There are a lot of ways to be productive and just as many productive things to do. But there are probably even more ways that you can waste your time at any given moment. Think of one thing that you normally do that you know is a waste of time.
Did something come to you immediately? What was it?
- A magazine?
These things are great. And they all have a time and place. BUT, when you start replacing your boredom with Facebook, you have a problem.
Like an emergency alert
Many people don’t like feeling bored. I’m one of them. I hate that feeling of calm excitement. Like an ocean that looks smooth and glassy, all while powerful currents crash underneath the surface.
With time though, I’ve come to see boredom as a signal. Kind of like… do you ever get those emergency text notifications on your phone? The ones that say something akin to – Emergency Alert: Flash flood warning this area?
Right. That’s how I see boredom.
Like an emergency notification from my mind. But instead of warning me about a potential flood, it exclaims – Emergency Alert: You are excited and aren’t doing anything about it! Because often when I’m bored it means that whatever I’m doing isn’t holding my attention.
I have excess energy that isn’t being utilized. Like a car filled with gas that sits idle in traffic; wanting to move forward, to go fast, but isn’t. It’s just sitting there.
Something productive to do
I’ve learned that boredom is my mind telling me to do something else. But, like most people, just because I’m bored doesn’t mean that I always use that time wisely. When I’m feeling bored, you can find me on Snapchat; watching one of their short videos in the explore section or whatever they call it.
Are the videos entertaining? Sometimes.
Is watching them a good use of my time? Not as of yet.
It feels like a waste and I know it. I’m not using boredom to my advantage. And therein lies my mistake.
Using the car analogy from before, it’s like getting off the crowded freeway to instead go sit in an In-N-Out drive-through. Sure, you’re doing something with your car besides sitting in traffic, but you’re still not going anywhere.
In fact, depending on the time of day, you’re likely stuck in a long line, doing even more idling.
Even in the waiting room
You can use boredom to your advantage though. You can be smart with your time, even when:
- Sitting in a doctor’s waiting room
- Unloading the dishwasher
- Waiting for your oil change to be completed
- Sitting on hold with the cable company (again)
- Idling in traffic
- Or when stuck at home with “nothing to do”
When you feel bored, recognize it as a notification from your mind. And when you receive that alert, don’t opt for something mindless and unproductive. Choose something that will help you move forward in some way.
Something that will help you achieve your goals, make progress, or help you create a more fulfilling life for yourself.
What to do when bored at home
I recently completed David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done. I read it as part of my goal to complete at least two books each month and found it to be quite insightful.
Among other lessons, one thing I took away from it was the concept of a bored list. The premise behind it is simple:
- Create a list of tasks that you can do when you’re bored
- Next time you’re bored, look at that list and work through it
Here’s an example. The other night, I was relaxing. My wife and I were watching something on Netflix. I was laying on the couch. And, for whatever reason, the show was just not connecting with me. I was incredibly bored and not enjoying the downtime that I was after.
So, I pulled up my bored list.
And one of the tasks on my list was to transfer photos from my phone into the cloud. Something super easy and mindless. I took action. No show was going to hold my attention anyways. I just wasn’t in the mood for it.
But instead of wasting my time by complaining or going on Snapchat, I used it productively. I transferred my photos, checked an item off my list while still relaxing, and made good use of that excess energy.
What productive things can I do? Use this list.
My bored list sits at the top of my schedule. And when I’m bored, it’s the place I go to use that time well. You can put your list anywhere though. The where doesn’t matter as long as you know where to find it.
There are a lot of productive things to do when you’re bored. There are a lot of ways to wisely expend your excess energy.
As you move through the following list of ideas, recognize which ones stand out to you. Write them down, add them to your own bored list, and when you next find yourself bored at home or waiting in line at the grocery store, pull it up and do something productive with time that would be otherwise wasted.
*Note: Before you can be productive, you first need to understand what it is that you want (so that you move in the right direction). To help with that, I suggest checking out my goal success course.
Productive things to do when bored at home (by category)
Productive things to do: Improve yourself
Personal development is all about being your best. It’s about making incremental improvements each and every day and continuously leveling yourself up. Whether you’re looking for productive things to do at work, home, or while stuck in line somewhere, personal development is a great place to start.
Here are some productive things that you can do for personal development.
1. Learn something new
One of the best things to do to be productive when bored is to learn something new. Whether that means:
- Reading a book
- Going through a course on goal success
- Or reviewing that article you’ve been meaning to check out
There is no better investment for your boredom than learning.
2. Productive things to do: Hone your talent
What are you good at? How can you get even better? Determine your strengths and work on building them up even more. One area that I’ve recently been improving on is my reading ability.
