If someone were to audit how you spend your time on your computer, what would that audit look like?
Would it say something like…”Watches dumb videos on Youtube, checks email constantly, always has Netflix open late at night.”
Or would it say something like this…”Watches informative content on Youtube, reads daily, always shuts down before 10:30 p.m.”
If you resonated with the first audit, then you’re in the right place. Because in this article, we’re going to be discussing an extensive list of productive things to do on the computer.
It’s impossible to be perfect with the way you manage your screen time — these devices are just too inherently addictive for our brain.
However, my hope is that the following actions pop into your head whenever you’re feeling tempted to waste time on your laptop.
Let’s dive in!
10 Productive Things To Do On The Computer
The various behaviors you can engage in on your computer fall into two distinct categories — traction or distraction.
Traction refers to all of the behaviors that move your life forward. Things like learning new skills, optimizing your productivity, and consuming helpful content fall into this category.
(Reading this blog post right now is also an example of traction)
Distraction refers to the auto-pilot behaviors that keep you stagnant. Things like going down the Youtube rabbit hole, binge-watching Netflix for hours, and pointless internet surfing fall into this category.
Unless you plan on throwing your laptop out of a window, there’s no way to avoid distraction. However, there are productive behaviors that may be able to take time away from the mindless habits that keep you stuck.
So without further ado, here’s an extensive list of productive things to do on the computer!
#1: Shut It Off At 11 P.M.
This might seem like an odd way to start this list, but it’s such an important topic that I felt like it needed to be covered first.
If you’re viewing screens after 11 p.m., this is something that you must stop doing immediately. Now you probably already know that this habit is bad for you, but here’s Stanford neuroscientist Andrew Huberman explaining just how dangerous it is:
“If you view light of any color between the hours of 11-4 a.m, you actually trigger a pro-depressive circuit in your brain…you suppress levels of dopamine and experience depressive symptoms, lower mood, and defects in learning and memory in the following days.”
He goes on to say a lot more but the main point is this — viewing screens after 11 p.m. is really, really bad for your brain.
You’re sabotaging so many different areas of your life with one simple habit, so do your best to avoid late-night screen exposure at all costs.
With that key insight out of the way, let’s discuss some productive things to do on the computer (before 11 p.m. of course).
Oh, and If you’re curious about hearing Andrew speak about this here’s the video below:
#2: Listen To Andrew Huberman
I just talked about this guy, so we might as well keep the train rolling!
If you’re reading this article, I’m guessing that you have some level of interest in personal development.
Well when it comes to action-based personal development advice that’s backed by science, there’s no better source on Youtube than Andrew Huberman.
Dr. Huberman is a professor of neurobiology at Stanford University, so he knows a thing or two about optimizing the brain for peak performance.
And while his knowledge is super valuable, what makes him particularly compelling is his ability to condense it into language that mere mortals like you and I can understand.
On his podcast (Huberman Lab Podcast), he covers a variety of topics such as improving focus, optimizing your brain, breaking bad habits, reducing depression/anxiety, and more.
He conducts two hour deep dives into these topics that are filled with simple ways to optimize your body and mind for success. So the next time you find yourself on Youtube, check out one of these episodes and see what you learn.
(This video on dopamine is really powerful stuff)
#3: Download A Website Blocker
When it comes to working without distraction, willpower is overrated. Your working environment however? That’s something you can actively design.
Website blockers are a fantastic productivity tool because they take willpower out of the equation.
Want to check your email? Too bad, you can’t.
Feeling the urge to log onto Twitter? Too bad, you can’t.
Resisting these urges through sheer discipline is not realistic. It’s possible, but it’s a battle you’re going to lose 95% of the time.
So while you’re on your laptop, why not install something that makes it impossible to access distracting websites while you’re working?
Personally, I use a website blocker called Freedom. It’s a really awesome tool that makes it easy to stay in the zone when engaging in deep, focused work.
Freedom allows you to block websites and apps across all of your devices, not just your computer. So whenever you need to focus, you simply set a timer and you’ll be unable to access distractions for the duration of that timer.
If you want to give Freedom a go, they have a monthly plan which is $8.99/month and a yearly plan that comes out to $3.33/month.
Not bad for a tool that saves you several hours each week.
#4: Explore Masterclass Courses
If you’re looking for productive things to do on the computer, exploring Masterclass is a great option.
Masterclass is an online education platform that contains a library of courses under the following categories:
- Health & Wellness
- Science & Technology
- Arts & Entertainment
- Sports & Gaming
It’s safe to say that if you have a hobby or skill you’re looking to learn more about, Masterclass has a resource specifically designed for you.
What makes Masterclass a great source of knowledge is that you’re learning from people who are among the elite in their chosen field.
If you want to learn how to prepare delicious meals, then you’ll be given step-by-step instructions from Gordon Ramsay.
If you want to become a better writer, then you’ll be learning from legendary best-selling author James Patterson.
The instruction is top-notch, and the courses are very digestible. Most of them contain ten to fifteen video lessons that average 10-12 minutes per video.
