Wondering What to Do When You’re Bored? Here Are 75 Fresh Ideas
Set off with or without colored pencils to sketch en plein air.
100+ Creative Things to Do When You’re Bored to Pass the Time
Stuck inside and getting antsy? Try one of these fun activities.
The doldrums hit us all eventually. When you’ve run through all the best movies on Netflix, you find yourself pacing between the fridge and the couch and the walls start to feel a little closer together than they’ve ever been before, you know the dreaded boredom monster has come knocking. But don’t worry — you’re not alone! Boredom comes for us all eventually, and it can feel impossible to find creative ways to entertain yourself once you’ve gotten into that rut.
Instead of sitting around on your phone getting lost in the news and social media (ahem, doomscrolling), pivot to some fun things you can do at home or in your own backyard. We’ve rounded up the best things to when you’re bored, many of which require little to no money or extra materials. From board games and self-care to getting into gardening (or indoor houseplants!) and organizing or optimizing your space, these unique activities will keep your brain stimulated and your body busy.
Fun activities to do when stuck inside
- Play an instrument. If you don’t know how, this is the perfect time to learn how to pluck out your favorite tune on the piano or guitar.
- Write a short story. Or an essay. Or a play — anything that’s out of your comfort zone.
- Do a deep dive on a subject that interests you. If you find yourself continuously drawn to a specific subject like Impressionism or the animals of Amazon rainforest, set up a queue of documentaries, articles or books on the topic.
- Fill out a crossword puzzle. Go solo, or turn it into a fun family activity if everyone’s just laying around.
- Try Origami.Don’t get intimidated — there are plenty of online tutorials to give you a hand.
- Play a board game. Turn off the TV and challenge the family to a board game. Introduce the kids to a classic like Chutes and Ladders or Monopoly, or try a newer one like Settlers of Catan that you can all figure out together.
- Put together a puzzle. When you’ve got lots of time on your hands, get your hands busy. It’ll take your mind off boredom, and completing a big puzzle feels great.
- Watch a rom-com marathon. We’re not afraid to admit it, romantic comedies have stolen our hearts. Don’t forget the popcorn.
- Sing along to some Disney songs. Get your endorphins flowing by taking it back to childhood. Belt out your favorite Disney songs!
- Plan your next getaway. Don’t just daydream about getting away from it all. Do one better and actually look up plane tickets and hotel rooms.
- Build a fort. Kids know this already: The couch cushions or a few chairs and blankets make an awesome wonderland. Embrace your inner child, or let yours show you the ropes.
- Try new outfits. Even if you haven’t gotten new clothes in a minute, creating different outfits can make your wardrobe feel fresh. Mix it up so you’ll be ready to wow on your next social outing.
- Write a letter. In the age of text messages and FaceTime, we don’t write out our feelings very often. Get out some nice paper and spread some love to a friend or family member.
- Watch a sports game. No sports on live TV? Stream some classic games.
- Call a friend. If you’re usually a text communicator, pick up the phone or video call a faraway pal. The real-time connection can make you feel closer.
- Watcha performance. Instead of turning on another reality show, watch an online opera, ballet or symphony.
- Learn a new language. Thanks to apps like Duolingo, you can stretch your mental muscles wherever you are.
- Watch a solo movie. Grab whatever snacks you crave, hoard the couch and laugh or cry as loud as you want: Movies make an excellent date night for one.
- Have a dance party. Turn on some tunes and get those socks hoppin’. Throw it back with oldies from your glory days or find some hot new bops to shake your booty.
- Learn some popular moves. Download the Tik Tok app and challenge yourself to learn the trending choreography all the kids are doing.
- Play a video game. If you don’t have a gaming console, try some of the fun games on your phone’s app store.
Creative things to do indoors
- Tie-dye an outfit. Who doesn’t love a craft you can wear? If you don’t know where to begin, check out our step-by-step guide for beginners!
- Paint a picture. Unwind with a DIY sip and paint — there are so many painting tutorials on YouTube. Plus, you can pick up a solid set of water colors for under $10.