As a former slow reader, I’ve been practicing speed reading this year and have witnessed some great results because of it.
Although mentioned in number one above, reading is really an item all its own. There are so many amazing books out there. Ones with adventure, wisdom, emotion, and more.
When you’re bored (especially at home on a rainy day), I highly recommend picking up a book.
*Note: If you’re interested, you can see every book that I’ve read this year here.
4. Productive things to do: Visit the library
Yep, more reading. It’s one of the best ways that you can end boredom and do something meaningful with your time. Now, if your library isn’t open, not a problem. You can get a free library card online and then rent books and audiobooks through the free app, Libby.
I haven’t personally used Libby yet, but my wife and sister are avid fans.
5. Go to a museum
One of the more creative and productive activities to do at home is to take a digital tour of a museum. Many famous museums have virtual walkthroughs that you can participate in.
Is it as good as the real thing? What do you think?
Is it a thoughtful way to productively use boredom though? Definitely.
6. Productive things to do: Make a playlist
Create two playlists for yourself:
- With music that helps you focus
- With music that makes you want to dance
Both are important. Use your focus playlist when you need to get work done and your dance playlist when you need a break.
7. Listen to a podcast
Podcasts are perfect to listen to while commuting, making dinner, you name it. One of my favorites is The Tim Ferriss Show.
He has some amazing guests on there and does a great job eliciting thoughtful responses from them.
8. Productive things to do: Learn from mistakes
Have a misstep that you keep revisiting in your head over and over again? See it as a lesson to be learned. Create a new note on your phone and write down:
- What you wanted to happen
- What actually happened
- And how you will do things differently next time
This is something I will be doing myself as I finish the book Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell (where I originally came across the idea).
9. Set goals
Goal setting is incredibly important. It adds a direction to your time, a focus. Without it, you can be productive but lost. Like a ship without a compass or map.
If you want to be more deliberate about your time, I can’t recommend goal setting enough. I know it can be challenging though. In fact, here’s a post about my (many) struggles with goal setting.
*Note: If you’re struggling with some goals in your life currently, or want to start setting goals in your life, I recommend checking out my goal success course.
10. Productive things to do: Write a letter to your future self
Here’s one of the more fun productive things to do – write a letter to yourself.
I wrote one to myself a few years back and will have it locked away for a total of 10 years. Part time-capsule of my life in that moment, part prediction for what I hope my future will look like, the letter is patiently waiting to be opened and enjoyed.
Productive things to do: Try something new
Doing new things is an excellent way to learn and grow. By pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, or by testing out new things that interest you, you open yourself up to a whole slew of new opportunities.
It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for productive things to do at home, on vacation, or in some other locale, there are many unique things that you could be trying out right now.
Take a look at the list below and get inspired to experience something new.
11. Change your morning routine
If you’ve been in a rut lately, consider changing your morning routine. After all, your morning routine is the first impression of your day. The better the morning, the better your afternoon and evening will be.
You can learn more about creating a morning routine here. You can also get some ideas for your routine here.
12. Productive things to do: Create an evening routine
Don’t have a bedtime ritual? You probably do but don’t realize it. Your evening routine is the last impression of your day and sets you up for success tomorrow. So don’t neglect it. If you’re bored and want to switch things up, change up your night routine.
You can learn how to do so here.
13. Try stargazing
If you have a good vantage point or live in an area without too much interfering light, try stargazing. Do some research beforehand on what to look for and then go out and enjoy the vastness of space.
14. Productive things to do: Go camping
Here’s one of the more adventurous and productive things to do at home when bored – plan a camping trip. You don’t necessarily need to go on it right now, but you can start planning for it.
Give yourself something fun to look forward to. Gather supplies, get your gear ready, and then go out and enjoy yourself. You’ll feel much closer to nature and will get a much-needed rest from technology for the night.
It also pairs nicely with stargazing.
15. Venture outside
Take a break from work, regain some balance, and try something new outside. Maybe do a little yoga on the lawn. Maybe try going on a hike. Explore your interests and tackle an activity that you’ve never tried before.
16. Productive things to do: Watch tutorials
Speaking of interests, now’s a great time to explore them. Is there some activity that you’ve always wanted to try but never learned how? Like the previously mentioned yoga?
Go on YouTube, find a video, and start doing it.
17. Learn a foreign language
Along those same lines, you can apply the principles from number 16 to learning a foreign language as well. Then, as you begin to master that language…
18. Productive things to do: Visit the land of the language you learned
Well… maybe not right this second. But definitely in the future. Especially as you become more advanced in your skills, you’ll want to go visit the place in person. So start planning for it now.
