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Productive Things To Do When Bored: 9 Tips to Try

productive things to do when bored

Did you know that boredom can affect your overall happiness and well-being? It can. The Cambridge Dictionary defines being bored as “feeling tired and unhappy because something is not interesting or because you have nothing to do.” That means that boredom, if left unaddressed, can lead to other undesirable outcomes in our lives – and who wants that? The good news is that there are productive things to do when bored that can help you counteract those negative outcomes while also helping you become more productive in the process.

Don’t Be a Victim of Boredom

To help you live out a happy and productive life, we’ve provided a list of productive things to do when bored. The reality is that, from time to time, we all get bored. And instead of getting caught off-guard, we want you to have ways to be prepared.

Productive Things to Do When Bored at Home

1. Relax

Life can feel pretty overwhelming at times. Trying to balance work, family, and everything in between can leave us feeling stressed, fatigued, and burnt out. Embrace that rest is an important part of our well-being physically, mentally, and emotionally. Learn to appreciate that you don’t have anything pressing to take care of or to worry about. Use it as permission to treat yourself to a massage or a much-needed nap.

When many people think of rest, they think of doing absolutely nothing or sleeping. Many people who need rest are not nappers and get more anxious doing nothing. Doing nothing is a thing that you need to train yourself to do. Because of this, it may help you to learn active rest. Resing is the way to avoid total burn out, and it can be different things for different people. Taking one or two days a week to rest can mean doing something enjoyable, peaceful, or calming to you.

Walk or Hike

For some people, resting means walking or hiking. To others, this can be the opposite of rest, but if you have the jitters that you need to get out of your system, walking can benefit you greatly. It helps clear the mind, gets the blood pumping, and boost your endorphins, but it is also very peaceful and gentle on the body. Taking a walk around the block, around the office, or taking a leisurely hike around your favorite trail can really help to get your centered and refocused on what really matters, here and now.  

Take a Luxury Bath

Another way to rest is by taking a nice soothing bath. Get the warm water flowing with your choice of bubbles, essential oils, or sea salts. You can read a book, watch a show, talk on the phone, or just sit back and relax.

Enjoy Your Own Company

Alone time is another great option for ushering relaxation. A day of shopping, a coffee date by yourself, or taking yourself to a nice meal. No matter how you choose to treat yourself, alone time can be incredibly relaxing!

Enjoy the Company of Friends

Lastly, you can relax by hosting. This may seem to go against what you expected, but it really is a great way to unwind! Get a few girlfriends together with a cheese platter and some wine and enjoy a laid back night. Join together to watch a show weekly in order to get your head out of your cares. Invite some friends over for a sleepover and to do face masks and have snacks and a movie like you did when you were young. Have a couples night that consists of board games and a potluck meal. Have the boys over for some beer and poker or a night of video game playing. No matter what you choose, enjoying the company of drama-free, stress-free people can do wonders for your relaxation needs. Unwind with those whose company you enjoy. 

woman sitting and looking outside

Though this may not appear to be one of the productive things to do when bored, findings show a link between the priority of quality sleep and some of the most productive and successful CEO’s. Besides, your body and mind will thank you for it.

2. Reflect

person sitting by the lake

There may be times where you feel like you lack meaning and purpose in your life. Take a step back to reflect and gain some perspective. It may be helpful to reflect upon some of the bigger questions about life and work. “What do I feel called to accomplish in my life?” “Am I pursuing what I’m passionate about?” “What big changes do I need to think about making in my life?”

Without a sense of meaning and purpose, it won’t matter how much activity your life is filled with. You’ll likely remain prone to boredom and unhappiness.

Reflection is truly a difficult activity for many. You would be amazed to know how many people are afraid of sitting alone and thinking through these hard questions. So here are some other ways to reflect: great reasons that self-reflection is a gift, even if you do not enjoy the activity in the least.

Reflecting Can Show You How to Help Others

Reflecting on what you are gifted in, what you have to offer the world, and how you can contribute to others will make all the difference. This can steer you in a direction that is others-focused and help you start to give back in ways unique to you.

Reflection Can Make You More Grateful

Often when I reflect, it is with the intention to reflect on what I am grateful for. not on what is lacking, missing, or needs to be changed, but simply on what I am happy about in life! This changes my mindset greatly and shows me all the things I truly have to be grateful for in this life, all the blessings right before my eyes. If you are the praying type, reflect by forming a prayer of thanks for all you have been given.

Reflection Keeps You from Repeating the Past

Reflecting on all that has ensued in your life, both in situations that you have caused or you have been subject to can help you move forward in a wise way. Learning from the mistakes of the past is our greatest teacher if we will let it be. Use your mistakes are a catalyst for you to be better. If you do not reflect, you are doomed to have history repeat itself, right? Use every failure as a point of learning and growing into who you want to be.

Reflecting Shows You Your Passions and Ideas

In moments of reflection, you will see that so many incredible ideas and passions come to light. Everything you want to do in this life comes forward and you realize who you want to become. Reflection can give you revelations about yourself that push you to pursue the deepest desires of your heart. If you never take the sometimes uncomfortable moments to sit with yourself, you may never realize all these dreams and never get to the point of setting goals. How sad that would be! Reflect to find out what you should do.

3. Read a Novel

There are few things that can stir one’s imagination like reading a good novel. Whether it’s as an escape from the “every day” or an effort to better empathize with others, the benefits of reading a good story are plentiful. One of our favorite books is To Kill a Mockingbird, among others.

If you’re not wanting to visit your local bookstore or library, you can even purchase an e-book instantly from the comforts of your own home.

woman reading a book beside a window


In this day and age, reading is the type of thing that really gets pushed to the side. With so many things calling for our attention, all of our "bored" moments can be filled to the brim with endless entertainment. Reading helps us to focus where we are instead of zoning out. This is where reading comes in! Reading grounds us and helps us to be in the moment, where entertainment gets us lost in a world that does not require us to do a whole lot of thinking or growing.  Reading is an entertaining task that is also educational, productive, and has so many other benefits. ​

Reading Helps You Sleep

Setting a bedtime ritual and going to bed at the same time every night has been proven to be helpful for your sleep quality and falling asleep as well. But reading for 20-30 minutes a night before bed is a great way to signal rest and get you in a routine of shutting down when this activity is taking place. it is also the best replacement for drifting off to sleep. We all know the negative things the blue light in screens does to us. It can really interfere with a good rest before bed! Switch your screen out with a book and be amazed at what happens!

Reading Influences Others

In the world of bookstagram, book clubs, and book sharing, there is a small but bright reading light in the midst of the vast world of entertainment. If you are a parent, it is likely that you desire for your kids to read much more than they currently do! This is a natural and good desire, but remember, your kids learn by watching you. That even comes to hobbies. If you instill reading into your children through practice, they can really grow to become readers! Instead of simply saying it, remember that you need to be doing it too.

Reading Relaxes

Going back to an earlier point, reading is something you can do to relax. Social media is known for causing heightened cases of anxiety, depression, comparison syndrome and a host of other issues. But reading has never been given any issue attributed to it at all. The reading life is the best life! Where social media gets you riled up, reading slows you down. Losing yourself in the stories of another can help you to relax and get away from the pressures of stress and strain that come with life. Read to relax.

Keep track of the books you read through Goodreads​.

4. Learn Something New

Believe it or not, there was once a time when YouTube, and even the internet, didn’t exist. Today, there’s a tutorial for nearly anything you can think of, from learning how to prepare a turkey to fixing a broken faucet. Why not take this time to learn something new that will aid your leisure, improve your home life, or help you excel at work?

So what are some reasons for learning something new?

Learning Something New Gives You Conversation Starters

When beginning or continuing a conversation, you will need to have topic points. Learning something new whether it is a hobby, history, or becoming knowledgeable about something interesting, it can be a great way to add quality to a conversation (especially a dying one).

Learning Something New Heightens Self-Esteem

Learning something new can help you to feel better about yourself. As you improve at a skill or become more aware of the world, you begin to feel like you are a more productive and "useful" human, really accomplishing something important to you.

Learning Something New Can Help You Make Friends

When you learn something new, chances are there is a group that also learned that something. Maybe it is a knitting club, a book club, a coding class, or a Zumba class, you can use whatever new skill you learn to make great friendships. Even the most solo of activities can be done in a group if you will put in the effort to find them. For me, reading was a solo act until I created a Bookstagram and joined a book club. Leverage whatever you learn to create a great community around you!

Learn Something New Can Make You Money

Sometimes we pick up new interests for no reason other than enjoying something fun and exciting. But sometimes these things turn into full-blown businesses. Chances are, if you love your new skill enough, you can take it and leverage it to make yourself good money, or a nice side-hustle income.

Learning Something New Can Cure Boredom

This whole article is about how to do something with your time that is productive and gets rid of boredom. A new hobby, skill, or interest is the best way to get rid of being bored! Whenever you get bored, you can turn to this new thing you learned to fill that time. This is a much more productive way to use your time than most others!

5. Plan Your Next Vacation

two person using map and laptop on wooden surface

We all need something to look forward to from time to time. Vacations are a great way to break up the year. Figure out the next spot you or your family would like to visit and start making plans accordingly. We find that when you’re not proactive about them, they don’t happen nearly as often as you’d like them to. Vacations can also serve as a way to reward yourself after each season of work. This is definitely among one of our favorite productive things to do when bored!

So how do you plan a vacation anyway? Here are a few steps to help you as you go.

