It’s been a while. Let me start by saying Happy New Year! 2020 was a crazy year for everyone, and I’m suspecting 2021 will be pretty crazy for the next little while as well. What’s funny is that I actually thought I would be back to living a normal-ish life by now. (Actually, I’ve never really been good with predictions; I don’t know why I’m acting surprised.) Anyways, I thought I’d start 2021 by telling you about my biggest pet peeve, and that is people always complaining about being bored. It’s actually kind of ironic because I used to be a person who always complained about being bored or who always needed a buddy to hang out with at all times. I’ve mentioned this before, but I consider myself a highly extroverted person. Some may even consider my extroverted tendencies a bit much. I’m not telling you guys this because I enjoy roasting myself, but because I thought it would be nice for people to know that even someone who’s super extroverted can find ways to occupy their time and not be bored.
I know that not being bored is a lot easier said than done. That’s why I thought it would be really cool to start 2021 by sharing the 5 things I do to never be bored, especially during quarantine and lockdown. Also, if you prefer to watch the video version of this blog, check it out on my YouTube Page. Let’s get started.
1. Do An Annual Review
I remember when lockdown first started back in the spring of 2020, I was in a major slump and was just bored all the time. Nothing I was doing was fun. Virtual club activities were awful, I actually had time to study for exams, and I pretty much ran out of things to watch on Netflix. The reason I’m not bored anymore is because I spent a lot of time analyzing my life and setting dream goals. For instance, I wanted to be a better reader, learn to produce music, and switch from medicine to technology project management. I knew that in order to work towards those dream goals, I would need to put them into daily actionable steps. If you have a lot of personal and career goals, it’s much easier to find something to do. However, I get it! Introspection is hard, especially figuring out where to start. Luckily, I just discovered an awesome resource to help you get out of your slump. One of my favourite productivity YouTubers, Ali Abdaal, released a video where he walks people through how to do an annual review. You can check out the video here. He even has a template you can download in the video description.
Essentially, the annual review has 3 steps: reflect, plan, and execute.
In the reflect stage, you spend time going over things you’re grateful for and cool things you discovered during the past year. It also forces you to go through a calendar and try to recall important moments, both good and bad, from each month. I thought that this was especially helpful because years tend to fly by. We may even forget important things that happened in the year, if we don’t force ourselves to try and remember. Finally, the section ends with some reflective questions that we all probably should be asking ourselves, but never do. Here are some examples:
Honestly, there’s so many more questions in his annual review and I highly suggest you take a look through them.
In the planning stage, you start with some visualization exercises. For instance, describe the best ordinary week five years from now, and describe what you’re doing and what you’re working on. These exercises are essentially there to help you plan and set goals in important areas of your life such as health, relationships, happiness, jobs, and side hustles. After you set your goals, you can then create a bucket list of random things you want to do in 2021 and then in your life. For example, I would love to learn how to surf properly one day!
The first two steps are great for introspection; however, they don’t really help you achieve anything (maybe inner peace?). That’s where step 3, the execution phase comes in. Step 3 is all about coming up with dreams, asking yourself why that dream is important, and figuring out whether or not you will succeed. For example, if my dream was to write a hit song, I would start by asking myself why that dream is important to me. A dream with a poor why will ultimately never come true. I would then set a S.M.A.R.T goal for myself. If you don’t know what S.M.A.R.T goals are or need a refresher, click here. After I set my goals, I would try to form them into some sort of habit. Maybe I could dedicate an hour each day to music theory and songwriting. After I come up with some frictionless habits, I would then try to figure out reasons why I might fail. If you can do this well, you can come up with plans for getting over those hurdles. Finally, I would list down people who could help me, how I can succeed, and what actions I took to make those dreams come true. For instance, I signed up for online music classes and asked my friends Lyle, Ethan, Mandela, and Preston for their help because I look up to them when it comes to making music.
I know this annual review seems like a lot of work. However, it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself if you’re in a slump or are just bored. I started doing stuff like this in May with my friend Rick and we haven’t been bored at all during the quarantine. Try booking off like an entire day and just spend some time with this. I promise you that it will be well worth your time.
2. Read More
I’m sure by now you’ve heard people tell you to read more. There’s papers and articles everywhere that state that reading improves your writing, focus, and memory. People who love to read will literally go on and on about the benefits of reading. To be honest, I have no idea if any of those studies or blog posts are true. It isn’t very scientific of me, but I just tend to believe people when they say reading is good for me. The reason I choose to read is because it allows me to have a lot of things to talk about and it also helps me come up with new ideas. If you start reading, then it may just allow you to talk to more people and be less bored. Essentially, if you know more and can always have new ideas, then you will have a better chance at having longer, more enriched and more meaningful conversations.
