It’s pretty normal to feel bored at work sometimes. However, for most people, they sit there and watch the time pass by.
But, did you know that there are a lot of things you can do during your downtime that will make you feel more productive?
Here are some great suggestions that are actually useful and will not waste your time.
CEO, My Corporation
- Revisit your to-do list for the day. Were you able to complete everything on the list? If so, begin drafting a list for tomorrow and see if there are smaller, miscellaneous items you can cross off between now and then.
- Ask other coworkers in your department if they could use a little extra help with their workloads. Offer to take on an extra assignment or help them make a call.
- Do not leave early. More often than not, an employee that is bored at work or considers their day to be ‘done’ because there’s nothing immediate to do will try to leave early that day. Stay until your proper dismissal time. Do not try to sneak out undetected, and don’t use the extra time to play around on your phone either.
- Clean up your desk and reorganize the space around you.
- Tidy up your email inbox.
Associate Prof. of Management & Human Resources (Retired)
Sort through your mails
During the 1980s, before entering academia and eventually becoming a tenured management professor, I was an upper-level manager who oversaw all operations covering a three-state region for a nationwide retailer.
My regional office received a lot of so-called “junk mail,” and most of it was addressed to me. So each morning when the mail arrived, I had my administrative assistant quickly sort my mail before putting it on my desk. And she divided that mail into three piles: Urgent, Possibly Important, and Everything Else.
The Urgent pile was always very small and I opened that mail immediately. The Possibly Important pile was a lot larger and occasionally contained some “junk mail” that slipped by because it looked more significant than it actually was. I nearly always finished off that second pile before I left for home at the end of each day.
But the Everything Else pile went straight into a drawer in my file cabinet — so I’d have it should something turn out to be more important than it appeared to be, and I later received a query about it. (However, that rarely occurred.)
Once or twice a month, I’d be caught up on all of my work and had some “dead time.” And when that happened, I’d go through the old mail that had accumulated in my Everything Else Drawer. Ninety-nine percent of it was, in fact, junk mail that went straight into the wastebasket.
But once in a Blue Moon, I’d come across a valuable nugget of information that turned out to be useful in running my business operations.
Thus, plowing through my Everything Else Drawer when I had the free time to do so, could occasionally be a very worthwhile activity!
Director of Customer Engagement, SOLO Laboratories, Inc.
I’m rarely bored, but do find that I am paralyzed by being overwhelmed with so much to do. It may be challenging to move forward because I don’t know where to start. Being bored is similar. Here’s what helps
Open one drawer of your file cabinet or desk. Start tossing things you don’t need or want. You can start anywhere–in the middle, in the front, in the back. The key is getting started with an activity that is very different from the usual.
Clean up your inbox
Set a timer for 10-15 minutes. That helps you focus on a goal. For the next 15 minutes, I will go through email and delete or archive as much email as possible.
Create an “If I had the time list”
This is a list of things you would do but never have time to do. It’s organizing the closet, cleaning up the hard drive or email, it’s researching a new vendor.
Keep this list in an easily accessible place. Grab it when you are bored. This is also great if the computer goes down. It gives you something to do.
Focus on expanding your knowledge
What is that skill that could use improvement? Read blogs, books on cost accounting. Listen to a podcast on SEO. Get a diagram of the internal workings of a machine and become familiar with it.
If you have downtime, be proactive and suggest other skills you can acquire to be even more valuable to your company.
Career Transition Coach, Positive Workplace Partners
Figure out if your boredom chronic or temporary
All of us feel bored at work from time to time. If you find yourself feeling bored, ask yourself, “Have I gotten enough sleep? Is there something stressing me out and distracting me from focusing?” If you realize that your boredom is situational and can be rectified with more sleep, a day off or by using some stress-reducing techniques.
Re-connect with what gives you meaning
Research shows that making work more meaningful is one of the most potent and underutilized ways to increase productivity, engagement, and performance. Identify the projects and tasks you find satisfying.
