Over a million developers have joined DZone.

7 Productive Things to Do When Bored

DZone 's Guide to

7 Productive Things to Do When Bored

Wish you were being more productive right now? Read these tips and then get to work. No excuses!

· Writers' Zone ·
Free Resource

Time and again we find ourselves sitting at our workstations, waiting on a code review, the next job to be assigned, or just waiting on the feedback for your new proposal.

Although this slot may not leave you quite enough 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 — something other 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?

It also costs you, the employee, in terms of productivity. A study by Gallup states that employees who exercise their strengths daily are 8 percent 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 with setting yourself up for failure in the long run.

In this blog post, we bring forth some interesting (and other not-so-interesting) activities. Not only will all these ideas kill time — they could also prove to be fruitful to your professional and personal growth. 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 of 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 the latest developments in 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 (Spoken) 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? No, not another new programming language — a new spoken language like English, Spanish, or French.

You may not 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 of career growth exponentially? In fact, according to LearnALanguageOnline.net, professionals that are fluent in a second language can earn up to 10 to 15 percent more than their monolingual counterparts.

Plus, it also gives you a chance to discover new areas professionally, such as working in organizations that need translators, or securing support from new customers in different geographical locations speaking various languages.

"Speaking the language" always helps, whether you are planning to travel to a new location and want to discover more by communicating with the locals, or whether you would like to become 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 your journey.

3. Download and Use Productivity Apps

There are countless apps floating around the internet that can help you with workplace tasks, personal organization, and team productivity.

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 with timely reminders, or just get handy tips to use your time better. Check out our 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 something else to do when you have time on your hands. The best thing about these podcasts is that you can listen to them while taking a break, driving to your next meeting, or commuting to work in public transport.

From famous book authors, inspiring celebrities, and everyday individuals each recalling a unique tale about accomplishments and overcoming obstacles, to handy tips and tricks for your career and life hacks, you are guaranteed to find 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. 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 percent 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 percent 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. 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, 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 til the task is just about to begin can be overwhelming, particularly if you are aware of the complexity and the potential late night sittings waiting for you.

Go ahead and brainstorm your options. Try coming up with a roadmap, and make a list of professionals and tools that may help you along 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.

You can also find 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.

7. Read

Whether you are into fiction or nonfiction, read up when you are not sure about what other productive things to do. Nonfiction such as how-to articles, daily newsletter, and community news can help you stay aware of your surroundings.

Don't underestimate the benefits of nonfiction! According to research at Emory University, reading nonfiction can help the brain function better.

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. Grab your favorite comics or novels and keep them on your desk. Look up recommendations for books online.

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.

writers zone ,productivity ,productivity tools ,planning ,reading

Published at DZone with permission of

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

{{ parent.title || parent.header.title}}

{{ parent.tldr }}

{{ parent.urlSource.name }}