Making a Bored To-Do list.

I know as grad students we all like to complain and whine about how we’re all so busy. We never have any free time, so we can’t do fun things and so on. Of course, the real truth is we’re not that busy. Sure, there are periods of time where it feels like there are never going to be enough hours to finish whatever you’re working on before the deadline. But then, there are other periods of time (take late last December for me) where there really isn’t much for you to do. And, even those grad students I know who claim to be the busiest still find time to hang out with family and friends, watch tv, read a book, or go for a run.

And today I’m talking about those times when you aren’t as busy as you could be, and a way to make those times more productive. Specifically, any of those moments where you sit around think “wow, I’m bored.” Or, you know, those times where you find yourself checking a few sites over and over again even though there’s nothing new, just for something to do. I’ve actually been really busy and productive recently, but there are still times where I’ve had this thought or done the constant refresh. This often happens when I’m stuck on a project waiting for an email before I can continue.

When I was thinking about this recently, I realized I also have a list of tasks that I wish I was more productive on, but that aren’t research related and thus rarely move very high up my list. So I’ve decided to make a “Bored To-Do List.” The idea behind this list, is a bunch of tasks that I wish I spent more time on, or (more likely) need to do more often, that I can pull from when I have some extra time and want to be productive.

So what sort of tasks am I going to have on my list?

  • Vacuuming my apartment
  • Washing the floors
  • Doing laundry
  • Finishing a project for my sister
  • Working on a fun coding project
  • Reading books
  • Cleaning off my desk
  • Cleaning out an email inbox
  • Going through folders/files on my computer

I guess there’s a pretty clear trend in the list of tasks I like to avoid (namely cleaning). But the point behind the tasks, are things I want to/should do more often, but don’t even plan on schedule into my time. I’m hoping by doing this, I can finally stop neglecting these tasks so much and finally devote some time to them.

I’m good at scheduling exercise into my day (there’s a few times a week where it’s ‘pre-scheduled’) otherwise I’d probably include that on my list as well. Really, I want any task I put on this list to be something I can work on for small amounts of time and that don’t require a lot of prep time to get started. It probably takes me less than 10 minutes to wash my floor (not a very big apartment), and I use a mop that has a spray bottle attached, so there’s no prep time.

What items would you put on your Bored To-Do list?

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