Do you feel fulfilled when making presentations to your team or clients, for example? Are you energized when mentoring and coaching junior employees, thinking about how your present efforts contribute positively to their future?
Consider how what you do on a day-to-day basis contributes to the mission of your company or organization.
Forming relationships at work is another way to get yourself out of the doldrums. Invite a co-worker to lunch or drinks after work. Start an affinity group such as a mentoring network, an LGBTQ or disability group.
Performance Improvement Project Manager and Executive Coach, Collectiver Consulting
Even though we like our jobs, there come those rare slow moments when you may feel underused if not outright bored. Probably you are in front of your computer – but browsing the web does not help and may leave an unwanted track in your usage logs.
Here’s what you can do to produce some positive results and feel better, too.
You can do some cleaning: start with your mailbox
You may have subjects and threads that are unquestionably useless. Find them and delete. If no expired materials come to mind, consider arranging your mail by size – and look at the largest messages.
With email, the 80/20 rule works exceptionally well, and you may be able to release 80% of the memory used by your mailbox by deleting 20% of your messages. Right, memory is cheap now, but cluttered storage makes it difficult to locate what you may need.
Do similar cleaning for the files you keep on your hard drive
You may start with a keyword search if there’s a specific “topic” that has expired. Next, you arrange your files by size, or “search” for “gigantic” files. Of course, you make sure that you delete only the ones you do not need. Again, the 80/20 rule makes this triage effective and efficient.
Uninstall programs or apps that do not help you to be more productive
No 1 and 2 were “attention games”. Now is the time to move into self-improvement. Go through the list of installed programs and uninstall at least one application that does not help you be more productive (Sudoku? All those Candy Jelly Beans?..).
In fact, this app is a time-waster, and you know it. Kill it: you will feel enthused and productive, instantly.
By this moment, you will most probably get some immediate work to do: return a phone call, attend a meeting, etc. If you still have some unallocated time and want to step up your office self-improvement, run the antivirus and computer maintenance tools that you have on your computer or mobile phone.
These simple exercises will remove the garbage you have collected and make sure that you are ready and equipped to do a great job. In addition, it will boost your mood: Imaging yourself sitting in the middle of your apartment, sunny and clean, with the chore list finished.
Empowerment Coach | President & Strategic Recruitment Director, MindHR
No job is perfect but if you’re bored at work, think of why you’re bored.
- If you hate your job, it’s time to try to move on and find something else. Figure out what that is and start by making lists of what you enjoy doing.
- Lookup for trainings or conferences you can go to network and learn new skills that will enhance your job and benefit the company.
- Take a day off or two to regroup and refocus regarding what you are actually doing and want to do. This will also build up some work for you upon your return
- Spend some time outside. Go out at lunch, get fresh air, go to the gym, yoga, coffee with a coworker to break the day, make you laugh, feel refreshed and come back to work with a clearer mind.
- Organize your area and clean your inbox and see if anyone else needs help.
- Create a new job for yourself. You’re getting paid and spending more time at work than at home, make the most of it.
Lola Salvador Akinwunmi
Career Strategist | Founder, LolaSal, Inc.
There are times in one’s career, it could be a day or a week where you just find yourself bored stiff as a result of no work to do or doing a repetitive task, what do you do?
When you find yourself in that situation, it’s important you take the right actions to avoid getting in trouble with your boss. It’s important to do an assessment on why you’re bored, is it time to change jobs?
If that isn’t the reason and you’re experiencing this know it happens to even the best here’s a list of things to do to break that monotony:
Clean up your work area
This is probably one of the most obvious, but sometimes not so obvious. It is imperative you keep a clean and tidy space, so you can function optimally.
Clutter causes anxiety and gives off the idea that you’re a scatterbrain that can’t be trusted. Being in a tidy space means getting rid of old file folders and documents not needed or that have passed the document retention limit or getting one or two desk bins to organize items on your desk.