- Start scrapbooking. Relive your favorite vacations and childhood memories as you preserve them for posterity in a fun, personalized photo album.
- Make pottery. For a craft that gets your hands pleasantly dirty and results in something pretty and useful, try throwing some homemade pottery.
- Make jewelry that matches your style. With the right DIY jewelry kit, it’s unbelievably easy to update your collection.
- Learn a how to do new hairstyle.We’d save anything involving scissors for the professionals, but French braids, creative ponytails and space buns are all super easy to master.
- Start a new book. If you’ve run through your TV queue, go analog. Try one of the best books of 2021 to transport yourself to another world or join the GH Book Club.
- Download an audiobook. If you have a hard time focusing your attention enough to read in print, try audiobooks for listening on the go or when doing chores or cooking a meal. The best of the best will make the hours fly by.
- Listen to a new podcast. If you’ve never tried podcasts, there’s a whole world out there for you to discover. From true crime podcasts to comedy podcasts, there’s a pod for every taste.
- Try a coloring app. Adult coloring books are available in-stores and in mobile app stores, so you can get in on the fun right from your couch. Start with Colorfy and Happy Color.
- Make a custom photo book. You don’t need the talent of Michelangelo to create a memorable photo book. A variety of online services can help you collect your photos into a beautiful keepsake.
- Change up your décor. From the bedroom to living room to kitchen, even just rearranging your furniture or moving tchotchkes around a little will feel fresh.
- Make some wall art. You don’t need to be a master painter to DIY some of these fabulous wall decor ideas.
- Whip up a new recipe. Stop opening and closing the fridge hoping new snacks will magically appear. Take matters into your own hand and make your own tasty treat.
- Craft a complex meal. To fill a dreary afternoon, dive into a complicated cooking project. Create a four-course meal, make pasta from scratch, or just try your hand at a cuisine you’ve never made before.
- Bake cookies. Choose a healthy cookie recipe to learn a new way to throw down in the baking aisle.
- Learn cake decorating. If you’re in awe of the gorgeous creations at your local bakery or on one of zillions of baking shows, get in on the game. Cake decorating kits can help your make your own masterpiece.
- Make homemade ice cream. Give Ben and Jerry a run for their money and customize your sundae. Simply combine your favorite ingredients in an ice cream maker and grab a spoon.
- Indulge in a sundae bar. Set out ice cream and toppings like candy, mini chocolate chips, shaved chocolate, sprinkles, various syrups and whipped cream — the sky’s the limit. If it’s cold out, turn it into a hot cocoa bar instead.
- Eat breakfast for dinner. Go for pancakes, omelettes, eggs and bacon, the works. Don’t forget the mimosas or Bloody Mary’s and eat in your pj’s to really go for it.
- Build a gingerbread house. They’re not just for the holiday season anymore. Just don’t eat all of your materials before putting on the finishing touches.
- Work on your wish list. Go ahead, dream big for the next holiday. Put together a wish list of items (or experiences) you have your eye on, so you won’t be caught off guard when Santa comes around.
- Become a YouTube or TikTok star. Pretend you’re Julia Child and film your own cooking show, or teach the camera how to DIY a craft or organization technique. The lifestyle of the rich and famous awaits.
- Put together a care package. Take the focus off your own doldrums by making a friend or family member feel extra special. Mail them a package full of their favorite things (perhaps some of our favorite wellness gifts?).
- Write to a deployed soldier. Many military members who are deployed far from home can get homesick, especially if they don’t have family or friends who write to them. Help connect them with someone who cares by writing a solider a letter.
Relaxing stress-relief activities
- Make a gratitude list.It’s easy to get dragged down by the ongoing barrage of bad news, but reflecting on all of the good in your life can help balance the equation.
- Write out your goals. Drag yourself out of the present moment by looking to the future. Take some time to reflect on where you want to be in a year, five years, or beyond.
- Unplug your devices. Endless scrolling on social media can certainly take a toll on your mental health. Break free from the temptation by giving yourself an hour a day away from your phone.
