You’re at work, you finish everything for the day three hours early and now you have nothing to do. You can’t just scroll through Instagram or watch Netflix, since you’re in a professional setting. You’ve already gone to your boss to ask them if they have extra work for you to do, but alas, nothing. Who knew being bored at work sucked more than actually doing work? You don’t want to leave early, because those extra 50 bucks mean the difference between some new dress shoes and your old beat-up ones from eighth grade.
So, how do you pass the time when you’re bored at work?
1. Spend time on LinkedIn
Take advantage of LinkedIn. I’ve had a LinkedIn account for a while now because I felt obligated to, but I never realized its full potential until I started a full-time internship. I put a ton of professional info on my profile and found myself constantly updating it to make sure my online persona was as specific and accurate as possible. I made as many professional connections as I could, especially with the people at my internship. Who knows, they might become that crucial contact you need in the future when job searching. If you don’t have a LinkedIn, take 10 minutes out of your day to check it out.
2. Read up on industry news
I know that sounds incredibly boring, but don’t worry. You’ll learn so much about the industry you’re working in and its current events that you’ll impress your boss even more than you already have. “When I was bored, I tried to read movie reviews or industry news to help me on the job,” said University of Wisconson-Madison junior Katie Piel, who interned at a talent agency in Los Angeles this past summer. You can totally find some really great websites out there to help you stay updated, like Inc., Forbes and Thrive Global, and you’ll have access to tons of different articles if you just scroll through your LinkedIn feed. You’ll feel like a true captain of industry, and you’ve just let an hour pass.
3. Network, network, network
You can never do too much networking. You’re working in a company alongside employees with years of experience in the industry that you could potentially end up in someday. It’s a little daunting to approach someone out of the blue, but more often than not they’ll be happy to give some insight. “If there wasn’t much to do, I usually grabbed coffee with the other interns and partners to network,” said Cas Relucio, a senior from the UW-Madison that interned at accounting firm BDO. Not only will you make some valuable connections, but you might even make some lifetime friends. Sounds better that feeling bored at work for sure.
4. Go a little off the deep end
I always advocate for constantly learning something new, so there’s nothing wrong with delving into the deep world of Wikipedia. I found myself listening to the Hamilton soundtrack and wondered how Lin-Manuel Miranda got his start. One day, while researching Tesla I read up on Elon Musk, which got me lost in the pages of the Fermi paradox and extraterrestrial life (weird, I know). It may not necessarily apply directly to work, but you still learned something new. A win-win situation if you ask me.
5. Have a little educated fun
Girlboss Media, Upworthy, The Atlantic, Vox, Mashable and other similar websites are great places to learn new things about current events in an interesting way. Or, you could do a quiz on what kind of home you should live in based on your Starbucks coffee order. You’ll have endless possibilities, so find whatever floats your boat.
6. Check the things off your weeks-long to-do list
You’re already sitting at a desk in front of a computer. Why not buy the textbooks you need for the semester on Amazon now? “During work, I organized my life, planned trips, furnished my apartment from Amazon and filled out a bunch of applications for other jobs,” said University of Chicago graduate Maggi Kreisheh, a communications intern at University of Chicago Press. You’ll feel so much more accomplished after your work day. Just imagine relaxing with some Netflix when you get home because you’ve already completed your to-do list. Yes. Please.
7. Treat yourself to some ear candy
Why should you spend your drab day of work in silence? Spice things up with some music. Listen to new music on Spotify or a cool podcast. “The Dollap is a great American history podcast. It’s put on by two comedians who tell zany stories from America’s past. It’s the perfect way to pass an hour and a half,” said Joey Sestito, a University of Massachusetts-Amherst senior that interned at State Street. Don’t fret about being the only one in the office jamming out with your headphones. A lot of my colleagues had headphones in while they worked too, so that serves as a great way to make work more interesting.
8. Add some pizzazz to your workspace
Want to take another step forward in curing your workplace boredom? We’ve got you covered. From the ultimate fidget tool that’s workplace approved to yoga for your brain, you’ll never want to gouge your eyes out with a drill at work ever again.
9. Get up from your desk
My internship office had 22 floors and an array of restaurants in its basement. It was also located on Michigan Ave., one of Chicago’s most bustling streets. Whenever I got bored or restless, I’d take a lap in and around my building. I even discovered a shortcut to get to the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts. “Sometimes, I would drink as much water as I could and see how many times I’d go to the bathroom during the day,” said Sestito. Quirky, but hey, anything to get you off your desk. It’ll make you feel better to stay active and moving during the day.
10. Plan ahead
Whenever school starts back up again, I always find myself scrambling to get organized. I wanted to get ahead this year, so I spent some of the workday with my planner, my school schedule and a notebook. You could plan everything, from your friends’ next get-together to what you’re gonna eat for dinner tomorrow night. Either way, you’re now ahead of the game and ready to take on the coming weeks.