing your bathroom will remind you what you actually have. Maybe it will prevent you from buying your 10th tube of toothpaste too…
46. Throw away old makeup
Did you know makeup expires?
Using old makeup can irritate your skin and even cause eye infections. Not to mention it just doesn’t perform well once it is expired.
47. Organize files on your phone and computer
Organize your photos, downloads, documents, apps, etc.
Delete everything you don’t need. Everything you decide to keep, make sure it has its own “place”.
48. Clean out your phone contacts
Are you really going to call that acquaintance you have 7 years ago and haven’t talk to since?
Probably not. Delete any phone contacts that you are unlikely to ever need again.
49. Remove people from your follow lists on social media
Hate following is a thing.
So is comparing yourself to people on social media.
If you find yourself doing these things, seriously consider not following those accounts anymore. Your newsfeed should be full of people you love and/or that inspire you to be better.
50. Buy art for your home
Art doesn’t have to be expensive. You can buy art prints from your favorite artists for relatively cheap.
Make your space inspiring, put some art up.
51. Spruce up an old piece of furniture
That table you inherited from your parents?
It could probably do with some sanding and a new stain.
You don’t need to buy new furniture to create a great space. You could probably put some love into the pieces you already have.
52. Browse Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace for home decor and furniture gems
If you do need some furniture to spruce up your space, take a look at Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.
You can find a lot of old, beautiful pieces that people are just trying to get rid of.
And remember to think creatively! It may have some scratches, but it could be a fun project to undertake to bring it back to life!
Hobbies and Inspiration
Sometimes when you are looking for productive things to do, you just want to have some FUN!
And that is totally okay.
Here are some things that are fun AND productive, and that hopefully inspire you to start a new hobby or project.
53. Learn new recipes
Everyone loves a good cook!
Cooking is a very practical and useful skill. But it is also very rewarding.
There is nothing quite like filling the bellies of people you love.
54. Plan a trip
Dreaming of that next trip?
Hopefully, you have put a budget together on how to save up for it!
If you have, why not start planning it now?
Start doing research and outlining itineraries. That way you can daydream about this incredible trip, while already having a plan in place how to make it happen!
55. Start an herb garden
Herb gardens are a really easy way to get some greenery in your home, and they are edible!https://shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=1536526&u=2571101&m=62509&urllink=&afftrack=
56. Take a Masterclass in something that interests you
I love Masterclass for picking up new hobbies or learning about skill sets I have never tried.
Yes, I watched an entire Masterclass by Simone Biles on gymnastics. I don’t do gymnastics and never will…but it sure was interesting.
But the best Masterclasses are ones that made me so interested that I took action.
I recently started gardening thanks to this Masterclass by Ron Finley. Now I have a fridge full of fresh fruit and vegetables that I grew in my backyard.
57. Go to a museum
How many museums have you visited in your local area?
Museums are not just educational, but they can inspire you to pursue new streams of knowledge.
I often leave museums and spend hours researching a certain artist or historical event.
58. Watch some great TED Talks
A good TED talk can really make you think and find a different perspective on a topic.
They can also inspire you to take action in your life.
I suggest you just go on their Youtube channel and start watching talks that interest you.
Here is one of my favorites
59. Learn a new language
Learning new languages is harder for some than others. I admit, I don’t have an aptitude for languages.
But I know a lot of people that do, and that love learning new languages.
You don’t need to become fluent in a new language, you just need to be curious and enjoy the process.
60. Be a tourist in your city
Where do the tourists go in your city?
Have you checked out all of the popular spots recently?
See your city with fresh eyes, you never know what will inspire you to be better!
There is no reason that you can’t find some productive things to do when you’re bored.
I hope this list provided you some inspiration for productive things to do.
And maybe, just maybe, you won’t turn Netflix on right now. Invest your time in YOU.
But if you do watch Netflix, it’s okay. Sometimes we just need some downtime.
Are there items on your “productive things to do” list that I missed? Share them below!