We all get a little bored sometimes, especially at work. These moments of absolute boredom might seem like a great time to take a quick nap, but there are plenty of other more productive things to do when bored.
Down below, we’re going to go over a few categories that might need some attention in your workplace, and add a few helpful tips on how to make the most of your free time.
Here are 50 productive things to do when bored:
1. Read your emails
This might seem like something that should be a part of your workflow, and for the most part, it should, but it never hurts to go back through and check your emails.
2. Clear out your spam folder
We all get those random emails for different newsletters and advertisements. Now is a good time to go through everything that you deem worthy of being kept, and deleting everything else.
3. Email contacts
Since you don’t have any other work you could be doing, it would only seem appropriate to look for some. Email those potential clients and see what kind of projects they’re up to. Take any opportunity to fill your schedule with activities that can make you some money!
4. Organize your email folder
There are plenty of emails that you want to read, but they’re just a little too long for to read in that moment. Since you have the down time, make a quick folder to throw those emails into so that you can find them easily later.
5. Email colleagues
Now is the perfect time to make sure you’re actually caught up with everything that needs to be done. If you’re sitting around wondering what there is to do, then other colleagues might be as well. Email around and ask if anyone needs some help, or if they have any ideas on productive things to do when bored.
6. Clean your workspace
If you spend a lot of time in your office or at your desk, odds are that it can get quite messy. Take this opportunity to throw away that candy wrapper that’s been sitting behind your lamp for a week.
7. Organize your workspace
Number 6 and 7 deserve their own mentions because a clean space doesn’t always mean an organized one. Sort files, arrange paper clips and sticky notes, and make a designated place for that pen you’re always looking for.
8. Make a list of things you need
Now that you’ve cleaned and organized your desk, you’ve probably realized that you’re short on a few supplies. Make a list of what you need for a shopping trip later.
9. Get rid of the things you don’t need
Listen, that stapler that gets jammed every other staple just isn’t cutting it anymore. Toss it in the trash and add it to your new list.
10. Commit to keeping everything clean and organized
Now that you’ve gone through all your messy drawers and filing cabinets, make an active effort to keep everything nice and tidy. It only takes a few seconds each day to make your space look way more professional.
Organize/clean your computer
11. Clean out your desktop
You don’t honestly need all those screenshots. It might take a little extra time, but seriously go through and start deleting files that you don’t need.
12. Update passwords
If you’ve had the same password for all your logins for a while, you might want to consider changing them. Make a note in your phone or on a notepad so that you don’t forget.
13. Make sure you’re up-to-date
During the day, when you use your computer the most, running an update just isn’t the most productive thing to do. Now that you have a moment of freedom, updating your desktop won’t set you back.
14. Actually clean your computer
Give the keyboard a once-over and clean out all the dust and crumbs that have been collecting there for a while. Wipe down your monitor, and if you’re tech savvy, see if the computer internals need a quick clean.
15. Organize your files
Just like you should organize your emails, you should have your files organized, too. Make different folders for different projects and data. Spend some time to organize now and save yourself tons of time later when you really need those files.
Work on professional development
16. Read a book to inspire you
There are lots of helpful books out there to inspire you in your career. Reading about how to better yourself in your career is a perfect way to be productive.
17. Watch motivational videos
Admittedly, we can all get a little carried away on YouTube, but if you limit yourself, there are lots of helpful channels to help better your work tactics.
18. Jot down some goals
Goals in your career work a lot like milestones. They break your career into sections so that you can go step-by-step to the top.
19. Draw a SWOT matrix
Whether you work with a team or solo, a SWOT matrix is a very effective tool for determining the direction of your projects.
20. Do your research
If you’re using some sort of time tracking or project management tool online, do some research to find out if the tools you’re using are the right ones for you. Online tools like Toggl Plan offer free trial versions so that you know what you’re getting into before you buy it.
21. Learn a new program
After you’ve done your research, and you’ve found a new tool that can help you, spend some time learning how to use it. Even if it’s a program that you’re already using, go over some of the shortcuts and hotkeys to make your life easier.
22. Take an online class
There are lots of online career courses online nowadays. Some of them are even free to take.
