Everyone feels bored at some time during the day, and it’s a great way to tell yourself that it's time for a cup of tea, a breath of fresh air or a stretch of the legs. It’s part of the rhythm of your daily activities, along with feeling overly motivated and raring to go, or feeling as though you’d much rather be having a nap.
But if this is truly one of those days when you’ve nothing to do, what can you do in the office that both fills your time and accomplishes one of those tasks you’ve been putting off for months?
Here are a few quick suggestions to get you started.
1. What were your objectives?
If you were given objectives in your last appraisal, how close are you to completion? What more do you need to do? Schedule in the time to complete your objectives and make you and your line manager proud.
2. List your career goals
If you weren’t given any objectives, or you are so far ahead you’ve completed them, what goals can you give yourself? Is there a part of the business you want to learn more about? Is there a particular skill you’d like to develop? List your goals and set a timeframe and deadline to realistically complete these.
3. Subscribe to a newsletter
Research and sign up to the top newsletters that will forward your career, whether that’s industry-specific, position-specific or for highly motivated individuals like yourself! You could start with ours and get career advice, tips and tricks, confidence, insights, motivation and much more straight to your inbox.
4. Create a vision board
Of what you want your future YOU to look like. Hang it somewhere you’ll see it every day to keep the motivation and inspiration going.
5. Take an online course
What have you desperately wanted to learn, but just haven’t had the time to do so?
6. Listen to a podcast
Podcasts are not just for entertainment, and there’s so much you can learn on the go. If you don’t know where to get started, brainstorm some topics you’d like to learn more about and give them all a little listen. You’ll soon find those that you are compelled to the most, and that friendly voice will be a must-listen on your daily commute.
7. Watch a TED talk
Of your favourite go-to founder, speaker, collaborator, entrepreneur or artist-in-residence. A quick watch will give you a boost any time of day!
8. Download one of our resources
And see your career grow to heights you never imagined. From career confidence, elevator pitches and STAR techniques, we’ve everything at the click of a button.
9. Build a presentation for an idea you have
Have an idea for a new way of working that will save the company time, a new product feature or a marketing solution? Flesh it out and work through all the niggles so you can take it to the boss and you’ll have all the answers right there and then!
10. Schedule a coffee
Virtually or in person, with a colleague, mentor or connection to fill them in on your career journey and vice-versa.
11. Update your LinkedIn profile
Whether that’s your image and headline, which were last updated an age ago, or your summary. Things have changed since you last gave it an overhaul, and you’ll be attracting the wrong employers and recruiters.
12. Write a blog post
And post it on your social media or website. If you’re stuck for ideas you could consider the changes to your industry or position, what you’ve learnt in the last year, or share something you’ve learnt recently and what you’ve taken away from it.
13. Update your CV
So you’re halfway there when it comes to looking for your next opportunity.
14. Build a personal website
Put together a portfolio of your work so you can brand yourself hard. You can even do this when you don’t have a traditionally creative career that requires a portfolio. For example, if you are a marketing manager, put together your big wins, testimonials from clients, presentations you’ve given, and blog posts you’ve written.
15. Clear your inbox
Inbox zero feel so satisfying, doesn’t it?
16. Run an errand
Need to take that parcel back to the post office?
17. Declutter your desk
We live in a digital world - what are all those books and papers doing?
18. Organise your drawers
So you know where the stapler is for next time you need it.
19. Organise your computer files
So, once again you know where that document is for next time you need it.
20. Run your computer updates
Because when did you last do this and how slow is your computer getting? It also gives you an excuse to grab a coffee and a long break.
21. Unsubscribe from those emails you always delete
So you don’t have to spend time deleting them next time they’re pinged into your inbox.
22. Embrace the boredom
In 2019, the Academy of Management published three experimental studies that controlled for boredom and identified the benefits for the creativity of being bored. It found boredom could increase the productivity of individuals performing idea generation tasks.
We may think that being bored is akin to being productive, unfocused and a time-waster, and we often feel compelled to fill our time. I’m a perfect example of this - I use the time when waiting at the bus stop, waiting for an exercise class to start or even in line at a supermarket(!) to check and respond to emails, social media notifications or anyone I’ve been putting off messaging.
And when did you last have a great idea? Was it in the shower? Was it when you were cleaning the kitchen? Was it when you were delayed on the train? It’s more than likely that it wasn’t when you were plugged into something and failed to be distracted.
According to Margaret J. King, director of the Centre for Cultural Studies & Analysis, if you are bored your mind will wander into ‘problem-solving’ mode for issues that are bothering you. It likes to grapple with real-world issues, rather than hypothetical ones and reaches for those that have been circulating in your brain for a while.
Forcing yourself to sit and do nothing for ten minutes may be exactly what you needed, and give you that burning answer to that question so often on your mind.
Try it next time you’re bored and have nothing to do at work.