50 creative ways to beat boredom (2024)

We all get bored sometimes. Yes, even with endless social media apps, streaming services and video games at our disposal, it’s still possible to get a bad case of ennui. The good news: Boredom is an opportunity to get creative.

By embracing an open mindset, you may find that trying an out-of-the-norm activity blossoms into a new hobby you never dreamed you’d love, like tarot card reading or Pilates. Or perhaps you’ll unleash a secret talent like vacation-planning (which has the extra benefit of, you guessed it, a future vacation) or making homemade ice cream.

Many of the boredom-busting ideas on this list are totally free, like reading a book, writing a note to our troops, or filling up bags of clothes you no longer wear to donate to charity. Other activities will get you outside and breathing fresh air, like going for a walk or volunteering. There are also ways to explore virtually, with online tours of museums and natural parks.

To keep young ones entertained, check out 47 fun things to do with bored kids at home, and for furry friends, try this guide to tackling pet boredom if you suspect little Fido needs to put some pep in their step. Whatever you decide, kudos to you for making the most of your and your loved ones’ free time.

  1. Play chess. Challenge your mind with one of the most famous games there is by playing at a physical board if you have an at-home opponent, or join Chess.com to learn how to play, play against a computer, or millions of people online.
  2. Clean out your closets. How long has this been on your to-do list? A boring afternoon is the perfect time to work on cleaning all your closets, or at least tackle the one that’s been giving you the biggest headache.
  3. Find your new favorite podcast. Search the internet’s best podcasts lists for new ideas, or try out one of the TODAY podcasts! Then, stream your picks on Spotify, Apple Music or the podcast platform of your choice.
  4. Start “my list” on a streaming service. Many platforms let you add TV shows or movies to a category like “my list.” Oftentimes, we let these collections gather for months or years without making any effort to watch what we’ve saved. Make today the day you change this.
  5. Go for a walk. Get the blood flowing with a quick walk — whether it’s at a nearby park or simply around your block. Better yet, ask a neighborhood pal to join and you’ll have the added boost of chatting with someone while you stroll.
  6. Take a bath. Break out the bubble bath, bath bombs, your favorite deep conditioning treatment or exfoliating scrub. Bonus points if you have a stack of magazines or newspapers to catch up on while you soak. Here are 22 products to create the perfect at-home spa if you need some inspiration.
  7. Phone a friend. See if a long-lost pal is around for a phone date or video call. Better yet, ring a few friends spontaneously (remember when that was the norm?) or leave a voice memo just to say you’re thinking of them.
  8. Do a yoga video. Apps like Alo Moves and iFit bring an impressive lineup of yoga classes to your virtual fingertips with a monthly subscription fee. For no-cost alternatives, try Yoga With Adriene and Yoga with Kassandra, both of whom have large libraries of free workouts on YouTube.
  9. Write in a journal. Jotting down your thoughts may help you get to the root of your boredom, too. Perhaps you’re angry at a loved one or are feeling stuck at work.No time like now to find out!
  10. Start a gratitude list. Swap a diary entry for a round-up of all that you’re grateful for today, this week or year. This simple exercise may boost your mood, too.
  11. Read a book. Grab something that’s been collecting dust on your nightstand or pick up a tome from our “Read With Jenna” book club with TODAY host Jenna Bush Hager.
  12. Listen to an audiobook. Amazon’s Audible is a fan-favorite. And Spotify Premium now gives users access to more than 200,000 audiobooks, with 15 hours of free listening time each month. Local libraries also have a dizzying array of audiobooks available to check out and download to various devices.
  13. Take a nap. Are you bored because you’re tired and can’t focus on anything? Consider a snooze bar. When you wake up, you may be surprised to discover you’re less bored, since you have a renewed and energized sense of focus.
  14. Send snail mail. Whether it’s a handwritten postcard or you’re gathering items for a care package, you’re sure to put a smile on someone’s face by taking the time to drop something in the mail for them. It will also make you feel good to know that you’re about to brighten someone’s day.
  15. Write to a service member. Instead of penning a note to someone in your inner circle, show a military member you are grateful for their service by sending them a letter. Check out A Million Thanks or Operation Gratitude, which share guidelines for thanking our troops.
  16. Try a new recipe. If you like baking or cooking, round up some ingredients (disclaimer: you might have to go shopping, which can be its own boredom hack) and whip up a new recipe. Need a suggestion? We must recommend these vegan dark chocolate chunk cookies.
  17. Print a photo album. Make a beautiful album of prints from a recent getaway or special event. Artifact Uprising makes the process of designing a photo album stress-free, and, dare we say, fun. (Plus, you can hire a designer to help if graphic layouts aren’t your thing.)