What Kind of Vacation

What kind of vacation is this? Are you going to see a friend, visiting family, taking a solo trip, taking a family trip, or something else? If you are visiting a friend or family, you already know the destination. If you are taking a trip with a partner or with your family, get the input of everyone and decide on the type of place. Do you all want to be at the beach in the topics, take a cruise, or explore a historic area with lots of prominent museums? Are you looking for a more city feel, or want to cross a place off of your bucket list? Asking these questions can help you determine what kind of vacation you want to take.

What Is the Budget

This is one of the biggest factors. Money speaks, and it also determines what you can do. Whatever the budget is, it can be worked with. If it is low, a staycation in your own town or city is best. You can research fun things to do in or near your area.  Maybe a weekend trip to the nearest city is in the budget. Or perhaps it is big enough to travel across the world. Whatever it is, make sure you are setting one down to the penny and planning your trip around how much you have to put towards it. There is nothing worse than running out of money on vacation! Look into all the tools out there that help you stretch your dollar to the max. Apps and sites and programs that get you full vacation packages or help you to find cheap flights, transportation, and places to stay.

Plan the Details

Now that you know what type of vacation you want to go on and your budget, you can enjoy the planning aspect! Figure out where to stay, what activities to try, what tours and museums and landmarks to visit, where you will eat and shop, and all the details in between. Make sure you allow some time for rest as well as spontaneity. Create a spending fund that does not have a name on it as a part of your budget. Maybe the locals will let you know about something fun in the area, and you want to try it on the fly, or perhaps you'll see a restaurant that was not part of your research that you want to eat at. Make your budget and itinerary flexible!

6. De-clutter

More than likely, you have unnecessary items and boxes in your home that make cleanup and organization more difficult than they need to be. Take it from The Minimalists who define minimalism as “a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.”

Create a system that helps you figure out what in your home can be sold, donated, or simply gotten rid of.

Decluttering is all the rage nowadays. There are Netflix specials, expert speakers, books and tons of other resources that all show you how great decluttering is for raising your quality of life. Decluttering is one of the best ways to create a more joyful and peaceful life.

The last generation accumulated a lot of stuff. They had tons of trinkets and glass sculptures and comic books and other things of the like. But the new generation is completely minimalist. Our homes are full of only what we need and things that make us truly happy. Living like this not only helps you to live joyfully and peacefully, but it also helps you to save money and to clean much faster.

The thing with decluttering is that it is a never-ending task. There is always something you can get rid of! Especially if you are not in a minimalist mindset, your homes and accounts can constantly be stuffed with clutter. Many would say that decluttering is much more important than cleaning because cleaning is much easier if your space is clear.

But decluttering is not just a great thing to do with your physical things. It is also great for your digital things as well! When you have the time, declutter your inbox, your social media friends and followers, your photos, your texts, and anything else that is unnecessarily there. You will feel so productive afterward!

Decluttering is a great thing to do when you are bored or don’t have much going on. Simply go through different sections of the house that are messy and get rid of things ruthlessly. If you don’t need it or don’t love it, it can go. Find upstanding places to donate things or friends and family to give your things to.

You would be surprised if you went through every area of your home. There are so many unnecessary things that we accumulate over time that only create more dust and take up more of our space. These things stress us out and make it harder for us to live in a peaceful and calm area. Whenever you find yourself bored, decluttering is best!

Tackle that junk drawer, closet, under the sink in your bathroom. old baby clothes, the garage, your trunk, your basement or attic, drawers and cabinets, and all devices and accounts. There is enough to do here to take you from bored to productive, fast!

A great place to begin your journey of decluttering when bored is by getting familiar with the work of organizing guru Marie Kondo. She has a Netflix special and four books all on the topics of organization. Her methods are changing the lives of people everywhere!

7. Journal Your Thoughts

Journalling can serve as an effective way to process and organize our thoughts. Many find it therapeutic to write their thoughts out on a journal. Along with your word processor, there are a number of online mediums that allow you to type and privately store your thoughts. As an added bonus, your old journals can serve as a way to pass something of value onto future generations.

Many people would love to start a journaling habit but don’t know where to begin. I want to walk you through some great ways to start journaling that are simple as well as fun. Everyone has a way that they journal that is you unique to them and works best for their interests and lifestyle. Remember, there is no right or wrong way. Maybe you will take these ideas and turn them into your own unique way, or maybe will find yours below!

One-Sentence Journal

If you have been the type who has created huge journaling goals and then stop following through with them pretty quickly after, you may want to try a one-sentence journal. This is a new habit that is all the rage and it’s incredibly exciting to be able to read through all your sentences at the end of the journal. A great way to start this is to simply get a journal and write the date at the top of the page. At the end of your day and when you’re about to go to sleep, sum up your day in one sentence. Don’t allow this to be stressful or unnecessary pressure. Make it short, simple and sweet. At the end of the journal or the year, you can see what kind of themes took place in your life on a day-to-day basis as well as the highs and the lows, in easy to read chunks.

Social Media Journaling

Another great way to journal that I see many people doing these days is by using your social media platforms. For instance, they will post a picture that they took that day with a caption that recaps the day on Facebook. Not everyone is up for this kind of thing, but if you are, it can be like a public journal which not only shares the highs and lows with the people you are friends with on social media but also keep you accountable to goals and changes in habits you want to make, as well.

Bullet Journaling

Bullet journaling is a great way to do the exact opposite of a one-sentence journal. Basically, you can purchase these or create your own and there are tons of tutorials online. Every single life event can be documented and even things like your thoughts, your dreams, your loved ones, your habits, and your water intake. It pretty much keeps track of anything and everything that you want to keep track of. This is a more involved journaling process, but some people want to see all the progression and details in this way. It can be a huge blessing to keep track!

Free Write Journaling

Free Write journaling is one of my favorites. In this type of journaling, you are basically deciding to let every type of filter or label or way of journaling go and just let it all out as it is. The good, the bad, and the ugly alike get down on the page and this allows you to see exactly what your unconscious thoughts are telling you.

Intuitive Journaling

Another good way to describe free-write journaling is as intuitive journaling, where we just allow your subconscious self to speak and it can reveal so many things to you that you were either holding onto a need to release or that you should bring to the forefront of your mind because it is a great thing! It’s really interesting to know what you have been suppressing all day all week or a month simply by writing it out with a no stopping.

For this form of journaling, it is best to do it either very early in the morning when you just wake up or as the last thing in your day at night before you go to bed. These are your most unfiltered times before the world and everything that comes with it becomes what is on your mind. Set a timer and just write it all out. Don’t go back to edit anything or even to correct spelling and grammar. Don't stop writing, no matter what comes out, and see what comes out!

Visual Journaling

Lastly, a visual journal is a great form. Many people are not wordy (good with words) and instead are great at art and drawing and all that goes into the world of creation outside of the word world. I am not the type to draw and I am horrible at it. I pretty much can only color in the lines, so words are typically where I land. But I have seen the visual journal not only be extremely beautiful but also extremely life-changing. It may be hard for you to keep a traditional journal if you are not good with words. If instead, you are able to get your words down through pictures, it could change everything for this habit. As they say, pictures really do say 1000 words.

The way that I have used a visual journal in the past has been to use pictures I’ve taken and edited and then write about them in my day underneath. Thankfully, we have so many resources in this day and age to do things like that. I’m not good at creating drawings and pictures, but I am good at taking pictures and editing them. Use whatever you’re good at to your advantage. We all have a creative side and can get out thoughts and feelings down in one way or another.

Travel Journaling

Do you travel a lot? If you do, a travel journal is exactly what you need. You can use any old journal and turn it into a travel journal, or you can purchase one of the hundreds that live online. It is not so much about the journal itself, but the journaling. As you travel, document things like the restaurants you ate at, the museums you went to, and everything in between. Write down all the special little moments that you are likely to forget in the future. Really capture the trip and everything it offered you so that later on when you look back, you’ll be able to relive it all over again.

Love Letter Journaling

You may want to try love letter journaling. If you are hoping to get married or have kids someday or already are married right now and have kids, writing love letters to their future selves or their current selves can be a really special way to journal and connect.

If you are hoping for a family of this capacity in the future, sometimes it can be really sad and lonely to wait. Journaling in this way gives you the ability to speak to them and get some of that anticipation out of you and onto the page. If you already have children or a spouse, it can be really special to write them letters that you will give them as a present or when they grow up. Writing letters to loved ones is an incredibly heartfelt way to journal.

Affirmation Journaling

With this type of journaling, the goal is to write out exactly who you are in order to remind yourself and recenter your identity. It is the practice of decided that these are the traits, characteristics, and qualities that you choose to embrace and be the best you possible. I love to start each morning out with affirmation. I am statements are so powerful in helping you conquer the inner critic or lies you have believed about yourself in the past.

Food and Hydration Tracking Journaling

If you are trying to lose weight or get healthy, a food journal and hydration journal can really change things. You can keep one of these on your phone or in a physical way. Just remember to bring it with you! Tracking every single thing that you eat and drink can show you so much about your patterns. Both those you want to avoid and those you are doing correctly.

Online Journaling

Journaling online is a great way to journal in this day and age. We already talked about social media journaling, but I am talking using your phone to journal privately in this section.

There are so many places you can keep a journal on your devices. A simple search in the app store using the word "journal" will bring up dozens upon dozens of options to choose from, all a little different from the last. You can keep it simple and use Google Keep or the Notes app in your phone, or my personal favorite, EverNote.

