Beat the Working From Home Blues: Things to Do When You're Bored
Business| By Faith Campbell | September 1, 2020
Monotony can be a real issue when working from home, so break up the daily routine and escape that Groundhog Day feeling with these things to do when bored.
Wake up, get ready, head to the office. It’s a familiar routine but as many of us continue to work from home and the “office” is now just a few steps from bed, each day can start to feel the same. If you’re stuck in a rut, change things up and try this list of interesting things to do when bored at home.
Break Your Routine
While establishing a routine was essential when working from home was new, it’s now time to bring a little diversity to your days. Though your work responsibilities may be hard to shift, mixing up your schedule can be as simple as going for a walk at lunchtime instead of in the morning. “Change it up and put it in your calendar,” says executive coach Sharyn Coughlan. “This helps you stay focused on the task at hand and allows you to look forward to and switch off in your scheduled breaks.”
Master Something New
“Learning a new skill or working on a project helps shift our focus from the mundane and can both challenge and inspire us,” says performance psychologist David Barracosa. “This is something that we can do for ourselves both personally and professionally.”
A jigsaw or 3D puzzle offers a distraction you can come and go from whenever you have spare time, while becoming fluent in a foreign language (try the Duolingo app) or learning to knit requires daily practice that can help make each day feel different. On a professional level, universities offer a range of online courses if you’re hoping to use the time to upskill.
What To Try
Maximise Your Downtime
When you do manage to finish work for the day, it’s easy to settle on the couch, turn on the TV and have a glass of wine. But how many nights in a row have you done that? What you found relaxing before – when you spent all day chatting and interacting with colleagues – might now feel as monotonous as your work routine. Time stretches when you feel bored so try to schedule different activities each night. You may not be able to go out to a restaurant but you can spend a couple of hours making an elaborate dinner. If your gym is closed, sign up to a regular online exercise class and sweat it out in the living room. With a full calendar, binge-watching TV on the weekend will feel like a treat once more.
What To Try
Move and Breathe
If you’re missing the feel-good rush after your daily run but can’t find the motivation to exercise, Coughlan recommends starting small. “Slow, rhythmic breathing clears the mind and energises the spirit,” she says. “If you’re lethargic and heavy and can’t seem to get yourself going, stand at your window and take in some fresh air. Open your arms and expand your chest as you breathe in through your nose, then gently release with a slow and full exhale. Take 6 to 12 comfortable breaths.” It sounds simple – and it is – but focusing on your breath can reduce stress and help improve your mood.
Check in With Friends
“With the social distancing and restrictions that are in place, it’s important we bounce off other people and their energy to help break up the day,” says Barracosa. Seeing a colleague regularly on team videoconferences is different from casual office interactions. If you have time, call a friend from the office to chat for 10 minutes about anything but work – pets, family, TV shows or sport. You can even send a meeting invitation to keep things short and sweet. And don’t feel guilty! It’s the same time you’d take to grab a coffee when working at the office.
It’s particularly easy to fall into a rut if you live alone, so don’t be shy about calling, texting or catching up with friends online. “Organising a virtual Friday afternoon social catch-up can provide a different energy that balances against our to-do list,” says Barracosa.