Top 10 Things to Do When You’re Bored at Work

Bored man at work

Is boredom slowly sucking the life out of you at work? Do you feel unfulfilled by performing the same mundane tasks day in, day out? Are you looking for ways to pass the time on a slow day in the office? How can you keep yourself motivated?

If these questions haunt you, fret not. Here’s what to do when you’re bored out of your mind at work!

10. Make your commute better

Boredom often starts as soon as we hit the road to get to work, as I’m sure many of you will agree. Just the idea of getting into the car and driving to work, especially during the morning rush hour, makes me want to cry – being stuck in traffic is really no fun, neither is being surrounded by idiot drivers.

That said, there are many ways you can cure boredom while stuck in traffic. Listening to podcasts and audiobooks are a great place to start, so is singing along to Céline Dion from the top of your lungs (if you don’t mind the judging looks of fellow commuters). Carpooling is another great solution, which not only keeps you in good company (provided that you’re not travelling with someone you’d rather run over) but also gives you a break from driving.

9. Learn a new skill

A great way to take advantage of a slow day at work is learning a new skill that you find interesting. This could be anything from learning a new language to reading instructional guides online.

And the more relevant and useful it is to your job, the better! Not only that but it will also make a great addition to your CV, plus you’re less likely to get into trouble for ‘using company time for personal use’.

8. Ask for more responsibilities

If you regularly find yourself with no work to do (because you’re that good at your job that you finish all your tasks by noontime, for example), you might want to consider asking your supervisor for new responsibilities or helping colleagues out with their own workloads.

Not only will taking on additional responsibilities fill your empty schedule and, in effect, boost your productivity levels, but also allow you to work on things that are more interesting to you.

Meanwhile, this kind of initiative may just put you in the spotlight when the next batch of promotions comes around. It’s a win-win.

7. Embrace boredom

When you’re bored, your mind tends to wander, daydreaming about sitting on a beach drinking a Piña Colada or b*tch-slapping that annoying micromanager of yours. And there’s nothing wrong with that – daydreaming, I mean, not slapping your boss.

Research shows that letting our minds wander leads to some of our most original and creative thought. That’s right: being bored is essential to the creative process.

6. Take regular breaks

As you may already know, lunch breaks are meant to give workers the chance to refuel and recharge. They’re an important element of the workday, not just for your mental and physical well-being but also for your productivity.

But that doesn’t mean you should wait until your designated lunch break to unwind. In fact, productivity app DeskTime found that taking regular breaks can do wonders for overall work performance and they even came up with the perfect formula: work for 52 minutes and then break for 17 minutes.

Even if you’re under the watchful eye of a micromanaging boss and are unable to leave your desk for 17-minute blocks, just getting up from your desk and walking to the kitchen to make a fresh cup of coffee can be all it takes to save you from falling into monotony.

5. Socialise

Just because you work in a cubicle farm doesn’t mean you should hide behind your screen for hours on end like some hermit.

Socialising with colleagues (whether that’s going out for lunch with them, taking a short walk around the block together or simply paying them a visit in their own cubicle) is a great way to cure boredom. You’ll find that chatting and laughing with those you work with can give you the inspiration you need to carry on with your work. You might even consider finding fun things to do together outside of work.

4. Break down tasks

Sometimes being bored isn’t a result of having no work to do – it could be quite the opposite: it could be because you have an overwhelming, never-ending workload.

The solution here is to break down large tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks. This essentially takes away the monotony and dullness of working on a single task for hours on end, while it also helps you approach the task at hand from a fresh, new perspective and, in turn, makes you more productive.

3. Make your cubicle less boring

Yep. It’s possible the culprit here is your cubicle.

It’s amazing, and also kind of frightening, how our surroundings can affect our mood and work productivity – and being condemned to a life in what seems like a coffin doesn’t quite help things. Fortunately, though, there are loads of things you can do to make your cubicle suck less and make it a little homier, like decorating your space with live plants (or fake if you’re worried you’re going to kill them), photos, inspirational notes, and toys and collections.

You might also want to consider adding a rug, improving lighting with a lamp or two, raising your PC screen to eye level and getting a dorm-sized fridge for under your desk – anything that will make life at work that much more enjoyable and comfortable.

2. Browse the internet

As long as you don’t go overboard and spend your entire workday on Facebook, 9gag and Cats That Look Like Hitler (yep, there’s a site out there dedicated to photos of kitties that look an awful lot like the Nazi dictator), there’s nothing really wrong with browsing the internet and wasting a little time at work. In fact, scientific research shows that the occasional web surfing break is actually good for productivity. (It’s times like this that I realise how much I love science.)

If you need a little inspiration, I compiled a list of awesome websites to waste time at work a couple of years ago, which you might find particularly useful. Personal favourites include #6 and #8.

Oh, since we’re on the topic of websites and productivity, a Hiroshima University study found that looking at pictures of kittens and other adorable baby animals can greatly benefit your work output.

1. Quit

Drastic, perhaps, but prolonged feelings of boredom while at work may be an indication that you’re not doing what you want to be doing. And this can inevitably lead to a variety of negative effects like burnout, drug and alcohol abuse, depression and decreased job performance.

Quitting your job in this particular situation is, therefore, not an option but a necessity. Of course, I’m not implying that you hand in your resignation letter right this second (you would do well to have another job lined up first) but it’s essential you understand that staying in a job that bores you to death can do just that in a more literal sense.

What do you do to help cure boredom at work? Join the conversation down below and let us know!