Two Person Journaling

As someone who lives a long distance from almost all of their loved ones, I have found a two-person journal to be such a great way to connect with loved ones! Simply begin a page in an online note-taking system and add a friend. This can be done from contacts or emails if you use your phone notes or Google keep. Share all the things you want, everything that goes on in your day and more. This is a very personal way to create a habit with those you love that keeps you accountable to the journaling life. It is like a more personal and detailed group message thread!

8. Call an Old Friend

Few of us would deny that people and relationships are two of the most important things in all of life. And yet, we also realize just how easy it can be to neglect them. Rather than simply scrolling through your social media feed, give an old friend a call who you haven’t connected with in a while. You won’t regret the time you put into doing that.

Calling an old friend contains so many benefits wrapped up in it. Old friends can mean either friends you knew long ago and disconnected from or friends who you grew up with and are calling on a consistent basis to catch up on the daily endeavors or huge life changes. Either way, both types hold a special history that cannot be minimized. No matter how great out new friends, old friends are special and comforting. They have been able to see who you were and who you are up close and personal. 

When I reach out to old friends who are still my closest friends, it is like reaching out to my family. These people are locked in, not going anywhere, and are something of a staple in my life. If you have recently moved to a new place or had a major life change, calling an old friend can help you to remember where you came from and that you are cared for. Old friends carry a part of us inside of them because they knew us during our formative times. They were there during the hard stuff and the good stuff and can remind us of both. Reconnecting with old people are maintaining relationships with the people that we used to know is one of the things that makes living great.

On the other hand, starting an old friendship back up can be so good for the soul. When you reconnect with an old friend or family member that you have not spoken to you in a long time, you might be amazed at how easy it is to pick up where you left off and how enjoyable the conversation is. I have found that many times, picking up old friendships where you both have changed and molded, especially childhood friendships, lead to a more fulfilling and less frustrating relationship.

Many times, I will end up becoming friends with someone that I used to be friends with but we have both evolve into different people. We talk about being young and all the pettiness that came along with that and we are able to be there for one another in the present, as these better and more developed people. Sometimes simply picking up the phone and calling an old friend has led to planning trips or visits or in some cases, even having them in my wedding party, all because we started our friendship back up.

One of the best examples of this was when I contacted an old friend who moved away for college. I had been very close to her a few years prior, but once she moved we disconnected. She came to live with me and my family for the summer and we even went on vacation together. Now, as an adult, I called her because I was lonely and needed a friend. I missed her.

This turned into staying at her house for a trip, which eventually turned into becoming roommates, which led to her helping me plan my wedding and become one of my bridesmaids, which led to her giving a speech at my wedding. This turn of events all stemmed from a single phone call. Calling a friend can do so much good for your life and remind you that people are capable of growing and changing. And when two people and change, they can come back together even stronger.

9. Exercise

The benefits of exercise are multi-faceted. Far beyond one’s physical well-being, exercise also affects one’s mental and emotional well-being. An article by Harvard Health Publishing states that “Exercise helps memory and thinking through both direct and indirect means”.

woman running with the sun up

If you don’t consider yourself a workout buff, simply start by going for an easy walk in the neighborhood.

Just Move

Exercising should be done at your own pace and it should not be determined by how you look on the outside. Consistency is key, and doing what feels best for your body is important. It does not need to kill you to be a good workout. There is a misconception in this day and age that in order to be in good shape or healthy you need to be at the gym every single day lifting weights and doing CrossFit and running marathons. This is simply not the case. Many people cannot work out in this capacity or do not want to. The truth is, if they are moving every day, that does not make them any less healthy.

Going for a walk around the block is not good only for the soul but also for the body. Stretching your muscles gently is not only a great physical practice but also a great spiritual one. Walking has so many benefits for a person, especially if it is done on a consistent basis, and it is easier on the joints! Learning to simply move your body where are you are is the key to true health.

When you are bored, going for a walk or a jog or taking your dog to the park or kids to the playground can be a great way to get out of the house and do something productive. You can learn and exercise in a way that feels good to your body. Just because one person exercises one way does not mean you need to as well. If yoga in the morning is the best way to start your day, then trade out the weightlifting for this. If walking is easier than jogging, walk instead.

The main thing to know is that you can be healthier on the inside than someone who seems healthy on the outside because of your level of consistent exercise. The way that you look on the outside does not necessarily mirror the inside. It is really all about moving. When we stop focusing on the outside physique and focus on the inside health, that is when we are making progress.

If you can turn the boring moments of life into moments of easy exercise, that means you’re using your time productively. If you know there is a certain in your schedule when you are typically bored, then take the initiative and enroll in a workout class or get together with a friend at that time. The main thing here is to begin moving. Then, it will come naturally and you will not need to be bored because you'll know how to fill those moments.

10. Listen to a Podcast

Podcasts are a great way to grow and learn. A lot of them are pretty entertaining as well. The great thing about podcasts is that they can be listened to while driving, exercising, or doing work around the house. For multi-taskers, podcasts are great!

Podcasts are also great because they keep you updated on the things going on in the world. When you listen to podcasts, there are endless options for news, current events, and politics. My favorite thing is to listen to a podcast by NPR that only lasts 15 minutes called First Up. I also listen to a plethora of other shows that help me to know what's happening in the world. I listen to partial and impartial, as well as ones that are straight fact-based. As you listen, you learn which podcasts are your favorite to listen to on a consistent basis.

You Grow with Podcasts

There are so many podcasts available that can help you to improve yourself. In any skill that you want to learn or area you want to grow, you will be able to find an applicable podcast. I personally listen to plenty of growth podcasts both for my personal self and life and in my work as well. No matter what field you are in or what your personality type and areas of weakness there are, there is a podcast for you.

Podcasts Encourage You

When you listen to podcasts that have to do with your interests, you realize you are not the only one. There are plenty of other people like you! There are people who started out exactly where you did and can relate to your journey. I am so encouraged when I listen to those who are further along than I am in whatever my craft is. I go to podcasts for reading recommendations, to help me grow as a writer, to learn how to use my time most productively, and so much more.

Podcasts Take You Away

Podcasts are great for those who are bored because they take you into another world. Just like reading, watching a show, or any other form of entertainment, listening to a podcast throws you into the words and stories of another person. You learn ideas, thoughts, and suggestions from others while listening.

Podcasts Are Free

If you have a device, you can listen to podcasts. This is a great thing because a lot of entertainment out there causes you to pay per content or in monthly subscriptions. You can listen to podcasts nonstop for free. But don't forget, if you love a podcast, support it! They take a lot of resources and manpower to create.

Podcasts Are like Conversations

When I take long road trips, there is nothing that keeps me away better than podcasts! It is more than just commentary or music, it is like you are having a conversation with the person on the other side. They are great at keeping me away on long drives! They are also fun to listen to whenever I want something mentally stimulating that makes me think deeply. Podcasts ask important questions that you will find yourself coming up with answers to all the time!

9. Volunteer 

Volunteering is such a great way to give back to your community as well as the world. Something many people do not realize about volunteering is the way serving others actually serves you. If you want to feel great, help others. If you help others, you will feel great! The best part of volunteering is that there are so many options. You can volunteer in so many areas, at so many places, at many times. The opportunities are endless. A good way to get started is to figure out where your heart is.

Volunteer with Animals

Do you love animals? Volunteer at an animal shelter in your free time! Being around animals that have all types of stories and need love can be so special and fun.

Volunteer Helping the Earth

Do you love the earth? Get out there and pick up trash off the beach, or clean up trash at a national park. There are endless opportunities for those who are interested in helping the earth.

Volunteer Helping People

Do you have a heart for people? Volunteer with the homeless. Or go to a food pantry and help to make hot meals. Get plugged into Habitat for Humanity and see all the opportunities available! If you are interested in helping people medically, you can always volunteer with the Red Cross Association. You don't even need to give blood! You can greet, organize, and write grants, among other things, in order to help.

Volunteer at the Library

Volunteering at your local library can be so much fun, especially if you are a proclaimed book lover like me. There are so many things you can do here! From organizing books and shelves to organizing events like book signings. You can even volunteer your digital services like running social media accounts or creating designs for posters. This experience is great for college applications and job resumes, as well as a great experience for book lovers, to be surrounded by books!

Volunteer with the Elderly

Do you love elderly people? I know I do. Did you know that many of them are lonely? Many of their families do not visit often, or cannot give them the attention they need. If you volunteer at a retirement home, you are changing the world. You can help with activities, read books or poems, put on shows, or teach a skill that they may not know.

Productive Things to Do When Bored at Work

1. Clean Out Your E-mail Inbox

2. Organize Your Desk

3. Retool

4. Connect with Coworkers

5. Find a Mentor

6. Personal Growth

7. Volunteer Yourself

8. Utilize Your Resources

​Final Thoughts on Procrastination Quotes

How you let your boredom affect you depends on how you respond to it. You can either become a victim of it and its consequence or you can respond with one of the productive things to do when bored that we’ve listed here. Rather than letting boredom get the best of you, use it as a way to live a happier and more productive life.


10 Tips for Finding Time to Learn Something New

teen reading a book to learn something new

Image from Pixabay

At some point in life, nearly everyone decides to learn something new. But if you’re like most people, you’ve probably been bitten by the curiosity bug, only to realize that you didn’t have the time to pursue your new goal.

What if we told you that despite your busy schedule, there are ways to find the time to learn new things?