Organize your emails
Use this opportunity to organize your emails by creating folders; archiving emails, deleting emails no longer necessary to be kept; flagging emails that require follow up that may have been missed and setting up rules on incoming emails.
Also, use this opportunity to remove yourself from unnecessary email distribution lists that only adds clutter to your inbox. You will feel much better and in control and may just alleviate that boredom you feel.
Take an online course offered by your company
Challenge yourself by taking a course in areas that interests you offered through your companies Learning Management System if that’s available to you.
If not, take an online course that is related to your job that will only further enhance your experience; however, don’t use company time to do an online course for personal gain. That’s time fraud and could be detrimental for your career growth.
Take your lunch break
Take your lunch break and any other breaks you’re entitled to. This is important as this helps break up the day and might just be the cure you need to break that cycle of boredom.
I would highly recommend getting out of the office and taking a walk outside this has been known to get one’s creative juices flowing.
Marketing Director, Moxie Media
There are many reasons why employees may feel bored at work from time to time. No matter if you’re working on a tedious task, distracted by daydreams of the weekend, or suffering from being overworked, it can be hard to focus and stay productive.
With the right productivity tips and even training, employees can learn how to gain energy, relieve stress, and stay productive when they become bored. Consider these tips:
Take the time to get organized
If you’re struggling to stay on task, a great way to give yourself a break while still being productive is to make sure your calendar is organized and up to date.
Reviewing all of your tasks and deadlines can get you back into work-mode while helping you to prioritize your work. If you realize the problem is you’re overwhelmed, learn how to stop being overwhelmed at work, recognize when you’re taking on too much and turn down additional tasks respectfully.
Don’t rely on coffee and caffeine
Instead, drink a glass of water or eat a healthy snack that fits into a balanced diet. Eating right, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep can give your brain that natural energy boost it desperately needs, keeping you well-balanced and well-rested throughout the day. Having the energy you need can help keep you productive instead of falling into a slump when you’re bored.
Get some exercise
Exercise gives your body an outlet to release energy and use excess resources. This ensures your hormones are balanced and your body and mind are operating at peak efficiency. If you’re feeling bored and struggling to stay on task, take a break to get up and do a few exercises or stretches to get your blood pumping.
CEO & Co-founder, Community Tax, Finance Pal
Clean your workplace
There is nothing more satisfying than having a clean work environment. People are more productive when they can think clearly and have fewer distractions in front of them.
Also, clearing off your desk takes little to no effort so it is encouraged to always start your day with a clean slate to work from.
Revisit flagged emails you never got around to
Many employees have a few moments to spare right before meetings or discussion groups. This necessarily isn’t enough time to start a new project, but it is enough time to revisit some emails that you flagged days before but never got around to.
This an easy task for people to remind themselves of future tasks, while also staying proactive during downtime at work.
Plan a mini work event as an incentive
It’s often that employees have stressful months and there is no room for boredom during these times. No employee should necessarily be bored, but many might need a little incentive to help them get through the week.
Employees might appear as though they are bored when in reality, they should plan something that will help motivate them through their workload. It is a great way to build company culture. Also, taking a simple walk with people can do wonders.
Stepping outside or designated an hour or two to a happy hour in the middle of the month can give people that extra push out of boredom.
- Organize something. Sort and purge a drawer, a table, a folder on your computer. Pick a defined area to organize and go for it.
- Learn something. Watch informational videos. Spend a few minutes developing your knowledge in a new area.
- Improve something. Rethink a regularly-performed process and make it better. Develop a checklist. Create some email templates or phone scripts for yourself or your team.
Attorney | Author | Coach | Podcast Host, The Same 24 Hours | Blogger, Swim Bike Mom
Create a writing habit
When I was sitting in my law firm job, bored beyond words and praying for a way (ANY way!) out of the legal profession, I reflected back on what I liked to do when I was a child. This arose as a question because I hated my job, and I couldn’t figure out how I had gotten there.
