Bored? Here are 10 productive things to do right now

Boredom is one of the most dreaded feelings if you're looking for things to do when bored, we've got you covered with activities galore.

Lockdown is starting to lift — and we couldn’t be happier. But, regrettably, the nagging boredom presses on. Not to the extent of the past year, of course; but boredom is an unavoidable part of life. Rainy Sunday afternoons, long car journeys; and, of course, dreaded queuing. We are in Britain, after all — where boredom is a way of life. 

But don’t despair, because we’re here to help alleviate your boredom. Here’s our selection of the top 10 things to do when bored — and it’s a list guaranteed to keep those lethargic sighs of boredom well and truly at bay.

For energy: try a brand new form of exercise

If you’re feeling sluggish and lethargic, we’d recommend carving out an hour of exercise to get the body moving and the blood flowing. It’s remarkable how much better you’ll feel for it. But we don’t mean just opting for the same old moves you bash out in the gym several times a week — repeating the same sequences won’t help alleviate your boredom.

Instead, why not try something brand new? If you’ve never experimented with yoga, it’s time to give it a go: there are thousands of YouTube videos available at just the click of a button. Or why not try your hand (or should that be body?) at Pilates? That’s a form of exercise that demands total focus and concentration on every single part of the body at all times: so, trust us, you won’t feel bored for a second.

For clarification: experiment with mindfulness

It may be that you’re feeling bored because you’re lacking clarification. And one of the best ways to start feeling clear-headed again is to sort those muddling, tangled thoughts out. And — you can probably see where we’re going with this, but we’ll say it anyway — if you want to sort those thoughts out, mindfulness is by far and away the best way to do it.

Mindfulness sometimes gets a bad rep; it might be a little ‘out there’, or self-indulgent, or just a big old waste of time. But if you’re looking for things to do when bored, it’s about as far from a waste of time as it’s possible to be. Download Headspace, or Calm — or one of the other many, many mindfulness apps — and start focusing on the breath. When you open your eyes ten minutes later, your thoughts will be clear and you’ll have ideas bursting out of your ears.

For a sense of achievement: hone your cooking skills

It was acceptable to live off pesto pasta at university. It was understandable to rely heavily on takeaways during lockdown — we all need to support small businesses, right? But now, there’s no excuse, gents. We all need to eat, so there’s always occasion to cook: and if you’re feeling bored, there’s no better way to alleviate said boredom than to set yourself a tricky dish and do your utmost to master it.

Select a dish by the chef of your choice — Jamie Oliver, Nigel Slater, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall; you can take your pick — and make it a mission to master one of the trickiest dishes they have to offer. Peruse your local establishments for the finest ingredients, and challenge yourself to make the meal as delicious as it can possibly be. You’ll realise you haven’t felt bored for a second since you started; and you’ll impress your housemates while doing it. It’s a solid win/win situation.

Plus: if you’re really stuck on which recipes to choose, we can help you out there

For intellectual stimulation: read the news

By ‘read the news’, we don’t mean clicking onto the BBC news app every time there’s a headline, and then skimming the highlights. We mean investing in a subscription to the New Yorker, or the Telegraph (or, indeed, Gentleman’s Journal Clubhouse) and really making it a mission to absorb all the many and varying perspectives on the multitude of global current affairs.

There’s no longer any excuse for whiling Sunday morning away, bemoaning the boredom; we’d recommend popping out first thing, and coming home laden with the Sunday papers of every variety — preferably a good, solid cross-section. A gentleman should always know what’s occurring — both in Britain, and in the wider world — so next time you’re feeling bored, be sure to read up on global events. You’ll have us to thank when you’re impressing the crowd left, right and centre at the next dinner party.

For escapism: read a book

It’s possible that you’re feeling bored because you’re stuck in your own head. In which case, we’d say the best way to alleviate such boredom is to stop fretting over your own boredom (we’ve all been there, don’t worry), and instead get into the mindset of someone else’s trials and tribulations. And what better way to do so than to get stuck into the latest bestseller?