  18. Make a photo memento. Another nice way to recognize a special vacation or milestone moment is by creating a keepsake — say, a framed photo or picture puzzle. Minted, an online marketplace for independent designers, makes this process simple. Upload your photos, select a few preferences (like frame color or font size) and voilà, a custom piece of your dreams is in the works.
  19. Go through your stack of mail. If you’re the type to let a pile of mail grow in your foyer or that basket on your credenza, go through it and deal with whatever bills, notices or statements have come your way. We promise you’ll feel much lighter after you do so.
  20. Fill bags to bring to charity. Clothing, appliances, furniture — whatever it is, why not take advantage of a slow day by collecting items to drop off at your local Salvation Army, Goodwill or other donation center? Once you’ve given these items away, you’ll appreciate the freed up space.
  21. Organize your digital life. It’s amazing how productive and self-soothing it can be to go through your phone or computer and delete files, apps and emails you no longer need. You can also create folders to group like items together, and clean up your desktop or home screens. Services like Clean.Email and Unroll.Me can make the process easier.
  22. Have a “crafternoon.” Make an afternoon (or morning, or night) out of doing a craft project that appeals to you. Candle-making, soap-making, lettering —the list goes on.
  23. Tackle a chore. We know, we know. You might think a cleaning task like vacuuming your apartment or folding piles of laundry is boring, but when paired with a good podcast, audiobook or playlist, the time goes by quickly and you’ll feel good about what you’ve accomplished.
  24. Meditate. Work on cultivating a regular meditation practice and you may discover that boredom is really a manifestation of an emotion you’re trying to suppress. Or, you may find that the activity of focusing on your breath and clearing your mind works wonders for reducing stress and resetting a bad day. Subscribe to platforms like SimpleHabit or Headspace for guided meditation tracks.
  25. Do a crossword puzzle. There’s a reason this newspaper classic has endured through the digital age. They’re fun, challenging and an easy way to fill a few minutes or more when you’re feeling restless.
  26. Take a virtual museum tour. During the pandemic, many museums launched impressive online tours, interactive exhibits and virtual activities. Look up your favorite museum, or one you’ve been hoping to visit, and see what’s available. Or, try stalwarts like The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Louvre in Paris, or the British Museum in London.
  27. Explore the National Parks virtually. Dubbed America’s Best Idea, you can experience the magic of our country’s National Parks from the comfort of your home. Lace up your proverbial hiking boots and visit NationalParks.org to check out nature’s best as well as Historic Sites from afar.
  28. Rock out to concerts on YouTube. Type in the name of a musical act or singer you like on YouTube, and you’ll likely find dozens of live performances you can watch (and dance to) at home for free. Dim the lights and pretend you’re at a show. (P.S., if you're a sports fan, the same concept works for reliving your home team’s greatest hits.)
  29. Take an online class. Masterclass offers educational courses for an affordable annual fee from greats like Martha Stewart and Ava DuVernay. Many esteemed universities like Yale and Harvard also provide free access to a select number of classes, and Coursera offers free courses as well.
  30. Water your plants. Okay, plant parents, this is your friendly reminder to water your plants regularly. When you’re feeling stir-crazy, go the extra mile and give them some extra TLC if they need to be repotted or pruned.
  31. Volunteer. Give back to your community by spending your time helping a local nonprofit. Not sure where to start? Head to VolunteeMatch.org to discover volunteering opportunities near you.
  32. Learn a new language. Or practice a foreign language that you already know. Apps like Duolingo and Babbel make the endeavor affordable and straightforward.
  33. Knock out a home improvement project. Any artwork need mounting? Garage in need of some fresh paint? How about the deck? You get the idea. Whatever task you take on, just make sure it’s one you can handle on your own and not something that requires a professional.
  34. Check the recycling. If you live in a building or complex with a shared recycling center, glance through the paper recycling bin for any gently used magazines or newspapers your neighbors may have discarded. You may find you love a particular publication after devouring it cover to cover and decide to subscribe.
  35. Plan a vacation — even if you don’t plan on taking it. Watch YouTube videos about a dream destination, create a faux itinerary based on your research and plot out points of interest on Google Maps. Or, maybe “window shopping” itineraries on a tour operator’s website is enough to snap you out of a funk. (Trafalgar’s National Parks and Native Trails of the Dakotas or Contiki’s Road to Croatia, anyone?) The act of escapism will jolt you out of your boredom and you can bookmark any research for future use.