- Do a random act of kindness. Whether it’s as simple as a paying for coffee of the person standing behind you in line or picking up your partner’s favorite ice cream, it feels good to make someone else’s day.
- Give knitting a try.There’s a reason this craft is a favorite of grandmas everywhere — many find the repetitive motion very calming.
- Paint your nails.Create an at-home spa experience with a mani-pedi. Choose a trending hue, add an interesting design and finish it off with a shiny, eye-catching top coat.
- Take a bubble bath. Embrace your free time with a mountain of bubbles and a few drops of essential oil for extra relaxation. Bring a good book in there with you, if you don’t mind it getting a tad damp.
- Put on a face mask. For a quick pick-me-up, apply a relaxing face mask. There’s one for just about every skin concern, including dry skin, acne, or to brighten up a dull complexion. Whatever ails you, there’s a mask for that.
- Give your sweetie a massage. Grab some relaxing lotions or essential oils, get in your coziest robe and turn on some zen tunes for an at-home spa day.
- Start journaling. Time will fly by as you jot down your thoughts in a journal. If you want to go even deeper, venture into the artistic world of bullet journals.
- Listen to a meditation video. When your mind starts to spiral, turn inward. Meditation videos can easily guide you through mindful exercises and techniques to hop off the anxiety hamster wheel.
- Try living room yoga. In addition to strengthening your whole body, yoga helps center your mind. You can do it at home with no equipment using a free app, too. Just don’t push yourself further than you’re comfortable, especially if you’re new to the practice.
- Do Zumba. There’s something about this structured dance party that is sure to lift your spirits.
- Work your core. Pump out a few core exercises to establish a strong inner foundation. Strong abs aren’t just cosmetic; they can help with posture, back pain and more.
- Try a new exercise routine. We’ve all got those areas that could use a little love. Give a new workout a try to tire out your body so your brain has less energy to ruminate.
- Give a pep talk. Sometimes adding a jolt of positivity to someone else’s life can make your own seem brighter, too. Call a friend, a family member or just pump up the cat’s ego (not that she needs it).
- Have a lights-out night. For a creative date night (or date night for one) pretend the electricity went out. Build a fire in the fireplace, light some candles or grab a flashlight and tell spooky stories or just reconnect in the dark.
- Walk down memory lane. Pull out old photo albums or scroll way back in your social media feeds to relive happy times. Swap stories with your sweetheart about the lives you’ve led or just reminisce over where you’ve been and where you’re going.
- Sleep somewhere new. When you can’t get away, take an overnight in your own guest room or swap rooms with the kids. It’ll feel like a novel experience, without leaving your house.
- Vent your frustrations. Look, sometimes you just need to whine. Open the notes app on your phone, ring up a trusted pal for a good, old-fashioned complain fest or just mutter to yourself until you’ve aired all of your grievances. You’ll feel better once it’s out in the open.
Organizing activities to pass time
Cleaning your home is a great way to be productive when you’re feeling bored.
- Straighten up your junk drawer. That drawer or space where you put everything you don’t know where else to put? Yeah, it could definitely use some organizing.
- Move your furniture around. You’d be surprised how different your room could look with a few of your pieces of furniture swapped. Think of it like a room renovation on a $0 budget.
- Move some art. If you’re sick of staring at the same walls, change them! Rearrange your gallery wall, put some bedroom art into the living room and vice versa or pick up a new piece or two to refresh your space.
- Meal prep for the week. Fans of this meal prepping say that it has helped them eat healthier in the long run, not to mention cut down on mid-week stress.
- Clean out your attic. Or your basement. Or your crawlspace, or that one place you shove the boxes of stuff you rarely use.
- Clean your dishwasher. Did you know that your dishwasher has a filter? And that you should be cleaning it regularly? It’s actually really satisfying watching the debris rinse off your filter. A squeaky clean dishwasher is more effective and efficient too, so that’s a win-win all over.