So whether you’re looking to hone your professional skills or become more proficient at a hobby, Masterclass is worth looking into.
#5: Read A Personal Development Book
Luckily, we live in a world where we can see a book we like, buy it, and then have it in front of us within minutes.
So if you’re looking for productive things to do on the computer, why not scoop up a personal development book?
Nearly all positive changes that I’ve made in my life have been triggered by one thing — consuming information from people smarter than me.
If you look back on the positive changes you’ve made in your life, I’m guessing that you’ll notice a similar pattern.
At some point, you came across interesting, helpful information. Then, you started thinking of ways to apply it to your life. And as you started taking action, you were able to optimize and adjust until results showed up.
That’s the continuous evolution that we all go through in life, and it all starts with exposing yourself to new information.
Here are some of the best personal development books that you should read if you haven’t already.
- Atomic Habits By James Clear (Habits)
- The Slight Edge By Jeff Olson (General Self-Help)
- Deep Work By Cal Newport (Productivity)
- The Confidence Gap By Russ Harris (Confidence/Mindset)
#6: Practice Your Social Skills
Another one of the most productive things to do on your computer is to leverage it to improve your social skills.
Obviously, the best way to practice your social skills is to get out there and talk to people. However, there are ways that you can work on your conversation skills while in the comfort of your own home.
Allow me to explain.
One of the most common things that people struggle with in conversations is running out of things to say. And if you’ve been around socially charismatic people, that’s one problem they don’t have.
The reason that they’re able to do this is because either consciously or unconsciously, they’ve mastered the art of free association. For those of you not familiar with free association, it’s the ability to relate different ideas together and generate interesting things to say at will.
Stand-up comedians are masters at this, and it’s one of the primary reasons why they’re so verbally engaging on stage.
In order to develop this skill, simply open up this random word generator and practice the following exercises.
- One Word Association Exercise: Generate a random word and then say the first word that comes to your mind. The word you say should be related to the word that’s generated. For example, if the word generated is “animal,” you might say “dogs.”
- Three Word Association Exercise: This exercise is the same as the one above, except in this exercise you’re coming up with three related words. For example, If the word generated is “money,” you might say, “taxes, wealth, rich.”
- Free Association Sentences: In this exercise, you generate a random word and then start talking about something related to that word. If you want to mimic bringing value to a conversation, then try to relate your sentences to your previous life experiences.
If you practice each of these exercises for five minutes per day, you should see a noticeable difference in the quality of your social interactions!
#7: Sharpen Up Your Resume
If you’re currently working a corporate job, then you know how unpredictable things can become even at the most stable, successful companies.
So if your resume isn’t polished and up to date, consider taking a couple of hours to do that today.
There’s no telling what might happen 6-12 months from now. Even if you feel secure in your role right now, things can change very quickly.
And if you do get let go from your job for whatever reason, at least you’ll have a completely polished resume that you can start sending out immediately.
#8: Watch Inspiring TED Talks
Another great source of knowledge on the internet is TED Talks. These short speeches are usually jam-packed with powerful wisdom from some of the smartest, most successful people on the planet.
Figures like Mel Robbins, Simon Sinek, and Daniel Gilbert have all appeared on the TED stage to share their life-changing advice with the world.
Given the quality of the speakers and the breadth of topics covered, they’re well worth checking out if you’re looking for productive things to do on your computer.
Here are some of the best TED Talks that I’ve come across since discovering them a few years ago:
- Mel Robbins: How To Stop Screwing Yourself Over
- Simon Sinek: Start With Why
- Robert Waldinger: What Makes A Good Life?
#9: Declutter Your Email Inbox
With the way that we’re bombarded with offers in the modern economy, it’s inevitable that our email inboxes are going to fill up with B.S.
There’s nothing wrong with subscribing to an email list that adds value to your life. But if the emails you actually want to read are overshadowed by a bunch of junk, then it may be time for a purge.
Here’s a helpful question to ask yourself before hitting unsubscribe — does receiving emails from this person/company help me professionally, personally, or financially?
If the answer is no, then simply cut the dead weight and hit unsubscribe. And since you’re likely to continue to sign up for offers, be sure to make this a regular practice every 2-3 months.
#10: Put Things You’re Likely To Forget On Your Calendar
Ever experienced that “oh no” feeling that comes after realizing you missed something important?
Whether it’s a meeting, appointment, phone call, or social gathering, that’s never a pleasant feeling. Luckily though, you can use your laptop to be proactive when it comes to remembering the important stuff.
Take 5-10 minutes and throw any important upcoming events on your calendar. That way when the day comes for that crucial deadline or can’t-miss event, a simple notification will put it back into your field of view.
Final Thoughts On Productive Things To Do On The Computer
When it comes to technology, you have two choices — use it or let it use you.
Hopefully this list of productive things to do on the computer has provided you with ideas on how to be a bit more intentional with your laptop.
Now it’s one thing to read about productive ways to use your computer, but it’s another thing entirely to take action.
So which one of these activities will you actually commit to today?
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