23. Email a colleague or boss and ask where you can improve
This is sort of a bold move, but you’ll only benefit from it. As the old saying goes, “There’s always room for improvement.” You may not even realize it, but there might be an area of your workflow that your colleagues and mentors believe you can improve in.
Work can be stressful sometimes. Meditation can relieve a lot of that stress. If given the chance, take a breather and relax.
25. Download an audiobook
If you drive to work, take advantage of the commute. Find an audiobook that you think you’d enjoy and listen to it on the way home.
Learn to be a leader
26. Manage up
The idea of managing up involves taking initiative. If you see something that needs to be done, and no one else has time to do it, then by all means, do it.
27. Ask your boss how you can help
Your boss has a very busy schedule. There are some ways you can help that may be obvious, but you can always ask.
28. Study management tactics
Even if you’re not already a manager, you can always find ways to improve and show the higher-ups that you’re capable of more responsibility.
29. Read articles on leadership tactics
There are plenty of articles online to choose from. Absorb as much information as you can.
30. Build a presentation of your ideas
Do you have an idea that you think will put your company on top? Start building a presentation for stakeholders, clients, and your boss to show them what you’re all about.
31. Review your upcoming schedule
It’s always a good idea to know what projects are ahead. Review your upcoming schedule so that you can plan your next few days accordingly. Toggl Plan offers a zoom feature that allows you to check on your schedule up to a week, month, 3 months, and a year.
32. Organize your schedule
If you’ve found discrepancies in your schedule, now is the time to fix them.
33. Look for new opportunities
You should always have your eyes on a potential projects, but now’s a good time to actually pursue them.
34. Create a new challenge
Challenge yourself to finish your work fast, but keep high standards.
35. Update/create a checklist
You can’t remember everything. If you’ve already created a checklist, go over what’s already been completed and cross it off. If you haven’t created a checklist, look into Toggl Plan’s checklist feature that allows you to keep a close eye on every step of a project.
36. Take the rest of the day off
This might sound like the exact opposite of productive, but the reality is that you sometimes just need to recharge your batteries. You can’t focus and be productive if you’re mentally and physically drained.
37. Take a walk
Go for a walk, even if it’s just through the office. If you work remotely, perfect! Go for a little walking break around the block.
38. Drink some water
Hydration is important. When our bodies lack water, we become tired and sluggish. Water can refresh us.
39. Eat a healthy snack
Just like water, healthy food is important, too. If you’re eating a lot of sugar throughout the day, then you’ll eventually crash.
40. Rest your eyes
This doesn’t necessarily mean taking a nap, but simply closing your eyes can take the strain caused by the computer screen off of your eyes, even if it’s just for a moment.
Train your brain
41. Write a journal
Writing your thoughts and ideas down is a great way to remember them and even relieve stress.
42. Do a sudoku puzzle
You might be wondering what this is doing under this topic. Sudoku puzzles can improve your thinking skills – a big help for anyone in any industry.
43. Try writing with the opposite hand
Changing up little details that your brain has gotten used to will improve the way you think. It increases brain stimulation and exercises parts of your brain you may not have even known existed.
44. Memorize details
Let’s be honest, there are lots of little details in our daily lives that we just forget. Taking the time to memorize something simple like a poem or clients’ emails and phone numbers will greatly help stimulate the part of your brain that helps you remember.
45. Calculate without a calculator
Math isn’t everyone’s strong suit, but it’s definitely something we use every day. Try to go over a small budget without using a calculator, but definitely check your work after.
46. Go to lunch
We all need a lunch break. Why not take yours when you’re bored?
47. Get some coffee
A lot of us can’t function without coffee anymore, and that’s okay. Take your downtime as an opportunity to fill your tank back up.
48. Listen to music
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Crank those tunes up!
49. Make friends
It never hurts to have a friendly conversation with a colleague. Ask about someone’s weekend plans or hobbies.
50. Make weekend plans
What’s the point in making all that money if you can’t spend it? Plan out your weekend and have a little fun!
If you’re having a little trouble staying awake at work, try any or all of these productive things to do when bored. Don’t hesitate to give them a try!
Like many other people, Zach McDaniel gained his knowledge of management and project management through research and necessity. He believes that the most interesting thing about project management, management, and productivity is that there are so many different strategies, so there’s always something new to learn and share.