96 Things to Do When You're Bored

Katie Sweeney
PHOTO:

Badlands

Years ago when I was going through a hard time, my therapist recommended that I read Dr. Wayne W. Dyer’s Your Erroneous Zones. This book changed my life in many ways, but one of my key takeaways has to do with boredom. I am never bored. In fact, the word bored doesn’t even exist in my vocabulary—I can’t remember the last time I used it! Like happiness, I believe that boredom is a choice, and so does Dyer. He says that boredom is a spinoff of procrastination and that you can eliminate it by doing something else with your mind at the very moment that boredom strikes. “By doing what you choose, now,” Dyer explains, “or using your mind in creative new ways now, you can ensure that you’ll never again choose boredom for yourself. The choice, as always, is yours.” While it may seem crazy or hard at first, once you get in the habit of keeping yourself busy, you’ll learn to never be bored again.

To encourage you to experiment with eradicating boredom from your life, I’ve come up with a list of 96 things you can do the next time you find yourself thinking Gosh, I’m soooo bored. Bookmark this list now and refer to it later.

  • Go on a walk. Challenge yourself to leave your cell phone in your purse or pocket. Admire the view. Stop and smell the roses.
  • Order a small set of hand weights. The next time you get bored, grab them and tone your arms.
  • Organise something. Don’t tackle a huge organisational project like your closet. Instead, choose something small and manageable—your underwear drawer, organise your pantry or that overcrowded bookshelf—so you won’t be intimidated. Get rid of things.
  • Do your laundry. You’ll thank me later when you have clean clothes to wear to the gym.
  • Speaking of the gym, go! You’re paying for that membership, right? Your swipe card isn’t going to use itself, so find a class that starts within the next half-hour and go to it.
  • Visit Unroll.me and unsubscribe from all those emails you never read nor want to get.
  • Make something! Scour your pantry and fridge. Use the ingredients you have on hand to make a scrumptious salad. Incorporate grains, rice, herbs, greens, nuts, and cheese. Eat it for lunch tomorrow.
  • Paint your nails. Everyone has a few colours in their bathroom. Grab your favourite and give yourself a manicure.
  • Do sit-ups. Here’s a great 10-minute YouTube ab routine. Fit body, here you come!
  • Watch music videos. Here are some of my favourites to get you started: “Downtown” by Macklemore, “Let’s Have a Kiki” by Scissor Sisters, “Hideaway” by Kiesza, and “Ego” by Beyoncé.
  • Experiment with your hair. Practice curling it with a straight iron, or get it damp and put those velcro rollers in. See if you can find a new look.
  • Strengthen your brain. Sign up for a Luminosity account and play a couple of brain games.
  • Change up your décor scheme. Restyle your coffee table. Move the pillows on your couch to your bedroom. Put your Himalayan salt crystal lamp in a new place.
  • Call an old friend you haven’t talked to in forever. Catch up or leave a friendly voicemail.
  • FaceTime a best friend you text all the time but who lives in a different city. Tell her about your day.
  • Update your résumé. Even if you’re not in the market for a new job, make sure it’s up to date. Add in some recent accomplishments.
  • Grab a card. Send your grandparents a handwritten note. Tell them what is going on in your life. Tell them you love them and hope to see them soon. Put a stamp on it and mail it.
  • Make a vision board. Cover a piece of cardboard with images and words that you have cut out from old magazines. The images and words should be what you envision for your future.
  • Try your hand at painting. Find a paint-by-numbers print you like, put your Picasso hat on, and start painting. When you are finished, give the painting to a family member as a gift.
  • Stretch. Downward Dog it out. Here’s one of my go-to YouTube stretching routines. Do it now and make your muscles feel great.
  • Take a bubble bath. Why not? Let yourself relax!
  • Set up an online dating profile for a website or app you’ve never tried before.
  • Meditate. Download a free app and follow along as you learn to be more in tune with your breathing, body, heart, and mind.
  • Research places to volunteer. The next time you start to feel bored, head to one of the places that sounded interesting and rewarding to you.
  • If you haven’t already, download the Bitmoji app. Make your personalised emoji, and then send all your friends fun cartoon texts.
  • Write a poem. Mother’s Day will sneak back up again. Write a poem about how great your mum is, put it in a place where you won’t lose it, and present it to her next year.
  • Write an email to someone you admire or are proud of. Be heartfelt. Go ahead and make a friend, family member, or colleague’s day.
  • Plan a party because life is too short not to plan parties. Need a reason for the party? Here are 31 reasons to plan a party for no reason.
  • Take a power nap. Adult napping has many health benefits. Catch up on your z’s now.
