The Danger of Boredom: 10 Ideas for Anti-Boredom Lists

Can boredom be dangerous? I actually think it can be.  When we or our kids are bored, it opens up the possibility of needing to find something more exciting.  It is when we email exes, eat more and over-analyze ourselves in the mirror.

Can Boredom Be a Teachable Skill?

Learning to be bored either efficiently, productively or happily is a skill that is not often taught, yet I think it is very important.  With my clients, we often make ‘bored lists’ with fun things, or productive things they can do.  Here are some ideas for your bored list, whether you are trying to take it easy or finish up tasks.

1) Organize Your Tupperwear Drawer

It ALWAYS needs it.

2) Clean-out Your iTunes or Music racks

3) Call Your grandma

Or uncle, or cousin, or mom, or dad.

4) Have a Coolsites File

I have a few bookmark folders in my browser called Coolsites, Games and To Watch.  They are seminars, gaming sites, blogs that I cannot read regularly, but love to read when I am bored.

5) Burn CD’s for Friends

Have any birthday’s coming up for friends? In this down economy, think ahead and burn them a bunch of CDs instead of running out last minute for an expensive gift.

6) Update a VIP list

Especially if you are looking for a job, I have a list of about 20 business contacts I call my VIPs.  Once about every three months I send them personal notes asking how they are and telling them what I am up too.

7) Work-out

Seriously, go rent a bike, play Frisbee, get a day-pass at a gym.  Our tendency when we are bored is to eat, so do the opposite!

8) Go through pictures (make a scrapbook)

I worry about all of the photos and videos that are online that we will never have photo albums.  Sometimes when I am bored I go on Facebook and pull off my favorite pictures and compile them in a scrapbook on Flickr.  About every six months I have enough to print a $25 album to put on my coffee table.  Totally fun to look through pictures, and great to have.

9) Clean-Out Your Computer

You want to be really virtuous, clean out all of the docs in your folders.  Clear your old downloaded applications and make some room on your computer’s hard drive.  While your at it you could clean your keyboard and mouse…

10) Write love letters

Every year around the holidays I write personal notes to my closest friends.  Think about writing thank you notes thanking people for just being awesome.  You will get some great notes back and make people in your life feel really good!

Boredom and Porn

I have not written much about young cyberseekers curiosity for porn and Google searching for pictures of naked women, but I think porn is an issue that is dealt with on some level in every household.  If kids are curious, they are going to find a way to look, but I recently talked to a few of my male 20-something friends about looking at porn online and many of them said that:
•    Porn intake increased in summer months because there was less to do
•    Porn intake was not affected by when parents were out (my typical assumption was that boys looked at porn whenever their parents left the house).
•    Porn intake was low to none during midterms, finals or playoffs because ‘they were to busy to think about it.’
•    Porn intake decreased when they were able to watch more (non-porn) online content on Youtube or Vimeo.

I think this is an interesting thought to consider.  If you have caught your child looking at porn, is there any correlation between boredom and activity level and what they were looking at?  Is it possible that by encouraging intake of other online (PG) webshows, you will lessen your child’s desires to look at porn because they are preoccupied with more amusing entertainment?

Boredom and Partying

I have posted before about drugs and alcohol and often times teens will drink because there is nothing better to do.  I remember many times when we would be stuck at home on a Saturday night because we could not go to the nightclubs, to bars, out dancing or our parents would not let us over to other people’s houses and we did not want to just watch a movie.  Then, someone would say something like, “ugh, we always watch stupid teen movies, it will be so much better if we get high or drink and then watch something.”  This is one of the reasons I try to push so hard with my readers about 10 Activity Ideas for Teens.  Usually there is much less motivation (and reasons not to drink if parents are around) if there is something else exciting to do.

Boredom and Bullying

Many teens and pre-teens (not all) like drama.  Especially kids aged 11-14.  I think this can Be the Meanest. I think many times kids are online or chatting and they get bored so they decide to “stalk someone from school,” or “check-out so and so’s profile” or “go bother that kid from camp.” It might start off harmless enough, but then it usually can get out of hand when other bored kids begin to chim in.

The solution to boredom is not that parents should be their child’s concierge and constantly come up with activities and things for them to do, but rather to talk to their kids about what they should do when they are bored.  I think, as we get older, we view boredom as a luxury.  Between the blog, clients, books and life, I haven’t been bored in about three years.  To make boredom less dangerous for yourself, think about what you can do ahead of time so you can use that time wisely…and make it more fun!

8 Responses to “The Danger of Boredom: 10 Ideas for Anti-Boredom Lists”

  1. virtual worlds for kids
    April 16, 2009 at 2:04 am #

    i like this article! organizing and cleaning up my itunes, it’s my favourite. i can do it the whole day just to make my songs list have a perfect info. working out and calling my grandma is my following bored list. =DD

  2. Stacey
    April 17, 2009 at 12:35 pm #

    The good news is that Classic Rock has made a comeback. So unlike any other generation I’m aware of, parents and kids are now listening to some of the same music! Why not take in a local rock concert together? Doesn’t need to be expensive. Doesn’t need to be a late night out. Check out these amazing rock concerts in 55 cities across the U.S. Maybe there’s one near you.

  3. Vanessa Van Petten
    April 18, 2009 at 12:22 pm #

    You are right, concerts are a great idea!


  4. Ares Vista
    June 22, 2009 at 9:19 am #

    In my experience, a structured routine is the key to keeping your kids in a motivated state. They come to expect certain things during the day, and they look forward to the 'bonus' activities you can plan for them. Stick to the script, they will be happier for it.

  5. Baker Gurl 09
    February 4, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

    This is very helpful for the paper I am writing on teen boredom. It is OK that I use you as a source, right?? please, write me through email to let me know..

  6. Vanessa Van Petten
    February 5, 2010 at 2:16 pm #

    Yes you can use me as a source:

    my email


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