Scott H Young

Eliminate Boredom With These 12 Tips


Bored

I don’t believe boredom is caused by a lack of things to do. I don’t think that it is even caused by a lack of things you want to do. Rather I’ve found boredom is usually mislabeled to disguise a different problem. This is why most attempts to stop boredom don’t work, because they don’t address the real problem.

Here are some tricks I’ve found to help expose the real culprit behind a feeling of boredom and get back to your normal self:

  • Figure out what you really want to do. Boredom often masks a problem where you want to do a particular activity but something is preventing you. This could happen when you want to watch your favorite television show, but the cable is out. When this happens, the first step to killing boredom is to simply recognize the activity that you truly want to be doing.
  • Nuke procrastination. Procrastination can cause boredom if there aren’t any distractions available to take your mind off your task. If this is the case, try one of these tips to eliminate the wait and get busy again.
  • Get your compass straight. Boredom can just as easily be caused by a lack of direction. Spend a few minutes identifying your goals, desires or passions. Sometimes simply bringing up these can get you motivated again.
  • Socialize. Get out and meet some friends, or make some new friends. Boredom can often disguise a lack of social energy. Even if you can’t see how to meet new people in your area and your friends are busy, go to an online forum that shares one of your interests or pick up a phone.
  • Put off your boredom. Take a look at your to-do list. Commit to doing just one tiny task on that list before you find something fun to do. Often putting off your boredom for a few minutes by being productive can kick the feeling.
  • Learn something new. Perhaps what you need is some mental stimulation. Here are some fast things you can do to start learning something new:
    • Read a book
    • Research a topic your interested in online
    • Write a short story
    • Pull up photoshop (or download GIMP if you don’t have it) and practice your artistic skills.
  • Cut off distractions. Boredom can happen when you are doing a low value task, like random internet surfing or watching television shows that don’t interest you. Distractions can be a black hole, sucking you into a prolonged state of disinterest. Turn off the television or computer and start moving around until you find something better to occupy you.
  • Fill schedule holes. Too much time is often worse than no time at all. It can be difficult to adjust to the boredom when you suddenly have a schedule vacuum. I often find myself getting irritated during holiday periods where my normally busy schedule empties. Spend a few minutes to fill schedule holes to prevent boredom in the first place.
  • Become your own cheerleader. I’ve been bored due to a temporary lack of confidence. Who wants to work hard towards a goal when you’ve been dealt an upsetting blow to your belief that you will succeed? Take some time to review your wins and high points so that you can restore some confidence and keep moving.
  • Meditate. This has become my default activity in cases of extreme boredom. Check out the popular article I wrote for ZenHabits about how to do it (and why).
  • Journal. Open up a word document and just start writing. This works similarly to meditation, although it is a bit more active and less imaginative.
  • Add a new challenge. If you find yourself consistently bored, this usually means you have a section of time where you don’t have an activity that meets your needs. Add a new goal, challenge or hobby to fill up the time.

These are just a few of the methods I use regularly when I have to combat boredom. But these are just suggestions. The best way to combat boredom is to understand why your bored. I’ve found that boredom usually has one of these five root causes. Know the cause and your closer to a cure:

  1. Procrastination – You aren’t bored, just procrastinating. Figure out what tasks you are putting off and nuke the procrastination.
  2. Lack of Useful Energy – Boredom isn’t the same as exhaustion, but it occurs when you have an abundance of one form of energy but are exhausted in the energy you would find useful. I’ve had this happen when I can’t get myself to keep working, but I don’t feel physically tired. Find an activity that will use the energy you have an abundance of. This could mean doing something physical after spending all day writing or doing something creative after an entire day of churning out boring code.
  3. Schedule Gaps – Your schedule has suddenly changed and you don’t have the flurry of busyness to protect you anymore. Sometimes the answer is to quickly add more tasks. Other times you need to settle into the discomforting quiet and use this time for some reflection.
  4. Environmental Obstacles – Waiting in line, taking a long plane ride, forced away from an internet connection for a week. This kind of boredom usually just requires you to be creative until the situation changes.
  5. Lack of Motivation – You don’t have the motivation to do what you should do to eliminate boredom. In short periods, this problem can usually be overcome by using a simple motivation trick. In longer periods, this needs to be addressed with some serious reflection, goal setting and reestablishing your priorities.

You can use the first tips I suggested for overcoming boredom, or you can devise your own once you know the root of the problem. What are your tips for overcoming boredom?

Image courtesy of flickr


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18 Responses to “Eliminate Boredom With These 12 Tips”

  1. Nice post Scott.

    My almost-8 and almost-10 year old have between them:
    An iPod
    A Nintendo DS Lite with the puppy game
    A PS2
    A TV with 17 channels
    A DVD library of maybe 30 titles
    A book library of over 70 titles
    All the art materials in the world
    A small garden
    Bicycles
    Tennis racquets

    When I was almost-10, I had:
    A library ticket
    A TV with 5 channels
    Limited access to my brother and sister’s small collection of records
    A big garden
    Some planks and barrels to make forts
    An ‘Action Man’ with a dented head

    The phrase “I’m bored” is banned in my house!

  2. ko says:

    I think these suggestions are great, but what if you really don’t know what you want? It seems like knowing that first bullet point is crucial.

