How to beat boredom with productivity – 30 things you should start doing now

girl smiling with a blue shirt

Have you ever found yourself at home on a quiet gloomy day thinking you have absolutely nothing to do with your life? We all want to live better lives and be more productive but sometimes it’s the actual process of being productive that gets confusing. How do you live a better, more productive lifestyle? What does that even mean?

With a global pandemic creeping in silently and taking many of us by surprise, its somewhat forced our lifestyles to change. We can’t just call up a friend and go out to coffee, browsing in the grocery store makes you think twice and for many of us, our travel plans have come to a complete halt. Life as we know it has literally slowed down.

If you’re anything like me, then you’re constantly on the go and have at least five different projects going at once but, with life slowing down many of us have been left feeling somewhat stagnant, claustrophobic and… bored.

How do you live a productive life when you can’t go outside and actually do the things you want to do?

I’ve adopted a whole new outlook this year – one where I embrace the slowed pace of life and focus on ME. For so long I’ve felt like I’ve been too busy travelling and just living life that I had no time for the admin side of things – the things that I really needed to be doing to feel like I’m 100% on top of my game. These last four months though have been somewhat different. Instead of feeling stuck in one country, I’ve made myself the focus and started putting more time into the things that nobody really puts down in a to-do list.

How do you beat boredom?

So how do you beat boredom? How do you become a more productive human and start living your life to the fullest?

Here’s 30 things to do that will help you beat boredom and be more productive.

1. Categorize your playlists – yes that’s right. Different songs motivate us in different ways and what works in the gym won’t necessarily work when you’re trying to journal or create. Categorize your playlists and label them with something motivating for different activities. Add at least 10 songs to each, sync your phone and keep building on them as you go. You’re already starting to be more productive!

2. Organize your space. There’s nothing more distracting that trying to work in a cluttered space. Get rid of things you don’t need and arrange your items so that they are easily accessible.

art studio with pink carpet and white curtains, simple art studio design

3. Listen to podcasts. Podcasts are a great way to keep your mind productive. You’ll learn new things and start feeling good about your life. Sometimes hearing a stranger talk about something that has been on your mind puts things in perspective. I like to listen to a podcast before bed while I’m doing my evening routine. Pick a time that works for you when you’re doing something that doesn’t require a lot of concentration. This way you’ll be getting two tasks done at once!

4. Update your resume. Yes, that’s right – it’s time to update your resume. If you’re anything like me then the last time you updated your resume was when you needed to apply for a new job. Theoretically your resume should be a living document on your computer that is readily accessible. Each time you complete a new course or milestone then you should be updating it as you go…. But who really does that? So, get ahead of the rest of the world, update your resume and keep an up-to-date copy that is readily accessible. Maybe even apply for a few jobs! You never know when a better position will come along that pays you more, offers a better job title and rewards you with more benefits. When last did you look?

5. Work on learning a new language. How long have you been putting off those French classes? Years? Yeah, me too. What better time than the present to actually sign up for a language class and learn a new skill?

6. Look on Pinterest for inspiration. You know all those dreams that seem so far-fetched? They don’t have to be. Use Pinterest as your online scrap book and create a new board for each dream or goal you’ve been thinking about. Then search for related images and pin them to your board. Those goals don’t seem as far-fetched anymore, do they?!

7. Start a bullet journal. Journaling is a great way to organize your life, release stress and find out more about yourself. I’m talking the little things that you should know about yourself but don’t actually take the time to figure out because life gets so busy. Bullet journals can become anything you want them to become – you can use them as a way to manage your weeks, track your life goals and daily habits like what you’re eating, how much water you’re drinking and how many hours of sleep you get. Doing this will 1) help you develop those creative skills and 2) learn more about yourself.

8. Go for a walk. Sounds like something that shouldn’t be on a productivity list but let’s look at it from a different perspective – you’re getting in your daily dose of Vitamin D and getting in some steps! You’re getting out the house and clearing your mind. Sometimes you need to change your surroundings to gain perspective.  

