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15 Productive Things to do When you are Bored at Work
You may be at work for a total of 8 hours but studies show that you are only clocking about 3 productive hours in a work day!
This begs the question… What’s going on during those other 5 hours? Surely your internet scrolling isn’t taking up that much time.
There are a number of gaps in a day. These brain breaks are important for mental health but also to fill our personal energy gas tanks. Sometimes, we just have to scroll socials and learn a new tik tok dance but other times, you want to fill these brain breaks with something a bit more productive.
Here are 15 things you can do when you are bored at work and still be productive.
1. Learn or refine a second (or third) language
How often do you get “the twitch” to scroll? A Statistica survey shows that nearly half of people spend 5-6 hours a day on their phone. What if you spend even a fraction of that time learning something valuable like another language? There are great apps like Duolingo that can help you learn a new language with mini lessons, keeping your brain sharp and being productive at the same time.
2. Delete Phone Pictures
Do you have 10,000 pictures on your phone?
Plants or bugs to identify later?
When you get the twitch, go straight to your pictures and challenge yourself to delete 10 photos each time you pick up your phone. You will thank yourself next time you’re looking for that one picture of your dog to show a friend that you don’t need to scroll through 50 screen shots of memes.
3. Inbox Zero
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
It may seem like a dream but reaching inbox zero is absolutely obtainable, especially if you pick away at it. Much like going through your pictures, deleting 10 emails at a time will add up quickly if you have a large backlog. A handy trick is to archive emails when the task or actionable is complete, this allows you to still search for and find the information in that email but also reserve the valuable space in your inbox for more timely and pressing content.
4. Practice Gratitude
When was the last time that you received a handwritten letter or card? Even if physically writing a note is not your thing, sending a quick email or text to someone expressing gratitude for something will make both parties feel warm and fuzzy inside. You can also leave positive reviews on your favourite product or podcast. Not only does this make the creator feel appreciated, but it helps to get their works out in the world so that more people can enjoy them.
5. Create a Positive Feedback Folder
On the same wavelength as practising gratitude, collecting gratitude for your own work is equally valuable. It’s easy to get lost in day to day work but having a place, whether it’s physical or a folder in your inbox, to gather positive feedback directed at you is a worthwhile venture. On days that you feel things aren’t going quite right, pull up that folder and read through some of the great feedback you’ve received on your work.
6. Learn a Skill
There are a number of affordable or even free resources online to learn new skills, some even offer certificates of completion or formal accreditation. LinkedIn Learning is a great program available to Premium LinkedIn account holders for a small monthly fee. Courses that you take through this program will generate a certificate that you can attach to your LinkedIn profile to further demonstrate your abilities and support your existing work experiences.
7. Meal Plan
What’s for supper? If you find yourself with a break in your day, you can plan your meals for the week in a few short minutes. Inspire yourself with a Google search of a favourite dish or even create a pinterest board with meal ideas you would like to try. Taking the time to write out a grocery list of exactly what you need will not only save you time but also save you money from impulse buying junk at the grocery store.
8. Physical activity
Sometimes, the best thing that you can do is just get up and move your body. Even if it is just a walk around the office, physical activity can be just what you need to break up any work related boredom and come back to your work with a little energy boost and ready to focus on the task at hand.
9. Clean or Declutter Your Workspace
When was the last time you dusted your desk? Having a workspace that is clear of distraction is a great way to help you focus. Your workspace should inspire you, not drain you. Take a couple moments to clean up, rearrange, and surround yourself with anything that brings you joy like pictures of family or even plants. If you want to green up your space, check out this list of plants that will survive in an office environment.
10. Ted Talk or Podcast
If you need a couple of moments to escape whatever it is you are working on, why not pull up a Ted Talk or podcast? With a quick search of your industry, you can find great content that is both informative and entertaining. The great thing about audio content is that you can have it playing in the background while you engage in simpler tasks like cleaning your desk or archiving emails. And who knows, you may just learn something!
11. Update Your Online Bios
Visit each of your social platforms and check out your bio, chances are that it is still the one that you set up when you first signed up for that platform. If your bio includes song lyrics, it is time for an update. Think of the intention of the platform and have a bio appropriate to that purpose, your bio on Facebook should look different than your bio on LinkedIn for example.
12. Daydream or Meditate
Yes, daydream is on a list of productive things to do when you are bored at work. New studies have found that thinking for pleasure (aka daydreaming) is actually a skill that, like any other skill, can be made better with practise. Daydreaming can make us happier and foster creativity. Meditating is another way that people can look internally and be present in their mind and body. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a fancy yoga mat, complete silence, or even incense to meditate and you can do it right from your desk! There are many great apps on online programs that can help you learn how to meditate, no experience needed.
13. Pick up a Book
With the popularity and accessibility of ebooks and audiobooks, you don’t even need to carry around a physical copy anymore. By downloading a book to your computer or smartphone, you can indulge in a productive distraction. Challenge yourself to reading a chapter a day or even join a book club for accountability. If you are looking to learn more, there are likely a number of interesting and informative books written by people in your industry. If you are looking for pure entertainment, the same suggestions apply!
14. Coffee Date
Meetings (professional or personal) are made that much better by a hot cup of coffee, challenge yourself to book at least one coffee date a week. Leaving your work space for a quick catch up with a friend is great for your mental health, the energy from the caffeine is an added bonus. Challenge yourself to booking at least one personal outing a week.
Do yourself a favour and buy a cute notebook or use one of the dozen that are likely stuffed in a drawer somewhere. Sometimes, ideas pop into your head and having a physical location to brain dump gives us permission to leave an idea and refer back to later. If you are bored at work, you can always refer to these thoughts or ideas and decide if there is anything you may be able to act upon later. This journal can also be a landing page for general reflections throughout the day which are equally as fun to review.
Turn your boredom into something productive and get the most of your days!