  • Write down a few love notes on small pieces of paper. Hide them among your significant other’s clothes or bags.
  • Put together a care package for a younger friend or family member who is in uni. Include a magazine, candy bars, a Starbucks gift card, and any clothes that you think she might love from your wardrobe that you are totally over.
  • Colour. That adult colouring book you got for Christmas? Break it out and channel your inner child with markers or crayons.
  • Wash your windows. When was the last time you washed your windows? Can’t remember? Grab the Windex and paper towels, and wash them now.
  • Listen to music. Put on Pharrell’s “Happy” and be happy.
  • Watch TV. It’s perfectly ok to unwind in front of the television. 
  • Read up on current events. Figure out what is happening in the world right now. Go to TheSkimm or The New York Times and get caught up on the news.
  • Start a blog. WordPress has tons of beautiful templates.
  • Get lost on Pinterest. Not sure how to style your new black pencil skirt? Need a theme for your baby’s first birthday party? Thinking about painting your kitchen chairs? Pinterest is full of ideas on all of these topics and so much more.
  • Start a garden. Even if you don’t have any outdoor space, plant some herbs in an indoor planter’s pot.
  • Write in your journal. Write what is going on in your life and how you’re feeling at this moment. Practice gratitude. If you’re not into writing, record yourself talking into an audio journal.
  • Bake. Whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies, ricotta orange cake, or banana bread. Then surprise a loved one with your delicious creation.
  • Look through old family photos or yearbooks. Fondly remember the past.
  • Start learning a new language. Review a couple of words per day.
  • Learn something new or something that you knew at one point but forgot. Use your Google skills to learn about the mating cycle of salmon, how to use Photoshop, the life of Oscar de la Renta, or whatever else floats your fancy.
  • Do a puzzle. Or a crossword! They are free in virtually every newspaper.
  • Find a podcast you love, download a bunch of episodes, and binge-listen to them.
  • Make lists. List your goals, what you look for in a partner, dishes you want to learn how to make, clothes you’d like to buy for the spring season, places you’d like to visit, etc. Refer to these lists in the future.
  • Dance. Blast your favourite song and get your groove on. If singing is more your thing, turn up your most beloved Disney classic, and belt it at the top of your lungs. Look at this stuff, isn’t it neat? Wouldn’t you think my collection's complete?
  • Browse Style Me Pretty. Make a private Pinterest page of images you would like to include in your wedding.
  • Already married? Browse MyDomaine and make a private Pinterest page of images you would like to include in your next home.
  • Make a movie. Grab your iPhone and start shooting. Upload to YouTube and share with your friends and family.
  • Make some inventories. Inventory your linen closet, entertaining supplies, or any other collections you may keep, like your handbags or shoes. Use the organisational maps to find things later quickly.
  • Do a project you’ve been putting off for months. Take the boots that need new heels to your shoe guy. Sell the old vacuum that’s been sitting in your hallway already!
  • Go to the library. Cooking, decorating, historical fiction—find a section of books that you enjoy, check out a few, and take them home to read.
  • Read a book. I’m sure there is a book lying around your house that you’ve never read. Find it and read the first chapter. Or start that classic—The Great Gatsby, Pride and Prejudice, The Catcher in the Rye—you’ve been meaning to read forever.
  • Go to a garden. Most cities have some sort of public garden. Seek out a rose, botanical, or produce garden, and go be with nature!
  • Plan your next trip. Want to visit Spanish wine country? Start researching hotels and wineries now.
  • Put together a time capsule. Bury it at the back of your hall closet. Forget about it, and then look at it when you move out.
  • Make some flower arrangements. Go to the supermarket and buy a bunch of affordable blooms in your favourite colour. Arrange them in vases, and then enjoy the flowers in your home for the next week.
  • Create an emergency plan for yourself. Stock a backpack with first aid supplies, water bottles, old tennis shoes, contacts, and nonperishable foods. Figure out your escape route if there is a fire. Know what you’re supposed to do in the case of a hurricane.
  • Learn how to tie a necktie and bow tie. Impress the gentleman in your life with your skills the next time you go to a wedding.
  • Study a map of your neighbourhood. Memorise the street names for the five blocks surrounding your house in each direction.
  • Make a pros-and-cons list of having children. Take it seriously. File in a safe place. When you’re considering motherhood, pull out the list and look it over.
  • Online shop. Search for that rug, mirror, shower curtain, or clock you’ve been thinking about getting for months. Search until you find the perfect one, and then order it.