9. Paint… sketch or do something artsy. You don’t have to be a full-blown artist to start exploring your creative side. Take some time out to find a way to express yourself creatively – whether it be painting, sketching, journaling, writing, adult colouring, pottery…. the options are endless. More than that, you’ll feel less stressed, less anxious and learn to better express your emotions.

girl with a black backpack walking on a railway track

10. Practice gratitude. Life can be a rat race some times – we’re always chasing some dream or some goal… and when we achieve that dream or goal, we immediately move on to the next one. No one knows that better than me… as soon as I get home from exploring one city, I’m ready to go again. After writing one book, I’m immediately planning the next. Sometimes we need to slow down and be grateful for what we have and what we have achieved. Take some time to look at your life and thank the universe for all that you have and all that you have become.

11. Declutter your phone. How many times has the dreaded “Memory Full” message popped up on your phone? That has got to be the most annoying message ever and for some reason, it always pops up at the most inopportune time. Then, you find yourself scrambling to free up space and randomly deleting old photos, downloads, documents and songs. Take some time to declutter your phone and organize everything on it. You’ll instantly feel more productive! Organize your photos in your phone into albums, delete the unnecessary ones and if they’re really special to you, create back-ups and move them off your phone and store them somewhere safe. Delete any apps you haven’t used in the last three months and any old SMS’s. Review your phone book, delete any unneeded numbers and merge multiple numbers for the same contacts. Instant productivity!

12. Create a vision board. Now that you’ve found some inspiration on Pinterest, use that to create your very own vision board. This is the first year that I’ve created a vision board of the things I want to achieve and in just four months I am seeing a pretty big difference in my life. A vision board serves as a constant mental reminder of your goals and dreams that you want to achieve. Use inspirational images so that each time you look at your vision board, you feel inspired and motivated to do something that works towards those goals.

Read more: How To Create A Vision Board That Inspires You Everyday

cup of coffee and bullet journal, vision board example

13. Read a motivational book that will inspire you to go after your goals. You need to feel inspired to go out and achieve your personal goals or a better life and one of the best ways to do this is by reading a motivational book that is going to make you feel inspired. One of the best motivational books I’ve read is Good Vibes, Good Life: How Self-Love is Key to Unlocking Your Greatness by Vex King. The book is centred around positive thinking and how this can influence your actions and thinking and in turn, your ability to have a great life.

14. Find your signature dish. There’s no time like the present to feel more “adult” than now! Once you hit your thirties you should have at least one signature dish that you can easily whip up for a quick dinner… and no, I’m not talking noodles. Spend some time experimenting in the kitchen with different ingredients and cooking styles and come up with your signature dish that people will remember you for.

15. Go through your emails and delete any unwanted emails. It’s so easy for unread emails to build up and clutter your mail box and before you know it, you’re sitting with thousands and thousands of unread emails. Delete any unimportant emails and categorize your mailbox into categories that work for you. This way you’ll be able to immediately respond to any important emails that come through and you’ll instantly feel organized and on top of your game.

cup of coffee, rug and book, jack canfield book, bedroom slippers

16. Learn a new skill. There’s no time like the present to start working on your personal development to help improve your productivity. There are tons of ways to learn a new skill – you can take a free course online, watch YouTube videos, listen to Podcasts or read a book. In the end, you’ll have a new skill to add to your resume!

17. Create a bucket list. A bucket list is a great way to jot down all those things you’ve been to scared to do in this lifetime and start ticking them off one by one. One of the best tips I learnt when creating a bucket list is from Jack Canfield’s Book: How to Get From Where You Are To Where You Want To Be: The 25 Principles for Success is that your bucket list needs to have detail. Take some time to imagine the details around each item on your bucket list and write them down in specific concrete detail. Then start working towards ticking items off!

18. Watch a TED Talk and grow your mind. There is a TED Talk out there for literally anything and everything….

notebooks on a rug, typo daily planners

19. Work out! Exercise is one of the best ways to start feeling good about yourself. Not only will it boost your metabolism but it will also improve your overall self-confidence. The benefits of exercise are endless – from losing weight, to reducing your risk of certain diseases to controlling stress. Start simple by going for a walk every day then up your game and build on what you do slowly but steadily.

