It’s all too easy to plop down on the couch when you come home from a long day and then remain on the couch until it’s time for dinner or bed. It can be easy to spend three, four, five, or even more hours doing nothing much at all, even when there are plenty of things on your to do list.
If you aren’t feeling up to doing the big things, even doing something small but useful can leave you feeling accomplished and be a small improvement in your life. Here are 19 ideas for when you’re feeling tired or lazy but still want to get a little something taken care of. Some are so easy that you can do them without even leaving the couch.
1. Practice a new language
This one is great because it doesn’t require getting off of the couch, or even off of your phone!
I’ve been using Memrise to explore new languages for over a year now. It’s great because it turns my phone into something productive and educational, instead of just an endless stream of food pics and cat videos.
2. Water your houseplants
Assuming you have a reasonable number of plants, watering them only takes a couple of minutes. If you want to get extra fancy, you could even feed them.
I like to make watering my plants even easier by keeping a container of water ready to go for when I need it.
This task only takes a few seconds, which makes it easy to do, even if you’re not really feeling it. Talking yourself off the couch to water plants is easier than talking yourself off the couch to make yourself dinner or go to the gym.
But because this is an act of caring for something else, it often leaves us eager to put effort into caring for other things, like our own bodies.
3. Cull your to do list
I don’t know about you, but I very often add things to my to do list that I’d like to do but realistically don’t have time for and don’t really need to do.
These items follow me around for weeks, continually causing those little pangs of stress and guilt because I’m not doing them. I postpone them repeatedly, only for them to pop back up and be postponed again.
Those tasks on your to do list don’t need to be done. You’re allowed to get rid of them.
Look over your to do list. Find those tasks that have been following you for weeks, and remove any that don’t actually need to be done.
For the ones that remain, schedule a time to do them. Tasks that can be done at any time are often done at no time. Give them a time.
4. Unsubscribe from marketing emails
This is another little task that you can do from the couch without even putting down your phone. Having an easily navigable inbox makes life easier and makes checking your email less stressful.
Spend a few minutes deleting any marketing emails that you’ve gotten lately. If there are so many emails that it feels unmanageable, set a goal. I bet you can fly through 100 emails in only a few minutes.
I know very few people who don’t want to read more, and just as many people who immediately pick up their phone when they have down time, rather than reaching for a book.
I try to keep an audiobook or two on my phone so that I always have something to listen to, and I usually have at least one library book checked out. Reading is a low-effort, high-reward activity that is productive while still relaxing.
If you’re not sure what to start reading, I have plenty of recommendations here!
6. Brainstorm meals for the week
I’m sure I’m not the only person who often walks into a grocery store and immediately forgets every food I’ve ever liked. Turns out, grocery shopping is much easier when you know what you’re planning to eat.
Spend 10 minutes brainstorming foods that you’d like to eat in the upcoming days. What do you have in the fridge that needs to be used up? What’s in season right now? Choose two or three meals that sound good and create a grocery list so you have an easier time next time you go to the store.
7. Put on your gym shoes
No, you don’t have to go all the way to the gym. I’m only suggesting that you put your gym shoes on.
And now that you’re dressed for it, what if..? Just kidding.. unless..?
8. Create a budget
Or at least check in on your finances.
I know the financial world can be pretty intimidating. Even if you’re struggling or have no clue what you’re doing, knowing how much money you have and where it’s going is better than knowing nothing at all.
Start by checking all of your bills for the previous month to see how much you spend and where it’s going. Then create a tracker so that you can track expenses moving forward. If you’re feeling fancy, see if you can set up an autopay with your bank so that as soon as you get paid, a portion of the money is instantly moved into savings.
9. Plan something fun to do
Life is much more enjoyable when you have something exciting that you’re looking forward to. Something that I’ve noticed about adult life is that there’s a lack of fun stuff happening. Sure, you can go drink with coworkers, but if you’re anything like me, that’s not a very fun time.
Oh, and yes, having fun is definitely a productive thing to do. It lowers stress, increases happiness, and boosts creativity.
Take initiative to plan something fun. If it’s difficult to get your friends together for an activity, it’s totally fine to have fun alone. You could go for a hike or just plan a do-nothing day.
