What to Do When Bored at Work: 13 Ideas

What to do when bored at work - 8 things to try

In a perfect world, we’d all just go home when our work is done for the day.

However, many people have to stay until 5:00 or 6:00 PM regardless of what they’ve accomplished already.

Don’t worry, coming up, I’m going to share 13 things to do when bored at work to pass the time (and be at least somewhat productive).

13 Things to Do When You’re Bored at Work:

1. Stay current on industry news

What do most people do when they’re bored at work? Browse the web.

Now you can do it productively… Find a few blogs or news sites related to your company’s industry and start reading about new developments, new products, ideas, etc.

As long as you pick a few blogs that have fun articles that aren’t too serious, it won’t feel like you’re doing real work. Look for blogs with a lot of social sharing, a lot of pictures, etc.

2. Set yourself up for a big day tomorrow

Instead of sitting around waiting for 5:00 PM, try to come up with a list of tasks that you usually do in the morning, that you might be able to complete or start the evening before.

Of course, this will make you even more productive tomorrow, so then you’ll have to use one of the other ideas on this list of what to do when you feel bored at work.

3. Apply for new jobs

If you’re consistently feeling bored at work, it may be a sign you need a new challenge in your career.

It may feel comfortable to stay in that easy, boring job and not risk a change, but you’re going to earn more money in your career and see the time at work pass a lot faster if you go out and land a new job with new challenges.

Putting yourself around new people, seeing how another company operates, learning a new skill or two, and receiving the boost in pay that often comes with a new job will ALL motivate you on the job and make you less likely to feel bored.

4. Ask your boss for new projects

Sometimes, you don’t need to leave your company to find a new challenge, learn a new skill, or do some professional development.

You can often be more productive for your company and kill that boredom by asking your boss for more tasks to do.

Write an email asking for a time to meet with your boss, walk into their office, and say that you could handle a bit more on your plate. Explain that you’d like to challenge yourself more and then ask what they could offer.

Good bosses will want to help you develop your skills and provide you with adequate work to avoid being bored on the job.

So you’re not bothering them by asking if they could help you with the boredom. It’s a part of their job.

However, I recommend avoiding the phrase “I’m bored” and instead saying something like, “I could handle a bit more.”

5. Ask your colleagues if they need help with any tasks

Take the initiative and ask your boss or teammates if they have anything going on that you can help with. Tell them you’ve covered your work for the day and wanted to stay productive.

This will help you get noticed in a positive way, and you’ll also be helping your team.

In the future if you need a favor or if you need to duck out early and have some of your work covered, you’ll have people that are eager to help.

6. Clean up and organize your email inbox

Okay, so this isn’t anyone’s idea of a fun task. But it’s pretty mindless so it’s great for the end of the day when you feel tired or bored at work and you’re unable to focus on tough projects. It also makes you look super busy! Anyone looking at emails must be busy, right??

When was the last time you actually looked at your inbox and thought about how the folders are set up, how your system for organizing emails is working? (You do have a system, don’t you?).

Downtime at the end of the day is a great opportunity to organize this type of thing and come up with a system to make life easier in the long run.

7. Clean up your desk

This one won’t make you look like a workaholic superstar like idea #4, but it’s not a bad option once in a while.

Find some sanitizing wipes and clean your desk, keyboard, phone, etc. Look in your drawers and throw away some old papers and junk.

A clean workspace helps you organize your work and think more clearly. Even if you work great with a messy desk, it still looks pretty bad to those who walk by…

Nobody feels great dropping an assignment off to somebody that has 200 papers and 3 used coffee mugs sitting next to their computer.

8. Create training documents or SOPs for the group

If you’re bored at work, go create some documents to help train new team members in the department.

Or look for opportunities to create SOPs (standard operating procedures) for tasks that are done over and over. Then when a new employee starts, your boss can just give them this document and save a lot of time on training.

Along with being a good way to pass the time when bored at work, this is also a fantastic way to get on your boss’ good side and possibly position yourself for a promotion. 

9. Systematize your work to save time later

Do you respond to the same type of customer requests over and over via email? Go write a template that you can cut and paste from now on. This will save you time every day in the future (along with helping kill your boredom).

There are many things you can systematize or create a template for… including external communications as well as internal emails/communications that you send frequently.

After doing emails, look for other areas of your work that you can streamline and systematize. Anything you do over and over each week (at least 4-5 times a week) is worth taking a look at.

10. Learn a new skill

Make a list of skills you’d like to learn or topics you’d like to know more about. Then, next time you’re bored at the office or other workplace, you could watch a YouTube video or listen to a podcast about that topic.

Maybe this could even lead to a career change into a new industry in the future.

Either way, YouTube, podcasts, and audiobooks are great ways to pick up new knowledge online for free or very cheap and be productive when boredom strikes at work.

You can learn professional/business skills (like negotiation) or also think about any personal/life skills you want to read or learn read or learn about.

11. Go for a walk outside

Sometimes a tiny break from the office or workplace can be the best thing for your mental state.

If your employer allows it, consider taking a walk outside next time you’re feeling bored. Even just 10 minutes of walking in the afternoon can help you feel recharged and ready to finish the day.

You’ll find your work less boring when you return to the computer/office, and you’ll have given yourself a nice little break to bring you a few minutes closer to the end of the shift, too.

If you’re not permitted to go for walks without a purpose, say you’re going to take a break to get coffee or tea.

12. Make plans for after work

One thing you can do while bored at work is to make plans for an activity excited you’d like to do after work ends.

Whether you’re making a plan with colleagues, or friends from outside of your workplace, this strategy can take up a bit of your downtime while also giving you something great to look forward to later in the day.

So my advice if you’re at work feeling bored is to try writing to a few friends and invite them to do something after the workday.

Or, plan an activity that you can do by yourself if friends and coworkers are busy.

Choose a personal interest, hobby, or other task you’d like to spend more time on, and plan a time slot for it when you leave the workplace.

13. Think about your long-term career goals

This is one of my favorite things to do when bored at work. Try to step away from the screen for a minute, grab a pen and paper, and think about your long-term career goals.

Where do you want to be in two or three years? Is your current role and tasks getting you there?

If not, consider asking for new responsibilities that are more closely aligned with what you really want to be learning and doing.

Or if your job is completely different than what you’d like to be doing, that may be the reason you’re bored at work… and it may be a sign you should start a job search.

I wrote an in-depth article about this on LinkedIn – you really are the CEO of your career. Nobody else is going to care or take responsibility for your career direction. So if you don’t want to end up on a career path you hate, you need to think about this regularly. 

If you’re bored every day at work for hours and hours, it might be a sign that you need a change of job, or even industry/niche. 

The ideas above will help you with what to do when you’re bored at work occasionally, but won’t fix the problem if you’re miserable in your job. Only a job change can fix that. 

 

About the Author Biron Clark

Biron Clark is a former executive recruiter who has worked individually with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.

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