There’s no rush and it’s a great use of your bored-time.
19. Keep one plant alive
This is probably one of the stranger productive things to do, but bear with me. I currently have three plants that I’m growing right now and it’s… well… oddly rewarding.
You can spend time researching the plants you want and how to take care of them. You can purchase them and begin nourishing them. And from there you can watch them grow.
Start with just one plant and see how you do!
*Note: In case you’re curious, I use an app called Planta for information about watering schedules. And the plants I currently have are:
- Lucky bamboo
- Peace lily
- And bird’s nest fern
20. Productive things to do: Start a bullet journal
If you don’t currently have a system in place for note-taking, planning, or thought-jotting, consider starting a bullet journal. Here are a few ideas to help you get started.
21. Bring on a coach
The term “coach” comes with a lot of baggage. Some people think of their mean middle-school soccer coach. Others think of faux-therapists masquerading as wellness experts.
I totally get it.
However, when it comes to achieving your goals, I know how powerful it can be to have someone that knows what they’re doing guide you forward. For that reason, I recommend enrolling in my goal success course here.
Productive things to do: Invest in your future
Looking ahead and creating a plan for it is one of the best ways that you can spend your downtime. Plus, it’s fun to do!
Consider where you are today and imagine where you’d like to be tomorrow. Then with your plan of the future ready, you can start to take action and move forward in that direction.
Here are some productive things to do to help create a brighter future for yourself.
22. Learn how to grow your money
Or at the very least, get a retirement account set up. It’s one of those productive things to do in life that will pay off massively as you approach the future. Now, I know this topic can feel overwhelmingly complex and time-consuming – but hey – you’re bored so why not take a few minutes to look into it?
I found this book by Tony Robbins to be truly insightful and actionable.
*Note: I’m always looking for new money-related books to read (ie. investing, budgeting, saving). If there’s a book that you think I should check out, please tell me! Either drop a comment below or send me an email.
23. Productive things to do: Again, set some goals
Please, for my sake, if you haven’t set any goals in your life yet, do me a favor and set some. You will be surprised by how much of an impact they will make on your future.
To get started with goals – check out my guide or enroll in my course.
24. Spend time with those that push and challenge you
Do you have a friend that is super motivating? That when you end your time together you:
- Get in your car
- Pull up a new note on your phone
- Jot down a ton of ideas
- And can’t wait to get home to start implementing them?
If you have someone in your life like that, call them. Right now. That’ll put an end to your boredom, but more importantly, it will give you a nice lift in inspiration.
25. Productive things to do: Meet up with someone that you can learn from
Here’s one of the more useful things to do when bored – find someone to learn from. I love meeting new people that I can learn from. It’s like eating at an upscale buffet, but for my mind. It’s so satisfying and always leaves me feeling inspired and motivated to put that newfound knowledge into action.
So if you’re bored, see if there’s someone of interest that you can reach out to and learn from.
*Note: I found Judy Robinett’s book, How to Be a Power Connector, to be quite helpful on this matter.
26. Start a side project
Also known as a side hustle or side business, this is a great way to earn some extra money and pursue your larger goals – all while warding off boredom.
Now, I’ve started a lot of side projects – many of which have failed. But I learned a great deal from those experiences and have continued to use those lessons as I move forward. In fact, QuickBooost (what you’re reading right now), started off as a side project and is now my full-time gig.
If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, starting a side project is a great productive thing to do when bored.
27. Productive things to do: Test out new time management strategies
While you’re bored, why not try out a new time management strategy or two? That way you can spend more time doing what you enjoy – and less on what you don’t.
Check out my post here for some strategies to test.
28. Create a plan to pay off debt
It seems like many of the things to do that are productive with your time include evaluating your finances. And no task is more important in that regard than creating a plan to pay off any debts that you owe.
Consider how much you make (monthly), how much you spend (monthly), and how you can use that extra income to pay off your bills.
29. Productive things to do: Create a list of travel destinations
It doesn’t matter if you’re not traveling at this very moment, you can still use this time to get excited about the future. So pull up a note on your phone, do a little digging through Lonely Planet or Pinterest, and start listing all of the amazing places you will travel to.
Then… start planning the trips!
30. Try some productivity hacks
This productive thing to do is similar to number 27, but that’s ok. Productivity hacks are just as valuable as time management strategies. That said, you can see my post on hacks here.
31. Productive things to do: Start planning your days
If you’re not already a planner, I highly recommend that you become one. Because when combined with your goals, having a plan for your time allows you to focus on things that actually matter.
