The bane of creativity and the scourge of productivity. It’s easy to lay the blame and even easier to advise activity as the best way to deal with boredom. However, most times we are stymied when it comes to ‘the what’ exactly should I be doing right now to kill boredom!
The problem comes with the type of things we engage in to alleviate our boredom. How many times do you get told to make productive use of your time, to engage in physical activity, etc.
The dilemma isn’t quite so simple. After all, a walk around the park is a physical activity and technically checks quite a few boxes. But the repetition will tend to put you right back where you were, mentally idle.
Most of the activity involved in walking, even walking around a park is muscle memory and needs very little mental engagement.
That is where we come in with a handy little list for you that will have you mentally engaged in no time. Following these tips will help you achieve the littlest of things you have always wanted to do. Study shows that people who engage their idle time become 8% more productive.
Pro Tip: Although nTask is powerful project management software, we do have some amazing features centered around squashing boredom for teams. You can set up meetings and invite co-workers to a casual banter about work, related activities, and vice versa. Don’t forget to sprinkle it with a side of emojis and videos to engage everyone in a conversation.
The Most Productive Things to Do in 2021:
Here is a list of productive things to do that will prove both productive and effectual for you in professional and personal growth.
1. Take a break
Sound condescending and counter-intuitive?
But if you are hitting a wall when it comes to that project or that deadline, it’s been proven in studies that a break reenergizes you and boosts your mental acuity. So, you may have actually walked away from work, but when you come back there is renewed enthusiasm, you’ll end up being more productive.
2. Get organized with nTask productivity app
Productivity apps are beginning to play a significant role in helping manage our workplace tasks, personal organization, and team productivity. These apps allow you to organize your to-do lists, events, meetings, schedules, etc.
nTask is one of the best productivity apps, free to use with unlimited tasks and checklists. It helps you stay on track with timely reminders and handy tips on how to carry out some of those tasks. Check out our blog post on our handpicked top to-do list apps.
nTask is one of the best productivity app:
Use it for personal or team productivity. nTask is free and includes unlimited tasks and checklists.
3. Listen to productivity podcasts
Podcasts are a great way to boost your morale and get you on top of your game. The best part about them is that you can listen while you are out walking, driving, or while you wait in line for your coffee.
Focus your search and find out more about handy tips and tricks from business leaders who are inspiring people to change their lives and make their careers more interesting. Next time when you look for the productive things to do when bored, check out these top productivity podcasts.
4. Brush up on your skills
Choosing a career path involves acquiring knowledge and skills in your field, however, somewhere between the work hours and getting home in time to eat and get your eight hours of sleep can sometimes leave our acquired skills in the dust as there are new things on the horizon every day. A great way to fill up some of your downtimes is to acquire another skill or brush up on the basics.
Check out these courses to improve your skills set:
5. Learn a new language
Next on our list of productive things to do when bored is to learn a new language. According to language experts at LearnALanguageOnline.net, professionals that are fluent in a second language can earn up to 15 percent more than their monolingual counterparts.
Learning another language doesn’t just improve your career opportunities but it also gives you an edge when you finally decide to take that dream vacation.
6. De-clutter your inbox
None of us like an impossibly full mailbox, but the emails continue to pile up. Sometimes it’s as simple as something we subscribed to, and now no longer interested in or just spam that we are planning to get rid of as soon as we have a minute for ourselves. Sometimes we mark an email unread as a way of keeping it in our follow up… either way, they pile up very quickly.
According to The McKinsey Global Institute, an average employee spends 13 hours a week reading and responding to email. However, according to SaneBox’s internal data, the average inbox only contains 38% important and relevant emails!
Email de-cluttering can be one of the most productive things to do in your free time. Set up a reminder with sticky notes on your desk or wherever you can easily see it and get down to cleaning up your inbox.
Check out several ways this blog can help you to maintain an optimized inbox.
7. Planning ahead
Planning your task/s ahead of time is one way of ensuring success. This also allows you to identify time slots where you can allocate yourself some me-time. Sometimes planning feels like a tough thing, killing creativity and inspiration, but it also allows you a bird’s eye view of all that requires your attention in addition to making sure nothing slips through the cracks.
As a result of preplanning, you will also have the luxury of being able to track down a colleague or a friend who may have carried out similar tasks. Here are some top project planning tools to add to your resources in planning.
Looking for top task management tools? Check this out:
Research at Emory University concluded that reading non-fiction can help the brain function better and boost its connectivity. Another study suggests that people who engage their brains with activities such as reading, chess, or puzzles are 2.5 times less prone to developing Alzheimer’s disease than those who don’t.
If you prefer the feel of a real book, walk to your nearest bookstore and pick up the latest offer, and grab a sandwich, and head out to the park for a great afternoon. Here are some book reviews that will help you whether you choose to buy a printed book or an E-Book.