I know reading can be boring at first. I honestly didn’t get into reading until Rick and I made a pact to read more and start a book club, which means I’ve only seriously been reading books for 10 months. That’s amazing for two reasons. For starters, it means I got through my previous coursework in AP English and pretty much the entirety of my health and medical science education through YouTube videos, SparkNotes, and other people’s notes. It also means I could’ve saved a lot of money on textbooks. Anyway, if you need extra motivation to read, try reading the same book as a friend and set a deadline for yourself or join mine or any other person’s book club. Either way, having a community to discuss things will allow you to dive deeper into ideas, get multiple perspectives, and create a body of thoughts that no one person would have been able to produce on their own.
3. Get Skillshare, Udemy, or Masterclass
I’m going to be honest. Learning things for me is super hard. I love playing music and I love science, but one thing that would always piss me off would be seeing people pick up new skills super easily. There’s a reason why I love underdog stories, it’s usually because I’m always the underdog in most things I do. If you’re like me and you enjoy learning, but don’t really know where to start, then platforms like Skillshare, Masterclass, and Udemy are perfect. Even if you aren’t an underdog, these platforms make picking up new skills super easy.
Skillshare and Udemy are great platforms for learning things from others at super affordable prices. If there’s something you want to learn, I can guarantee that you can find a course on it on Skillshare or Udemy. These courses also have great online communities where you can talk about what you’re learning with other students, and since they’ll never meet you, you don’t need to worry about being wrong. You can experiment and really try to apply things you learn. There’s even cool certificates and class resources you get to help supplement your learning. If you want to check out Udemy, click here, and if you want to check out Skillshare, then click here.
If you have a little more cash or can find enough friends to split a subscription with you, then I would have to recommend Masterclass. Masterclass is another online platform for learning, except the founders bring on the best of the best to teach you. I’m talking about celebrities like Christina Aguilera, Gordon Ramsey, and Samuel L. Jackson - each teaching what they spent a career mastering. Honestly, I love watching Netflix, but I usually start feeling pretty lazy after a few hours. Watching Masterclass is like watching Netflix, except you’re also learning and being entertained. There’s also class workbooks and online community forums. Sometimes the teachers themselves host office hours!
Now, if I’m ever bored, I just sit down and pick a new skill to learn. Sometimes, I’ll just scroll through their courses and pick a random one to do for the day. So far, I’ve been able to use these platforms to learn music theory, music production, software product management, and even video editing. As an FYI, I’m not sponsored by any of these platforms (sadly) and I actually love using them in my day-to-day life.
4. Plan Ahead
I think it’s pretty obvious that boredom stems from simply not knowing what to do during certain times in a day. If that’s the case, then combating boredom is actually pretty simple. In the morning or the night before, just make a plan for the day. It can be as simple as writing down 3 things you want to do or as complex as an hour-by-hour schedule. As long as you know what you have to do that day, then you’re golden. If you finish early, try adding a few extra things for the next day. Just find what works for you and do it. Also, as a side note, be flexible with the day plan as well. If a friend calls, it’s okay to take it and get back to the thing you wanted to be doing in a couple of minutes. Essentially, the point of this section is to understand that planning helps make sure you’re not just going through the motions doing the exact same things every day. Planning forces you to make choices, and hopefully those choices can be fun things that prevent boredom. For instance, I love planning out times to watch movies on Netflix and then other times to just jam out in my room. By putting Netflix and music on my list for things to do that day, I know that I’m going to get to it or that I just have something to do.
5. Show Your Work
I hate asking someone what’s new with them and having them respond with “not much”. A reason why people may not have much to talk about is because they don’t document and share their work, thus making them likely to forget about it.
If you haven’t already, read “Show Your Work” by Auston Kleon. Rick gave me a copy of this book to read, and it only took 30 minutes of my time, but it added so much value to my life. The general premise of the book is that you should share your thoughts and work online for free and that you don’t need to be an expert to share your work because beginners can help other beginners.
If you’re really bored and want something to do, try sharing what you’re doing as a story on your favourite social media platform, or maybe you might even consider starting a website. By sharing your work, you’ll ultimately force yourself to improve what you’re doing and you might end up talking to strangers (who could potentially become friends) about whatever it is you’re sharing. Actually, even if you’re not bored, you should be doing this. It’s just a great way to meet new people and learn new things.
I know boredom sucks, especially now that we are all forced to be at home. Hopefully, you guys found this post useful because I plan to be posting more stuff like this. For more details about content and topics that I will be covering this year, feel free to check out my home page. Also, I’m starting a newsletter called “Farshad’s Sunday Summaries”. If you haven’t already, then I highly recommend you sign up for that below or on the home page. I’ll be sharing useful videos, articles, and links to material I found that week as well as useful and fun stories and tips that I came across that week. Anyway, I’ll see you next week.
I'm Farshad. I'm a PhD student 🔬, musician 🎶, and productivity nerd 🤓, who's currently researching nanotechnologies and cancer. In my spare time, I enjoy learning and exploring new ideas in the world of science, technology, and philosophy. I'm also always exploring new ways to help myself and others live better, happier and more meaningful lives.