How to Keep Yourself Busy at Work - 25 Ways to Keep Yourself Busy at Work.
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After working so hard at that interview and not being sure you got the job and eventually landing what you thought was your dream job, now you are not so sure anymore. You are not sure if the job is worth it anymore because you are not as engaged and busy as you’d hoped.
If you’re asking the question of what to do when you have nothing to do at work or things to do at work to pass time, then chances are that you are not fully engaged at your workplace, and thus looking for an escape. You’re probably feeling bored out of your mind at work and looking for productive ways to occupy your mind or things to do to stay busy at work. Nothing sucks the life and joy out of an employee’s productivity than feeling like they are living their worst nightmare by going to a job that they feel no longer adequately engages them.
According to the above recent survey seen on Blog.smarp, as much as 85% of American employees do not feel fully engaged or engaged at all, at their jobs. And because of this lack of engagement, employees often resort to being absent from work, and as much as 81% are considering leaving their job.
If you fall in this category of employees who are not fully engaged and looking for solutions to how to entertain yourself at work or what to do with downtime at work, you are in the right place. In the next sections, we will show you the best 25 ways to keep yourself occupied when you have nothing to do at work or have too much downtime at work.
How To Keep Yourself Busy At Work – 25 Ways To Keep Yourself Busy At Work.
Table of Contents
Staying busy at work is the point of going to work or else what’s the point right? We couldn’t agree more. And more than staying busy, staying productively busy and engaged is crucial.
Keeping your mind busy and yourself occupied is very important, but don’t keep yourself occupied with just about anything. The 25 ways listed below would ensure that you are productively engaged and getting the most out of your downtime and utilizing your maximal potential even at a job that is no longer giving you as much joy.
What to do when you have nothing to do at work – 8 Productive things to do at work.
When you’ve got nothing to do at work, rather than mop around and decry your lack of engagement and nothing to do, why not keep yourself occupied with these productive things to do at work.
1. Clear out clutter and organize your work space.
An organized and clean workstation would help you think more clearly. It would also give you space to be able to get stuff done. Cleaning out your workstation is a quick way to take stock of what you have littered on your table. And just maybe you might find that memo you nearly lost your mind over the last time.
2. Catch up on your email.
And maybe you do need to catch up on your email and sort out your inbox and spam folder. You never know what you may actually stumble across in sorting out your email.
3. Update your online personal professional profile(s).
You never know who in your industry may just be taking a casual look online for the talent pool in your sector. You don’t want your outdated professional profile to be what they see because you never know they may be in the market for new talent.
If you are open to new opportunities, you may want to have that showing on your LinkedIn profile for instance.
4. Plan the next month and the remainder of the year on the job. Long-term planning would also be important.
Your free time is the best time to plan out the next months and the remainder of the year on the job. Draw out your calendar and to-do list. Have all the meetings properly scheduled. Draw out your action plan list and schedule all that needs scheduling. This allows you to have a birds-eye view of just how much free time you have and what to slot into the free time.
Knowing how much free time you have would let you know what and what from the rest of the items listed in this article you can do (or not do).
Doing this, especially the long-term planning, helps you think long and hard about how much longer you want to stay at the company and what your exit plan is in the long term.
5. Take time out to read on industry trends and happenings.
Being bored and unengaged at work should not sound the knell on your professional life. The last thing you want is to be out of touch with your industry and what is happening in it. Staying out of touch is the quickest way to lose relevance professionally and you don’t want that to happen.
So, use your free time at work to read up on everything happening in your industry. Stay up to date and challenge your mind to solve and answer the hard questions arising from everything happening in your industry.
You can even start writing anonymous opinion Op-eds (or even in your name if it would not be a problem). Writing such pieces would keep you up-to-date and who knows may even draw you one step closer to more challenging and exciting work.
6. Help a colleague out.
No better time than free time to help out that colleague that may be overwhelmed. Or maybe it’s the newbie in the office who is still trying to figure things out. Whatever the case, helping a colleague out is the quickest way to get your colleagues at work to like you.
7. Check out other departments in the workplace.
Unless there is a rule at your workplace that limits you to just your department, nothing stops you from being proactive and checking out other departments and what they do. Be sure to let the heads of those departments know that you are open to learning about the work they do and working with them.
