If you’re a professional, chances are you’ve experienced feeling a little bored at work. Whether it’s because the tasks have become repetitive or your boss is keeping you from doing anything interesting, boredom can really take its toll on your job performance. Fortunately, there are plenty of things to do when bored at work that will keep you productive and make time fly by!
You can always make the most of any situation by doing these things when bored at work. Just make sure to be mindful of how you’re spending that bored time so you don’t get accused of time theft!
30 Productive Things To Do When Bored at Work
1. Get in a quick workout by walking around instead of sitting in your chair.
If a walk isn’t possible, try these office-friendly stretches that will help you boost the blood flow and work out any kinks in your muscles. Exercise is really the best thing you can do for yourself on any given day.
2. Take a 5 minute personal break.
You know that b-work… break? We don’t take enough of those, do we? Step away from your desk and go get some water. Look at some book reviews, scroll through Instagram, or make plans for Friday night. This can give you something to look forward to and help you power through the day! Breaks are also great for your mental health and can help inspire more creative ideas.
3. Organize your desk or office space.
A quick desk declutter is a great way to reset your mind and be productive when you’re bored at work! Get rid of all of those old post-it notes. Change your calendar. Make sure all of your pens still work. Swap out some decor.
The next time you feel like you can’t focus, take some time to declutter your desk. It’s one of the important things we often overlook when trying to get refocused.
4. Get a coffee with another bored co-worker.
If you’re bored, chances are someone else you work with is bored too. Why not ping your work best friends and see if they’re up for a coffee at the spot down the street. You can use the time to bounce ideas off of each other or just to catch up!
Has it been a long time since you’ve caught up with your co-workers? It’s a great idea to ask them about new projects and maybe even just how they’re doing! They’ll appreciate it.
5. Clean up and update your LinkedIn profile.
This is definitely one task a lot us put off. LinkedIn is one of those social media accounts people either love or hate spending time on, but it’s one of those important tasks that matters! Updating our LinkedIn is like updating a public resume. But it could just be the step that propels your next career move!
While you’re at it, why not write some recommendations for others? Or as others for recommendations for you. These endorsements look great on a LinkedIn profile!
6. Digitize your business contacts.
Have a lot of business cards laying around? Turn those cards into LinkedIn connections or use an app to organize them on your phone and get rid of the extra paper hanging around your desk.
You’re much more likely to reach out to someone if you’re connected digitally these days!
7. Go over your schedule for the next six months.
You know the work you’re doing now is going to lead to more work down the road. That means that you’ll have some time before your next promotion or raise. Write out a rough timeline of how you plan on accomplishing these goals and then keep an eye on those deadlines as they come up!
8. Look at your 401(k) contribution.
Is your contribution percentage aligned with what you want to do with the rest of your life? Think about bumping it up if you don’t think you’re going to be able to retire when you’d like. You never know when a recession may hit! Plus, you’ll want to make sure you’re contributing enough to get your employer’s match.
9. Learn a new productivity trick.
When you’re bored, it’s the perfect time to go through this list of productive things and improve your methods! We all spend a lot of time getting stuck in daily tasks like work emails without actually improving our time management or making progress on things that move the needle.
10. Write some thank you notes.
Have recent customers or clients you appreciated working with? Send them a thank you note! Receiving a written note is a powerful gesture and they’ll be so thrilled you reached out!
11. Watch a TED talk.
We are big fans of TED talks (see some favorites here). Take a 15 minute break and learn something new. This helps with boredom AND proves that despite your 9-5 job, you’re still an interesting person who’s curious about the world around them. Which is also the kind of employee companies love to have!
12. Take a quick dance break.
Have a place in your office where you can boogie down? If not, put on some headphones and start dancing around! And if anyone cares about what you look like (which they shouldn’t!) just tell them it’s for work.
13. Email someone who inspires you.
You can use your free time at work to network with others in your industry, or connect with an expert on a topic you’re interested in learning more about!
What better way to spend your time than by getting inspired?
14. Look into a new hobby or new skill.
If you’re bored at work, chances are you’ve been working on the same projects and tasks for quite some time. You could use a change of pace to get yourself motivated again! Think about whether there’s any type of hobby that might interest you.
Take an evening class or just start practicing it on your own! Read up on it with online courses, Youtube tutorials, and books about the topic. Talk to friends who do similar things to see if they’d be interested in getting together for regular hang outs. Get out of your comfort zone and try something new!
15. Make the most of your breaks by getting out of the office and exploring where you work.
There’s food, drinks, and sometimes even a gym in your office building! Get to know the space you’re in so you can take advantage of it.
Check out new restaurants, coffee shops, and parks nearby so you can ‘wow’ colleagues in the future.
16. Sharpen the skills you have.
Are you a marketer who can’t sell? Try talking to colleagues in the sales department or finding an online course on how to do it better.
Maybe you’re a graphic designer who’s super visual but needs help developing strong communication skills for managing clients. Or you could just need some basics on project management because your output decided to double at the same time your responsibilities did.
Whatever the case may be, we can all spend time strengthen our skills! Try to improve them with a new challenge and use your skills in different ways.
