Time and again we find ourselves sitting at our workstations, waiting for a task review, the next job to be assigned or just waiting for the feedback for our new proposal.
Although the slot may not quite the time to go for a leisurely walk or grab a coffee with your team, it is a significant chunk of time that could be used to do something constructive than sitting idle. To begin with, it wastes precious company time.
Did you know that according to a recent study by the University of Texas researchers, idle time can cost employers USD 1 billion per annum?
Plus, it also costs the employees – in terms of productivity. A study by Gallup states that employees who exercise their strengths daily are 8% more productive and 6 times more likely to be engaged than those who don’t.
This highlights the importance of keeping yourself occupied as much as possible. The value of taking a break and having some rest can never be undermined as long as it makes you feel re-energized and boosts your morale to get on with the day. However, staying idle with nothing to do on a regular basis is synonymous to setting yourself up for failure – in the long run.
In this blog, we bring forth some interesting and other not so interesting activities. However, all of these will not only kill time but also prove to be very productive and fruitful to your professional and personal growth. Plus, you can do these activities at any hour of any day.
1. Brush up on your skills
We invest a lot of time in skilling up and gathering knowledge when we set out to land a career track. However, somewhere between the work hours and the daydreaming for getting home faster to make time for more sleep, our skills start rusting.
Instead, we begin filing orders, calling customers and crunching numbers as reflexes without giving much thought or attention to adding creativity and newness to our daily tasks. This seemingly harmless daily boredom at work may lead to ultimately losing all your interest at the workplace. This, in turn, takes a toll on your productivity.
Instead of gazing into the screen wondering about productive things to do when you have free time on your hands, try to revisit your skills and hone them. Research into the latest developments in customer dealing, app development, writing or whatever your niche may be, and work on your skillset to continue shining in the long run.
2. Learn a new language
If you think you’re good to go with your professional skill set or want to look into a new arena that will take you away from your regular workday, how about learning a new language?
Ok, so you don’t feel the need to use another language at work or at home. But did you know that having multiple languages listed on your resume can boost your chances or career growth exponentially? In fact, according to the language experts at LearnALanguageOnline.net, professionals that are fluent in a second language can earn up to 10 to 15 percent more than there monolingual counterparts.
Plus, it also gives you a chance to discover new areas professionally such as working in organizations that need translators or have customers pertaining to different geographical locations speaking various languages. Also, languages always help.
Whether you are planning to travel to a new location and want to discover more by communicating with the locals or you would like to be more approachable to the subordinates that may not have the same first language as yours.
With so many free videos and text tutorials to choose from, take your pick at your pace, and begin on the journey of discovering a whole new language.
3. Download and use productivity apps
There are countless apps floating the internet that help you with workplace tasks, personal organization, and team productivity.
Research about the top apps suitable for your personal or professional needs, that are easy to use, lightweight on your device and that help you stay pretty much on top of your game.
If you are looking for productive things to do in your idle time, these apps can help you organize and prioritize your work, stay on track through timely reminders or just get handy tips to use your time better.
There are even apps that help you work with family, friends and professional teams to get shared tasks completed on time. To make your search for the best productivity app easy, head on to our blog with handpicked top to-do list apps.
4. Listen to productivity podcasts
If you are more of a listener than a hands-on person, listening to a productivity podcast may be one of the productive things to do when you have time on your hands.
The best thing about these podcasts is that you can listen to them taking a break, driving to your next meeting or commuting to work in public transport. You don’t need to be sitting in a specific environment or spend money.
Ranging from a couple of minutes to hours, you can choose to listen to any podcast of any category and of any duration depending on the time you have.
From famous book authors, inspiring celebrities and everyday individuals each hosting a unique tale about accomplishments and overcoming obstacles, handy tips and tricks for your career and life hacks, you are guaranteed to have something useful just right for you.
So next time you are looking for things to do when bored, the only thing you need to do is just grab your headphones and switch on one of the numerous productivity podcasts out there. The audio file will do the rest. Need help? Check out our top productivity podcasts you can listen to any time, any day.
5. De-clutter your inbox
If you look at just a few of the statistics pertaining to email usage, you would realize how it has taken over an immense portion of our daily, productive time. For instance,
- A study by UC Irvine and the U.S. Army found that limiting email access dramatically reduces stress levels
- According to The McKinsey Global Institute, an average employee spends 13 hours a week reading and responding to email. That is about 28% of our work time, which equates to 650 hours per year spent on entirely low-value work.