I knew right away that writing was a passion–that I enjoyed it, and if I had a perfect day, it would be spent writing. I read somewhere that John Grisham, the author of mega-legal fiction like The Firm and A Time to Kill, began as a lawyer and wanted to be a writer. He wrote just one page a day for years–and at the end of the time, he finished his first book, A Time to Kill.
I thought that if I would just start writing, maybe I could get out of the legal profession. I didn’t have much to talk about at the time, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to start fiction, so I started a blog.
At the time, blogs were still new. I realize fully that now blogs are on the way out; still, there are many outlets: Instagram, Video Blogs, etc.
However, I dedicated any spare moment–over lunch, when I wasn’t billing–to writing something on my blog. To create the writing habit. I wrote, and it turned out that people began to read.
Eventually, a “side hustle” emerged out of it. I wrote a book. Then I created a business around it and got some coaching certifications. I did not leave the legal profession for another eight years.
But starting with that spare time at work, you can open the door to asking yourself, “Hey self, what do you really want?” Taking any spare moment to do something you like will breed creativity, which will also breed a path–that who knows–might take you somewhere amazing.
Co-Founder, Top Growth Marketing
Make sure you are up to date
If you are in-between tasks and currently left with nothing to do, you might find yourself passing the time away in boredom as you await your next task. However, it is possible that you may have missed out on an important task because you were busy working towards your deadlines.
Go through your ‘To-Do List’ and your emails to make sure that you really are up to date. Perhaps you can catch up on those tasks you have been procrastinating on.
Find more work
If you are on top of your workload and everything is in control, you could begin networking your way to more clients. There’s nothing like acquiring new work during quiet periods of time. Speaking to new prospective clients could be the excitement you seek.
However, if you are someone who uses social media to search for new clients, you must stay focused and not fall into the rabbit hole of memes and cat videos. You won’t be bored anymore and you sure won’t be productive as well.
Go for a walk
If you live the office life in front of a computer all day, try taking a much-needed break when you are not busy and you find yourself feeling bored at work.
Walk around your workplace and socialize with people from other departments. Who knows, you could make a new friend, or better yet, build a strong relationship with a work college that can come in handy the next time you have to deal with that person regarding work-related issues.
This means organizing your desk. Yes, you, with the sloppy desk filled with paperwork that you are ‘getting to’. Tidy up your desk and get rid of any unnecessary paperwork, stationery, and personal items.
File away all paperwork and wipe your workstation clean. This will ensure that you operate in a clean environment, which can leave you feeling happier and more productive at work.
Planning ahead of time will also ensure that you stay organized. If your yearly internal audit is coming up in a few months time, don’t wait for the auditor to ask you for statements and invoices.
Start compiling a file with the usual documents that they will require, ahead of time. Doing this will keep you productive while speeding up the internal audit process.
Chief Revenue Officer, Motus, LLC
Write a blog
As you go through your workday, jot down random thoughts of blog topics, and as you read the news, copy links to articles that you’re interested in or relate to your profession.
Then when you’re bored, go to the list and write a few paragraphs about one of the topics you see there. You can get 300-500 words written in 15 minutes, and tools like LinkedIn make it really easy to publish online.
Even more exciting, it’s a simple, fun task that can advance your career. I’ve found that publishing something as little as twice a week significantly increased my LinkedIn presence when led to a lot more inquiries from recruiters.
They’ve got better-paying jobs to connect you with – and they’ll be interesting, too, so you won’t be as bored!
Director of Marketing + Branding, Productive Outcomes
Identify a need in your workplace and focus on it
When I look at solving a problem I try to break it down into the smallest parts possible so I know I am solving the correct problem.
Are you bored because the company you are working for is overstaffed or are you really feeling un-challenged? If your company is overstaffed and there is little work to do this is a big problem; you are there to work and earn a paycheck. Obviously you need your job, right?
The last thing you want to do is make it known there isn’t anything for you to do.
In this case, I’d take a look at my department or even the company as a whole and identify a need. That need will become a project for me to work on in slow times that offer value to the company. For example, does your company have a library that could be digitized?
