When you ask “what should I do today? I am bored,” you’re probably complaining because you find the experience unpleasant, but studies show keeping your mind engaged and active may even help prevent degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Here are a few dozen ideas of stuff to do when your bored brain is tormenting you with the thought of early degeneration. Some of these ideas are random things to do when you’re bored at work or in class, and others are more suitable for when you’re sitting at home with a perfectly good internet and car and no ideas, thinking “I’m so bored, I really just need something to do.”
If you’re a fantasy fan you can find great Tolkien and C.S. Lewis poetry online, and if you’re into the classics you can always start with something catchy like Poe’s The Raven or Tennyson’s Lady of Shalott.
2. Write Fan Fiction
This is a great hobby for people who are often bored in class, because you can spend endless amounts of time daydreaming about the story and working out plot points while sitting completely still or even while still automatically taking class notes. (Bonus points if you can write the story in your class notebook without alerting your teacher to the fact that you’re doing something other than class work.)
3. Become Bilingual
Coffee Break is great for when you’re just getting started, and you can find more resources at your library.
4. Write to a Pen Pal
Many international websites for email or snail mail penpals exist. These services are free and you can personally meet interesting people in different countries without leaving your house.
Idealistic people have often attempted to provide free online courses, which are often basic and scantily fleshed out but can still be a good introduction to a subject you never thought much about before.
6. Challenge your Mind
7. Enter a Contest
Do you draw graphic novels for fun and think they probably aren’t any good? Do you create masterpieces of modern jewelry from found items? Send away some samples to a contest. You shouldn’t expect to win a grand prize on your first go but you may get great impartial feedback from the judges that will help you win on future attempts.
8. Read a Book
Sites like Goodreads can give you book recommendations and reviews from like-minded people and can even help you keep lists of books you want to read, so that next time you shout “I’m bored!” you’ll have a ready-made boredom-busting list.
9. Write with your Non-Dominant Hand
Your penmanship will be extremely shaky at first. It takes a lot of concentration, though, so if you manage to take notes in class this way you can feel great about developing your fine motor skills while amusing yourself in a boring lecture. If someone exclaims over what bad handwriting you have, just smile and quote The Princess Bride: “I know something you don’t know… I am not left handed.”
10. Take class notes in Runes, IPA, Shorthand, or a Second Language
This strategy has the additional benefit of making you look really cool to anyone who sees your notes.
11. Read the News
It may be consistently dreadful, but at least it’s sensational.
12. Revamp your Wardrobe
Some clothes have an evil way of sneaking in even though they’re the total antithesis of your style. Favorites, on the other hand, wear out and need replacing. Take this opportunity to transform your wardrobe into the perfect manifestation of your personality.
13. Design Nail Art
When you’re sitting in class, it’s unlikely you’ll be allowed to perform a self-pedicure. But you can doodle nail-sized designs on the edge of your notebook, then try them out later when you’re reunited with your supplies.
14. Learn to Play Recorder
Probably the easiest serious musical instrument on the planet, the recorder fell into disrepute just about as soon as they started making it out of translucent plastic. But there are actually a lot of perks to playing something that can perform instant transformations between an instrument of beautiful music, a kiddie toy, and a wonderful tool for annoying anyone you especially hate.
15. Get serious about Origami
Tutorials are plentiful on video sites, and some practice will make you a competent origami master in hours that could have been otherwise wasted in soul-crushing boredom. And if you get really serious you might even be able to…
16. Invent Origami Patterns
Who knows? You might just become the next great origami designer.
17. Write to-do Lists
Sitting in class with a million worries driving you crazy can really make it impossible to care about the day’s lesson. Scrawl a long list in your margin to lighten your mind.
18. Test drive a Hobby
According to Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, “the number one reason knitters knit is because they are so smart that they need knitting to make boring things interesting.” Some teachers will even let you get away with knitting in class. Other hobbies you might try include:
19. Debate Club
You may find a local club, or there are debate forums online where you can go to trade logic with people on the other end of the political spectrum.
20. Drama Club
Or, if there are no amateur theatricals in your area, consider taking an acting class. It can work wonders for your self-confidence.
21. Music Lessons
Hours of boredom can be neatly sidestepped if you have to spend all your free hours practicing. You won’t have time to say “I’m bored,” or at least you won’t hear yourself over the music!
22. Start a Thriving Business
Websites such as Etsy allow you to set up shop for free and then sell all the quaint and individualized curios you can possibly dream up.
23. Trade Stocks
A lot of people get quite a thrill from the risk of financial ruin. You could be among them, although you will need a bit of capital to start out.
24. Try to decipher a Foreign Language Web Page
Then use Google Translate on it and see how close you got.
25. Practice your Typing
You can also compete with other speed typists for more of a competitive thrill.
26. Volunteer at a Local Animal Shelter
Shelters often desperately need volunteers to walk dogs or just spend time with them to help them learn to trust people again so they’ll be more adoptable.
27. Plant a Garden
If you have any outdoor space at all, even a porch or deck, you can find room for a pot or two.
28. Create a Terrarium
These are much cuter than gardens anyway, and stay green all year round!
It’s a totally legal treasure hunt!
30. Throw away old Stuff
Okay, maybe this doesn’t sound fun at first, but it can be satisfyingly cathartic. Plus, you’ll feel productive.
31. Make Resolutions
Even if it’s not New Years. If you break them you can look back and laugh, but if you keep them they can better your life.
32. Donate to Charity by playing a Game
A multitude of quizzes are available at freerice.com, and for every question you get right they’ll donate ten grains of rice!
33. Try out new Hairstyles
Whether it’s a new cut you’ve always wanted or just some new updos to break you out of a ponytail rut, some attention to your hair can really pay off.
34. Organize your Desktop
If you’re one of those people who dump everything on their desktop so you “won’t lose it” in the bowels of your computer somewhere, here’s an idea: create some folders on your desktop. Dump all your school projects and game files into them. Now you can stop losing things on your desktop!
35. Brighten Someone Else’s Day
This is so easy to do. Leave an extravagant tip for the waiter, or call a customer service number to report a great experience with the company’s personnel. You’ll feel good about yourself afterwards, promise.
If none of these things sound interesting to you, remember what G.K. Chesterton said: “There are no uninteresting things, only uninterested people.” And next time one of your friends complains, “I am bored; entertain me please,” you can send them this list and inspire them to live up to their potential instead of annoying you with their cries of “I am bored!” all afternoon.