- According to SaneBox’s internal data, the average inbox contains only 38% important, relevant emails.
Need we say more? Email de-cluttering can be, by far, one of the most productive things to do in your free time.
Set up a reminder with sticky notes on your desk or where you can see it, get down to cleaning your inbox and make your life easier and more productive. Need some tips? Check out a number of ways this blog can help you achieve an optimized inbox.
6. Plan the task ahead
One of the best ways you can make use of your free time and shine at work is by planning your next task.
It may not exactly sound like a fun idea when looking for things to do when bored but if you know there is a task in the pipeline that may need extra attention or homework before you get down to it, now may be the best time to do so.
Waiting till the task is just about to begin can be overwhelming, particularly if you are aware of the complexity and the potential late night sittings the project would be waiting.
Go ahead brainstorm the options, try coming up with a roadmap and make a list of professionals and tools that may be required on the way. It doesn’t hurt to track down colleagues that may have carried out similar tasks and try to get some advice from them.
Plus, there are numerous task management and project planning tools out there. Along with productivity apps, you may want to have a look at some top project planning tools right here.
Whether you are into fiction or non-fiction, read up when you are not sure about what other productive things to do. Non-fiction such as how-to articles, daily newsletter, and community page can help you stay aware of your surroundings.
However, do not underestimate the benefits of non-fiction either. According to research at Emory University, reading non-fiction can help the brain function better and boost its connectivity.
Another study suggests that people who engage their brains through activities such as reading, chess, or puzzles may be 2.5 times less prone to developing Alzheimer’s disease than those who don’t.
So next time you go shopping, be sure to stop by a bookstore and grab your favorite comics or novels and keep them on your desk. Plus, you can just look up recommendations for books online through so many sites that introduce read-worthy books, offer book reviews and buying details.
8. Learn a new skill
Learning a new skill or polishing your existing skills relevant to your job is a productive thing to do, but is too mainstream. Find a niche and stick to it is all too common a phrase now. The real fun begins when you try to master a skill not associated with your field. Explore new dimensions that you normally wouldn’t even think twice about.
Doing this will not only allow you to explore your abilities, but will also help you to dramatically increase your productivity and creativity levels, plus you get to discover the untapped areas of your mind.
You can even try to incorporate new habits into your routine which you haven’t tried before, like joining a dance class, or music lessons. It’s fun too!
9. Evaluate your productive hours
It goes without saying that you need to constantly evaluate yourself and your working habits to correctly determine your peak energy hours. Statistics show that typically, individuals get most of their work done (9.7%) at around 11am.
You must sit back and determine the time you’re most productive at, so you can get most of your work done during those hours. If you think your energies are off the chart during daytime, gear yourself up and try to complete most of your important tasks during the day. That way, you’ll get more done and will still have ample time left to run other errands.
The introvert inside you might scream right now, but trust us when we say this, networking is crucial when it comes to staying on top of your game. If you have free time on your hands, take this opportunity and reach out to your industry professionals to make yourself visible.
This is also the right time for you to shoot a quick message or email to a former colleague that you haven’t contacted in a while. Check up on them and ask if they’re up for a short coffee session.
By networking, you can build good rapport with your peers and this will also facilitate in understanding the industry trends faster. This could be one of the perfect productive things to do, because you can also evaluate where you lag professionally, so you can take appropriate steps to grow.
11. Update your resume
By far one of the most productive things to do when bored at work is to update your resume. You never know when an opportunity knocks on your door, so you should be prepared. This is also a chance for you to evaluate your skills and experiences that you’ve gathered over time.
Updating your resume will also reflect your strengths and weaknesses and how you can work on them. It will take time, but it will give you useful insights to reflect on your career and what career choices you should look into.
This practice can also come in handy when there is an internal promotion in line. Your chances of success can increase if your resume is up to date, because that way you don’t have to frantically update it when asked for.
12. Take up some new responsibilities
If you’re bored at work or you have some free time on your hands, you probably don’t have enough responsibilities. Look around you. There’s perhaps a colleague who needs help. Or a new intern who can benefit from your expertise.
Take up some new role that’ll break the monotony of your routine and will be a productive thing to do during your idle time. For this, you may have to step out of your comfort zone, without overstepping someone else’s boundary, might we add. But think about the value it’ll bring to your career development and new better opportunities along the way.
What would you recommend for things to do when bored? Do you have any favorite productive things you do in your free time at work? Share your advice in the comments below.