Check out the top productivity books that you may like to read:
9. Learn a new skill
“Find a niche and stick to it” is all too common a phrase now but the real fun begins when you try to master a skill that is not associated with your field.
Acquiring a new skill creates new neural pathways or strengthens the existing ones, in your brain. This, in turn, creates brain “plasticity” which according to research can stave off the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Discover the untapped areas of your mind and enhance your creativity by learning new skills. You can learn presentation skills, public speaking, graphic designing, video editing, development language, and many more.
Learn from the Productivity Gurus:
10. Evaluate your productive hours
Statistics show that typically, individuals get most of their work done (9.7%) at around 11 am. And discovering whether you are a morning or nocturnal person helps you plan your task well. 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 the daytime, gear yourself up and try to complete most of your important tasks during the day, this way you’ll get more done and still have ample time left to run other errands.
This can be a little challenging, especially for introverts but trust us when we say this, networking is crucial when it comes to staying at the top of your game. Another productive thing to do when bored when you have free time on your hands is to take the opportunity to reach out to your industry professionals to make yourself visible.
Also, remember 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 a good rapport with your peers which would facilitate understanding the industry’s trends and give you a quick idea about how things are changing.
12. Update your resume
One of the most productive things to do whenever you have free time at work is to update your resume. You never know when an opportunity knocks on your door, so you should be prepared.
It is also an opportunity for you to evaluate your skills, experiences, strengths, and weaknesses that you’ve gathered over time.
This might take some time but it will give you useful insights to reflect on your career and what career choices you should look into. This practice can come in handy when there are possibilities of internal advancement.
13. Take up some new responsibilities
Discovering you have time on your hands at work is an opportunity to pick up more responsibilities. Take a look around you and find a colleague who needs help or an intern you can mentor.
Taking up new roles breaks the monotony of your routine which may be stepping out of your comfort zone, but adds value to your career development and brings better opportunities along the way.
14. Maintain a journal
Next on our list of productive things to do when bored is keeping a journal.
Journaling is now an accepted way of therapy for many issues. It’s important to document your ideas, thoughts, achievements, and your dreams.
So take some time out of your schedule and write it all down. Don’t aim for more than 10 to 15 minutes at a time, which makes it less of a chore and more check-in with yourself. Your journal is like your best friend, but without the trust issues, just a place for self-reflection and serious venting.
15. Go for a stroll
If you’re a workaholic and spend most of the time at a desk, your health could be at a risk.
Sitting at your desk for long hours without taking a break to move around can have a negative impact on your productivity, studies show that walking has a direct relationship with your creativity levels. People who sit for long hours at work are at a higher risk of contracting multiple ailments.
Squeezing in a strenuous workout routine during your schedule can be tough but very rewarding. Choosing to engage yourself in active exercises for a little bit each day can work wonders for you. Take a small break at intervals to go for a small stroll around the office even if its short distances. You don’t have to take longer breaks to let it work its magic. To improve your productivity and creativity at work, try to move around more often.
16. Organize your computer
The digital hoarder inside you might get a panic attack from just thinking about this but you need to get rid of all those extra files you’ve been holding on to. It is also an opportunity to organize your folders into smaller and easily identifiable information.
Categorize all the files according to their type and group them in related folders to make accessing them in the future a whole lot easier.
Another productive thing to try out when bored is giving your keyboard a quick clean-up – it’s buddies with your fingers and deserves all the TLC it can get.
17. Track your progress
If you have the opportunity, find a quiet place and track your progress on just about anything you may want to monitor.
This review will help you analyze your goals better and set your priorities straight. It is a great way to highlight your achievements and give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back. With all your achievements right in front of you, you will likely be motivated to stick to your goals and get better in the decision making.
18. Set your goals for next year
Normally this activity is associated with the New Year and its affiliated guilt. Try doing this at a random point in the year, and because there’s no baggage attached, you will find your mind more open to focusing on achievements and goals that may have been daunting earlier.
Use SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely) metrics. These carefully thought-out goals will give you a laser focus on what exactly you want to achieve and the accountability comes from the credibility of the life of the written word. It’s been proved in study after study that writing your goals and then setting timelines makes them 2.5 times more achievable.
Learn how to set your goals in this blog:
19. Eliminate distractions
Distractions are everywhere around you. They are also the worst enemy of productivity. Whether its social media, unnecessary emails, or calls, they can turn out to be your productivity killers if not addressed rightly.
They can also mentally and physically exhaust you, thus taking a toll on your mental health too. To improve your focus and give all your energies to your tasks, you need to eliminate distractions around you. Firstly, try to identify what is distracting you from your standard work routine and is slowing down your productivity. Jot these things down and analyze how much time you use on each one of them.