This article outlines ten such tips that can help you commit to this habit. Read on to find out more about why it’s important to learn something new, and about how you can find the time to do it.

What Is Time Management?

Time management is the process of planning out your schedule in such a manner that you consciously control how much time you spend on various specific activities. In other words, it is the ability to use your time effectively and productively. Although time management is typically considered as a professional skill, it can be greatly useful when applied to your personal life as well.

time management

Image from Pixabay

Why Is Time Management Important?

Managing your time effectively can have various positive effects on your life. Some of the many benefits of time management are listed below.

  • You get more stuff done during the day
  • You’re less stressed out
  • Less time is wasted
  • You end up having more time to spare
  • You feel calmer as you’re in control
  • It improves your reputation
  • You have more time for the essential things in life

Why Learn Something New?

learning

Image from Pixabay

If you’re unsure about whether learning something new can be beneficial for you, here are some reasons why you should consider doing it.

It Alters the Chemistry of Your Brain

Learning new things brings about positive chemical changes in your brain. There’s something called myelin in the brain. It’s also known colloquially as white matter, and it plays a significant role in determining how your brain performs various tasks.

The more you learn and practice a new skill, the denser the myelin in your brain becomes. Eventually, this improves your ability to learn new things and to retain information.

It Could Reduce Your Risk for Dementia

Much like how physical exercise keeps your body healthy, stimulating yourself mentally keeps your brain from deteriorating. It prevents demyelination of the brain, which is a condition in which the myelin or the white matter grows thinner.

This condition has been linked to dementia, which is an illness when you begin to forget a lot of information as your brain starts to have trouble remembering things. Since learning new things makes the myelin in your brain denser, your risk for dementia reduces significantly.

You Have Something to Look Forward To

Learning is refreshing, and it gives you something to break the monotony of everyday life. It makes you feel like your brain has been renewed, and it offers a healthy distraction from the humdrum of everyday life.

And instead of heading home to work with nothing interesting to do, you have something cool to look forward to each day. Above all, it acts as a welcome change from your everyday routine.

It Makes You an Interesting Person

When you learn something new, it also adds more layers to your personality. As your awareness about various subjects grows, so does your ability to hold a conversation on various topics.

People then begin to look up to you as someone who is well-read and knowledgeable, and it makes you appear more interesting from their points of view. It also gives you a chance to affect the lives of other people positively, and above all, it gives your self-confidence a boost.

Aside from these reasons, you should also consider learning something new because it stimulates you intellectually, opens up new avenues, and improves the quality of your life.

10 Tips for Finding Time to Learn Something New

Now that you know the importance of learning something new, let’s discuss some tips that can help you achieve this goal each day.

1. Wake Up 30 Minutes Early

woman woke up early

Image from Pixabay

A quick tip to manage your time well is to make sure you have a bit more of it. And what’s a better way to do this than to wake up a little earlier than you usually do? Even a small change like waking up 30 minutes earlier can give you more time to learn something new in the morning. And starting your day on such a positive note makes it more productive.

2. Work Right After the Work Day

Instead of deciding to get home after work and sitting down to learn something new, try working on it as soon as your work for the day is done. Head to a local library or a quiet space and do your learning for the day. This way, you’re not tempted to lounge, relax, and postpone the task for later, as delaying it often only means that you may never get around to doing it.

3. Get a Friend Involved

friends learning

Image from Pixabay

Getting a friend involved can make you more efficient at learning something new because it makes you accountable to someone other than yourself. There are two ways in which you can do this. You could get your friend involved by asking them to join in on the learning with you, or you could appoint them as the person in charge of checking in on your progress. The former only works if your friend is interested in the subject, while the latter works regardless.

4. Use Your Commute

The commutes to work and back home are when most people have a lot of time to spare. So, if you have a long commute on one or both ways, it’s a great opportunity to catch up on your goal for the day. If you use the public transit system, or if you take a cab home, you can listen to podcasts on the subject, watch video lessons, or even simply read up on it to gain more knowledge.

5. Eliminate Distractions

eliminating distractions with a do not disturb sign

Image from Pixabay

When you designate a particular window for learning, make sure you eliminate all other distractions that could keep you from being efficient. Turn off all technology (unless you use it to learn, of course), shut out outside noises, and focus on the task at hand for the allotted time. You’ll find that this helps you learn in around 30 minutes what could otherwise have taken 2 hours when you multi-task.

6. Use Your Lunch Hour

Taking a longer lunch can help you catch up on your learning. Take an early lunch and use up half the time to read something on the subject you’re learning or to listen to podcasts on the topic. Doing so can help you get back to work and do things more efficiently because you have a sense of accomplishment. Moving your lunch hour up also allows you to do your learning before your colleagues join you.

7. Bring It with You

man carrying a bag with books and learning materials

Image from Pixabay

Most skills and hobbies can be learned on the move. If the tools you need to learn something new are portable, it’s best to bring it all with you when you head to work or go out for a meeting. You never know when you may be forced to wait for prolonged periods and having your learning materials with you at such times can help you use the waiting period effectively.

8. Make It Part of Your Routine

Integrating a new skill or a habit into your routine can make it much easier to stick to it. A good way to do this is to allocate a set time window for this either at the beginning of your day or at the end when you’re winding down after work. Introducing this habit as a part of your morning or your evening routine can make it easier for you to learn something new.

9. Be Honest about Your Use of Time

hand holding a pocket watch

Image from Pixabay

Unless you take stock of the situation from an honest perspective, you’ll not be able to correct the areas where you’re going wrong. If you find that you aren’t able to successfully learn something new, take a step back and analyze how you’re using your time. Look for the time slots where you seem to be wasting some time or spending it on inessential things and rework those areas.

10. Make It Easier

When you look at the larger picture, it can get overwhelming as you realize that there’s a long way to go before you master a new skill. But it’s easier if you focus on smaller goals. So, break up your ultimate target into shorter ones, and take it one step at a time. Make it easier by setting daily or weekly goals, creating a to-do list, and by not being too hard on yourself.

Conclusion

You don’t have to follow all the tips to make the idea work. It’s alright to pick a couple or more from these techniques and stick to them because consistency is key.

When you’re first starting out, it’s likely that you’ll have some slipups. But what’s important is that you don’t let them get you down. Instead, brush past them and focus on doing better the next day.

Signs You Have A Facebook Addiction And Why You Need To Break It

Not getting a lot done? When was the last time you were on Facebook today? Chances are you just put down your phone. Addiction comes in many forms, so it is of no surprise we are now in the generation of social media becoming one of them! Facebook addiction is not a funny matter as it is a real addiction that affects many people.

It isn’t comfortable having an addiction to something that is out of the norm. We have heard of drug and alcohol addiction or even sex addiction in our time but to expand into social media is something new. Facebook addiction is real and can affect you and your productivity

How Facebook Decreases Productivity

people using their phones

We all check our social media sites throughout our day. But when it is obsessive and could jeopardize your job, then a real problem exists. About 60% to 80% of Americans go online throughout their day for no real purpose. If you own a business, it is likely that your employees are spending more time on their social media accounts during the day than on their jobs. This could cost the companies around $35 million per year. If you own a small business, it could be the reason your company isn’t successful and will need to close its doors.

If you are an employer, it is best to manage your employee’s time on their computers regarding social media. Allowing them only access to sites other than their social accounts like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will keep their focus on their jobs. This can be done through your internet carrier.

Signs You Have a Facebook Addiction

Studies have shown that about 18% of social media users can’t go longer than a few hours without going online. Also, 61% check their Facebook news feed a minimum of once a day. But how can you tell if you or someone you know has a Facebook addiction? Check out some signs to look for.

Your Phone Is Always with You

woman using phone while walking

You have your eyes glued to your phone and scrolling on your news feed. This doesn’t stop when you are with family and friends. They are constantly battling your phone for attention, but you would much rather be with your news feed than to talk to real live people. This is the beginning stage of Facebook addiction.

Facebook Greets You Day and Night

You wake up, and you’re immediately checking out the news feed. Not even a cup of coffee or even a trip to the bathroom can stop you. When night time hits, it is the last thing you look at before you go to sleep. This is not just a problem for you if you’re single, but if you’re married, this can cause problems in your relationship.

Your Only News is Facebook News

businessman using cellphone in the table

There is a lot going on in the world, but all you are focusing on is what is being told on the Facebook news feed. This is not a healthy way to keep abreast on what is going on beyond social media. The news on Facebook can hardly be considered news and adds to the disconnected reality a person with a Facebook addiction already has.

Facebook Is Always On

Whether you have it on your phone or your computer, it isn’t ever logged off—at no time do you shut it down for the day. You are instinctively going to it because it is always on. Rarely are you not active on Facebook.

Draining Your Battery

When you look in the settings of your phone, the battery usage displays that the most used app is Facebook. If your percentage is over half of the battery power, this is a sign you can’t stay away from Facebook.

Your So-Called Friends on Facebook

Some of us only use Facebook to be in touch with family and some friends we know. But there are extreme users that have over 1,000 friends they honestly don’t know. This is obsessive and shows they crave popularity even though it is with people they don’t even know. Check out the number of friends you have. If you have more than half that you don’t know, then this is not your true friends list—it is a fake representation.

Have You Become a Stalker?

finger pointing on facebook icon on mobile screen

Probably never thought of yourself as a stalker before but this is something that happens when you have a Facebook addiction. You use it to find old friends be it girlfriends, boyfriends or ones from your childhood.  It is creepy because you are not trying to friend them to make contact; you are just following them to see what they are up to.  This is very unhealthy because you are not interacting but just observing and it affects your social skills.