Learn a new skill
If you are feeling unchallenged at work I would identify a skill that would be useful to the company and to my resume. I would sit down with my manager and get permission to learn this new skill; framing it as professional development.
Not only will the company get to take advantage of the skills you acquire but it could lead to your next promotion where you will feel more engaged!
VP of Marketing, Woodtex
Find some industry events
Take this time to look up upcoming events within your industry that you can attend. Don’t rest on your laurels because you have a job. You have to remain marketable within your company and beyond in today’s cutthroat market.
If your job offers to pay for conferences/workshops, even better! Take advantages of all of the benefits you can get.
Volunteer for the next company event
Sign up to help out in the next event going on. It can get you out of the office and bolster your image among your coworkers. You may also be put on the radar for promotion if you volunteer consistently.
Entrepreneur | TV Executive Producer
Check your own work performance
If someone is finding themselves bored at work, I think that’s a good sign that they’re usually not doing meaningful or purposeful work. They might be punching a clock or performing well below their capabilities and desires.
Perhaps boredom is signaling that they should take on more responsibility and demonstrate to their manager/superior they are hungry for more.
Learn and research
Second, related to the above, if someone truly wants to sharpen their skills and improve, giving them an edge and advantage, it’s a good time to learn and research. Even if it’s learning more about lateral departments, it will give you a new perspective.
Do some networking or engage with others
The big caveat here is that you don’t want to disturb your colleagues when they’re in deep work mode. That will defeat the purpose. But rather than sit on social media or pretend you’re working until it’s time to go home, leverage your free time to engage with others.
It might be taking a quick lap around the block outside with someone. It might be walking over and carefully seeing who else is bored, and then engaging them. Keep it brief. Stick to ideas and principles (not rumors, gossip, etc.).
If none of the above help, I would use this time to update your resume, your contacts, and use the time to find something more in line with the skills you have that you’re passionate about. The key here is “skills you have,” not passion.
The fact is, if you’re giving it your all, doing something you love, and constantly striving to learn more and improve, you shouldn’t be bored. Boredom is a signal that something is amiss.
There are two types of bored: totally out of motivation and totally out of anything to do. If you find yourself with mundane work but no motivation to dive in, here are a few tips:
Take your work to another space
Perhaps a meeting room or an outside patio area to change your surroundings. Take a 10-minute break (set a timer) and leave your desk. When you return, don’t even think about it, just start working on the next thing on your list. If you give yourself even a few seconds to think about it, you’ll put the brakes on your momentum.
Tidy up your desk to feel like you’re getting a fresh start
If you’re out of work to do, that’s a wonderful place to be. Having mental space to be bored at work can be a goldmine for new ideas. Put down the phone, step away from the computer, sit in a different space and let your mind wander.
You’ll be amazed at the fresh ideas you’ll come up with. Write them all down, take a couple of the best ones, and present them to your boss. It’s a great way to show you’re a team player and be in the running for an upcoming promotion.
If you’ve already done that, then it’s always an amazing idea to ask your coworkers how you can lend them a hand.
Clean up your email
So, you’re bored at work and just can’t find anything to do until it’s time to finally leave the office, grab your favorite Chinese takeout and watch Netflix. Rather than waste that time, why not do something that every person on the planet needs to do, probably at this exact moment? That’s right, clean up your email!
Whether you have one main account or several that you use for different clients or customers, you probably have an inbox that is a bit overwhelming to scroll through.
With a search function, it makes it somewhat simple to search for an email, which is a good thing. But on the other hand, this can also make us not worry so much about keeping our inboxes clean, which can lead to all sorts of time-consuming situations.
When you know you’re going to have some downtime, set aside at least an hour to set up some folders and do a little organization. You can also subscribe from those newsletters that you always delete before even opening.
It’s just like having a clean house, as an organized inbox can make you feel more productive and “on top of things.” Who wouldn’t want to feel that way?