- Wash your washing machine. Just because you clean your clothes in it doesn’t mean your washing machine doesn’t also need a deep-clean. Add it to your spring, summer or just free afternoon cleaning schedule.
- Scour your whole house. When we get bored, we often feel helpless. But tackling even the simplest task, like doing that stack of dishes you’ve been ignoring, can boost your mood immediately. Start with these easy cleaning tips or try a full ultimate cleaning schedule to tackle every inch of the house.
- Shine the windows. You’ll be amazed how much brighter things look with sparkling clean windows. Let the sunshine in with these tips for the best results.
- Clean your pillows. When was the last time you washed your pillows? Yeah, we thought so. Give them a deep clean for an even better night’s sleep.
- Wash your makeup brushes. When was the last time you cleaned all of your makeup tools? Yes, even your ride-or-die Beautyblender could use a scrub. It can help cut down on breakouts, too.
- Sort through your purses. While switching between bags or purses, we all leave stuff in the bottom (receipts, gum wrappers, pens, etc). Clean out your purses and you just might find that lost lipstick — or at least some spare change.
- Clean out your closet. Go through your clothes to rediscover some old favs and make room for new ones. If you haven’t worn it in the past year, consider posting it on a clothing resale app or donating it to someone in need.
- Organize your kitchen. Already mastered the KonMari Method? You’re ready to dive into the wonderful world of drawer and cabinet organizers. You’ll never notice the clock ticking away.
- Refresh your mantel. Make your fireplace the centerpiece of your home by decorating the mantel for the season. Rotate in a fresh crop of family photos or add a pop of color with fresh or silk flowers.
- Spruce up your outdoor space. Turn your backyard into a new room. Grab some pretty and functional outdoor decor for stylish al fresco get-togethers.
- Spot-treat your white shoes. White shoes pretty much go with every outfit, but only if they stay that way. Making your Converse or Vans look like new will make you feel like a new person, too.
- Shop for new essentials. Whether you need to stock up on cleaning products or your bed is ready for new sheets, grab a notepad or your Notes app and take a lap around the house to see what you need.
- Give an old piece new life. Maybe you’ve got an old chair that never quite fit your style, or odds n’ ends that could become a quirky new decoration. Go ahead, DIY it.
- Tackle a trouble spot. You know that corner that hasn’t been organized since you moved in? Now’s the time to turn it into a highlight of your home.
Outdoor activities to do when you’re bored
- Head outside.Even if it’s just to check the mail or take the dog around the block, a change of scenery can also change your outlook.
- Get lost in your hometown. Even if you think you know the area you live in like the back of your hand, there’s probably a hidden gem or two right under your nose. Do a quick search for parks, walking tours or outdoor spaces near you — your new favorite spot could just be just around the corner.
- Set up a blanket and gostargazing. You don’t have to wait for a meteor shower; dozens of constellations are visible on an average clear night.
- Go for a jog. Believe it or not, the sights and sounds of the great outdoors are even more beautiful when your endorphins are rushing.
- Light a campfire. Just don’t forget the marshmallows for S’mores!
- Watch a movie outdoors. With a projector and a couple of blankets, you can change the scenery for your movie night. Pop some popcorn and snuggle up if it gets chilly for a romantic evening.
- Dine al fresco. Take your lunch to the backyard or patio to get a little vitamin D while you indulge. A glass of wine or a beer doesn’t hurt either.
- Go for a long walk. Plan a route past your favorite landmarks, a local park or just around the neighborhood. Stop and smell the flowers – literally.
- Take your pet to the park. Whether you have a lively dog, an adventurous cat or even a sweet rabbit, they’ll appreciate getting some fresh air with their favorite person.
- Start a garden. Roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty in the backyard or even your windowsill, if you don’t have outdoor space. In addition to the de-stressing benefits, all that digging quickly turns into a workout.
- Go for a bike ride. Take a tour of your surroundings and get some exercise in by taking your bicycle out for a spin.
- Take a drive. You don’t need a destination — just a great playlist and the open road.
