10 Things to Do When You Can’t Figure What to Do

Even though I have a hundred tabs open on my browser and my to-do list is lengthier than all the pages contained in the Odyssey, every once in a while I find myself stuck in a rut. Not from a lack of things to do, but from a lack of motivation to do them. Time and again I return to the question – What do I do? – and I find myself unable to come up with a response.

Over the years I’ve tried and tested a number of activities, some of which provided relief and some which backfired badly. Of course I won’t talk about the ones that didn’t work. I’m going to talk about the top 10 things I do when I can’t figure out what the heck to do.

  1. Read

I am a fan of books. Nay, I’m a hoarder of books. From fiction to non-fiction to textbooks, my house is one huge unorganized library. And that’s just the paperbacks. Do not even get me started on the ebooks sitting on my phone, iPad and Mac.

If books fail to distract me, I indulge in some long form articles. These two are my favorite sites online – Longreads and The Walrus. I can get lost on these websites for hours and emerge only to realise that the weekend has ended.

(Got any other website recommendations? Do share!)

  1. Watch a movie or binge watch a TV show

This is where Netflix plays an important role in my life, to help me lose myself in some mind-numbing entertainment. It’s not always senseless though. Shows like House of Cards teach me how manipulation works (no, I’m not in the business of manipulating. I just like being able to detect it). Or a show like The Crown, that turned out to be a good lesson in history.

Of course light-hearted shows like Grace and Frankie or Full House are also on my list of indulgences, when all I’m looking for is some non-stop laughter.

  1. Go for a walk or run

I don’t run really, but every time I find my head has too much going on, I put on my sneakers and take myself for a walk by the sea-front promenade. The entire stretch takes me 45 minutes to traverse, so that is an excellent form of exercise that gets my blood pumping, forces me to take notice of people and things around me and distracts me from whatever nonsensical thoughts are bothering me.

Of course it’s relaxing for me because water has that calming effect on me. Since I usually go for a walk after the sun has set, the tranquility of the night sky or the thunder of the waves helps me put my small self in perspective in the larger scheme of the universe.

  1. Stand under the shower

This is therapy too! When the body and mind refuse to cooperate with each other, I simply force myself to stand under a hot shower for a good ten minutes. It makes my skin prick. It brings a flush to my skin. It relaxes any tense muscles I have. If the luxury of a spa can be afforded I turn to that, but if not, then a shower does the trick just as well.

  1. Call that person who you know will pick up your phone (and no, not that person whose thoughts you are trying to escape)

So my best friend, who fortunately is a girl, and can thus talk in a way only girls can, is always a phone call away. I may have spoken to her just the previous night, but if I called her right now, we would still have some mystery about life that demands to be solved right away. When my thoughts turn to melancholy or I find myself feeling lost, I call her.

Ofcourse if she tells me that she is running on the treadmill, I make a face and in my most dejected voice sigh and say, “Fine. Later then.”

  1. Try supermarket therapy

While to some it might seem a chore, supermarket to me is like a paradise. I love picking up boxes of cereals or looking at the veggies and trying to figure out what I’m in the mood to eat. It is a delight to see stacks filled with cookies that make me as giddy as a kid or the meat section with freshly laid out fish that I must fill up my cart with. Supermarket has never failed to perk up my mood and when I need to get out of the house I seek solace in shelves of food.

Beware though, never go to a supermarket on an empty stomach. The things you’ll end up buying will hurt your fitness plans all month long!

  1. Go out and indulge in your favorite bite

For me a Starbucks coffee usually does the trick. Or if i’m feeling more indulgent I’ll get myself some sushi. If you find yourself getting bored or lacking inspiration go out to your favourite restaurant or indulge in your favourite dish. I find that returning back to something familiar and fond kicks the brain into a more relaxed and even joyous state, helping me fight any monotony that may have been set in.

  1. Write

Like right now, I write. I always have a couple of million things to say. Or a few hundred books I wish to write before I die. So when nothing else is working, I just sit with my Mac and begin typing. Incessantly. Like right now.

What I end up saying sometimes surprises me. And it always gets my creativity flowing.

  1. Take a one-way ticket to someplace

Seemingly drastic, but hey, why not? Try it and you might surprise yourself. To be honest, I haven’t tries this yet, but some day I just might. See what comes of it. Of course make sure you have enough money on you and have at least a vague sense of what you are going to do once you get there, but it can be quite fun to hop onto an impromptu trip. Maybe just check into a hotel in a different city and sleep on a strange bed.

  1. Music

My all-time favourite and easily the one I can stop at – music. There is always something on my playlist to suit my mood. Funky dance numbers for early mornings, soothing jazz music for when I’m thinking and trying to come up with ideas. As a rule, I never listen to blue songs when I’m moody. But they say there’s a song for every mood, so perhaps listening to something that speaks your heart can come close to lifting your spirits.

So that’s my cheat sheet of things I do when I can’t figure out what to do. What do you do?


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