Given workplace politics in some places, we can understand if you cannot be too forward about this especially if you have a bad manager who is territorial and would see your actions as undermining. So better to be a little more discreet about it. If you have friends in the other departments, you can start by “visiting” them and helping them out without drawing attention to yourself. And if it becomes too much trouble, you can stop and try the other methods listed in this article.
8. Ask for new challenges from your manager.
Unless you have a bad manager, it might be best to speak to your manager about giving you more work and keeping you more engaged. This would also help you with having an answer about why you are spending more time on your phone than working.
And if you have a bad manager, it doesn’t mean you can’t do anything but wallow in self-pity. Check out our helpful article on What to do when you have a bad manager for how to get around your bad manager and see that you are fully utilized and given new challenges.
What to do with downtime at work – 5 Ways to entertain yourself at work.
Or maybe you’re done with the productive things in the first list and still have some downtime to yourself, or you just have downtime from all the busyness, why not keep yourself entertained with any of these 5 things to do at work to pass time:
9. Make a list of persons in your work circle to network with and plan lunch dates or after-work drinks with them.
Networking is important in any work setting. Dust your diary and check out who you haven’t caught up with in a while. It can be industry friends in other companies or just friends in other departments in your company. Arrange for lunch dates or after-work drinks to catch up.
It is important to keep your connection to your network very much alive because those networks will always come in handy.
And it doesn’t have to just be networking with your friends, look out for industry dinners and luncheons to attend, and place yourself strategically to network with the who is who in your industry.
Check out this cool article on Fun things to do with coworkers outside of work for other fun ideas of what you can do with your friends if your networking catch-up will be happening after work.
10. Pursue hobbies that are compatible with doing your job.
Sitting in front of your laptop or desktop can be harnessed for the best. No need to spend all day playing Solitaire on your laptop. You can use your free time to acquire new hobbies and/or pursue ones you may already have. The following are hobbies you can engage in without compromising your job:
The beauty of freelancing is that you can do it at your own pace and terms. And the cherry on top is you can get paid for some freelancing gigs, and who wouldn’t want extra cash right! And the best part about freelancing is you are doing what you love doing.
Keeping a blog.
Think of a blog as your online journal where you get to write any and everything you want to write. Whatever is on your mind at any given time, you can use a blog as the avenue to get it out. This keeps your mind constantly engaged.
Writing a book.
And who knows maybe you can author a bestseller in your free time. How cool would that be right! And it doesn’t even have to start out elaborate. You can simply start penning down random thoughts about anything – it could be places you’ve traveled to or a subject you love like fashion or women.
Reading a book.
And if writing a book isn’t your thing, then try reading one. And with tech being so advanced these days, you don’t even have to turn actual pages of a book. You can simply download an e-version, and have your Kindle read out the text of the book to you on your earphones.
11. Play a mind challenging game online.
Mind challenging games like Chess, Scrabble, and Suduko surprisingly, have a way of giving you the needed mental reboot. So rather than just playing Solitaire, try something more challenging like Chess or Scrabble.
12. Create a new challenge for yourself.
Find a new exciting challenge for yourself. It could be anything from as simple as making paper huts with the telephone directory to an online challenge. Anything that would get your creative juices flowing would be a fun way to keep yourself entertained at work.
13. Look for events to attend outside of work but related to what you do.
It could be poetry night or karaoke night at a club that persons who work in your industry frequent. Or it could be an outing to an art gallery or museum. Such outings are a good way to see different places outside the office, get a breath of fresh air, and keep yourself entertained.
7 Things to do in the Office when bored.
Nothing can depress at work like that feeling of “I am bored out of my mind at work”. But it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Here are some things to do in the office when bored
14. Catch up on your personal goals and set new ones if need be.
With so much work to do, personal goals and vision can take the back burner. The result is that sometimes we tend to lose ourselves in our work and important things like our life goals slip through the cracks. That time of boredom in the office is a good time to bring out those personal goals and see where you’re at and what needs revising and keeping up with.
15. Take stock of the company’s wellbeing and financial health.
When last did you read the company’s financials and annual reports? It’s good to keep a tab on how your company is doing so that you are also in the know about the security of your job. Sometimes employees would not know that a company might not be doing so well and headed for downsizing because that sort of information would be hidden somewhere in an annual financial report. Staying on top of how your company is doing may show you an area where you can divert your energies to.