This will give you a fair analysis of probable distractions and what you need to do to remove them. Another important thing to note here is that a plethora of unnecessary distractions keep our minds occupied. They take up our mental energies, which otherwise could be spent on other productive things.
Check out the best apps to keep you focused:
20. Work on your physical and mental health
Boredom is one of the known causes of depression and anxiety. Doing nothing results in losing energy and motivation to achieve your short term and long-term goals. Zhuzh up your day by doing something physical which breaks the monotony and gives you that energy boost to finish that task.
Try walking, jogging, swimming, or biking, to start becoming more active. Yoga and meditation work like a mental exercise to help you relax and surprisingly improve your focus.
21. Make your grocery list in advance
Fill up some of that space in time by making a grocery list. Break it up into daily, weekly, or monthly shopping. This will not only help with the frustration of never again forgetting a prime ingredient in a planned dinner, but it’ll also give you a birds-eye view of what you are spending.
For those of us who need to watch what we eat or those who want to maintain a healthy lifestyle, an advance list will show you just where you need to focus to maintain your goals.
You can use a list-making app like nTask, to help you store your grocery list for FREE.
nTask is one of the perfect best to-do list apps:
Use it for personal or team productivity. nTask is free and includes unlimited tasks and checklists.
22. Write thank you emails
This is definitely an activity that is going out of fashion due to extra busy schedules but goes a long way in bringing a smile to someone’s face and ensuring you are always remembered in your network. Saying ‘thank you’ to the people who matter to you is necessary to live a happy life.
Take out time on your list of productive things to do to think about the people who have given you the courage to be at the place you are right now. It could be your colleagues, teachers, managers, bosses, friends, or family members.
You can either send them handwritten thank you cards or a nicely crafted email. Sending a message on their social media accounts will also suffice. This will help you the same as networking in events for your career and personal growth.
Take a moment to tell them that you love them all and also when finishing up on an important project or when you have achieved a big milestone, remember to thank the people who helped you out in life.
Want to try other platforms than sending an email? Check this out:
23. Help others in need
The best use of your time can be helping those who need help. Join your local shelter or volunteer group to spread goodwill. These small actions can make a huge difference in someone’s life.
The feel-good element of course is a bonus as volunteering has been proven to help with symptoms of depression, anxiety, anger, and depression.
24. Watch Motivational Videos
Watching motivational videos is an important investment in your personal and professional development and is another productive thing to do when bored.
If you want to watch a mix of different motivational speakers from around the world, then you can subscribe to join the TEDx Talks channel.
Check this out:
25. Start your personal blog
This can be fun and enlightening. It is an awesome way to add your voice to the world and interact with people who may subscribe to your blog or even just read it and leave comments. Some blogs can be added plus for your career and can improve your CV.
Blogs are a great way to build your confidence and help you figure out your skillset or passion. Try picking up on a niche where you have some knowledge or some expertise; like if you are a good student, share your tips with others; if you are a stay at home mom, share your home and life hacks, your survival stories, and so on.
Once you are up and running on blogging and microsites like, Medium, Tumblr, or LinkedIn Publisher, you can look into buying a domain and creating and copyrighting your identity. Start off with WordPress, Wix, or Weebly. Check out this guide on starting a blog.
26. Join Product Hunt
If you are a tech enthusiast and always looking for the next new thing, the next new software, mobile applications, or tech gadgets, then you should join Product Hunt. This platform curates the best new products in the market every day. You can search, collaborate, ask questions, and get feedback on the latest products.
Product Hunt has around a million subscribers that talk about tech products and share their knowledge with the community. So, as the next item on your productivity list, log in to this amazing platform to learn about new stuff that is trending. You can also upvote your favorite apps listed on Product Hunt and give useful suggestions.
27. Cook something new
Learning to cook something new is another exciting item that should be on your productivity list. Now is the time to try out the cuisines you loved in MasterChef series.
You aren’t looking to impress Gordon Ramsay or the MasterChef judges. You want to try out something new and in the process make your friends and family happy too! Do a search of the best recipe on the net, figure out which method suits you best. Sometimes you have to check if the ingredients are available… like wanting to do a pumpkin pie in the middle of summer. No harm in dreaming, but then you’ll have to use tinned options.
You can also share your experience on social media or start a blog!
28. Leave online reviews for products you love
Leaving positive reviews for the products, services, events, or places you love is a great way of encouraging those who made them available.
It could be anything at all, a t-shirt you recently ordered from an e-commerce store or software you use to manage your work online.
Take out time to write some good, honest reviews for the products you love as a token of appreciation and an opportunity for them to make improvements to their products.
What would you recommend doing when bored? Do you have any favorites when it comes to productive things to do in your downtime at work? Share your advice in the comments below.