If you’ve been struggling to build journaling into a daily habit, you’ll likely like this guest post that I wrote a few months ago!
Journaling is great to clear your head. It’s helpful if you’re an overthinker, and it’s one of the fastest ways to find clarity in a difficult situation.
Journaling doesn’t have to be fancy or romantic. It’s perfectly valid to write out your thoughts in the notes app on your phone or the back of an old envelope. Any form of putting your thoughts into the world will help you process them and find direction.
11. List your unneeded clothes on Poshmark
Most of us have some clothes lying around that we don’t wear but feel “too nice” to just donate. If you have a few nice pieces of clothing that you’re looking to get rid of, why not sell them? You get a few dollars and some closet space, and someone else gets something they needed.
Listing items on Poshmark takes only a few minutes, and the hardest part is just taking a few photos of the item. After you’ve taken the photos, you don’t have to leave the couch, but you’re still being productive.
As weird as it may sound, sitting and doing nothing is one of the most productive things I’ve ever done.
The great thing about meditation is that it can be done anywhere, and you don’t need any supplies to do it. You don’t have to sit in that uncomfortable lotus position. You can absolutely stay seated on the couch, or even lying in bed. There are plenty of guided meditations on the internet if you need help getting started.
If you’re not quite sure about this whole meditation thing, check out this post.
Yes! Nap! Sleeping is productive!
I’m soooooo tired of hearing people brag about how little sleep they get. It isn’t cool, and it’s really bad for your health, productivity, and creativity. You’ll get way more done working 4 hours after 8 hours of sleep than you would working 8 hours after 4 hours of sleep.
Napping is a great way to use your time, and if you’re feeling tired, it’ll give you that energy boost you need to go do things later.
Just don’t nap too close to bedtime because it will likely interfere with your ability to sleep tonight.
14. Declutter the bottles in your bathroom
I recently did a bathroom bottle declutter and found it surprisingly easy. Plus it gave me a whole bunch of free space that I didn’t have before.
Decluttering bottles does have to be difficult. If you dislike the product and it’s almost empty, rinse and recycle the bottle. If you dislike the product and the bottle still has plenty in it, give it to someone who will use it. If you like the product but rarely use it, put it in a place where it will be rotated into daily use. Don’t overthink it.
If doing the whole bathroom at once is overwhelming, start with just one shelf or surface.
Oh, and if it’s years old, just toss it.
15. Place holds on some library books
You’ve been meaning to read more, right? The best way to read more without spending money or amassing clutter is borrowing library books.
Sure, going to the library and browsing the stacks is fun, but if you already know what you’d like to read, check out your library’s website and see if you can reserve books online. The library will notify you when they’re in, and you just have to go pick them up.
Just don’t get too excited and order way more books than you can actually read in a loan period. (Guilty.)
If you don’t yet have a library card, get one! You can likely get one online.
16. Do a 5-minute speed clean
One of my biggest deterrents to cleaning is feeling overwhelmed by the amount I have to do. When I don’t feel like cleaning, doing a small, 5-minute clean is a great way to make a little progress without putting in too much effort or committing to something too big. You’d be surprised how much you can clean in 5 minutes if you stay focused.
17. Close tabs that you’re no longer using
Some people (myself included) are tab hoarders. At any given time, I’m likely to have a dozen or more tabs open at the top of my browser window. I may think I’m still using all of them, but chances are, I’ve lost interest in many of them and have finished using others without closing them.
It only takes a minute to go through the tabs and check which ones are still relevant, and it reduces visual clutter and helps your computer to run faster.
18. Do some digital decluttering
It can be easy to miss digital clutter, but if we don’t regularly keep up with it, it’s easy to end up with tons.
Places like your digital calendar, your photos, and especially your downloads folder can end up with lots of notes and files in them. Chances are, many of these items were only needed for one specific thing, and it’s safe to delete or archive them now.
19. Buy a Roomba
It is perfectly fine to spend a little money to make your life easier. I know that if it weren’t for my Roomba, our floors would rarely get vacuumed.
Yes, there it a bit of up-front cost, but the amount of time and cleanliness that my Roomba has brought me has more than made up for it. If you’re in a position to make a purchase like this, buying something to make your life easier is a perfectly valid and productive way to spend your time.