Despite our best efforts, we sometimes end up extra time on our hands when we least expect it. Whether we’re traveling, anticipating something, or anything else, the best thing to speed things along is often to just kill time. There are hundreds of thousands of different ways to kill time, but your choices might be limited, depending on where you are.
Killing time isn’t always easy, even though it’s something that we tend to do naturally. We might feel the need to kill time if we have something really exciting planned in a few days. However, if we’re passionate enough, we might not feel like doing anything else!
In the remainder of this article, we’ll introduce you to some of the best ways to kill time, regardless of why you might need to do so. These time-killing activities are great in the short-term, but they’re not the greatest of long-term activities.
Daydreaming is one of the most reliable – and probably one of the oldest – ways to kill time. Getting lost in your own thoughts, pursuing random lines of reasoning, or even dozing off slightly is a great way to make the time pass faster.
The problem with daydreaming is that it’s not always as easy to get started. When we get a great daydream going, it can be a great way to polish off anywhere from a few good minutes to an hour or two, but sometimes we just can’t get the dream going. This can be especially problematic if we’re already very bored; instead of daydreaming, you’ll just end up thinking, “I’m bored” on repeat.
Daydreaming can backfire if we’re especially excited about something coming up, too. Imagine you’re going to a concert that you’re incredibly excited for. If you try to daydream, it’s likely that your thoughts will just turn to the show and how much you’re looking forward to it. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it might knock you out of the daydream itself.
Daydreaming isn’t just a reliable way to kill time. People who daydream a lot are proven to be happier and more intelligent, too.
While books, magazines, and newspapers aren’t seen quite as often nowadays outside of libraries and waiting rooms, they still exist, and they’re great ways to pass the time when you have a few extra minutes. If you have access to your smartphone, you can take this even further by doing things like:
- Purchasing and downloading popular titles
- Listening to an audiobook
- Reading something free online
- Checking global or local news stories
Smartphones are one of the most common tools used for killing time nowadays, so it’s likely that, if you’re still trying to kill time, you temporarily don’t have access to your smartphone. A newspaper or magazine is easy to pack into a purse or bag, as are small books. If you have access to an E-reader, this can be even more convenient, since you can fit hundreds of different book titles onto one portable device.
Watch a Movie
Since the inception of movies and television shows, TV has been some of the most robust and reliable ways to kill time. While film and TV aren’t always the most accessible ways to kill time depending on your location, they’re nearly foolproof if you can find something to put on that you enjoy.
If you don’t have access to the internet, cellular data, or cable, it can be much more challenging to find something to watch. However, if your device is robust enough, you can store movies and TV shows on it too. Additionally, while videos on physical disks are far less common nowadays, they do still exist.
If you don’t have a device that plays movies or TV shows on-demand, you might be able to luck out if you’re in a place with access to a TV, such as:
- Waiting rooms
- Some passenger airplanes
- Vehicles with DVD and Blu-Ray players
If all else fails, you can always listen to the radio. The radio doesn’t have the same level of attention-holding power that television does, but it’s certainly a decent alternative. Many smartphones can play radio stations, and if you don’t have access to your smartphone, you can even carry a small radio around with you. Listening to the radio is a great way to zone out and kill time while driving, too.
Listen to Music
Listening to music holds our attention in much the same way that listening to the radio and watching a movie does. The days of storing songs on smartphones and MP3 players are running out, but there are many services available that will allow you to stream or download music for a flat monthly rate.
For most people in the world, music is an essential part of their lives. Even among indigenous peoples and those in undeveloped countries, music has amazing value. It can bring people together, help people define themselves, spread messages, and inspire emotion in those who listen to it.
Not only is listening to your favorite music a great way to kill time, but the process of discovering new music is an excellent way to while away the hours, too. There are millions (if not billions) of songs out there available for listening to, and it’s nigh-impossible for one person to listen to them all in one lifetime.
Exercising might not be the most enjoyable activity for everyone, but you can’t deny that it has the added benefit of being good for you, too. While watching TV and daydreaming might be decent ways to pass the time, they don’t do anything for your bodily health on their own. Exercise, however, helps you work towards better long-term health, and it can make you feel good, too.
Of course, feeling (and looking) healthier in the long term is a great way to increase both your happiness and your confidence, but exercise helps you feel better in the short-term, too. Exercise releases endorphins, and these make you feel upbeat and happy. For this reason, exercise is a great way to fight boredom.
The one drawback of using exercise to kill time is that you can be severely limited by location. Running and jogging, for example, require a large area if you want to exercise correctly (or specialized machines or facilities). Walking doesn’t have strict space constraints, but it’s not as entertaining as more strenuous forms of exercise.
One of the things that really puts exercise above the rest as an option for boredom is that it can be combined with virtually any other non-physical activity on this list. Many people listen to music while exercising, and most gym facilities come equipped with televisions, too.
Exercise is only really an option when you’re bored at home and have nothing else to do, though. If you’re traveling, for example, and you’re bored on an airplane, you won’t have the space or supplies needed to exercise.
