30 fun ideas for what to do on your phone when you’re bored

No judgment here — we all do it. It’s actually muscle memory at this point. It starts with pulling out your phone and often ends with scrolling through social media until you lose all sense of time and space. Maybe it happened while you were in the waiting room at the dentist. Or maybe you’re trying to distract yourself from a stressful news cycle (and who do not have need that for the past few years?) and your hand automatically initiates its robotic ritual. It happened! But have you ever wondered what to do on your phone when boredom doesn’t involve mindless scrolling?

With just a little determination, you can regain control over the small moments that have a big impact on your overall mood and productivity. Here are 30 positive, productive, and even inspirational things you can do with your smartphone (most in 15 minutes or less). If you’re having a hard time breaking the habit of mindless scrolling, consider removing social apps from your phone for the time being. You’ll find that the little spare moments you have during the day are precious opportunities that should be used wisely — whether it’s reconnecting with an old friend, learning something new Or take some time to take care of yourself.

Read on to discover 30 answers to frequently asked questions: What to do on your phone when you’re bored?

Something fun

Call your mother. You will receive much needed comfort and love from your mother and she will be absolutely delighted to hear from you. Everyone benefits from a subscription, especially when it comes to spontaneous subscriptions — it makes her day.

Text an old friend from college (or high school, or camping, etc.). Make them a little note to say hello and let them know you’re thinking of them.

Play a game of Wordscapes. Activate some brain cells and expand your vocabulary while you’re learning with this word-based puzzle game.

Check your horoscope. If you haven’t already, it’s time to join the Co-Star or The Pattern team. Get the scoop on birthday charts, daily horoscopes and see how compatible you are with friends and lovers.

Plan your next vacation (real or imagined). Check out HotelTonight and Airbnb and plan your next stay, even if it’s just in your head right now. Choose the location of your dreams and save any interesting places that attract you for future adventures.

Add cute photos to your loved one’s contact information. That way every time you get a text message or phone call, your favorite picture of them pops up. I promise to make you smile everytime!

Create a Spotify playlist. Pick an occasion or mood (cocktail party, pre-shower jam, rainy day feeling) and start creating the most iconic playlist you can imagine. Browse your library, see recommended songs, and get inspired. Do not forget to share with your loved ones so that everyone can enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Play Wordle. Because everyone is doing it too — and half the fun is comparing your first word strategy with other dedicated players.

Something to get organized

Go through your photo stream and delete photos you don’t need. 45 photos you took while trying to capture a tulip fluttering in the wind? Chances are you don’t need that much. Free up some space on your phone and in the cloud by reducing the size of your collection.

Update your contacts. Have you ever looked through your contact list and wondered how half of these people got there? You’ll likely need to chat with “Joe — Philly Dog Walker 2003” soon, so delete him and similar listings.

Attract your inner chef. KitchenStories helps you achieve culinary success with step-by-step recipes (photos included) and even how-to videos. You’ll learn a ton of impressive cooking skills and even learn how to organize your shopping list. Because going to the grocery store in a frantic, stressful mood is never fun.

Organize your podcast subscriptions. I’m a nice person when I hear about a new podcast and immediately subscribe — to be honest before I listen to an episode. Most of us have five core podcasts that we listen to consistently. To make more space for discovering newly dropped episodes, take a moment to review your subscriptions and delete any episodes that no longer speak to you.

Unsubscribe from the mailing list. Free yourself from the burden of deleting 34 emails a day! You will be surprised at the amount of time you will save moving forward when this daily ritual is behind you.

Stay up to date with newsletters from your favorite publications. Clear the backlog in your inbox. Go through and capture the topics your favorite writers are tackling (and it’ll clear your inbox while you’re at it!)

Streamline your work and life with Notion. Start with the “girl” app about the moment you’ve seen on Insta and TikTok. Notion gives you thousands of free, pre-made templates so you can organize every part of your life and make progress on your projects, goals, hobbies, and all the to-dos that are sure to piled on top of each other.

Something relaxing

Take this 15-minute class from Alo Moves. Dust off cobwebs and exercise your body with a gentle stretch. You can do it pretty much anywhere if you’re not shy, or save it for when you’re at home and need to mix Zoom sessions.

Practice breathing. We all know how to breathe — right? It turns out, practicing proper, calming breathing techniques can reduce stress and anxiety and make it easier to get the quality sleep we all need (yes, please!). Breathwrk offers science-backed breathing exercises and classes, so you can practice, improve, and reap all the benefits of breathing.

Color something fun with the Color Therapy adult coloring book app. This oddly soothing app is an easy, fun way to pass the time. It’s an innovative and engaging app that constantly updates its images and palette options, so you’ll never run out of cool designs to enjoy.

Make a seasonal food board on Pinterest. Is it just me, or is there something deeply relaxing about scrolling through recipes and picking out the weekly menu? A selection of a new board with exciting recipes to try in the upcoming season. It will kill time now and give you something to look forward to later.

Do this free 10-minute meditation from Headspace. Quickly center and focus your breath with a short meditation. You will be surprised at how relaxed and refreshed you will feel in such a short amount of time.

Support your mental health. Real makes it possible for those of us to access quality mental health care, but who are frustrated with exorbitant prices and hard-to-find therapists. You’ll dive into eight-week therapist-led programs that focus on one mental health topic at a time. It gives you the space and support to get to know yourself better, build stronger communication skills, and thrive in all areas of your life.

Something gently educational

Sharpen your geography (or art history, or foreign language) skills with Brainscape. Flashcards for adults, do we need to say more?

Dive into learning on Skillshare. With thousands of classes to choose from in every career-building, personal-development category (knitting! Jewelry making! Photography!), Skillshare makes it possible for you to become an expert (or amateur) enthusiasm) in any field you want.

Listen to episodes of Princess Diana’s You’re Wrong About. This 5-part podcast series gives listeners an insight into Diana’s life. It respects her memory while remaining fair, historically accurate and, above all, deeply entertaining.

Read an essay from Joan Didion’s White album. This classic essay collection never gets old, even if some of Didion’s past observations are now bearable under a bit of thoughtful analytical criticism. The brilliant writer weaved his personal experiences into larger national issues in the late 1960s. This is a must-read for bookworms.

To handle New York Times Puzzle. Take advantage of your subscription and put that mind to work with this classic crossword puzzle. If you have access to the crossword then you can also play other NYT games, like Letter Box and Spelling Bee. It is very worth it.

Play a game of chess. Harness your inner Queen Gambit and hone your chess skills with this free app. (If only it were now with Anya Taylor-Joy’s striking red bob and razor-sharp cheekbones — a girl can dream!).

Organize your Goodreads. This is one of my favorite apps. Not only can you discover hundreds of thousands of books and indulge in novel genres, but it also gives you the opportunity to connect with readers around the world and share honest thoughts on your literature. . The more review books you read, the better and more relevant the recommendations you get. So take a moment to reflect on your favorites and share!

Read (and listen!) Your heart on Libby. Libby allows you to view library books, audiobooks, magazines and more from your local library. It keeps all your loans, notes, bookmarks, and reading progress in one place — plus you can use it offline. So the next time you find yourself stuck on a plane with no Wi-Fi, you know what to do.

Learn a new language. If you’re looking to learn your French or eventually achieve your goal of becoming fluent in Spanish, there’s no better way to do it than with Duolingo. It makes learning a new language easy with mini-lessons that you can take anywhere — even if you only have five minutes to spare.

This post was originally published on January 20, 2020, and has since been updated.

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