Logging in Instinctively

You’re programmed to instinctively launch or log into Facebook the minute you turn on your computer and open your browser. You might not even be aware of how many times you do this throughout your day.

Breaking Up with Facebook

facebook on mobile screen

The first step as with any addiction is admitting you have a problem. This will open the door to find the help you need. The goal is to break away from Facebook and go on with your life. But this must be done gradually in baby steps.

Deactivate on a Gradient

This is one of the most important steps to combating your addiction. Since it is hard with any addict to quit straight off and it can be dangerous, doing this on a gradient is key. This is the first active step towards battling this problem. Get yourself offline for a week in the beginning. Don’t freak out but tell yourself it is only for one week. During this week find other things away from social media to do. This would be a good time to reconnect with your friends and family. They will assist you in this and want to help.

Sift Through Your Liked Pages

Remember all the pages you liked in the hours and hours you scrolled through the news feed. Well, it is now time to go through those and only keep the ones you really like. We like pages so it might bring more friends to our profiles. This is another way of fueling our addiction. Unlike those pages and find out what you truly want to see on your news feed.

If you are unsure how to do this, just go to your liked pages under Facebook.com. You can select them only one at a time to delete them, but that will help you learn more about what you like and not feed your addiction.

Go Through Your Friend List

person looking over a facebook profile

This will be a challenging step. It is hard to let go even with people you don’t know or rarely talk to. It is like pouring your last bit of alcohol out and deciding never to drink again. You are deleting these so-called friends that at one point made you feel on top of the world. Not because you knew them and they spoke to you, but because their name on your friend list made you feel special. It was like you knew them. This was a fake friendship and one you need to not keep around you.

Also, it is best when deleting those friends on Facebook, that you delete ones you haven’t interacted with for over a year. This doesn’t apply to the family as much for they might be farther away in another country or something and can’t be in touch as often. Let go of your past and live in the present when it comes to friends and Facebook.

Using Your Self-Control

person holding phone with social media apps on the screen

You might not think you have a problem yet and would like to try to not take drastic measures. Should this be the case, there is always demonstrating self-discipline. If you can do so, then limit your Facebook time to a maximum of twice a day for 20 minutes each time.

Conclusion

You can take steps to get your Facebook addiction under control. It is something you can manage if you try. Take time to gradually cut yourself off so you can see for yourself how much production you can get done when not constantly online. Facebook addiction is like any other addiction and can be helped if the person sees they need it.

Being productive lends to our sense of purpose in life. Doing our jobs and taking care of our families are important and should never be replaced with social media. We need to be there for not only our families but for ourselves and help each other. You can only get that help in real life, not on Facebook.

As with any addiction, deciding to live a healthier life and taking the steps to achieve that goal can be difficult and even uncomfortable. However, you can take comfort in the fact that nobody looks back on such a decision with regret.

Increasing Your Productivity Using Brain Dump Method

We’ve all been there. We have all had that brilliant idea in the shower, sitting in traffic, or on the way to the most important meeting of the quarter. Then, we forget. Some of the most successful people keep a notepad, sketch pad, or bullet journal and do daily brain dumps to de-clutter their minds and increase their productivity.

There are a few ways to do a brain dump. Some people find it useful to do when they first wake up. Others perform this process in their car after work or as soon as they get home. For some people, it is the last thing they do before they go to bed. Whatever your process, just do it. It will change your life.

What Is a Brain Dump?

A brain dump is five quiet minutes you spend with yourself and put every task you need to complete on a piece of paper. Maybe you jot things down in different colors based on importance. Maybe you draw a chart. Allow it to be as organized or disorganized as suits you. There will be time to clean it up later. The bottom line is that taking a few minutes daily or weekly will ensure nothing slips through the cracks.

If you have any other thoughts cluttering your mind, write them down. You can’t stop thinking about how your roommate keeps all your utensils in his room. You are worried about your presentation at the office next week. You want to make homemade tortillas for your tacos next week. Get everything out, whether it is a full-fledged thought or a keyword.

Alternative

We will discuss later step-by-step how to complete a brain dump, but what if you just can’t quiet your inner filter yet? Maybe when the timer starts, you can’t think of anything at all. That is okay. Create your categories first and allow them to jog your memory and inspire you like a trigger. If it is helpful, create a template to guide your future brain dumps. Once you get the creative juices flowing, you may come up with ideas or thoughts that do not fit into a particular category. This is great.

Tips

Take the time to figure out what works for you. Keep the results of your dump on your person at all times if possible. Keep it in a bullet journal in your purse or laptop case. Store it on the cloud, so you can access it anywhere you have your phone. See if typing it out works better for you, because you type much faster than you write. Or use the speech-to-text feature on your favorite note-taking app. Another rewarding way to de-clutter your mind is to write your ideas down on sticky notes and stick those notes to different pieces of copy paper for each category. As you complete each task, throw away the note.

How Does It Work

There are many ways to perform a brain dump, and the beauty of it is you can use whatever method is most effective for you. If you are the first to rise in your household and have a few minutes of peace and quiet, use those quiet, early morning hours to your advantage. If you need to accomplish what you can at work today before you know how to allocate your time tomorrow, try to perform a brain dump while you are still at work if you have to come home to loud kids.

Or, unwind with one when you come home from work. If you are a night owl, perform one right before you go to bed so you can calm and empty your mind right before bed. It does not matter what time you do it. Here are the steps.

1. Write It Out

2. Review and Organize It

3. Action Time

4. Take a Break

How to Increase Your Productivity Using the Brain Dump Method

The brain dump method improves your productivity by allowing you to see everything that needs to get done today, this weekend, or next week. When you write everything down, you are more likely to remember it; and if you forget, it is in your brainstorming journal to refer to. Otherwise, you can use notes, digital calendar reminders, or a significant other to remind you to complete your tasks.

1. Prioritization

Brain dumps are particularly useful for increasing your productivity because you can prioritize your resources. Look at everything you wrote down and write it down again in a more permanent place in order of importance. Start with the three things you need to accomplish today. Maybe you need to pay your mortgage, pick your kids up from soccer, and buy transmission fluid. Call this list something descriptive like “Top Priority”, “Must Do,” or “911.”

Continue organizing your brainstorming session in this manner until you get to the point that you can’t accomplish everything by yourself. By now, you probably have a list of things you want to get done today on top of your necessities, things to get done this week, things to get done next week, and things to get done later this month. Once you reach your point of overcapacity, delegate or eliminate the tasks you cannot complete by yourself.

2. Motivation

Brain dumps are great motivational tools. Our brains cannot tell the difference between a dream and reality, so if you write down you will row 10 kilometers by 9 o’clock tonight, that is much more likely to happen. Plus, if there is room in your journal, you can add stickers next to your task list as each objective is met. This is a great way to visually track your progress and may make you want to complete more objectives more quickly.

3. Relaxation

Anxiety can be crippling. You don’t want to write your letter of resignation to your supervisor or boss, so you browse social media all night instead of doing the dishes and laundry and taking the recycling bin to the road. Your mood is also improved once you see all the progress you made.

Did you successfully cut your grocery bill by $45? Great! Did you finish your budget variance analysis for your CFO at work? Fantastic! Did you make pancakes from scratch for your family? Way to go! Taking little steps and crossing small things off your list is like lifting little weights off your chest. This leaves you reinvigorated, refreshed and ready to tackle those large projects with a renewed vigor.

Conclusion

Brain dumps are a great tool for everyone and ideal for de-cluttering your mind. You may schedule one daily or weekly, or do one when the moment strikes you. Do it before your cup of morning coffee, on your lunch break at work, or right before bed. Get all your ideas out of your head. You can use colored pens and sticky notes. You can use dry erase markers and a white board. You can even make a voice recording or use a speech-to-text app.

Whatever you do, get every idea out of your head so you can visualize it, organize it, prioritize it, and let your worries go. Accomplish what needs to get done today and delegate what you need help with. This tool will help you relax and keep you motivated to work even harder while showing you where you need help.

Innovation: 3 Tips on Strategic Innovative Thinking

Innovation

Innovation requires time and space, something that people find is missing in their schedules. In fact, most people are too busy putting out fires and cleaning up mistakes from shortcuts they took.  Our impulse tells us to take the shortcut but experience tells us planning and innovation is the best use of our time when we want to be more efficient and effective.

This is the cycle, we tell ourselves we don’t have the time to do the proactive thinking which is the work that makes us more efficient and effective because we are too busy trying (that is the operative word) to work harder at being efficient and effective. That is not smart.

It is, however, our natural instinct because it is seeking the instant gratification, the quick result. Our culture has been shifting to focus more on now than on what we can create tomorrow.

Of course, we can’t be 100% focused on the future at the sacrifice for today. But like anything, we need to have balance to create short and long-term success. We need to fulfill today’s needs and all the while step into tomorrows thinking to get access to open up new markets, update delivery methods and develop new products and services to be relevant and competitive in the future.

TIP: To be innovative, shift your thinking from today to tomorrow.

If we look at some extreme examples, like Blockbuster, Kodak, or Borders, we see companies that ignored future needs, future processes and future thinking and paid the price with the breakdown of a successful, thriving organization. Big or small innovation and thinking outside of the box, the box you currently work in is essential for business survival let alone success.