- Hit the beach. Slather yourself in sunscreen, grab a beach towel and make your way to the shore for a day of fun in the sun. And don’t be afraid to swing by in the colder months — the crashing waves are the picture of zen.
- Have a backyard camp out. Pitch a tent and see your outdoor space in a whole new way. Or if the weather isn’t cooperating, do the same in your own living room.
- Go for a hike. Nature can be great medicine if you’re feeling down about the world in general. Grab a pal, lace up your sturdy hiking boots and hit the trails.
Selena is the entertainment and news editor for Good Housekeeping, where she covers the latest on TV, movies and celebrities. In addition to writing and editing entertainment news, she also spotlights the Hispanic and Latinx community through her work. She is a graduate of CUNY Hunter College with a B.A. in journalism and creative writing.
Lizz (she/her) is a senior editor at Good Housekeeping, where she runs the GH Book Club, edits essays and long-form features and writes about pets, books and lifestyle topics. A journalist for almost two decades, she is the author of Biography of a Body and Buffalo Steel. She also teaches journalism as an adjunct professor at New York University’s School of Professional Studies and creative nonfiction at the Muse Writing Center, and coaches with the New York Writing Room.
Wondering What to Do When You’re Bored? Here Are 75 Fresh Ideas
Boredom happens to the best of us, and usually it’s just a passing feeling. However, it’s not a condition to be trifled with—for example, a 2015 study showed that boredom can be so uncomfortable that humans will do everything from self-administer electric shocks to eat more M&Ms than usual, just to break up the monotony. Our advice: Step away from the shocks and sweets—if the ennui has become unbearable, consider more positive actions. We came up with a diverse list of ideas that includes everything from playing games and making art to vacation planning and house cleaning. Read on to find an activity that speaks to you, so you can get your joie de vivre back, stat.
1. Read A Book
The time to put down your phone and pick up a book is now. Psst: Any of these will keep you engrossed.
2. Play chess online
Chess is known to have many benefits for the brain, including improved memory and heightened creativity, and it’s just plain fun. Enjoy all the perks from home by playing a match online.
3. Try a virtual escape room
Your bored brain is begging for a challenge, and a virtual escape room fits the bill. Check out these six and give one a go.
4. Play solitaire
Dust off that pack of bicycle cards or play online—either way this easy-to-learn and super addictive card game is sure to keep you entertained.
5. Follow along with a makeup tutorial
Youtube has every look you’ve been curious about.
6. Create a “love map” of your significant other
The Gottman Institute assigns this as homework for couples, and we found it to be an interesting exercise.
7. Revise your resume with a little help from AI
Kickresume uses machine learning—utilizing resumes of people who’ve been hired in a range of industries—to help hone your profesh one-sheeter.
8. Plan a dream home reno on Pinterest
That perfect grey paint isn’t going to select itself.
9. Detail your car
10. Treat your furry friend to a massage
Rock Fido’s world with a spot of doggie acupressure, according to a certified canine massage therapist.
11. Refresh your LinkedIn profile
12. Visit a new botanical garden or park
Set off with or without colored pencils to sketch en plein air.
13. Organize your kitchen cupboards
These TikTok hacks yield maximum ROI for your effort.
14. Lowkey post your relationship on social media
Soft launching is the stage between “it’s complicated” and “please save the date for our nuptials.”
15. Work on a puzzle
A jigsaw puzzle might not seem like a particularly productive way of passing the time, but science disagrees. Research—like this 2018 study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience—has shown that this soothing activity can protect against cognitive decline.
16. Plan a vacation
Researching and planning a vacation is almost as fun as the trip itself, so go on and indulge your wanderlust (even if there’s no travel on the horizon).
17. Watch a movie
Here, a tried-and-true boredom buster for when you just don’t feel like reckoning with your messy closet. Bonus points if you bring a friend on board for a remote viewing.
Bored at home and talking to yourself? (We see you.) Put those deep thoughts down on paper so posterity has something to poke fun at.
19. Do yoga
If your basic yoga routine has grown tiresome, take things up a notch by adding some advanced poses to the mix.