16. Take stock of your accomplishments and your progress within the company.
This would give you a good confidence boost and also show you that you are not doing as bad as you think you are doing. It would also help bring back in sharp perspective why you love what you do and do what you do. It would remind you of your long term
17. Make a list of legit ways to make extra cash on the side without breaching your contract of employment.
Sometimes what you need to deal with the boredom is to try other ways of making cash on the side without breaching your contract of employment. A good place to start will be with things you love doing as hobbies.
So for instance, if you love baking or knitting, you could start making more of these items and selling them over the weekend at the flea market or even to your colleagues. This is just a suggestion to give you an idea of some things you can think about. Why not use that free time at work to draw up that list and a plan of how to turn the ideas into extra cash.
18. Zone out and let your imagination run wild about what your ideal work world looks like.
Nothing wrong with doing this. Letting your imagination run wild is another way of getting your creative juices flowing. And who knows what work innovations your imagination might bring to you. So go ahead, let your mind wander about what your ideal workplace would look like.
19. Squeeze in a few minutes of power exercise.
Sitting down all day is actually not very beneficial for your physique in the long run. So, use that free time to do some stretches. Walk up and down the stairs or take a walk some few blocks down the office. It doesn’t have to be anything too hectic but that 15 or 20 minutes of taking that power walk every day will do you a world of good in the long run.
20. Take a power nap.
And a power nap is actually good to get refreshed and rebooted. Depending on how your office is set up, you may have to go to your car to catch this power nap or somewhere where you would not be caught getting bits and pieces of sleep.
Also, don’t forget that it is a power nap and not a full-on siesta. So you can’t be power napping for a whole hour. It has to be between 15 – 30 minutes. Anything more is no longer a power nap but sleep, which is likely to get you fired lol.
5 Things to do at a boring job.
And if your job is just hopelessly boring and you’re only still at it because it is paying your bills, your rescue would be all or most of these:
21. Run some personal errands.
Rather than sit and twiddle your thumb all day, give an excuse to leave the office and run some personal errands. While this may not be the best, it at least ensures you don’t have to waste the whole day at work.
This is however a risky option. To reduce the risk, rather run errands for the office and then use the opportunity to run your own personal errands.
22. Ask to work from home for a day or two.
This might be a better alternative to running personal errands during office time. You could ask for a day or two off to get your personal errands out of the way. The day off outside the office would also help you get a breath of fresh air because the office might feel a little suffocating at this point.
23. Take an online course or skill training.
One thing you must never allow a boring job to do is to make you stale or stagnant. Find online courses and/or skills training to continue upskilling yourself even in a boring job. Check out Udemy to see if there are courses that excite and interest you.
24. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or old age home.
Helping others in this way has a way of refocusing our perspective and making us realize the important things we take for granted. By helping others, you also get those feel-good hormones released into your brains, which would in turn give you a different kind of positive energy for work.
25. You may have to consider quitting your job.
Ultimately, it may come to this. If your job is so hopelessly boring that it saps the life and energy out of you, it is not worth it at the end of the day to keep working at a job that you hate and despise. But don’t just up and leave. Read our article on When to quit your job immediately for effective ways to quit your job.
Frequently Asked Questions.
1. Things are slow at work what to do?
If things are slow at work, take the bulls by the horn and set the pace. By doing any or all of the 24 things (but the last) listed in this article, you will notice the pace pick up and things change for the better for you at work.
2. I am just passing time at work and I am not happy about this. What should I do?
You can choose to stay or leave. If you choose to stay, it would be important to find ways to keep busy at work. And that is what we have shown you in this article. If you decide you want to leave, then be sure to read our article on When to quit your job immediately for the best ways to go about it.
3. What are some things to do to stay busy at work and how do you kill time at work?
All of the first 24 things listed in this article are great things to do to stay busy at work and kill time at work. They are not only engaging and productive, but they will also help build you both professionally and personally.
4. How can I stop being bored at work and how can I be busy at work?
Most of the action items listed in this article will keep you busy at work and take care of boredom at work.
5. What to do to keep yourself busy?
Pick out any of the action items that work for you from our list and you will find that it keeps you busy and engaged.
A boring job or work where you are doing nothing only drains you. It also affects your productivity. There is no need to allow any of these things to happen to you just because of a job. Take all or most of the actions listed in this article as ways to occupy your mind and yourself at work, and you would not feel the pinch of that boredom.
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