“What do you want to do?”
“I don’t know. What do you want to do?”
“Whatever you want to do…”
So goes the familiar refrain when my wife and I decide we should do something interesting for the evening or weekend. Unless one of us has a really great idea, we never seem to have a strong enough preference to break free from our normal, predictable activities and try something different. Enter the Boredom Buster!
What Is It?
This handy device is the door to inspiration and variety. Simply choose the location (indoors or outdoors) and time requirement (short or long) and draw a slip of paper. Then do whatever is written down. Here are some sample ideas my wife and I came up with one evening on the couch:
Indoor – Short
- Play a card game
- Sort through a closet to find Goodwill donations
- Play some music together
- Learn five words in a different language
- Learn a magic trick
Indoor – Long
- Make soft pretzels & some sauces
- Paint a picture
- Watch a movie
- Create our own mystery dinner (theme, plot, etc.)
- Make something on Instructables.com
Outdoor – Short
- Go for a walk
- Make and fly paper airplanes
- Learn to juggle
- Follow an ant
- Watch the clouds float by
Outdoor – Long
- Weave a basket
- Make dorodango balls
- Start a fire without matches or a lighter
- Play tennis
- Go on a hike
We have many more activities in our Boredom Buster, but this short list can get your juices flowing. As you can see, our categories are quite arbitrary. Some “short” activities could take a long time, and some “outdoor” activies could be done indoors. It’s not important the you get it exactly right. It just helps to keep you from pulling three or four times to find something feasible.
Want to make your own Boredom Buster? Here’s how:
- Find a container. Anything will do.
- Divide it into four or five sections if you like. Label them
- Write down a list of ideas. Search the Internet for “things to do” if you need some prompts.
- Cut up your ideas so they’re on individual slips of paper.
- Organize your ideas into categories. Fold up the papers and put them in your jar.
That’s all there is to it. Just pull out an idea the next time you’re bored or can’t decide what to do.
Special Tip for Parents: This is a great way to occupy your kids when they complain about being bored. Add some rules to the Boredom Buster like “You must do whatever activity you pull out (if possible).”. Make sure you stick a few chores in the mix!
How Does This Relate to Personal Finance?
I’ve found that boredom can lead to overspending. At a loss for creative ideas of things to do, we tend to think of activities we have to pay for. Most of those activities require some driving (meaning more money). And the funny thing is that we don’t feel any more satisfied or fulfilled after doing something like that than we do when we pull something from the Boredom Buster that doesn’t cost anything or is very cheap.
Most of the ideas in our Boredom Buster are frugal activities (or can be with some creativity). This means we can find something interesting to do without resorting to the common movie, dining out, or recreational activity (bowling, mini golf, sports events, etc.). Some of the ideas we have in our Boredom Buster cost money but not nearly as much as the traditional choices. Using this technique saves us money over time and expands our minds/skillset/creativity/etc. I figure if it works for us, it can work for you!
What do you think of this idea? How do you handle those “I’m bored” moments? What would you put in your Boredom Buster? Share your thoughts in the comments!