22 Ways To Stay Busy at Work When You’re Bored

The workday feels like it’s dragging on forever. You’re bored. You may get to the point where anything is better than just sitting there.

You may be apathetic, suffering from tedious tasks, or need more work to keep you busy.

Here are some ideas for how to stay busy at work when bored.

Go for a Walk

What To Do When Bored at Work - Walk
Photo Credit: Ground Picture/Shutterstock.

You can get away from your desk by going for a walk. Taking a break may give you some energy.

You can walk outdoors if the area is safe. Otherwise, you can walk around the office. Remember to be considerate of others that are working.

You could also pair up with another bored coworker and walk together. Then, your walk could be considered networking.

If your workplace has a health program, your steps may count towards the program’s goals.

Participate in Chat Channels

What To Do When Bored at Work - Chat Online
Photo Credit: M_Agency/Shutterstock.

At my last office job, there were many Slack channels. The primary purpose was team communication, announcements, and requesting help or advice.

However, there were other channels for personal interests, such as hobbies and pets.

My favorite channel was for cat lovers. I made new friends and was able to share pictures of my cats.

So, when you are bored, you can look for a chat channel that interests you.

You could respond to those asking for help with something you know how to do.

Learn a New Skill

What To Do When Bored at Work - Learn a New Skill
Photo Credit: wichayada suwanachun/Shutterstock.

Some workplaces offer training on new skills through sites like Coursera.

You can explore the options and choose something that you are interested in that may not be related to your current position.

Also, you could choose something to build desirable soft skills for most jobs.

You may be able to earn a certificate or meet a goal for continuing education.

Find More Work

What To Do When Bored at Work - Find More Work
Photo Credit: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock.

When you are bored, someone else on your team may be overworked. Ask your coworkers or boss if there is work you could help with.

Clean Your Workspace

What To Do When Bored at Work - Clean Your Workspace
Photo Credit: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock.

You can stay busy by cleaning and organizing your workspace.

Whenever my desk is less cluttered, it’s easier for me to work. There are fewer distractions!

And it’s easier to find things when organized.

You could also clean your laptop, mouse, keyboard, and monitors.

Write a Thank-You Message

What To Do When Bored at Work - Write a Thank-You Message
Photo Credit: OB production/Shutterstock.

You could spend time writing thank-you messages to coworkers or your boss.

If your workplace has an employee appreciation program, you’ll want to write your thank-you messages through the program. There may be an online portal.

At one of my former offices, we awarded points to our coworkers when thanking them. Then, the points could be redeemed for rewards like gift cards, TVs, small appliances, etc.

Even if your workplace doesn’t have a program, you can still express your gratitude to your coworkers.

Make Lists

What To Do When Bored at Work - Make Lists
Photo Credit: Cast Of Thousands/Shutterstock.

Make a list of all your tasks that need to be done. Then, check things off the list as they are completed.

Once you have the list made, if you still have time to burn, you could rewrite the list in order of priority.

If you don’t have any work, you could list the work you would like to do. Then, you could ask your boss for opportunities to do that type of work.

Or, if you need a distraction from work for a while, write out your grocery list.

Organize Your Email

What To Do When Bored at Work - Organize Your Inbox
Photo Credit: Marie Maerz/Shutterstock.

If you’re not an inbox zero person, read unread emails, organize emails, delete emails, etc.

This could fill hours of your time if you have thousands of emails to go through.

Determine Why You Are Bored

What To Do When Bored at Work - Determine Why
Photo Credit: ESB Professional/Shutterstock.

What’s the reason behind your boredom? Once you know why you are bored,  you can do something about it.

I did the same type of work for many years. However, it no longer felt challenging or rewarding—some tasks’ repetitive nature made for some very dull days. Eventually, I decided to work for myself as a self-employed writer.

Here is a guide to help you determine your reasons: Bored at work: what your apathy is trying to tell you.

Leave a Little Early

What To Do When Bored at Work - Leave Early
Photo Credit: Dulin/Shutterstock.

