It's a fact of life that when we get a little bit of downtime, sometimes we struggle to know what to do with it. The books on our nightstand don't seem interesting, nothing looks good on Netflix, and we've already called all of our friends to catch up. What's left to do?
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to make those moments of respite more meaningful, more productive, or at the very least, more fun. To encourage you to say bye to your boredom, we've come up with a list of 97 things you can do when you're bored.
Go On a Walk
Yes, we know you don't always want to leave your apartment, but we promise it's good for you. Challenge yourself to leave your cell phone in your purse or pocket and focus on taking in the nature instead. Soak in some vitamin D and enjoy the people watching.
Pick an Area of Your Home to Organize
Whether you're looking to take on a huge organizational project like your closet or something smaller and more manageable like your underwear drawer, your pantry, or that crowded bookshelf, you'll feel amazing when your home is neat and tidy. Before you throw clothes or old furniture out, check and see if anything can be donated to a worthy cause.
Do Your Laundry
It's not the most fun chore to do, but let's face it, it's not a bad option when you're bored. You’ll thank us later when you have clean clothes, sheets and towels to choose from this week.
A few deep breaths and several rounds of sun salutations are an awesome way to distract your mind from boredom. Roll out your yoga mat and do some stretches at home, or just sit and practice deep breathing.
For a great stretch, try yin yoga and for something more athletic, look for a free power yoga class online.
Tackle the New York Times Sunday Crossword
The notoriously tricky puzzle will take at least an hour to complete, if you promise not to look up the answers as you go. If you're feeling confident, fill it out in pen, but don't worry, we usually use pencil.
Unsubscribe From Emails
How do our inboxes get so big? Unsubscribe from all of your spam emails in just a few clicks by visiting Unroll.me and finally achieve inbox zero.
Paint Your Nails
Everyone has a few colors stashed around the house. Grab your favorite and give yourself a manicure. Throw in some filing and buffing to really get the full experience.
Make Sure You're Registered to Vote
Save yourself the headache later by heading to vote.org to make sure you're set for the polls. If you've moved lately or are no longer registered, you can register online. You can also sign up for election reminders so you'll never miss a primary.
Recycle Old Candles
Did you finally finish your Le Labo Santal candle? Don't toss it. Scoop out any leftover wax, remove the wick, give it a quick wash, and use it to corral pens, makeup, or any other trinkets you may have.
Practice Your Latte Skills
Finally put that milk frother you got for Christmas a few years ago to use. Whip up some milk of your choosing (regular, skim, oat, almond, whatever!) and try to emulate the latte art of your favorite barista.
Strengthen Your Brain
Whether you grab a crossword, a Sudoku book, or just plan on practicing your general knowledge for the next trivia night, taking a few minutes for brain games will do your whole body good. For a group activity, get your trivia team together to practice in person or over Zoom, so you'll feel confident next round.
Change Up Your Décor
And you don't even have to spend a dime, we promise. Restyle your coffee table, move the pillows on your couch to your bedroom, and swap your dining chairs with your kitchen chairs. See? Whole new aesthetic.
Work Your Way Through a Cookbook
Just like regular books, we sometimes gather cookbooks that do nothing but collect dust on our shelves. End the cycle today by cooking your way through one à la Julie & Julia. If you're not ready to take on Mastering The Art of French Cooking, start small with a more millennial-friendly pick.
FaceTime a Friend or Family Member
You may text them all the time but there's something much more satisfying about seeing their face. Plus you know things won't get lost in translation if you're chatting face to face rather than over email and text. Dial them up!
Update Your Résumé
Even if you’re not in the market for a new job, make sure it’s up to date. Add in some recent accomplishments and update your personal website with new information. Remember that future employers love to see tangible numbers — think about how you've impacted your company's success and translate that info to your résumé or cover letters.
Send a Handwritten Note
Everyone loves snail mail (that isn't a bill anyway). Pick up some pretty stationery and pen a quick card to someone you're missing. They'll appreciate the kind gesture and you might just make a pen pal in the process.
Try Your Hand at Painting
We promise it's fun. Find a paint-by-numbers print you like or just grab a canvas and some fun colors (abstract is always in). When you’re finished, you'll have instant statement-making art for your walls.
We're guessing that you might be a little tense if you're working from a desk all day. Try a few easy stretches like downward dog and some simple supine twists to give your muscles some relief. Bonus points if they target your lower back.
Take a Bath
But make it a ritual. Light some candles, turn on your favorite music, and use your fanciest products (like that bath bomb you've been meaning to try). Hey, you could even pour yourself a glass of wine, we're not judging.