  36. Mix up a snazzy co*cktail or mocktail. Who said there has to be a special occasion to drink a fancy drink? Go wild garnishing a Bloody Mary to your heart’s content, or creating the Cosmopolitan of your dreams. Try to look up recipes that will teach you a new bar skill you didn’t know, like using bitters or making a fanned strawberry garnish.
  37. Make breakfast for tomorrow. Your future self will thank you when you wake up to delicious strawberry overnight oats, or just have to heat up a slice of frittata.
  38. Count up how many states and countries you’ve visited. Oh, the places you have gone! If you’ve never tallied up how many of the 50 states or nearly 200 countries you’ve visited, it’s a nice exercise. VisitedPlaces.com is an online tool you can use to see how many states and countries you’ve traveled to in your lifetime. AmCharts.com is another good virtual tool for tracking domestic travel.
  39. Get ahead on your taxes. It’s always tax season, folks. This can be as simple as gathering tax forms you’ve received throughout the year (virtually or physically) and putting them in a clearly marked folder, or as elaborate as researching the best software options or local accountants to help you file your next round of taxes.
  40. Shred paperwork. Speaking of taxes, every so often, it’s a good idea to shred tax-related paperwork and other documents for which you no longer need a hard copy. The IRS recommends keeping records for three years from the date you filed your original return or two years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later, if you file a claim for credit or refund after you filed your return. You can read more detailed periods of limitations that apply to income tax returns here.
  41. Make a vision board. If you’re feeling blah, this inspirational exercise can help you reset your intentions and get clear on what you hope to achieve. Here’s exactly how to make a vision board. (And no, it doesn’t need to be done in January.)
  42. Toss expired goods from your freezer, fridge or pantry. Ditto for your collection of cleaning supplies, makeup and other personal care items. You’ll wonder why you didn’t do this months ago once you’re floating high post-cleanup.
  43. Exercise. Run, skip, play tennis, play pickleball…the point is to do something that gets you moving; it doesn’t matter what it is. Pro-tip: Tell yourself you only have to work out for 10 minutes and then you’re free to quit. Nine times out of 10, you’ll keep going past the 10-minute mark, and the time or two you don’t? You still got your heart pumping for 10 minutes.
  44. Go somewhere new in the neighborhood. Perhaps there’s a coffee shop you’ve walked by a bunch of times but have yet to pop into, or a park you drive by often but have never explored by foot. Carve out a few hours to venture to new frontiers, a stone’s throw or so from home.
  45. Walk a dog for a friend. No pet (yet) but love animals? Walk a dog for a friend or family member. They’ll be grateful for the help, and you’ll quell your boredom by spending time with a sweet pup.
  46. Take a personality test.The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is the most popular and trusted one on the market. More than 70 years of science-backed research has gone into it, and you’ll have your results in about 30 minutes.
  47. Plant a garden. Cultivate your green thumb by planting some flower, fruit, herb or vegetable seeds in your yard (you’ll want to research this a bit first). If you don’t have outdoor space, we can walk you through how to start an indoor herb garden from start to garnish.
  48. Infuse your water. You likely aren’t drinking enough water to stay hydrated throughout the day. One trick to ensure you drink more water is to make it taste better. Jazz up a pitcher of water with sliced cucumber, mint or lemon slices. Not only will it taste great, but you’ll feel like you’re indulging in a fancy spa experience at home.
  49. Ponder some feel-good quotes. Invest in a copy of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations (you can also download the official app at that link) so you can be inspired by words of wisdom for any mood. We also have a comprehensive assortment of quotes for life’s various moments.
  50. Sign up for a new challenge. You’ll want to pick something that suits your interests and goals, and a quick online search will reveal so many choices. To get the wheels turning, may we suggest Veganuary (going plant-based for all of January —or any month); the couch to 5K nine-week running program, or NaNoWriMo (a quest to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, typically November)? The world is your obstacle oyster.

More ways to beat boredom

  • 11 fun things to do at home, according to TODAY editors
  • 60 indoor activities for kids
  • 20 fun at-home date night ideas for when you want to stay in with your sweetheart

Perri Ormont Blumberg

Perri is a New York City-born-and-based writer. She holds a B.A. in psychology from Columbia University and is also a culinary school graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute. She's probably seen Dave Matthews Band in your hometown, and she'll never turn down a bloody mary. Follow her on Twitter@66PerriStreetor learn more atVeganWhenSober.com

50 creative ways to beat boredom (2024)
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