Do you work in an office? Are you contractually obliged to be at your

desk from 8-4 (or similar)? If so, it’s likely that at least some of

the time, you’ll be feeling bored. Some days, there just isn’t quite

enough to fill the hours (or you convince yourself into believing


A quick Google search for “bored at work”

will give you plenty of ideas for pointless, time-wasting activities

that could amuse you for all of two minutes. But why not take boredom

as a signal to start on some productive, positive action?

Here are seven great things to do at work if you’re feeling bored – all of which will help you advance towards your goals.

  1. Improve Your Skills

    job you work in, it’s likely that you can brush up your skills. Many

    offices have textbooks and manuals relating to the job that you can


    If you can’t directly improve your work skills, how about

    learning the ins-and-outs of Microsoft Word, or Powerpoint, or your

    email program? Having a strong grasp of the computer software you use

    daily can help save you a surprising time and make you more productive.

  2. Help Someone Else

    you’re sitting twiddling your thumbs because you have nothing to do,

    chances are that someone else in the office is running around like a

    headless chicken, wondering how on earth they’re going to get

    everything done.

    Spotted someone quietly panicking about their

    workload? Go over and ask if there’s anything you can help with – maybe

    photocopying some documents for them, organizing a mail-out, or even

    just running out to the store to get them a sandwich at lunch time.

    Do it because you’re a nice person, not just because you’re hoping they’ll return the favor some day!

  3. Ask Your Manager For More Work

    you regularly have too little work, or if it’s all so unchallenging

    that you can whiz through it on a Monday morning despite your hangover,

    then talk to your line manager or boss.

    Try not to give the

    impression that you’ve been sitting around doing nothing for weeks

    (oddly, bosses react badly to this), but mention that you’ve found the

    workload a little lighter than usual. If you know about any upcoming

    projects that you could get involved with, try suggesting this. It

    could be a great chance to make progress towards the next level in your


  4. Ask To Cut Your Working Hours

    on how much you like your job, and how much of your salary you need,

    another option is to ask to cut down the hours which you work.


    example, you might want to do a four-day week (and cut your pay to 80%

    of its current level). This could give you time to write a novel, start

    a new business, or simply readdress your work life balance.


    you do go down this route, ask if you can do it for a month on a trial

    basis. That way, if either you or your boss feels it isn’t working out,

    it’s easy to go back to the old arrangement.

  5. Keep An “Odd Jobs” List

    are always little jobs that need doing which, for one reason or

    another, we keep putting off. These might be dull, low-priority, fiddly

    tasks. Sometimes, they’ll only take 15 or 20 minutes each.


    a running list of all these small, non-urgent tasks, and when you end

    up with downtime at work, challenge yourself to tick off as many as

    possible. It’ll keep you from getting bored, and often getting these

    jobs off your mind can make you feel a lot less stressed or frustrated

    about work.

  6. Tidy Your Desk

    task that most of us put off is tidying our desk. When you don’t have

    much to do at work, take the time to clear all those stacks of paper

    and file them properly. Chuck away any junk that’s accumulated in your

    desk drawers. Replenish your stationary supplies, if necessary.


    in a tidy environment where you can easily lay hands on everything you

    need will do wonders for your stress levels and state of mind. Keeping

    your desk clean and tidy also suggests that you’re an organized,

    efficient person – definitely a good message to send to your boss!

  7. Socialize With Colleagues

    quiet day at work is a good chance to socialize with colleagues. This

    can help you in your career (people are more likely to support and help

    those who they’re friendly with and who they feel warm towards). It can

    also help you to enjoy your job – wouldn’t you rather work in an office

    where the people around you are friends, rather than strangers?


    if you feel you have little in common with your colleagues, you might

    find surprising points of connection. Take the time to go for lunch

    with someone, or just to ask the person sitting next to you how their

    day’s been. Please Note: Use some tact with this one. You don't want to

    become the office gossip or someone that prevents others from getting

    their work done!

How do

you use your down-time at work productively? Do any of the above tips

work for you, or do you have some of your own to add?

Written on 4/20/2009 by Ali Hale.Ali

is a professional writer and blogger, and a part-time postgraduate

student of creative writing. If you need a hand with any sort of

written project, drop her a line ( or check out her

website at Aliventures.

Photo Credit: Big C Harvey