You can learn more about planning here.
*Note: Speaking of goals, you can see my current goals right here.
Productive things to do: Have fun
One of my favorite productive things to do is simple – do something fun! It’s similar to the previous section (Try something new), except doing something fun doesn’t necessarily need to be something original.
As long as you find joy in doing it, that’s a great use of your time. Here are some productive things to do with that in mind.
32. Relax and embrace nostalgia
I love Pokemon. I grew up playing it and still return to it from time to time. Now, to the outsider, playing Pokemon for a few hours may not seem like a thoughtful use of time.
But screw the outsiders. I’m having too much fun reliving my childhood.
So, yes, I consider embracing childhood nostalgia as one of the fun and productive things to do when bored. Especially when you’re stuck at home. Especially when it gives you a chance to relax and re-energize yourself.
33. Productive things to do: Go for a bike ride somewhere scenic
Jump on a bike and go ride by someplace beautiful. That could be the beach, a mountain, a building, whatever. Go spend an hour exploring and taking in the scenery.
34. Practice origami
Because… why not? If you want to do productive activities at home… this could just possibly be it. At the very least, you may learn something new.
35. Productive things to do: Share your knowledge
Here’s another of the fun productive things to do at home if you’re bored… make a how-to video for YouTube and share your knowledge with the world.
Best case, you help someone. Worst case, you spend a few hours doing something fun.
36. Construct paper airplanes
And once they’re built, have a competition in your backyard. It’s fun, easy to do, and is great for a quick burst of entertainment.
37. Productive things to do: Build a blanket fort
I love doing this one with my daughter and wife. It’s a fun way to spend time at home bonding.
38. Challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone
Is there something you know you should do but have been putting it off? Now’s a great time for it.
39. Productive things to do: Make a new dish
Jump on Pinterest and look up some recipes to try.
A few years ago, I found a pancake recipe using this method and it’s now a family favorite. Finding a new recipe is one of those productive things to do when bored at home that really pays off (as long as you find a good dish).
40. Start a new hobby
I love to read. I’ve noticed other common hobbies include:
- Guitar playing
- Bread making
The list goes on, but you get it. If you’re bored at home, try implementing a new hobby.
41. Productive things to do: Become a better decision maker
Umm… how is making decisions fun? Ya, that’s a solid question. Here’s your answer – the better you are at making decisions, the less friction you will have in your life. So by enhancing that skill, you are removing much discomfort down the road, thus allowing yourself to have more future fun.
Here’s my post on becoming a better decision maker.
Productive things to do: Better your health
One of the best uses of your time, and one of the top productive things to do, is to get healthy. Whether that means striving for a healthier mind or body, being healthy allows you to feel better, look better, and do better.
Plus, you will have more energy. Energy that you can use to work towards your goals. With that in mind, here are some productive things you can do to get healthier.
42. Watch the sunrise (or sunset)
This is one of those productive things to do outside that is great for contemplation and relaxation. Grab a chair, put in your headphones along with some music that you love, and watch the sun move through the sky.
43. Productive things to do: Go for a swim
Pretty straightforward – swimming is a great form of exercise. Try it out.
44. Take a walk
What are some productive things to do? Things that are particularly easy and beneficial? Here’s one – get outside and take a walk. Walking always helps clear my mind and see problems in a new way.
Oh and while on your walk, tell yourself 20 things that you are grateful for. Try it and see how you feel.
45. Productive things to do: Go airplane mode
If you want to know what to do to be productive, here’s another great idea – put your phone on airplane mode. Take a break from the constant notifications and give yourself the chance to focus on whatever is most important to you.
See more helpful productivity habits here.
46. Take a nap
Don’t take one because you’re procrastinating though. In that case, you’re better off just doing your work.
But if you’re bored, having nothing to do, and are having a tough time keeping your eyes open, try taking a short power nap.
47. Productive things to do: Go for a hike
Similar to number 15, one of my favorite productive things to do is to get outside into nature. Explore a new trail away from your boring house.
48. Try something new physically
Here’s one of the more challenging things to do to feel productive – do a new physical activity. Make a list of four or five exercises you always wanted to partake in and then make it happen. Some ideas include:
- Weight lifting
49. Productive things to do: Envision your ideal body
Imagine what your ideal body looks like. Are you a little trimmer? Or maybe a little bigger and stronger? Consider what would make you feel most confident and then create a plan to make it happen.
*Note: I used the free version of MyFitness Pal to help me lose ~ 30 lbs.
50. Create a new food regime
If you have a regular routine that you follow, you likely eat similar foods each day. If that is the case, one of the smartest and productive things to do when you’re bored is to reevaluate your meals.