If you aren’t thinking about the needs of your customer in the future and how to change delivery, break down purchasing barriers and change consumption methods you may just be missing the boat for the future success of your business.

Did you know that in 2000 the founder of Netflix flew out to see the CEO at Blockbuster to pitch that Netflix could be the online brand for blockbuster and Blockbuster laughed in their face? Look who is laughing now! Blockbuster went bankrupt in 2010.

The story is a little more complicated but the end result is clear. If you are running your business focusing on what is urgent and dedicating no time to what is important for the future, you will be missing opportunity and may well be working your way out of a business no matter how big or small your business is.

Tip: Dedicate time to strategic innovative thinking.

innovation

Just because we have the time dedicated doesn’t make it easy. I have a number of CEOs I work with from mid-sized companies who are concerned with their next levels of management. They tell me that they feel this group is not strategic enough, they aren’t brining new ideas to the table.

One of the challenges we face is we are so used to thinking tactically and form today’s perspective that we don’t know how to think more strategically. We don’t have the skills and the CEOs managing them don’t know how to provide the structures they need to build those skills. Give people frameworks and structures that guide their thinking. Run workshops to ideate and then you will help them shift from the tactical mindset and the questions and priorities that come from that energy to the questions and priorities that come from strategically starting with tomorrow.

Workshops when properly facilitated give you both the dedicated time you need and provide the structures to get the team thinking differently and out of their day to day operational mode.

Great ideas and innovation don’t have to come from within, some of the best ideas come from the customers themselves.

I was working in a market research company and newly took over the retail division that was no longer competitive on the market and without some sort of innovation was not going to make it long term. Updating the same method was not going to be profitable and further drain the company of resources. We needed a miracle.

One of the first questions I asked was “When was the last time we asked our customers what challenges they were having in their business and what was important to them today and in the foreseeable future.”  Everyone said – we know what our customers want. I asked the question again.. “WHEN was the last time we asked our customers what challenges they were having in their business and what was important to them today and in the foreseeable future. 

Never.

So let’s do it. Through a series of workshops with customers and prospects, we found out that they did want the level of detail we provided but their current challenge was top-level data and speed. Now we had something that could be a competitive advantage.

We didn’t have the technology to make this happen but that doesn’t matter-if there is a will and a true need we would find a way. We evaluated several platforms and found the best technology. With much difficulty we obtained buy-in from the CEO, IT department and the rest of the organization. And a year and a half later, we rolled it out and locked in the largest retailers in our market for 3-year contracts. BOOM!

Our innovation came from being objective, listening to the consumers and what they need and finding a way to fill that need.

It took a lot of investment of time, money and other resources but that is how a business grows in the market place – investment in their people and in the future.

We were in a precarious position so we HAD to do something.  The reason why the Blockbusters and other companies fall so hard is that they are profitable and don’t want to rock the boat. But in reality, they act more like an ostrich and stick their head in the sand ignoring more agile and competitive companies who will adapt to meet the needs of the marketplace.

Tip: Leaders need to be more market and customer centric rather than company centric.

This shift in perspective will open up a different opportunity. It will create a focus on value as opposed to cost optimization. I want to re-iterate that a different perspective will open us up to ask different questions, set different priorities and will create different results.

These tips seem rather obvious, but like Jim Rohn says “They are simple to do and simple not to do.” When we are caught up in the stresses of the moment it is hard to make the time, dedicate the energy and shift your thinking to invest for the future. It requires a clear purpose, commitment, dedication, planning and follow-through to create innovation in your company.

The shift in our thinking doesn’t come through the innovation, it comes before the innovation.

The Importance of a Waste of Time / The Downside of Productivity

Waste of Time

The Importance of a Waste of Time - The Downside of Productivity

Image: CC by 0, via Pexels

In today’s busy world, we often feel like every single second unaccounted for is a waste of time.

We constantly drive ourselves, our employees, and even our families toward productivity.

Even young kids are expected to be busy, either with homework, chores, or any number of planned activities.

But, is this way the right? Are we ABSOLUTELY heading in the right direction with constant time management and productivity optimization?

…is that a gnawing pit of self-doubt in your gut…

What if I were to tell you that those moments wasted are not only important but truly essential to real productivity?

Things may not be as clear-cut as you think.

When it comes to the importance of wasting time, the downside of productivity actually can’t be overstated.

If it seems to you that every effort you make to stop wasting time and really increase your productivity, backfires, seeming only to create more stress, you are not alone.

So, we are going to look at the downside of a concept most people think of as a positive: productivity. And we’re also going to explore a concept most people think of as negative: wasting time.

It’s not rocket science, but it may take some effort to learn to let go of your addiction to productivity. You will find, after learning how and why to waste time, you likely achieve more than before. In more ways than you are expecting.

Let the waste of time begin!

How Can A Waste of Time Help Me??

Inbox Zero: Ground Zero for an Epiphany

Hyperproductivity and overly structured days spent on monotonous, seemingly regenerating, lists of tasks are bad for human beings. But, in this digital age, it seems that those tasks are as unavoidable as they are self-regenerating.

Picture your own email box. You’ll get it.

It seems that every single thing we do to increase our productivity backfires:

  • Open email, answer all the important ones
  • Close email, get to work on urgent daily…
  • Open email, reply came in
  • Close, no… wait, another reply
  • Close email, get back to… no, wait, urgent email
  • Answer urgent email, get to working on the… no, wait, the phone rang and now you have 26 replies, 2 reply-alls, and 4 “notes” which all require your attention right now.
  • Realize lunch was an hour ago, smash your sandwich into your face while “multi-tasking” at your desk, and …er, wait – another email…

It’s not just self-replenishing. It seems the more time you spend chasing productivity, the less productive you become.

You are productive, your employer is happy with you. But, it isn’t enough because there is always more to do. However, at least every moment is accounted for, so, at least you aren’t lollygagging about, wasting time.

This concept gave birth to a program named Inbox Zero, by Merlin Mann. That story is also a perfect foil for this reminder that we need to stop, smell the roses, and allow time to waste — or we are hurting our own ability to produce. We’ll get to that in a minute.

Why Is Psychology Important for Understanding Why We Need to “Waste Time”

According to psychologists, it is important to simply “watch the clouds roll by” occasionally.

You just need to know how to do this in ways that are beneficial. If you wanted to know why psychology is important, this is one of the many reasons.

According to our current work climate, being busy and productive is nearly tantamount to being a good person. We confuse activity with morality, and this is something that is already well known through the works of the German sociologist Max Weber. He insists that it’s a mistake to equate non-productive behavior, or resting, with laziness.

By doing this, we exhaust even the youngest among us with overly-planned days and a relentless drive towards productivity.

In addition, F. Diane Barth LCSW wrote in Psychology Today that wasting time — even experiencing a bit of boredom — is good for you.

She writes about a friend who’s so busy with the job and kids she has little time for herself, her husband, or her friends. Referring to the works of Max Weber, she notes how we confuse being busy with being good.

Elise, like many of us today, suffers from what the German sociologist and economist Max Weber describes as a confusion of activity with morality. With the coming of the industrial revolution, Weber says, we began to equate being productive with being good. Today we have almost come to believe that the busier we are, the better we are.

But Elise’s constant productivity is taking its toll.

“Elise is married to a wonderful man, but there are signs that their relationship is suffering,” Barth explains. Also, her oldest daughter “is clearly rebelling against Elise’s emphasis on productivity.”

She will no longer go to her normal extra-curricular activities and has become a drinker and eater. Meanwhile, the other child is an “excellent student” who keeps as busy as “her mother could possibly wish.”

But, she also has anorexia and will need to be hospitalized.

Wasting Time Works

As Copyblogger notes, “[i]n 1962, Time magazine called David Ogilvy “the most sought-after wizard in today’s advertising industry.”

This “wizard,” whose name would long outlive himself, took a rather progressive view of creativity and what we would call productive. You see, he felt the most creative person on earth is useless if they can’t sell their product. And if you don’t allow your brain to work at full capacity, by literally “wasting time” and allowing that creative process to happen.

Stuff your conscious mind with information, then unhook your rational thought process. You can help this process by going for a long walk, or taking a hot bath, or drinking half a pint of claret.

Suddenly, if the telephone line from your unconscious is open, a big idea wells up within you.

Merlin Mann, on the other hand, has a very different approach to the productivity conundrum: Inbox Zero.

Image CC by 0, via Pixhere

Inbox Zero, Merlin Mann, and Hyper-Productivity in the Modern Age

Merlin Mann rocketed to the forefront of digital productivity early on when he presented Inbox Zero to Google employees.

The idea was simple.

And, it was productive.

It was time management.

participaction

Email had become, and still is in many cases, a time suck and task dispenser of overwhelming proportions. All day long, immediate and urgent, or silly and inconsequential, emails roll in.

Some have a task required, some a response, but all of them take time. Time and constant attention, making it appear that you spent your whole day chasing the bottom of a never-ending chasm, er, email inbox.

As Oliver Burkeman reported in The Guardian, when presenting Inbox Zero, Merlin Mann explained that it was a method of handling email. And, it was truly simple. The idea was that, often, people’s inbox was stressing them out to the point that they were being less productive.

The idea was basically that every time you enter your email box, you systematically handle each email until your email box is empty, (Inbox, Zero).

Entering your email meant staying until you had answered, listed, prioritized, and completed every task.

Then, you get out, and get on with “life.”

