Need Something Productive to Do During Your Downtime? Here Are 6 Ideas

December 16, 2019 • April Miller


After spending days, weeks or even months with constant work responsibilities or travel, it’s shocking when you find yourself with nothing to do. When there’s a task at hand, it’s easy to lose yourself in work and let time slip away. It’s much harder when you’re watching the clock and waiting for something new to come along. Want to do something productive instead?

Whether you’re waiting to board a flight or experiencing a break at work, there’s always something you can do to pass the time. First, look around and see what’s near you. Then, you can think about what you usually do during the day and what’s coming next.

Check out six ideas of things you can do to stay productive during your downtime. You won’t need to experience long hours with nothing to do when you try these tips and see how time flies.

1. Clean the Surrounding Area

When was the last time you cleaned your desk? You might have a few candy wrappers behind your picture frames or a layer of dust on top of your computer monitor. Use your free time to clean your surrounding area, even if it just means tossing a candy bar wrapper on the airport seat next to you. You’ll feel productive and more comfortable once you clean your environment.

2. Learn Something New

Reading through an article on a topic you don’t know about will help you learn something new before your schedule picks up again. Learning something new reinvigorates your spirit and makes you feel a sense of accomplishment that’s missing when you’re bored. If you have more time, take free online courses to buff out your education and make you a more well-rounded individual.

3. Organize Your Email

While you’re busy, you probably experience emails flying into your inbox all day long. It might end up more cluttered at the end of each day, which makes people dread going through it. While you’re bored, organize your inbox with filters to direct what comes in every day. Everything will automatically sort itself out so you don’t get stressed with clutter.

4. Plan for the Future

Once you get the chance to pause, you can plan for your future while you catch your breath. Outline long and short-term goals with actionable steps. Figure out what matters to you in life and how to achieve your goals. You might decide to develop a new skill by the end of the year or chart your career so you have a defined professional vision for yourself.

5. Rehearse Your Elevator Pitch

You likely have a few stepping stones left to get you to the job of your dreams. What’s next in your career? To take that next step forward, you need to rehearse your elevator pitch that lands you a winning interview. Imagine the position you’ll interview for and discuss why you’re the best candidate for the position so you’re ready before you ever apply.

6. Focus on Your Health

Even if you only have five minutes to relax, spending that time on your health can make a big difference. Take a quick walk down the hall, learn how to meditate in any place or even eat a healthy snack. It adds up to five or more minutes than you would have spent on your health otherwise, which will help your mental and physical wellbeing.

Think About What Comes Next

What’s coming next in your life? You might have an upcoming meeting or a flight out of town. Prepare yourself however you can and do something productive in your free time. Review meeting materials, plan out what you’ll do after your land or whatever else you’ll need in the near future.

You’ll find that your free time zips by and you’re better off than if you’d sat in place, bored with nothing to do.