If you’re searching for things to do when bored, then we’d recommend a good thriller or murder mystery. There’s no chance you’ll feel even a hint of boredom if you’re on the edge of your seat, jumping six feet in the air every time someone enters the room. But as genres go, it’s really up to you — if you’re an English Literature grad hungering after a good classic, then we’re full of admiration for you. And if you’re really stuck for books inspiration, we can help you out with a few recommendations

For company: call a friend or family member

Are your housemates away? Girlfriend visiting her parents? Just moved into your first solo flat? There’s a chance you’re feeling bored because you’re in need of a bit of company: and that’s totally normal. We’re social beings, after all — so if you’re in search of things to do when bored, we’d strongly recommend getting in touch with your mate or your mum.

By ‘getting in touch’, we don’t mean sending a funny GIF, or commenting on someone’s Instagram post. We mean the old-school, traditional, mostly-forgotten-about phone call. That’s right: try spontaneously ringing someone up on the phone and having a real, in-depth catch up. You won’t be the only one who’s forgotten how to use phones for the thing they were actually invented for: but after your hours-long catch up, you’ll feel rejuvenated, replenished and unable to remember what boredom even feels like.

For a sense of purpose: look into volunteering

We have no doubt you’re an intelligent, capable sort of chap. In which case: there’s no excuse for feeling bored when there are so many good causes to which you can put your considerable skills to use. We all talk about volunteering for a charity all the time; but how many of us actually do it? Well, gents: now’s the time.

Looking into volunteering options can be a little overwhelming, so it’s best to think about what you feel passionately about and where your skills lie. Are you good with people? Are you better behind the scenes? Do you feel strongly about wildlife, or do you have a personal connection with a particular illness? Whichever cause you choose, volunteering is sure to give you a sense of purpose that won’t allow any room for boredom: and you’ll be helping others at the same time. Who can say fairer than that?

For productive forward-planning, start thinking about your entrepreneurial venture

We live in an era of side-hustles; of multi-hyphenate careers, entrepreneurship and start-ups. If you’ve always harboured secret dreams of creating your own start-up, founding a company or launching a business: now would be the time to start thinking about where to begin. It’s never too early.

It might mean jotting down some thoughts on a napkin while waiting for your perpetually-late friend to turn up at the pub, or even mapping out a to-do list in your head while cruising along the M25. Either way, it’s ten times more productive than pretending to check your phone, or listening to the same album on repeat — and who knows? It might be the start of a million-pound venture. You won’t know until you try; and if you need a little more inspiration, we’ve got inspiration in spades.

For a romantic spark, it may be time to start putting the effort back in...

It’s time to be honest, gents: do you think you’ve got a little complacent in your relationship recently? If you’re past the honeymoon stage and into the ‘shall I pick up loo roll?’ and ‘do you have any whites to go in the light wash?’ stage, it may be time to inject a little more effort into keeping that romantic spark alive.

When was the last time you bought your partner a gift, just to surprise them, or planned a stellar day out? If you’re feeling bored, it may be because your relationship has become a little more routine: in which case, there’s no use bemoaning the fact. Have a think about how you could bring back that spark — and we’ve got plenty of tips where that’s concerned. Whether it’s luxury gifts to surprise her with, or advice on how to spice up your sex life: we’ve got you covered.

For the ultimate peace of mind: just sit with the boredom

We’ve become terrified of boredom; of being left alone with our own thoughts. Instead, we plug the gap with podcasts, Netflix, news apps; anything that can occupy our brains until the next meeting or social event.

Instead, why not try sitting with the boredom — and just see where your thoughts naturally take you? Journalist Pandora Sykes wrote in her book, How Do We Know We’re Doing It Right?, that her mother encouraged boredom. “It was less about specifically ensuring I was bored…as it was a refusal to cater to my every whim, in every situation — a lesson for later life.”

Sometimes, we will be bored — and sometimes, that’s ok. Sykes found that when she was bored, she’d find herself daydreaming and writing stories in her head — she’s now a famous journalist and bestselling author. Next time you’re standing in a queue, try to avoid clicking automatically onto Instagram just for the sake of it. Instead, just stand there — with the boredom for company. You never know where it may take you.

Looking for more inspiration on how to fill your time? Here’s what to watch on Netflix this month

Become a Gentleman’s Journal member. Find out more here.

Further Reading