The Book That Never Got Written

It was a productivity tool. It was well received and spawned many blog posts. But, after Merlin Mann was contracted to write a book about his Inbox Zero insight, the book didn’t happen. Not one year later. Not two years later.

After those two years, Mann would write a (now deleted) blog posting explaining that, for all his obsession with spending his time well, he had missed the important things in his life. Including moments he would never retrieve with his daughter.

Productivity is not worth sacrificing your life for, and it would appear that this one-time productivity whiz learned that the hard way. In fact dogged determination to increase productivity, and ignore the personal costs may be harming you in more ways than you know.

The Importance of Psychology in Wasting Time

Quartz’ Olivia Goldhill told Mann’s story in an article on Quartz titled “The Psychological Importance of Wasting Time.

She introduced the article on Twitter with the cheeky, “I’ve wasted a fair bit of time recently, and that’s ok.”

According to Olivia Goldhill, “[t]he problem comes when we spend so long frantically chasing productivity, we refuse to take real breaks.”

When our health, family, leisure time and self-development all fall away, sacrificed on the altar of productivity.

“We put off sleeping in, or going for a long walk, or reading by the window—and, even if we do manage time away from the grind, it comes with a looming awareness of the things we should be doing, and so the experience is weighed down by guilt.”Olivia Goldhill, Quartz.com

She presented the opinions of a psychologist who focuses on workplace behavior, Michael Guttridge.

He said, “There’s an idea we must always be available, work all the time.” In today’s workplaces, this is all too familiar a feeling.

“It’s hard to break out of that and go to the park,” Guttridge said. However, those downsides of productivity that we have been talking about are fairly obvious here.

While we attempt to maintain focus on being productive, we find ourselves chained to our desk.

Staring at the computer while we are constantly drawn off task anyway. Often we get used to using our breaks to run virtual errands (or get sucked into social media). That habit doesn’t help you, either

Virtual Errands

“Running Virtual Errands” is not “Taking a Break”

Social media, shopping websites, political updates, whatever our poison – “we tell ourselves we’re ourselves we’re “multitasking” while really spending far longer than necessary on the most basic tasks,” says Goldhill.

We live at our desk. No, seriously, we even eat at our desks, which is pretty unsanitary in general, just chasing 20 more minutes of productivity. So, instead of walking away from our workspace, we handle our online errands there, too.

We may get some chores done — paying bills or ordering groceries — but we have drained our reserves instead of refilling them. We have missed an opportunity to take a real break.

There are so many benefits to simply taking a break, but not all time wasted offers a benefit.

Weight of Word

What’s in a Word? The Weight of a “Waste of Time” Synonym

Have you ever heard that the Inuits have 40-50 words for “snow?” The importance of snow in their life is reflected in the sheer volume of words. Likewise, the importance of wasting time is quite clearly indicated in the number of words and slang terms that English-speaking people have for it. Some are clearly negative, such as “lazy,” “trifling,” or “lagging.” Others are more ambiguous, like “dawdling.”

Whether it is a word with negative or positive connotations, there are plenty “waste of time” synonyms. How many? At least 40. And that isn’t counting the 14 easy to find synonyms for wasting time, or the endless terms we have for someone who wastes too much time.

Synonyms

A List of Synonyms for “Wasting Time”

Actually, there is a lot more than the 40 contained in the above sterile thesaurus link. I asked a large group to come up with their favorite terms and synonyms for wasting time. The results were great, often longer than one word, and international, to boot.

chilling shooting the breeze dithering
goofing off fiddle-faddling gathering moss
loitering killing time wool-gathering
lollygagging holding up the wall lint-picking
selective participation holding down the couch vigorous thought experiments
dawdling lagging day-dreaming
lazing around skulking about slacking
going potato malingering banana shenanigans
“Shamming” R&R cold busting
building cloud castles stalling kicking it

Do you know what the only antonym to “waste of time” is?

Time management

Like everything else in life, all of one thing is not good, “all work and no play,” as it were. So, the secret is finding the balance between the two that allows you personal success, but also quality of life. Psychology tells us that human beings must have a balance of activities to be healthy, including downtime.

The Importance of Time

The importance of time with a capital “T” is bearing down on us every day. As Burkeman put it:

“Given that the average lifespan consists of only about 4,000 weeks, a certain amount of anxiety about using them well is presumably inevitable: we’ve been granted the mental capacities to make infinitely ambitious plans, yet almost no time at all to put them into practice.” Oliver Burkeman

With so little time, and such infinite possibility to plan ambitiously, and massive pressure to be productive with that time, it is little wonder that our attempts to force ourselves into “work mode” for far more of our time than is healthy is causing us so much stress and anxiety.

From the moment we wake up, we are obsessed with time, all the way down to seconds. Clocking in late is a sin, moments wasted are, too. We watch the clock like some sort of never-resting orchestra director, arms never dropping the beat. It rules our lifes, it rules our children’s lives, and in the same way the moon pulls the tides, it affects our productivity.

In The Household Economy, Robert Burns wrote:

“We need time. We need time to work, to eat, to sleep, and to accomplish all the daily chores of living. We also need time to know and understand our mates, our children, and our friends.”Robert Burns, The Household Economy

He then went on to say, “ Most of our relationships, in fact, require more time than we have, and it is difficult to avoid the feeling that we could never have enough. Nor is our list of demands on our time complete. We have ignored the time we need to be alone, a necessary but invariably short- changed period.”

That was in 1977. In 1977, every quarter in your pocket equaled out to a little more than a dollar, now, in purchasing power.

Every one dollar, $4.11 cents in purchasing power. The normal work hours were about the same as a 40 hour week then, too.

But now, we work those hours for about a quarter or so the purchasing power.

It’s no wonder we work at home, long hours, or freelance 16 hours a day. Time, to us, is dollars because we need about 4 times as many of those dollars as our parents to have the same lifestyle they had.

Image CC by 0, by Buenosia Carol, via Pexels.

Is the Value of Time Money?

He could not have imagined the integration of our lives with our professions. Smartphones, laptops, tablets, and other devices. We even count our steps with bracelets that have replaced our watches and are stopping some of our early heart attacks.

Then there is the 24 hour, 7-days-a-week availability is often required in a global economy that moves at the speed of WiFi.

Simply adding that lack of separation between our personal and professional lives to the value of our time is a recipe for paradoxical low productivity. We are putting in so much of that time it backfires.

Without proper attention to our lives, we are not getting enough human contact with our loved ones. We aren’t taking enough time off, we aren’t going outside enough. We probably aren’t taking very good care of ourselves either. Our relationships suffer. Our personal growth suffers.

So, no, the value of time isn’t money. Time far outweighs money, it’s the most precious commodity we have. Yet, our economy has forced us to equate the two.

Return to Inbox Zero, For a Moment

Oliver Burkeman wrote an exhaustive article about Merlin Mann and the fall of Inbox Zero.

As part of that, he told us how the “streamlined” productivity tool had influenced the people using it.

Predictably, the dedicated, don’t leave the screen until you have processed every email (as more come in) had an effect. Perhaps less predictably for those who feel that a “strong work ethic” (read: addiction to productivity) is the best thing we bring to the table, that effect was a net negative.

“And yet the truth is that more often than not, techniques designed to enhance one’s personal productivity seem to exacerbate the very anxieties they were meant to allay. The better you get at managing time, the less of it you feel that you have. Even when people did successfully implement Inbox Zero, it didn’t reliably bring calm.” Oliver Burkeman

The kind of calm required for mental health and real productivity.

Despite whittling every tiny splinter of time out of your day for productive tasks, you remain chained to a desk, stressing and doing less in more time.

He went on to explain the “allure of the doctrine of time management,” simply put, control, and one day to have it over everything:

“The allure of the doctrine of time management is that, one day, everything might finally be under control. Yet work in the modern economy is notable for its limitlessness. And if the stream of incoming emails is endless, Inbox Zero can never bring liberation: you’re still Sisyphus, rolling his boulder up that hill for all eternity – you’re just rolling it slightly faster.”Oliver Burkeman

You can’t have control over everything, and you can’t have limitless hours to work.

You can, however, get endless emails, and feel like that Greek legend, Sisyphus:

damned to roll the same boulder up the same hill, every day, over and over, forever.

panic email reading

Importance of Time Yet Again

If you are so successful, why are you still working 70 hours a week?

That question is the title of an article written by Laura Empson for the Harvard Business Review. She discussed the problem from a different perspective.

Through her research, she has heard the same kinds of stories over and over again. The stories of people in white collar jobs who despite knowing better, chronically overwork themselves thinking more time working means more success.

Overworking Harm

Chronic productivity-focused overworking is harmful

This kind of thinking can cripple the quality of your work, according to Empson, and your health.

So, productivity is harmed, yet people in professional jobs continue to measure their worth by time punched on the clock.

And they continue to try to drive themselves for that extra inch, most likely doing much less than they could have done in less time.

We all have to push it, occasionally, to meet a deadline or make a deal. If you find yourself squinting at the setting sun and realizing you hadn’t left your workspace all day a bit too often, chances are you are working harder than you have to with a tired, underperforming brain.

She encourages people to stop and rest. Because, while we may find reward in working hard, working too hard can, in fact, hurt us. And, it can make us make mistakes. Recognizing the signs of being overworked, in yourself and in your office, and making adjustments, is essential.

Working hard can be rewarding and exhilarating. But consider how you are living. Recognize when you are driving yourself and your staff too hard, and learn how to help yourself and your colleagues to step back from the brink.