Marketing Director & Co-Founder, Ever Increasing Circles, Ltd
In answer to your inquiry, we have a standing order for our different teams where they are encouraged to get creative, problem-solve or research.
New design concepts
For our design teams in particular, whether that be graphic, web or video design, we encourage them to come up with new design concepts and/or research potential ones they would like to emulate in future projects. They are then free to work on mock-ups that they can present to heads of departments in weekly catch up meetings.
We find this process to be a great way to encourage creative thinking as each team member is essentially free to run with a concept of their choice. This process has led to some really excellent creative concepts that we’ve then been able to pitch to clients.
It’s a great motivation strategy for team members also as it becomes very much a show-and-tell exercise where they get to show off their latest creation to fellow team members.
It sparks some excellent discussions and further creative ideas which the team can then collaborate on as a group. So I highly encourage that as a route to getting your creative teams to be free-thinking.
Read up or watch videos on the latest industry news
We also encourage our teams to take the time to read up or watch videos on the latest industry news, tools and concepts at a pooled library of blogs and YouTube channels we’ve collectively approved of.
This is a great way to keep team members working effectively as they may see an update they’ve missed and adjusted their workflows or techniques accordingly.
In addition, they often times spot something the whole team will have missed and brought it to our attention. So again this is a valuable way for the team to stay engaged and productive rather than sink into boredom.
And you know what, sometimes after a really tough run of deadlines, its only natural for people in our teams to feel a little tired. When we feel that, it’s time for a little R&R and a fun team event to recharge and reflect.
And we let said team members come up with a concept for a team night out and plan it how they want.
Take the time to document “tribal knowledge”
Tribal knowledge refers to the things a person does, because of his or her experience, to get the job done, but are not necessarily written down or formalized as a practice.
Many people know more than what is documented concerning processes and practices that make completing a task easier. Taking the time to document the process flow or practice that saves time, energy and money allow those who are learning to become more effective and efficient at doing their jobs.
Owner, Wayzata Dental
Try something new, out of the ordinary, and be okay with it not totally working out
I love when people ask me this question. I always start with what it is we go to work for – to be productive. No matter what company you work for, your job is to produce in a way that is beneficial for the company. If you find yourself bored at work, that just means its time to be creative and find a new way to be productive.
Boredom is an invitation to be creative and think about your job in a new way. It may sound unorthodox, but I promise you it will make your day more interesting and maybe even change your job for the better.
For me, filing paperwork is very tedious. I derive no joy from it whatsoever. Changing my perspective started by asking why I file paperwork in the first place.
The answer is because I can’t service my customers if I don’t have proper documentation, and organization of their files. I needed to see filing their paperwork as a form of extreme care and service – one they may never see but remains essential all the same.
That slight perspective change switched the emotions behind filing paperwork for me. Is it still tedious? Yes. But I care a whole lot more now.
Director, ActiveWin Media
This is not the creepy version. Make it worthwhile. Look up thought leaders and influencers in your industry on Twitter and LinkedIn to see what they’re talking about.
Most of the time, industry leaders will share thoughts and opinions about the latest goings-on in and around their field. Are there conversations and thoughts about topics where you can either have some input or take away some new insight?
On LinkedIn, look up hashtags of topics relating to your interests and industries, and follow them. This way, you can keep abreast of activity across the industry and beyond your current connections.
If you particularly like content from a particular person, then you can follow or connect with them, and maybe next time you’re bored at work, you could chat with them.
This accomplishes a few things; your business gets exposure purely from your posts because your job title and company are in your profile. You are also building a personal brand for yourself by engaging with others in your industry and you might learn a few new tricks to try in your role, making you a more valuable employee.
Founder & CEO, Mavens & Moguls
- Professional development. Finding conferences, networking events with speakers, online webinars or talks, and books to keep my skills fresh and add new tools to my toolkit.
- Get to know people in other functions by setting up lunch and coffee meetings to find out more about what they do and who they are, the more you connect will strengthen working relationships too.