    Perhaps you can discuss how to find out what you want, so that the work/life balance doesn’t feel like a treadmill.

  3. Steve Olson says:

    Scott,

    How do I deal with boredom?
    Usually I just grab six pack of bud, a sausage pizza, lie on the couch, and watch Star Trek reruns.

    I’m just kidding :-) That was a stab at humor.

    I try to find time to read blogs and write posts. If I force myself to sit down and start reading and writing, my boredom disappears. The strange thing is… there is still something in my subconscious mind that resists sitting down at the computer and starting to write, and I have force my way past it. Once I begin, my boredom disappears in a few minutes.

  4. Kali says:

    No wonder your never boring, Scott!

  5. Scott Young says:

    Kali,

    Thanks.

    Steve,

    Force your way past it. Always a good suggestion!

  6. [...] Scott H Young » Eliminate Boredom With These 12 Tips Here are some tricks I’ve found to help expose the real culprit behind a feeling of boredom and get back to your normal self. (tags: productivity) [...]

  7. List Extravaganza: 5000 tips on 100 lists

    I set myself the challenge to compile a list of lists, counting down from 100 to 1. The items on the list deal with self-improvement, productivity, language, money, entrepreneurship, leadership, simplicity, love, blogging, health and the environment. O…

  8. [...] Eliminate Boredom With 12 Tips by Scott Young [...]

  9. Hi!

    When I am bored, I get a pair of chopsticks and start playing anything available such as a cup or the kettle or a bowl or pan and make tunes.

    I walk about on my heels to improve my calf muscles. I dance to Irish music, or do some sit ups to improve my figure.

    I eat marzipan or crisps.

    I also like to improve my typing speed by typing certain phrases over and over again which contain all the letters of the alphabet. I keep going for one minute. I am up to 103 wpm now with quite good accuracy; i.e. 3 mistakes.

    I like to write short stories, sonnets or poetry (Amazon Shorts) and I have written thirty of them now.

    Things like that…

    Regards,

    Barbara

  10. [...] Eliminate Boredom With 12 Tips by Scott Young [...]

  11. Tan-Tan says:

    Actually, boredom IS the lack of things to do…or rather, the difficulty to keep attention…

    “Rather I’ve found boredom is usually mislabeled to disguise a different problem. This is why most attempts to stop boredom don’t work, because they don’t address the real problem.”

    THAT, my friend, is called PROCRASTINATION to be more accurate :D

  12. [...] actual cause of boredom was. So I searched for overcoming boredom in google and found this site: Eliminate Boredom With These 12 Tips Scott H Young First he lists common causes of boredom and the first one was spot on for me. I had never heard it [...]

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  14. Vasco B says:

    I finally finished my own series on how to overcome boredom. Here it is: http://myquestforgrowth.blogspot.com/search/label/How%20to%20overcome%20boredom

    How do you like it?

  15. [...] are quite a few articles online about eliminating boredom and many of them have good suggestions for combating [...]

  16. Anuj says:

    I am really glad to read your post. Very impressive and effective tips you share with us to get rid of boredom. All tips are good but i like 2 tip the most. Thanks

  17. m. says:

    here is a list that I did over the last ten years:
    1.learn a new langauge
    2.learn crocheting
    3.learn knitting
    4.embroidering
    5.sewing
    6.painting (even held a gallery)
    7.read a novel
    8.read all the harry potter books
    9.read about physical and mental health and how to maintain them
    10.workout
    11. yoga (hurt my neck)
    12. get a mac if you are a windows user and learn the basics
    13. learn how to put a pc together and how to maintain it
    14. helped university student to better understand projects and 15. therefore achieve higher credits… that took about 4 years on its own…
    15. learned how to edit sound files
    16. learned how to edit videos.
    17. learned how to edit images .. photoshop
    18. teach photoshop (volunteering)
    19. teach video editing (volunteering)
    20. teach sewing and crafting (volunteering for 5-6 hours weekly)
    teach and teach ….
    now i don’t what to learn anymore…

    i started a business coz i found my self often bored and doing pointless things….it has been over two years now since i left a conference to find my self in a sewing machines shop.. and fell in love with the machines they had… i took lessons then kicked off a pretty good business… i have customers from different countries buying my stuff… pretty good but the problem now is that its exhausting… (money is not a target here even though its rewarding)

    now i am more tired than i was bored coz i filled my time 100% of stuff to do here and there besides my job…

    taking 10 days off everything takes me back to what I wanna really do! sometimes switching from a smart phone to a classic one keeps away all the distrations and pointless over socializing via these little demons that has taken over the young and old.. it helps you to see a clearer over all image of what you have become and reflecing on how productive you were compared to your current situation..

    even though I teach in a school, educate alot of people around me both adults and teenagers and get government paid workshops to attend in fancy places… yet i found my self depressed!!! rather than bored!! sometimes scared!! what if i age before i make a difference? what is if lost my health suddenly? what if and what if……

    prayer helps to calm me down.. it does but I feel there is something missing.. there is still a huge gap within me… I took this descision and I have set a target now on the 9th day of my 10 days off..
    I will search for a task to do which with i will contribute to humanity … like scientific research in health issues for example … (fame is not a target)

    for that I need to dig in the books ( will give my self a year before I can give my contribution a title)

  18. […] Eliminate Boredom With 12 Tips by Scott Young […]

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