Look at your average breakfast. Is it as healthy as it can be? Or is there something small that you can sub out to make it healthier? For example, I used to eat flavored greek yogurt each morning but now eat plain greek yogurt with a little cinnamon; fewer calories, fewer ingredients.
Do that across all your meals and watch how much better you feel.
51. Productive things to do: Clear out your mental clutter
When I have a lot of thoughts bouncing around in my head, I write them down. I get everything out of my brain and onto paper so that I can focus. Then at the end of each day, I look at that list, organize it, and move each item to its rightful home.
I highly recommend doing this if you feel like you have a lot of ideas bouncing around in your head.
52. Talk to a pro
There’s a stigma around speaking to a mental health professional. Even saying mental health professional comes with its own bag of feelings. Who cares though! If you really want to be your best, I highly recommend chatting with a licensed professional about whatever you feel needs chatting about.
I’ve regularly seen a psychologist over the last few years and have gotten immense benefit from it. I’ve learned a great deal about myself and how I process things.
And those are realizations that have positively impacted every single area of my life.
Productive things to do: Get organized
To conclude the list of productive things to do when bored at home, try getting organized.
I love putting things in their place and preparing for whatever I need to do next. Whether that’s planning out my day or clearing off my desk, I find getting organized to be a satisfying activity.
With that in mind, here are some various ways that you can get organized in your own life.
53. Create email templates
Create email templates for both your personal and professional emails. It will save you so much time – especially if you often find yourself repeating the same messages over and over.
*Bonus: If you like that, here are some other things to try.
54. Productive things to do: Clean out your junk drawer
What productive things can I do at home? This one is a must! You definitely have some drawer or cabinet filled with junk in your house. Put on some music, get a trash bag ready, and clean it out.
55. Organize your kitchen drawers
On a similar note, another little something productive to do at home is to clean out your kitchen drawers. While you have your music blaring and your trash bag on hand from the junk drawer, might as well go through the kitchen too, right?
56. Productive things to do: Organize the spices
And since you’re now in the kitchen, it’s a prime opportunity to get your spices and other such condiments in order. I know how quickly those things can get out of control, so if you’re bored at home, this one is a must.
57. Check expiration dates
One more thing! Here’s another of the things to do at home to be productive – check the expiration dates on your food. Throw out the expired goods and make a plan to purchase new staples in their place.
58. Productive things to do: Prep your meals for the week
Hey look! Another (of the many) useful things to do at home – get your meals ready for the week. Or at the very least, plan for what meals you will have.
That way there will be no surprises and no wasted time scrambling to figure out what to scramble.
59. Plan out your week
Every Sunday, I sit down and plan out my week. I look at my goals, check out my calendar, and map out each day. Doing so has allowed me to go into my weeks with focus and determination.
You can learn more about my Sunday practices here.
60. Productive things to do: Make backups of everything
If you’re still wondering how to be productive at home when bored, try this – make a backup of everything digitally important to you. Sync your data with the cloud, get your laptop backed up.
Do whatever you need to do to get the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you have copies of everything important.
61. Organize your phone
What to do to be productive at home, you ask? Here’s an easy one – organize the apps on your phone. I bet you don’t use all of the apps on your phone. In fact, you probably only use a fraction.
Delete the ones you aren’t using and remove the excess clutter.
*Note: If you are looking for new apps to install after cleaning up your phone, check this out.
62. Productive things to do: Get your goals in order
To add to the list of things to do to be productive at home, be sure to check in on your goals. Consider:
- Are they still positively serving you?
- Are you making the progress that you want?
- Do you need to make any adjustments?
Evaluate your goals and decide if you need to change anything up.
If you want help achieving your goals, check out my goal success course.
Productive things to do when you are bored at home
That’s it! You’ve made it through the entire list of productive things to do when bored at home. I know there’s a lot to go through so to make it a little easier, here is what I suggest you tackle from each category:
- Improve yourself – Read
- Try something new – Keep one plant alive
- Invest in your future – Again, set some goals
- Have fun – Make a new dish
- Better your health – Take a walk
- Get organized – Plan out your week
If you even do a quarter of the things I just listed, you will surely eliminate boredom and positively set yourself up for a better future.
Productive things to do moving forward
There are a lot of productive things to do when bored. Start working toward something amazing today and give one of the activities above a try.
With each new experience, you’ll learn more about yourself. In time, you’ll formulate an even better understanding of what motivates and inspires you. And with those ideas in mind, you can create new goals and start building a better future off of that.
So say goodbye to boredom and say hello to a more fulfilled life.