However, when you do have time and space to exercise, the things you can do to amuse yourself are endless. For example, there’s:
- Martial arts
- Running and jogging
- Many more
If you have a job that supports working ahead, a great way to use your time productively and get an edge up is to do a bit of extra work. Of course, since not all jobs support this, it’s not something that’s available to everyone. While you can always go into an office job on your day off and you may be able to take over a shift for someone else, this works best if you have work you can do from home.
If you’re someone who works entirely (or at least partly) of the time from home, picking up a bit extra to do is simple. While whether you’ll be paid for it or not isn’t quite so clear-cut, getting a bit ahead on work is a great way to stand out from your peers and prepare yourself for the week ahead at the same time.
Trivia and Brain Games
While not everyone enjoys trivia, brain games, puzzles, and other knowledge-based activities are great ways to kill time productively. Trivia and brain games help to exercise your brain, improving your memory and recall while you play.
What’s more, trivia and brain games are available abundantly across the web. You can even download trivia apps and games onto your smartphone that don’t require an active internet connection. This way, you can kill time with them in even more places, such as on airplanes and in the car.
There are hundreds of different types of trivia, brain games, and other puzzles that you can use to pass the time, and they don’t need to be on your smartphone either. Crossword puzzles, for example, are a fun brain teaser-type puzzle that commonly comes in book-form. Sudoku puzzles are available in books that you can take anywhere, too.
You can even combine trivia with some other mediums, too. Jeopardy, a program you’ve most likely heard of before, is a television show that makes use of trivia. Some trivia and brain games for your smartphone, such as Words with Friends and Trivia Crack, let you compete with friends and strangers as you exercise your brain.
Learn Something New
Like playing trivia and solving puzzles, learning something new is a great way to stimulate your brain while you kill time. Learning something new might leave you with a new skill when you’re done, too!
While not all skills can be learned simply by reading an article or book, many can. It doesn’t even have to be a useful skill if you don’t want it to be, either! Using the plentiful online resources available to you, you can learn things like how to be more confident, how to meditate, and even how to be weird!
One exciting activity you can use to learn new things is to wiki-hop. With wiki-hopping, you start with an article that interests you on a website like Wikipedia or wikiHow. Then, as you read the article, you click on other links that lead you to new articles. In this way, you’ll continue to learn new, fascinating things until you need to take a break, you get bored, or you run out of time.
Work Around the House
Every homeowner knows that your house is never truly 100% clean. There’s always something that could use tidying up or putting away. There is always junk that could be donated or taken to the dump. There’s always grass to mow, handyman projects to fix, paint to touch-up, and countless other things to do.
If you genuinely have nothing else to do, take a cursory look around your house and see what might benefit from some tidying up. While you most likely have a healthy to-do list for the house already, merely taking a quick treck around might uncover even more things for you to do.
Cleaning and working around the house isn’t necessarily the most entertaining way to kill time, but it definitely works. Have you ever tried to clean your entire home in one day? Cleaning a house from top to bottom is an excellent way to pass a full day if you have too much time on your hands.
Meditation also isn’t the most exciting way to kill time, but it’s an excellent way to center yourself, especially if you’re feeling excited or anxious about something. Not only is meditation great for short-term you, but it can be great for long-term you, too, if you can turn it into a habit.
While meditation might not be your idea of a good time, it does have a long list of benefits that go along with it that might win you over. Among the many benefits of meditation are:
- Reduced stress
- Increased blood flow
- Less anxiety
- Improved sleep
- Lower blood pressure
- Pain control
Like exercise, meditation is lovely in that’s an incredibly flexible activity. While reflection tends to work best in quiet, calm spaces, especially for beginners, it can technically be done anywhere and in conjunction with many other activities. Many people listen to music while they meditate, for example, and an excellent meditative mindset is easy to achieve while exercising the body, too.
Take a Nap
Perhaps the most painless way to pass the time quickly is to take a nap. While taking a nap isn’t always easy if you’re not tired, taking a nap is generally the “fastest” way to make time go by.
While time doesn’t pass any faster while we’re asleep, it tends to feel like it since we’re unconscious. When we take a nap, it can feel like we lie down one minute, then wake up an hour or two later in the blink of an eye.
Naps are also incredibly useful for passing the time because of their flexibility. Naps can last anywhere from minutes to hours, and as long as you have the proper noise-isolating tools and a comfortable sitting space, you can fall asleep virtually anywhere.
Of course, there are limitations to this. Even with the most comfortable pillow in the world, some people just can’t fall asleep sitting up, for example. While laying down helps a lot, there isn’t always an available space to do so if you’re out and about.
The length of a nap is a limiting factor, as well. Short naps have their own list of benefits – even at as short as ten minutes – but long naps can work incredible wonders, too, if you can manage to sleep for as long as you need to.
Unfortunately, the limiting potential of naps is how much you need to sleep during the night. Too much sleep during the day can affect your quality of sleep after you go to bed, and this can translate into grogginess the next day if you’re unlucky.