- Get organized. Clean out old files (paper and online) and go through bookshelves to get rid of old and outdated info you no longer use. You will feel great after and have more energy too!
Business Writing Coach | Author, The Workplace Writer’s Process
Consider writing a post for your corporate blog or your personal blog
What should you write about?
- A problem that your customers face, and how they might address it.
- Something you have learned in your role that would benefit others coming up in the same field.
- A trend you see happening or a prediction for the near-term future in your business area.
The act of writing forces you to think deeply about the topic and deep thought is always a good thing. If your business has a blog, the team running it probably welcomes submissions. You may earn their lasting gratitude.
Better yet, by publishing your thoughts in your own name, you’ll expand your online presence. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median job tenure is shrinking just over 4 years (3.8 in the private sector).
Writing and publishing build an online reputation that you rely on in the coming years. Your words expand your reach and presence in the world.
Organize your workspace
When I get bored at work, it’s usually because I’m not sure where to go with a task I am doing or how to prioritize the things on my to-do list. My favorite thing to do during these moments is to get organized.
Having an organized desk helps me clear my mind and get the creative juices flowing so I can attack the rest of the day.
Boredom provides the perfect opportunity for reflection and growth. Think about the professional goals you set for yourself this year and how close you are to hitting them or if you’ve surpassed them. Then build a plan of how you’ll knock your other goals out of the park.
Didn’t set goals for the year? This is the perfect time to figure them out. If you want to ask for a raise, self-evaluation is a powerful tool to help you get there and show your boss why you’re worth it.
Certified Life Coach | Business Consultant, Maple Holistics
Listen to podcasts or Youtube videos
There is literally an infinite amount of information on YouTube and the internet. There are a lot of great podcasts on relevant topics to many professions and useful skills.
If you are bored at work but want to kill time while being productive, listen to a podcast that can help you develop a new skill you can use at work.
There are ample podcasts and YouTube videos on website building and development, social media marketing, and even basic things like psychology that can help you in everyday interactions.
Certified Personal Trainer | CEO, Anabolic Bodies
If you’re bored, you’re probably going to start feeling tired, unmotivated, and lethargic. Going for a quick walk or doing some stretches at your desk will help give you a boost of energy and revitalize you for getting back on track.
This will also improve your health, since sitting for long periods of time isn’t good for your body, and jumpstart your fitness game.
Interior and Furniture Designer, Mirror Coop
Catch up on reading
I constantly have a stack of books on my “To-Read” list, but I don usually have enough time to read them all. So, I always keep a few in my desk drawer to pull out when I started to get bored.
At work, I only read books about my industry or business in general. I figure that, if I’m at work for 8-10 hours a day, I might as well use that time to better myself in a professional sense. I save novels and unrelated non-fiction books for weekends and vacations.
I started reading at work because I realized that I was spending most of my downtime on Twitter and Instagram. It’s fun to look at pictures of donuts and stay up-to-date on which high school friends got married, but scrolling through social feeds for hours isn’t very productive.
Work-related reading actually makes me feel like I’m getting something done, even if the office is slow.
Owner, Phlash Consulting
What we have found is that when people are bored at work, there are two important things they can do.
Train or create training materials
Because they are so good at their job they find themselves bored, maybe they are an expert at their job and can teach someone else how to do it, so they can get that promotion they want. Not only does training someone else pass the time, but it is also productive and looks very good in the eyes of management.
Maybe you don’t train someone fully, you could also create a guide for a new person who may be stepping into your role in the future.
Network and learn
Asking to shadow someone in your company is a great way to network and learn more about a position you may want in the future.
Human Resources Director, Datadial
It is unrealistic for employers to believe that their employees will never have a slow day at work. Most industries have a period of natural downtime, so it is important to teach your employees how to maximize this time efficiently even if they are bored!
Productive suggestions may include something as simple as:
Email clutter can cause an incredible amount of anxiety for an employee and their workload, so maintaining a clean email inbox is paramount for maintaining a healthy mindset.
