13 Productive Things to Do When You're Bored at Work

Mariah Schlossmann
Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Cosmopolitan

Allow me to set the scene: you’re sitting at your cubicle in your office having just finished your lunch (the highlight of your day, natch). You already crossed off every item on your to-do list even before you broke for your daily California roll, and you've pretty much read everything that's interesting on the internet. [Editor's note: Can that actually be true though? Have you *really* read every single story on Cosmo today?!] Now, thanks to your super productive morning, you have no idea what to do with yourself until it's time for happy hour. Being bored at work sucks.

It's totally normal, though! And it doesn’t mean you hate your job or that you're not good at it. It could mean that you're not feeling particularly challenged in your role, and if that's the case, it's time to talk to your boss about taking on more responsibility. But between now and your next promotion, let's discuss what you can do to keep yourself busy.

Instead of pulling out your phone and scrolling through Insta again, why not do something that will actually help your career overall? Here are 13 productive things to do when you're bored at work. You're gonna be in the corner office in no time, bb.

1. Unsubscribe from all those newsletters and spam mail.

If you're like me, then every day is a fresh new hell another opportunity to get completely overwhelmed with promotions and junk mail in your inbox. Take 30 minutes to go on a deleting spree (it is SO satisfying to get down to inbox zero, lemme tell ya) and permanently unsubscribe so you no longer have to receive alerts about new sandwich additions to the menu at your favorite deli from college.

2. Comb through your network on LinkedIn.

Sift through your LinkedIn connections and reach out to people in your industry to set up coffee dates. Networking (politely, of course) is a totally standard part of being profesh, even if it can feel a bit awkward at times. And hey, you're the one with free time at work...

3. Clean up your desktop.

The digital one. When your desktop is full of screenshots and random PDFs you no longer need, your brain probably feels a bit scrambled every time you need to hunt for an aw-shoot-my-boss-needs-this-right-now document. Organizing is the easiest way to get a brain boost.

4. Speaking of organizing...clean up your folders.

Again, I'm talking about the digital ones. I did this recently and, dang, all my documents are so much easier to find now. Sure, you can convince yourself that you're super organized if you have tons of folders, but would you be embarrassed if Michelle Obama asked to take a quick look inside any of those folders? If the answer is yes, you know what to do.

5. Give your computer a bath.

When’s the last time you did this? If you had to really think about it, pull out the Clorox wipes and go to town. Don't forget to do your keyboard and mouse, too.

6. Make a list of supplies you need.

If you don't have Clorox wipes, GET SOME. And while you're at it, take some time to think about all the random office items you're always borrowing from your work wife. You're an independent woman—buy your own!

7. Watch a TED Talk.

Being bored at work can be a total drain on your creativity and motivation. It's an annoying cycle that's also hard to break. Take yourself to a virtual career fair when you scroll through the library of TED Talks.

8. Take an online class.

If you’re, like, REALLY bored, and have a decent amount of time to spare, then consider signing up for a course online. Brush up on your high school French, learn your way around Photoshop, or heck, become a day trader! Pretty sure that has something to do with money, but why don't you find out and let me know.

9. Update your LinkedIn profile.

If your LinkedIn profile doesn’t list your current position, or worse, doesn't include *any* details about your past jobs, then, hello, you've found yourself an activity to occupy your next few free afternoons.

10. Run those computer updates that you’re always putting off.

You know what I'm talking about. They pop up in the corner of your screen, asking to update your software, and you—without fail—always hit “Remind Me Later.” You’ve been hitting that button for over a year now, so, uh, there’s no time like the present.

11. Clean out your desk drawers.

Depending on how long you’ve been situated in your office spot, you've probably accumulated a lot of junk. Recycle the papers you don't even remember why you decided to hang on to, discard the pens that no longer work, and yeah, hate to say it, but it's probably time to retire that tube of mascara. It's been chilling in there for way too long.

12. Write down a list of career goals.

Think about your career development both in the big picture ("I want to manage a team of at least 10 people one day") and small-scale ("I want to delegate more work to Karen in the next couple months"). You can also start plotting how to ask your boss for a raise.

13. Set up a lunch date with a coworker.

This is a great way to learn more about the people you work with and what they do for the company. (Maybe one day you'll want to join their team!) Lunch is so much more fun and informal than asking "for time" on someone's calendar.


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