  • Offer your help to a friend in need. Offer to make her dinner, help clean her house, or simply just listen to what is going on in her world.
  • Make a cocktail. Research how to make your preferred drink, go out get the ingredients, and make it at home.
  • Sign up for a class. Improv, calligraphy, hip-hop, tennis—commit to attending at least five sessions before you give up.
  • Clean your makeup brushes. It’s a bad idea to not clean your makeup brushes regularly, so grab them and dunk them in a large cup filled with warm soapy water. Let soak for an hour or two, and then rinse under cold water until the water runs clean. Let them air-dry on a clean towel.
  • Go through the photos on your phone. Delete anything that you don’t need. Sort, using the favourite button, and make a note of the images you want to print and frame.
  • Teach yourself the army alphabet. Its official name is the NATO phonetic alphabet. You’ve heard it: Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo… The next time you have to spell something out over the phone, you’ll nail it.
  • Learn how to give a proper foot massage. Surprise a loved one to practice the technique.
  • Join a recreational sports team. Many cities have netball or running groups that meet weekly to play games. Afterward, the entire group goes out for a drink. It’s a great way to meet new people.
  • That hot new restaurant you’ve been hearing so much about? Book a reservation—even if the only one you can get is three months out. Mark your calendar, invite friends, and make a celebratory night of it.
  • Look for your dream house. Go big or go home. What happens on your computer stays on your computer.
  • Research rescue dogs and cats online. Find a shelter in your hood and see if it has any animals that you might want to add to your family.
  • Visit a few crime maps. See if there have been any serious crimes in your neighbourhood recently. If a few have occurred, take the precautions to make yourself safe.
  • That restaurant you’re going to next week? Look up reviews and signature dishes. Figure out what you’re going to order.
  • It’s never too early to start thinking about your next Halloween costume. Maybe you and your BFF or partner should be Princess Leia and Han Solo. Or perhaps you want to be Joy from Inside Out? Whatever you decide, start planning for Halloween now.
  • Figure out your next girls’ trip. Write an email to your A-team of best friends and propose a road trip to a nearby town in the upcoming months.
  • Learn about the wine you like to drink. Whether you’re into sparkling rosé or Argentinean malbec, get to know how it’s made, who the best producers are, and what pairs well with it. Remember one of the best ways to learn about wine is to drink as much of it as you can.
  • Practice yogaA few deep breaths and several rounds of sun salutations are an awesome way to distract your mind from boredom.
  • Ask your most musically inclined friend for a new band recommendation. Listen to it and get into a new group or style of music. Find out when the next concert in your area is and get tickets for you and your friend.
  • Organise the apps on your phone. Delete any that you have not used in the past four months.
  • Get into watching a sport. Get excited for basketball season, or get ready for the AFL Grand Final.
  • Play a game. Pull out an old-school board game, pack of cards, or your computer and play a game.
  • Stage a photo shoot. Take pictures of something you love, be it food, your apartment, or your dog, and then edit and share on Instagram.
  • Google adorable baby animal photos. Whether you’re into teacup pigs, baby penguins, or young lions, find pictures and overload on cuteness.
  • Figure out a way to make more money. Start a side gig, set up a catering business, or bartend.
  • Write online reviews. Facebook, Google and Amazon are great places to share your opinions of products.
  • Start an Instagram feed for your pet. Who knows? Your pup could be the next Boo!
  • Cook for a loved one. Surprise your significant other with a special homemade dinner, or call up your cousin and invite her over for fried chicken tenders. Head to the grocery store and get the ingredients, then start cooking. Use the good china!
  • Update your gadgets. Make sure you’re using the latest operating system on your computer and that your smartphone is up to date.
  • Drink a full glass of water. Dehydration can make you sluggish. If you’re tired and bored, pour a glass of water and drink it.
  • Update your personal finances. Check your savings and checking accounts. Where can you cut back and save more?
  • Challenge yourself. Explore new projects. Take on a new habit. Set a new goal at work. Think outside the box.
  • Print out this list and use scissors to cut it into separate action items. Place the pieces of paper in a mason jar or old shoebox. The next time you are bored, pull something from the jar or box and do it.

This post was originally published March 16, 2016.

Explore: Boredom, lists

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