You might be surprised by the things you can build with what supplies you already have on hand. Office supplies, in particular, can be great to make something with. If you have real building blocks, like LEGOs or wood scraps, this exercise can be even more productive (and ambitious).
Building something is a great way to stimulate the brain, and not just for children, either. Building things is a great way to develop problem-solving and reasoning skills. Obviously, building things improves your understanding of 3D space and physics, too.
While the office might not be the most well-received place to start building things out of random supplies, we encourage you to try it sometime. Think of the concentration required to build a tower out of playing cards. Now, attempt to create something similar, but with whatever supplies you have on hand. Just make sure not to be in a place where you can disturb anyone if your tower comes crashing down!
The ability to cook tasty, nutritious meals is a skill that will serve you well long into your life. What’s more, anyone can learn how to cook! If you find your mental stash of dinner recipes to be a running a bit low, why not try killing some time by trying some new ones?
A great way to do this is to have what’s called a “meal preparation” day. Meal prepping involves cooking several days’ worth of meals at the same time, then portioning them out for use through the rest of the week. Many people decide to meal prep so that they have healthy, nutritious meals ready to go on the days they normally wouldn’t have time to cook.
You don’t need to adopt this style of preparation just to try out new recipes, though. If you only need to kill time for a couple of hours, why not try to cook a delicious meal with only the groceries you have in your house? If you already have some cooking skills, challenge yourself by doing something like that, but if not, feel free to work from a recipe to get started.
There’s a reason why people say time flies when you’re having fun! Spending time with other people is a great way to perk you all up, and the time you’re trying to kill will fly by in no time, too.
Socialization is an incredibly flexible way to keep yourself occupied. Additionally, it’s the only method on this list that directly benefits both you and someone else. In today’s technological age, another human being is just a few clicks (or taps) away if you want someone to communicate with.
You most likely have a friend or two that you like to spend your free time with when you can, but if you don’t, try looking for someone to converse with online. While this might not feel as personal as talking with friends or family, you might be able to make an acquaintance unexpectedly. Of course, the usual rules about taking care with strangers online apply here.
If you’re not a fan of online socialization and you don’t have any friends or family readily available, consider attending a large-scale social event. If you’re an outgoing person by nature, this might already be something you do regularly. For less outgoing individuals, these can be a bit intimidating, but there are many less daunting options available to you, too. Consider options like:
- Group discussions or viewings
- Speed dating
- A “mixer” party
- Group games, like bowling or Dungeons and Dragons
- Group classes or lessons
Explore New Hobbies
If you have too much time to kill, you might benefit from getting yourself a new hobby. Hobbies are a constructive way to use your extra time, and they can do much more than just keep you entertained, too.
Some people end up turning their hobbies into additional sources of income or even full-time jobs! Other people keep their hobbies strictly as hobbies, and this is perfectly acceptable as well. Some hobbies can be great things to do with friends, such as multiplayer video games, while others can be used to meet other people, such as book clubs or sewing clubs.
The beautiful thing about hobbies is that you can never have too many of them! Since hobbies are something that you do voluntarily, you’re not required to devote time to them if you’re running short on free time for the week or you’re not interested in them anymore. A hobby is meant to be fun and entertaining, not a chore like work sometimes can be.
As such, any time when you have free time is a great time to explore a new hobby! You can turn just about any activity into a hobby, too, so there is no shortage of things to choose from. Exploring new hobbies is a great way to spur personal growth, learn about new things, and meet new people all rolled into one!
If you have a few extra minutes to yourself, why not use that time to write something? You don’t have to write to anyone else, and it doesn’t have to be about anything important, either. You can write a message to your future or past self, to someone who doesn’t exist, or even someone who’s no longer in your life. Your message can be long or short, lighthearted or profound.
Writing is a great way to exercise your understanding of the language you’re writing in, and writing consistently is excellent for improving your vocabulary, too. One great writing-related exercise you can try is to write a letter to someone who’s already passed on. This can be someone close to you, or it can be a historical figure you never knew, such as a past president.
Write out your letter on a piece of plain white paper. When you’ve finished writing it, take your note to a clear, safe space outside and burn it! This will “send” your message to the departed person.
If you don’t have any paper handy to write on, consider writing an email to your future or past self. Create an alternate email for yourself, write your message, then send it to yourself. The message will be saved on the email server until you decide to read it (if you ever do – there’s no pressure this way), and you don’t need to touch a pad of paper, either.
You can send messages to people who have upset you this way, too. Composing and sending draft emails to yourself is a great way to blow off steam when something’s bothering you!
Let’s assume that your boss has upset you by passing over you for a significant promotion, for example. Instead of blowing up at your boss, you can sit down, organize your angry thoughts into an email, then send it to yourself instead of off to your boss.
With this activity, if you change your mind and want to reuse part (or all) of your message at a later date, you can do that very easily, too. Just take care that no one else has access to your sending or receiving email, or they could see the messages!