Still locked into that 4,000 weeks? It seems such a short time for a life, right? Perhaps we should get back to something healthier, like the importance of wasting time. For your health, of course.

Image CC by 0, via Pixhere

The Importance of Wasting Time

Coming back around to Olivia Goldhill’s exhaustive article on wasting time, she had this to say about those intrepid self-lovers who somehow allow themselves the luxury of this novel idea.

It’s not as though we need to work so hard. As Alex Soojung-Kim Pan, author of REST: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, writes in Nautilus, luminaries including Charles Dickens, Gabriel García Márquez, and Charles Darwin had quite relaxed schedules, working for five hours a day or less. The truth is, work expands to fill the time it’s given and, for most of us, we could spend considerably fewer hours at the office and still get the same amount done.

And there it is.

Do you really think that if you spent another hour at work, you’d get another hour’s worth of work done? Of course, you wouldn’t.

The result is a fractured, exhausted stab at doing what you intended. And, you get what you get: whatever it was you managed it while exhausted.

Skipping

Skipping breaks at work

So, it’s not anathema to success to work shorter, more productive hours. It is also not in any way bad work ethic to take reasonable breaks during your workday.

Fritter

But, is it important to fritter time away?

“Wasting time is about recharging your battery and de-cluttering,”.

Taking time to be total, gloriously, proudly unproductive will ultimately make you better at your job.

But it’s also fulfilling in and of itself, and healthy.

Psychology says so. Science says so, also, working too long indoors is causing a boom in vitamin D deficiency related illnesses.

Actually, Psychology Today made it crystal clear, wasting time may be the best thing you do today.

It may allow you to become a better employee, a better partner or spouse, or a better child or parent.

It can help you remember that you need to use that time not only to work, but to stare at the clouds and find shapes.

It takes both to be healthy. So, yes, it is important. Stop skipping breaks. Set a timer. Go.

The Physical Benefits of Sitting in the Sun

Many of us are pushing ourselves so hard, we don’t get any time in the sun. Being in the sun stimulates vitamin D production, which we need to stay healthy.  Vitamin D is essential to your health, and a risk factor for being low on vitamin D is staying indoors.

Chances are, you are not overworking yourself in the park.

Much of America is vitamin D deficient, as in 75 percent. And it isn’t just Adults. It’s our kids. Those kids we are raising to know the value of every dollar, er, minute. According to Scientific American:

“Three-quarters of U.S. teens and adults are deficient in vitamin D, the so-called “sunshine vitamin” whose deficits are increasingly blamed for everything from cancer and heart disease to diabetes, according to new research.”Scientific American

‘Waste’ your valuable time sitting in the sun letting your mind rest for a few minutes a day is a great place to start. Now you know you are taking an active role in preventing the damage caused by your cave-dwelling lifestyle.

Some people have increased risks associated with being in the sun. If you are one of them, make sure you talk to your doctor about how much sun is good for you, first.

How Much Time in the Sun do You Need for Vitamin D Health?

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the time we need to spend in the sun varies. The biggest factor in the time you should spend outside is your skin pigmentation.

If you are very light skinned — “[p]ale skin, freckles, burns very easily, hardly tans” — you should spend between five and ten minutes in the sun a day.

If you have light skin “that tans a little,” you should spend about ten to 20 minutes in the sun.

For those whose skin is better described as getting an occasional sunburning, but tanning well, between 15 and 25 minutes in the sun.

If you have naturally dark skin, and very rarely sunburn, they recommend 20 to 30 minutes a day in the sun.

Day Dreaming is Worth the Effort

No one can be their best without slowing down, without allowing their brain to wander.

In fact, if we fail to dream, the Ulitmate Championship of meandering thoughts, it can erode our ability to remember. When people fail to enter REM sleep, the phase in which dreaming occurs, they fail to remember what they were taught before they fell asleep. This isn’t to say that dreaming and wasting time are the same, just to reinforce that your mind requires downtime.

Yet, despite this absolutely understood need for humans to engage in banana shenanigans, we still try to fill as many hours on that clock as possible with work. Believing, somehow, those 12 hours of fractured, distracted, multi-tasking, controlled chaos nets you more productivity at the end of the day than 8 focused hours. All because our time is so short, and so precious.

But by doing so, we strip our time of meaning and true personal growth, all for a few more dollars. 4,000 weeks isn’t long enough to live two lifetimes; so you need to make sure there is time for you to live your life during this one.

Image: CC0 Public Domain Skitter Photo via PxHere

How to Waste Time, And How Not To

If you search for “how to waste time” you will find, inevitably, article after article that offer you apps, websites and internet games.

But, when you laze about, wasting precious time, you need to do it in ways that are as beneficial to you as possible. That means not at your desk, not staring down that screen, and putting down your device. Ok, maybe not putting down your device, after all, you are going to want pictures, music, or to find the perfect park. But, before we cover what you should do to waste time, let’s talk about what you shouldn’t be doing.

There are 8 things that successful people never waste time doing, according to Success.com, you may be surprised by them.

Productive, successful people don’t do the following:

1. Get sucked into social media 5. Hang out with negative people.
2. Go through the day without a plan. 6. Dwell on past mistakes.
3. Do emotionally draining activities. 7. Focus on what other people are doing.
4. Worry about things they can’t control. 8. Put themselves last in priority.

Avoiding social media time-sucking:

To avoid social media on my breaks, consider deleting the facebook app from your phone.

Drastic, but not exactly scorched earth.

You can still log onto Facebook regularly through your phone’s browser, during the time you give it.

No more constant pings to drag your attention to your device and the latest political post you wished you hadn’t seen.

Turn off the notifications on your social media apps. You are going to check them, and likely a couple times a day. But, without them calling you in every few minutes, you’ll have way more time to kill time.

The Value of Wasted Time

Taking the time and achieving the state of being completely, gloriously, and unashamedly unproductive makes you not only better at your job, but better at life. And honestly, anything that takes the sting off of adulting is quite worth the time. Especially when it is making you a better person, too.

“Wasting time is about recharging your battery and de-cluttering,” said Michael Guttridge. Lallygagging is about bringing that balance to yourself. Letting your brain rest so it is functioning at full speed all day while you work. A short session of holding a bench down so you can come back refreshed is an investment. Daisy sniffing is about taking time to arrange things in a way that makes you feel better

Daydreaming and park-walking are about leaving your workspace — yes, even for an entire hour for lunch. It’s worth it. When you get back, you’ll do more with a fresh brain, recharged and able to function. And, it’s worth it.

So, How To Waste Time?

First and foremost, get outside and take breaks away from your desk.

And, if you have children in your life, teach them to take real breaks, too.

Make time to go take a walk, sit at the park, or actually use that patio you haven’t really had much time for.

Take a walk away from your workspace.

Walk to somewhere safe, (preferably in the sun)  and sit quietly for a few minutes. Use the time to play a guided mindfulness session on headphones, if you are in a secure location.

Mindfulness

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a form of deep breathing mental exercise.

Meditation, by any other name.

It has nothing to do with any form of religion.

It is more about focus, and learning to calm racing thoughts.

And, it works. According to “Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health: A Review of Empirical Studies”:

“Mindfulness brings about various positive psychological effects, including increased subjective well-being, reduced psychological symptoms and emotional reactivity, and improved behavioral regulation.”Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health

If you are counting the time you are driving in your car as time in the sun, don’t. As US News & World Report reminds us, that glass blocks UV rays. So do most modern windows.

Yes, you feel the warmth of the sun through them, but without the UV.

Any time spent doing something you love is time spent on yourself, so, time well spent.

All of us need to recharge.

Give yourself permission to bask in a moment here and there. Get away from your desk.

Some ways to effectively waste time, during the workday and beyond:

  • Plan a card game with your friends, remember them?
  • Go to the school and see those kids you like singing their hearts out
  • Give yourself permission to eat a healthy meal, and eat it leisurely.
  • While you’re at it, outlaw eating at your desk, but still actually eat. And, at regular intervals.
  • Meditate, or practice mindfulness, regularly.
  • Stare out the window at nothing for 10 minutes.
  • Take a walk, to work, or somewhere to eat your lunch.
  • Listen to music.
  • Enjoy a long bath with Epson Salts or a bath bomb.
  • Visit a day spa, budget permitting, or get a relaxing massage
  • Do some art, especially if you loved it and stopped

Image: CC 0 Public Domain Negative Space via Good Free Photos

In Conclusion:

We all know that there is a finite number of minutes in our life.

But, we are forgetting that when we push ourselves past a healthy level of productivity seeking, we become our own worst enemies.

Overworking yourself makes you sick. Being inside from sun up to sun down can make you very sick.

Avoiding regular breaks, and working unreasonable hours, your brain tires. When fatigued, you make mistakes and it harms your productivity. It also puts you at risk of mental exhaustion. So, despite your best intention, your choice not to “waste time” on the self-care of a real break at work — to increase productivity — is actually damaging it.

Employers who value you know that breaks are worth it.

Take real breaks at work, it pays off in all sorts of ways.

Walk away at the end of the day, and stay away from it as much as you can.

Set at least one day off for self-care, yes, even if you are freelancing. Try to seek out employers and clients who not only understand this, they make it possible.

This kind of company is good at protecting its resources and understands you are one of them.

When wasting time, seek out opportunities and people that make you smile, things that give you joy.

Because, while you may think you are just doing your favorite thing, you just may find some of that peace that people sought at the bottom of Inbox Zero.

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