When your work has natural ebbs of busyness and downtime, you could leave early to do something productive in your personal life. You can get a few things done, knowing there will be other work days where you’ll be extra busy and need to work over.

Leaving a little early can help balance out the busy times. However, you should only leave early if the practice is acceptable at your workplace.

Create Useful Documentation

What To Do When Bored at Work - Create Useful Documentation
Photo Credit: GaudiLab/Shutterstock.

If you’re repeating the same steps or process, consider making documentation to help others complete the task.

The key here is being able to make your notes useful for others. For example, can you create a guide that someone could follow to complete the task?

Talk With A Coworker

What To Do When Bored at Work - Talk With A Coworker
Photo Credit: Ground Picture/Shutterstock.

Having friends at work can make for a more enjoyable workday.

Have a conversation with a coworker who has a shared interest. For example, do you both enjoy the same show? Are they also a cat lady?

Just make sure you are not interrupting their work. They may become resentful if you talk too much to them when they are busy.

How To Be a Good Coworker: 10 Do’s and 8 Don’ts From an Expert

Do Research

What To Do When Bored at Work - Do Research
Photo Credit: GaudiLab/Shutterstock.

Is there something your workplace would benefit from? Or perhaps there is a program you think your office should use.

Could you do research and build a case for your idea?

Many years ago, I had a coworker provide enough evidence to management proving that we would be more productive with two monitors. Eventually, because of his research, having two monitors became standard.

Join a Committee

What To Do When Bored at Work - Join a Committee
Photo Credit: Ground Picture/Shutterstock.

Some workplaces will have committees that anyone can join, such as health and safety.

There could also be a committee that organizes fun activities, social events, or the annual year-end party.

Watch a TED Talk

What To Do When Bored at Work - Watch a TED Talk
Photo Credit: RollingCamera/Shutterstock.

Watch a TED talk on YouTube related to your job or a job skill.

Take notes, and share the highlights of what you learned at your next team meeting.

Plan a Team Outing

Team Outing Ideas - Choosing
Photo Credit: G-Stock Studio/Shutterstock.

If your team does an occasional outing together, be the one to come up with ideas for your next team outing.

The advantage of being the planner is you’re more likely to do an outing that you want to do.

Become a Better Coworker

What To Do When Bored at Work - Learn How To Be A Better Coworker
Photo Credit: Dragon Images/Shutterstock.

Are you a good coworker? Are there things you could improve on?

Learn How to Quit Your Job

Woman who wants to quit job
Photo Credit: CrizzyStudio/Shutterstock.

If you are bored because you can’t stand your job, it may be time to look for a different position.

Stop Procrastinating

Procrastinating Woman
Photo Credit: Tonuka Stock/Shutterstock.

Is there work you are putting off that you could be doing? While it may be boring, you will have something to do if you stop procrastinating.

Learn How to Improve Your Career

How To Be a Good Coworker
Photo Credit: Zivica Kerkez/Shutterstock.

Being bored and doing nothing about it at work will not improve your chances of success.

Look at Funny Work Memes

Funny Work Memes - Not Urgent Email
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

While not productive, looking at memes can provide an entertaining distraction for a few minutes.

You may see a meme that you want to share with a coworker.

Words Can Be Hard

Mispronounced Words
Photo Credit: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock.

There are some words that I struggle to pronounce. If you struggle with pronunciation, you could practice saying the words correctly if you are alone.

Generation X Kid Things

Floppy Disks on Keyboard
Photo Credit: Shaiith/Shutterstock.

There are things I did as a kid in the 1980s that kids these days don’t do anymore.

Halloween Memes

Halloween Meme
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Author: Heidi Bender

Title: Writer

Expertise: Thank You Notes


Heidi Bender is a writer and author who founded Tons of Thanks. She aims to help people write thank-you notes by providing examples and tips. She is the author of She is the author of A Modern Guide to Writing Thank-You Notes.