17. Hunt for a new job.
If you’ve been putting off looking for another job because you think there’s just not enough time in the day, now might be a good time to start!
While you’re updating your LinkedIn or researching a new hobby, make sure you also go on some interviews or fill out applications. The more active you are the better chance there is for something to come through and pay off.
Your current position shouldn’t be your forever position. It’s important that you improve and advance your career.
18. Download a book on your phone so you have something read while waiting around for things to happen.
You could read a career-related book or go for some general motivational non-fiction. Either way, reading helps you get out of your head and into a new place. If you’re reading a career-related book, maybe you can bring something up that you learn in your next meeting!
19. Check in with the people around you.
How are they doing? Are there any problems that might need to be solved or opportunities for collaboration? Do they have interesting projects you could help with or feedback on something you’re working on?
You could even ask them if they need help with anything. Plus, you’ll show everyone you’re a team player by offering help! This is definitely a great thing about having some spare time. And people are more likely to give you positive reviews when you offer to help them!
20. Listen to a podcast from leaders in your field.
Search on Apple Podcast or Spotify for your industry. Then listen to the top results. You’ll feel super inspired and motivated!
21. Check the news.
Do you really know what’s going on in the world? Don’t just check your Facebook newsfeed or Twitter. Do some research and read up about current events.
Read through an article a day and it will totally change your perspective!
You can also get more off-the-beaten path by looking into recent scientific discoveries, financial reports, or political updates. Your downtime may not be as boring if it means you can keep up with what’s happening around the world.
22. Take on a new project.
Have you been working on the same team throughout your career? Take this time to explore other teams in your company! You could research a different department and see how you might fit in there.
23. Write down all of the projects you’ve been working on since joining this team or since starting your career.
Analyze each project. Are there any trends? Can you see how your work has evolved over time?
If there’s anything you can improve on or take away from past projects, write it down and add new ideas to your list of career goals!
24. Do some research into other jobs in your field.
Check out job boards like Glassdoor or Indeed to find out more about what others do in your industry. You can even look up your boss’s job title!
Find out what skills are required for those jobs and practice them in your free time!
25. Learn the basics of a new language.
We’re lifelong learners at GenTwenty and languages are no exception! Maybe you want to brush up on your Spanish or French from high school, or maybe you’re interested in learning a completely new language.
If anyone around has access to foreign films with subtitles, take them out for group viewing! Or you can try an online platform like Duolingo and keep it short and sweet!
26. Keep a list of everything you take on during the day.
This could be small tasks, errands like taking notes or making a phone call, or just things that get added onto your list throughout the day. Whenever possible, get them out of the way quickly so they don’t weigh down your mind and make you even more bored!
27. Follow up with friends from school or college.
Are you still in touch with anyone who you knew when you were younger? There’s no reason to stop talking just because you don’t go to the same place anymore! This can be a fun way of keeping in touch since you’ve already got some history together.
It’s nice to know someone who understands what you’re going through or can give you advice about your job.
If they’re out of town, why not plan a visit? If the distance is too great for that, try meeting up in the city! Or maybe get them on Skype or video chat!
28. Look into a training that will help you advance your career.
Enrolling in a course or workshop will help you understand what you need to do to get promoted.
You can also learn something new that will let you make a name for yourself and impress your boss!
It’ll be an easy way to stand out and show that you’re willing to put in the extra effort. Imagine being the rockstar of your office because you learned how to use a new software program!
29. Find out what projects you could be working on.
If there aren’t any, try making some suggestions. Perhaps something you’ve done in the past could be adapted to fit with a new product or project.
If there’s nothing in mind at the moment, come up with a new project that will help out your company. Is there an idea you’ve had for years? Or something you can improve on from an existing product or service?
You could even give yourself extra work if you feel like it! If you’re bored, think about what else you could be doing. Could each of those be a project you tackle?
30. Leave work early one day. Or take an hour off during lunch.
It’s not that hard to get out earlier if nobody notices! Maybe use the extra time to do something fun with friends or a family member, play a game, or exercise. Everyone needs some time to relax. And if you’re not being productive in the office, maybe you can be productive in your personal life!
31. Make a career vision board.
Do you know what you want your career to look like in five, ten, fifteen years down the road?
Make a vision board with images that represent what you want to achieve. Make it as detailed as possible!
Check out Pinterest for some inspiration and ideas. If you don’t have enough pictures of your career, try looking through old photos or finding new ones online.
Be realistic in the goals you set yourself. It’s fine if they’re challenging, but if they’re completely unrealistic you may end up getting discouraged.
Picture yourself as the person who is achieving these goals and visualizing the consequences of success. Write down why you want to achieve your goal, what it will mean for your life, and how it makes you feel to have that freedom and independence! This can also give you great inspiration for professional development goals!
These are just a few of the ways you can be more productive when bored at work. You may find that some will work better than others for your situation, but it’s worth experimenting to see what works best for you and your personality type. We hope these ideas have given you an idea or two on how to get more done in less time! Which one do you plan on trying first?