I Keep a List of Things to Do When Bored (You Should Too)

I no longer mind the waiting room.

Your Time in the Waiting Room

The receptionist said it would be a few minutes, but a few minutes has quickly turned into a half-hour. And having finished scrolling through social media about 15 minutes ago, you now find yourself incredibly bored.

The Smaller Waiting Room

“The doctor can see you now. Come on back.”

An hourglass in front of a red background.
An hourglass in front of a red background.
Photo by Daniele Franchi on Unsplash

My (Many) Experiences With Waiting

As a self-diagnosed (and recovering) hypochondriac, I’ve spent a lot of time in waiting rooms. And I’ll tell you what, regardless of doctor type — dermatologist, cardiologist, gastroenterologist, general physician, you name it — the story above has been my experience more often than not.

Reading Proved Ineffective

For a while, I brought a book with me. But, focusing on a book proved challenging in the first waiting room. What with the TV in the corner blaring House Hunters and the occasional, but frequent enough, angry outbursts by irritated patients, there was too much going on to get any real reading done.

The Bored List

In David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done, he mentions having a list of things to do when you’re bored — a Bored List. On such a list would be things like:

  • Deposit check
  • Tidy desk
  • Organize files

Convert Boredom Into Productivity

I love this idea of having a Bored List. A literal list of things you can do when you’re bored.

Next time you’re stuck in a waiting room, tackle your Bored List.
Next time you’re stuck in a waiting room, tackle your Bored List.
Photo by R O on Unsplash

My Bored List

I’ve taken Allen’s idea and have applied it to my own day-to-day. I have a Google Doc that I use to plan my schedule. At the top of that doc is a section specifically designated for bored tasks.

  • Delete apps I no longer use
  • Clean up the files in my Google Drive *requires service
  • Look up new low-carbohydrate snacks to try *requires service

Channel Your Energy Into the List

I keep the list short — around one to four items max — purely for preference’s sake. Any longer and it would start to feel overwhelming. As I complete one task, I remove it from the list. And when I come across something new that should be on it, I add it on.

Moving Forward With Your Bored List

In situations of captive boredom, it helps to have a list of menial things you can do to make use of your time. You won’t always be at your desk so I recommend having the list on your phone or in a notebook that you take everywhere with you.

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