Recreate Your Favorite Restaurant Meal
Sure, you could always order takeout, but isn't it more satisfying to make something yourself? If you've found yourself craving your favorite steak frites from that fancy French place downtown, try to find a recipe to make it online. You might surprise yourself (and come up with your new dinner party menu).
Pickle Some Vegetables
No, you don't have to have a lot of tools to make your own pickles (or pickled red onions or any pickled vegetable really). All you need is a container, some vegetables, vinegar, salt, sugar and, if you want, some spices. Throw your pickled veggies on salads, in ramen, or just enjoy them as a snack.
Make Coffee Ice Cubes
If you're an iced coffee fiend, stop your morning brew from getting watered down by using leftover coffee to make ice cubes instead of water. Just freeze your leftover coffee from this morning — it's that simple.
Research Places to Volunteer
The next time you start to feel bored, give back to the community with your time and energy. If you'd rather volunteer virtually, visit Catchafire.org to find a project that you can help with from the comfort of home. Whether you're skilled in web design or research, you can be matched up to a non-profit in need of pro bono work.
Clean Out Your Closet
We know you have clothes and shoes in there you haven't worn in years. Take everything out, and then make keep, sell, and donate piles. You may even be inspired to make new outfits when you can finally see everything you own easily.
Paint an Accent Wall
Or the kitchen cabinets. Or the back of your bookshelf. Whatever paint project you've been putting off, now is the time to tackle it.
Actually Read the Books You Were Assigned in High School
Whether you were a SparkNotes devotee or just didn't get a chance to read everything you wanted to, it's time to revisit some of those classics. You may find them more interesting now that you're older.
Plan a Party
Life is too short not to plan parties, even if they are months away from happening. Can't think of a good reason to throw one? Some of our favorites include celebrating a great new cocktail recipe, a promotion, or just because your apartment is clean and you want to show it off.
Take a Power Nap
If you've had a stressful week, there's nothing like a quick 30 minutes nap to get you back on track. Catch up on your sleep now and reap the benefits.
Write Down a Few Love Notes
Tuck them in your significant other’s coat pockets or bags. It'll be a nice surprise for them to know how much you care. And you might just get a love note back in return!
Put Together a Care Package
If you know a friend is going through a rough time (like a breakup or tough month at work), put together a few of their favorite things and leave it on their doorstep. We love to include a luxurious candle, some homemade baked goods, and a magazine or two.
That adult coloring book you got for Christmas? Break it out and channel your inner child with markers or crayons. Or go old school with plain paper and colored pencils — instant fridge art.
Wash Your Windows
When was the last time you washed your windows? Can’t remember? Grab the Windex and paper towels, and wash them now. You'll be amazed at how dirty they get over the years.
Listen to Music
For a dose of nostalgia, play your favorite music videos from the '90s or early '00s and recreate the choreography you used to know so well. Nothing but good vibes in your home.
Start Binging That Show on Your List
It’s perfectly okay to unwind in front of the television. Finally get started on that Netflix show everyone's been talking about. If you finish the whole season in a few days, even better.
Install Removable Wallpaper
Feeling uninspired by your décor? Throw up some removable wallpaper for a low-commitment, totally reversible look. Some of our favorite places to add wallpaper include powder rooms, living room accent walls, and the back of bookshelves.
Get Lost on Pinterest
Not sure how to tuck an oversized sweater into your midi skirt? Need a theme for your 30th birthday party? Thinking about painting your kitchen chairs? Pinterest is full of ideas — see what inspires you.
Start a Garden
Even if you don’t have any outdoor space, plant some herbs or succulents on your window sill. You'll save some money when a recipe calls for fresh herbs, plus your home will smell great.
Write in Your Journal
Write down what’s going on in your life and how you’re feeling at this moment. List five things you're grateful for each day. Studies have shown that this practice reduces mental distress and anxiety, and can lead you to feel more resilient and social.
Try a New Workout
Always wanted to try kickboxing but never actually got up the courage to go to a class? Try your hand at an online workout from the comfort of your own home. YouTube offers everything from Zumba to HIIT.
Start Learning a New Language
Yes, you can. Buy an introductory textbook and get started by reviewing a chapter per day. Or download an app like Duolingo that will remind you to practice.
Learn Something New
Or something that you knew at one point but forgot. Use your Google skills to learn about which wines pair best with seafood, how to use Photoshop, or who's trending in the world of fine art.
Do a Puzzle
They really help the time pass by and give your brain a workout too. Start with an easy 100-piece puzzle and work your way up to the trickier 1,000 piece puzzle. We prefer a glass of wine while we work on ours, but up to you.
