What to Do When Bored at Work: 8 Ideas

What to Do When Bored at Work - 5 ideas

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 5PM or 6PM regardless of what they’ve accomplished that day.

Don’t worry though, if you’re wondering what to do when bored at work, we’ve got you covered. We’re going to share the top 8 things to do when bored at work to pass the time (and be at least somewhat productive) 

8 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 5PM, 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 4 ideas to waste the extra time. Oh well.

3. Ask your team members if they need help with anything

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.

4. Clean up 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’s 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.

5. 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.

6. 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. 

7. 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.

8. 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 2-3 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. 


Hold Up! Before you go on an interview...

Get our free PDF with the top 30 interview questions to practice. Join 10,000+ job seekers in our email newsletter and we'll send you the 30 must-know questions, plus our best insider tips for turning interviews into job offers.