20. Plan out your week. Spend some time each and every day working on your goals. Use your diary or daily planner and break down your tasks and to-do lists step by step. Completing small manageable tasks is the first step to achieving bigger goals.

21. Create a meal plan. Deciding what to eat can take ages on some days, especially when you’re tired but having an already planned out eating schedule can make life so much easier. Take some time on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon to plan out your meals for the week. Give it some thought and map in your fruit, veggies and water. This way, you’ll know exactly what to add to your grocery list (you won’t overspend!) and you’ll be eating healthy without having to think twice!

girl in a blue shirt

22. Unfollow online accounts that don’t make you feel good. So often we follow too many unnecessary social medical accounts that don’t add benefit to our lives or make us feel good about ourselves. Make a conscious decision to clean up your social media by deleting any low vibrational posts and unfollowing any accounts that don’t add value to life.

Because why should you follow accounts that don’t do anything good for your self-esteem?

23. Create a five-year plan. Life doesn’t always go as planned but knowing where you’re going is definitely a start to living a more productive life. It helps you become more focused and gives you the courage to say NO to the things that don’t work in your favour or support your end goal.

24. Work on your current goals. Now that you have your five-year plan mapped out, you’ve created a vision board and you have a bucket list… start working on your goals! You’ve already spent time mapping out the nitty gritty details so this should motivate you even more to JUST GET GOING!

25. Set up a life binder. I’ve only recently come across the phrase life binder but I’m loving the concept. A life binder is basically every bit of important paperwork organized into one binder so should an emergency strike, you don’t need to go scrounging through the house for your passport, identify documents, degree certificates etc. and let’s be realistic… in the event of an emergency you most likely won’t have the time for that

papers with scribbles, example of the creative process

26. Learn about passive income streams – a simple 9am – 5 pm job may get you from A to B but having an additional income can’t hurt. There are so many ways of making money while you sleep and, if you take the time to research it enough, you’ll find that there are even ways to make money from your passions and hobbies!

27. Organize your bills and paperwork. Having unpaid bills sitting in the background, receipts from payments already done and any other important paper strewn around the house is a sure-fire way to feel unproductive and as if your life is in a mess. Use the time you have to do some adulting and get a schedule going. Organize your bills into categories and set automatic payment dates where possible. This way you won’t forget to pay your rent and you’ll always have enough electricity on hand. Spend some time going through all your paper work lying around and determine what you really need, throw away what you have duplicates off and organize them all into your life binder!

28. Plan your next vacation. So maybe we can’t travel right now… but we can dream right? With Covid-19 bringing so much of travel to a grinding halt, the idea of an overseas vacation seems so far-fetched at the moment. But that being said, we will be able to travel again some time in the future so it’s the perfect time to do all your planning! Look at flight prices, do a virtual tour of the area, make a list of all the attractions you’d like to see and food you’d like to eat, figure out what hotel you want to stay at and write all this down! That way when travel opens up again, you’re ready set go for your adventure!  

yellow taxi in new york

29. Cancel any unwanted paid subscriptions. How many times have we subscribed to something we thought we needed at time, only to find out that it’s a weekly or monthly subscription that requires a log in to a website to deactivate? So…. Much…. Effort…! Spend a half hour and go through your accounts with the specific intention of cancelling any unwanted / unused paid subscriptions… and save some money!

30. Make an emergency kit. Adulting means being prepared and sometimes that can be difficult when living on your own. Spend some time and make a simple emergency kit with the essentials that you may need in the event of an emergency. Store your kit in a safe place and use it when you need to!

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I'm Shalinee - a Geminian scientist who loves to travel, write, draw and eat chocolate. I've visited over twenty countries, published a Environmental Science encyclopaedia and somewhere along the way started a science communication company to help students and corporates translate that hard-to-read data generated in a lab. Other than that, I'm just searching for the magic still hidden in the world.

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