List your goals, the things you look for in a partner, dishes you want to learn how to make, clothes you’d like to buy for the spring season, places you’d like to visit, and more. Refer to these lists in the future.
Blast your favorite song and get your groove on. If singing is more your thing, turn up your most beloved hits (we're thinking something in the range of Whitney Houston or Beyoncé), and belt it out at the top of your lungs.
Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet
We know, we know, it's not the most fun activity, but let's face it, it needs to be done. Toss old makeup, dispose of expired prescriptions properly, and give it all a good wipe down before you restock.
Call a Relative and Get an Old Family Recipe to Try
In my family, we have an absolutely killer party mix recipe. Each family member puts their own spin on it, but it's a great recipe to know in a pinch to take to a dinner party or get together. Play around and see how you can make a timeless recipe your own.
Create a Home Office
Whether you have a room to yourself or your only extra space is in a spare closet, you can transform that space into a work station. Invest in a great desk, drawer organizers and plenty of artwork to create the office of your WFH dreams.
Make an Inventory of Your Things
Catalogue your linen closet, entertaining supplies, or any other collections you may keep, like your handbags or shoes. Write down where you stored your holiday decorations and dinner party dishware. Use the organizational maps to find things quickly later on.
Run That Errand You’ve Been Putting Off For Months
Take the boots that need new heels to your shoe guy. Sell the old vacuum that’s been sitting in your hallway on Craigslist already. Finally drop your clothes off at the dry cleaner.
Go to the Library
Cooking, decorating, historical fiction—find a section of books that you enjoy, check out a few, and take them home to read. Some libraries even offer free e-book downloads with your library card.
Read a Book That's Been Sitting On Your Shelves
If you're in the habit of buying the entire New York Times bestseller list, but never read them, you're not alone. Grab a book from your shelf and read the first chapter. Or start that classic—The Great Gatsby, Pride and Prejudice, or The Catcher in the Rye—you’ve been meaning to read forever.
Go to a Garden
Most cities have some sort of public garden, many of which are free to the pubic. Seek out a rose, botanical, or produce garden in your area, and go be one with nature.
Plan Your Next Trip
Itching to travel? Now's the time to do the research. No matter where you'd like to travel, spend some time looking up the best hotels, activities, and restaurants in the area.
Make Flower Arrangements
Go to your local grocery or farmer's market and buy a bunch of affordable blooms in your favorite color. Arrange them in vases, and then enjoy the flowers in your home for the next week.
Look Up the Best Restaurants in Your Neighborhood
We know you've been meaning to check out that new spot you pass on the way to work every day, but we're betting there are some other fantastic restaurants you've yet to try in your area. Make a list of the ones you'd like to hit and start crossing them off.
Meal Plan For the Week
If you've got the time, you might as well make your life easier. Research easy recipes to make this week and your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and leftovers are covered. Plus you'll save a little dough by eating in.
Become a Plant Parent
Add some greenery to your home with an easy-to-care for plant for beginners. We recommend snake plants, succulents, or ZZ plants for those without green thumbs.
Start Watching Oscar-Nominated Films Before the Academy Awards
You'll have a leg up when filling out a ballot at your Oscar party. Plus the host's jokes are a lot funnier when you get the references.
Hang a Gallery Wall
We love leaning art as much as the next person, but there's something super satisfying about well-organized hanging art. Mix and match frames, prints, and colors for a one-of-a-kind statement that feels like you.
Search for that rug, mirror, shower curtain, or clock you’ve been thinking about getting for months. Keep looking until you find the perfect deal; then order it.
Offer to Help a Friend in Need
Bring over dinner, help clean their house, or just simply listen to what’s going on in their world. They'll appreciate the help.
Perfect Your Go-To Cocktail
Research how to make your preferred drink, get the ingredients, and make it at home. Don't forget to add the garnishes like a lemon twist or three olives. Serve them at your next dinner party.
Sign Up For a Class
Improv, calligraphy, hip-hop, tennis, learn something you always wanted to try. Commit to attending at least five sessions before you give up.
Clean Your Makeup Brushes
It’s a bad idea to not clean your makeup brushes regularly, so grab them and dunk them in a large cup filled with warm soapy water. Let soak for an hour or two; then rinse under cold water until the water runs clean. Let them air-dry on a clean towel.
Go Through the Photos On Your Phone
Delete anything you don’t need. Sort, using the favorite button, and make a note of the images you want to print and frame.