Take being bored at work as an opportunity to unsubscribe from unnecessary newsletters, time to organize important emails in folders and separate work from personal emails.
Brush up on existing skills
For employees, another easy and efficient way to remain occupied when you’re bored at work is to brush up on existing skills.
Whether this is simply listening to productivity podcasts, reaching out to other experts in your field or taking time to teach yourself a new skill, giving yourself time to explore your abilities will allow you to step out of your comfort zone when you are not overloaded with other work tasks.
Not only does it show you are a proactive worker, but the value it will add to your career development will be fantastic as you expand on your resume.
Founder, Insure Chance Inc.
When things start slowing down at work and boredom creeps in, one of the best things to do from my experience is to meditate.
Although sitting still with your eyes closed while listening to zen music seems like the furthest thing from productivity, it is by far the most productive.
By clearing your mind of daily chatter you will open up space for fresh ideas, get solutions to current problems or gain a new perspective to improve existing processes. If that wasn’t enough you’ll have much more focus and calmness that will improve your work output.
Related: Best Time to Meditate
Founder, Money Life Wax
Whether you’re stuck in a staff meeting, you work for the federal government, or it is just the slow season at work, being productive when you’re bored at work is something that will help you not only pass the time, but also save you time in your personal life. Here are some ideas to consider:
See how much “House Work” you can get done at work
Outside of work, most of your time at home will be consumed with tasks like grocery shopping, cleaning, doing laundry, paying bills and other chore type activities.
For example, create your grocery list and order it online, pay your bills, schedule your appointments, talk to your kid’s teachers, check their grades and do anything possible while bored at work.
This might seem like a no brainer, but here is the catch: Most of the time people will instead just surf social media.
To help you turn boredom into productivity, create a weekly list on your phone of things you would like to get done at work. Prioritize it from most important to least, and whenever you get a chance, get to cracking out your list.
Jot down some ideas
When the hours are ticking by slowly, yet you’ve finished your work for the day, it doesn’t mean that you still can’t find something constructive to do until it’s time to go home.
One thing that we all suffer from is a lack of creativity from time to time. So, rather than make impulse buys on Amazon, you can have a little personal brainstorming session!
Whether it’s for a current project, or you’re wanting to do a little marketing, jot down some ideas, find some email templates or come up with some ideas for a fun infographic.
When we are super busy, it almost feels as if we can’t allow ourselves the time to draw a little inspiration, so we tend to go with what we already know works, instead of testing something new. When you have some downtime, you can use it for exactly that!
CEO & Co-Founder, DialMyCalls
Below are a few ways to remain productive when you’re bored at work:
Take a break
Often when you’re bored it means that you may have been doing the same repetitive thing for a few hours. Get out the office and take a walk to get some air and change your scenery.
Boredom hits for different reasons – it could be because we either have too much to do, or too little. The best way to overcome boredom to do a brain dump.
This can help you prioritize what’s important, what you’ve been putting off, or in general what’s on your mind. The brain dump can be a mix of personal and business tasks.
Listen to music
Create a work playlist that’s full of inspirational anthems or upbeat tunes to keep you motivated throughout the day. There are studies that prove music can make a huge difference by increasing focus and changing your mood.
Investor, Equal Realty, LLC
Read a book or an article in a field that interests you
Idle times often occur when we are at work. What we do with that time can shape our lives in either a positive or negative way. The next time you are bored, instead of checking social media or mindlessly snacking, learn something.
Many successful entrepreneurs have developed and executed business plans while working a “9 to 5.” The first step to any successful business is education.
Spend time learning, then spend time developing a way to put your knowledge into action. This will pay off infinitely more times than your social media habits.
Marketing Manager, Hockerty
Organizing yourself and your environment
Including cleaning your email inbox, which is the perfect moment to unsubscribe from all those communications with emails you never open.
It is also the perfect moment to clean your computer desktop files and save them into the right folders. And physical cleaning, time to put everything in order in your desk, organize those papers and make you and people around you feel better in the office.