Make the Perfect Cheeseboard
A crowd favorite, making an incredible cheeseboard takes patience and practice. First, mix flavors and textures (like brie, gruyere, and bleu), then add some cured meats, a touch of produce, then nuts, seeds, and crackers, and finish it off with dips and fresh herbs.
Have a Spa Day
Take a long, luxurious bath. Try a hair mask you've been holding on to and put on a face mask or two. Finish the day by painting your nails and indulging in some aromatherapy.
Join a Recreational Sports Team
Many cities have dodgeball, kickball, softball, or basketball groups that meet weekly. It’s a great way to meet new people and stay active. Look for one in your area.
Book a Reservation at a Trendy Restaurant
Even if the only one you can get is three months out, mark your calendar, invite friends, and make a celebratory night of it. Plus the farther away the reservation is, the more time you have to shop for the perfect outfit beforehand.
Browse Listings Looking For Your Dream House
Note what features you like (or don't like) about each home, so you can get an idea of what you're looking for. Then make a financial plan to get yourself there.
Research Rescue Animals Online
Find a shelter in your neighborhood and see if it has any animals you might want to add to your family. Make sure you're ready for the commitment before you adopt.
Go Thrift Shopping or Antiquing
Take advantage of cool vintage stores in your area for one-of-a-kind goods and statement-making pieces. Look for handmade rugs, unique tchotchkes, and art. Be sure to examine each item carefully for damage before purchasing.
Visit a Distillery or Brewery
Learn how your favorite spirit or ale is made and some history behind the brand. Stay after the tour for a tasting and bring home a bottle or two for your bar cart.
Start Thinking About Your Halloween Costume
Whether you're doing a couples costume or flying solo, it's never too early to plan for Halloween. Start gathering materials if you're making your own costume or brainstorm some ideas on Pinterest.
See If Your Friends Are Down For a Trip
Write an email to your A-team of best friends and propose a road trip to a nearby town in the upcoming months. If they're available, start researching AirBnbs, activities, and restaurants in the area.
Ask Your Coolest Friend For a Band Recommendation
Listen to it, and get into a new group or style of music. Find out when the next concert in your area is and get tickets.
Organize the Apps on Your Phone
Delete any you haven’t used in the past four months and categorize the rest in folders. Plus you'll save yourself some storage on your device.
Get Into Sports
Get excited for Major League Baseball or start following the NBA Finals. Finally learn what icing means in hockey or just tune into a NFL game.
Play a Game
Pull out an old-school board game or a pack of cards and get your friends and family to play with you. Some of our favorites include Clue, Sorry!, or Apples to Apples.
Learn About Wine
Whether you’re into sparkling rosé or Argentinean Malbec, get to know how it’s made, who the best producers are, and what pairs well with it. You'll impress your next dinner date or help your friends decide on a bottle to share the next time you go out.
Clean Out Your Junk Drawer
We all have one. Start by throwing away old receipts, broken rubber bands, and disposing of dead batteries. Then, add some drawer dividers and organize what's left.
Plan Your Next Date
Whether you're looking forward to hanging with friends or want to surprise your significant other with a romantic night out, start planning a fun excursion. Grab reservations for that trendy restaurant or create a menu to host a nice dinner in.
Clean One Thing
You don't have to tackle the whole house. Just one part of it! Finally tackle your oven, dust your ceiling fans, or give your shower head a quick rinse. You'll feel better knowing that your home is squeaky clean.
This boho-chic trend is sticking around for awhile. The cornerstone of any bohemian residence is plenty of texture. Try your hand at macramé and create one-of-a-kind wall hangings for your space.
Cook For a Loved One
Surprise your significant other with a special homemade dinner, or call up your cousin and invite her over for fried chicken tenders. Head to the grocery store and get the ingredients; then start cooking. Use the good china!
Head to a Museum
Some even have free admission! Whether you go there in person or take a virtual tour, checking out a museum is a great way to spend your free time. Look for art, history, or science museums in your area.
Check In On Your Personal Finances
Check your savings and checking accounts. Where can you cut back and save more? Are you still subscribing to services you no longer use? Take a look before your next credit card bill.
Explore new projects. Aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes four times this week. Set a new goal at work. Try a new craft or home DIY.
Write Down Your Favorite Tips From This List
Place the pieces of paper in a mason jar. The next time you’re bored, pull something from the jar and do it.
Smyth JM, Johnson JA, Auer BJ, Lehman E, Talamo G, Sciamanna CN. Online Positive Affect Journaling in the Improvement of Mental Distress and Well-Being in General Medical Patients With Elevated Anxiety Symptoms: A Preliminary Randomized Controlled Trial. JMIR Ment Health. 2018;5(4):e11290. doi:10.2196/11290