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22 Things to Do When You're Home Sick and Bored

During a recent illness, I came up with this list of low-key but productive tasks that can be completed from the comfort of your couch-nest.

Read on for tips!

Read on for tips!

What to Do When You're At Home, Sick and Bored

  1. Read through your stockpile of magazines and newspapers.
  2. Use an app like Pinterest to organize all of your ideas for living your best life- once you're done checking your temp every hour, of course.
  3. Clean out your medicine cabinet
  4. Connect with old friends
  5. And delete the bad ones
  6. Catch up on your reading list
  7. Find out what the internet (specifically Google) has to say about you!
  8. Charge your devices
  9. Call in any prescriptions you need to pick up for yourself or your family.
  10. Update your Amazon wish lists
  11. Clean out your inbox
  12. Make sure your social media privacy settings are up to your liking
  13. Shred old paperwork and mail
  14. Make appointments
  15. Take a glance at your daily/weekly routines and make sure it's still working for you
  16. Explore a new interest or hobby
  17. Cash in your rewards (or join a cashback program like Swagbucks).
  18. Sort through your current subscriptions
  19. Clean out your phone
  20. Organize your Spotify playlists
  21. Start journaling, if you don't already
  22. Buy cleaning supplies to clean up your germs . . .

Will Ferrell and Veggie Straws

This week, I found myself under a pile of blankets staring at a menu of B-list Will Ferrell flicks and trying not to think about what I'd done in the bathroom earlier that morning. I'd finally succumbed to the stomach bug that's been making its rounds in my snowy little city, and while the first couple of movies were gratifying, I began to find my mind slipping away into the hell that is being home sick. You know what I'm talking about when you start fantasizing about the good ol' days of vacuuming your kids' veggie straws out from under the couch without gagging or running up to the store without spewing at the side of the road. Those were good times, but they're gone right now, and all you're left with is a longing to get stuff done back in the real world.

I know it's weird to want to stay productive when you're home sick, but if you're on day five of analyzing the patterns on the ceiling, or you're just a Type A neurotic like me, enjoy this list of low-key, minimal-energy tasks that can be completed from the comfort of your couch-nest—so that when you finally awaken from the funk that is flu season, your life won't look like a bomb went off.

Just because you're too sick to work or go to school doesn't mean you want to stare at the ceiling - or your phone - all day.

Just because you're too sick to work or go to school doesn't mean you want to stare at the ceiling - or your phone - all day.

1. Read Through That Tower of Magazines

We already know that screens can cause headaches through eye strain and being sick doesn't help. Tuck your tablet away and blow the dust off those magazines that have been collecting on the bookshelf since 2012. Once you've finished one, set it aside to recycle when you're feeling better and whittle that pile down until your head is full of light recipes and fresh decorating ideas.

2. Play With Pinterest or Flipboard

Once you've made it through the mags, catapult yourself into article-collecting apps like Pinterest and Flipboard, where you can curate boards according to your interests. Save your favorite self-help articles, gardening ideas, recipes, career inspiration, and health how-tos for easy future reference.

3. Gut Your Medicine Cabinet

After your steamy shower, throw the contents of your medicine cabinet into a little trash bag or basket and take it to the couch to sort. Check the date on your sunscreen and the age limits on that children's acetaminophen while inspecting the caps of antibacterial creams and saline drops for signs of mold or other rot.

Remember to peel off your prescription labels before tossing them. To find out how to properly dispose of meds, visit

4. Get in Touch with Old Friends

Set down the remote and connect with friends or family instead. Send your great aunt from two states over an email asking how her holidays went, then FB chat up your best friend from your year abroad to find out how her new job is going. It'll feel good to talk to someone other than yourself.

5. And Unfriend the Bad Ones

As important as staying close with good friends is, getting rid of bad ones is just as healthy. Scan through your Facebook friends and Likes and un-add anyone you genuinely don't like or have no real-life connection with.

For those you don't want to excommunicate—like that really nice mom who keeps posting pictures of her new Lexus—or pages you'd like to use as a reference but don't want to keep seeing in your feed, just use the "unfollow" options to stay friends. They'll never know!

6. Catch Up on Your Reading List

Whether you prefer e-books or that sweet smell of a been-around-the-block-a-few-times library copy, indulge in a fresh chapter before your afternoon nap or after each round of ibuprofen. By the time your fever is broken, you'll have another novel checked off the list.

If you don't even have a list yet, get started for free with Goodreads or Kobo.

7. Google Yourself

That's right; I said Google yourself. Because it's a really great way to see what employers, professors, and new acquaintances might find out about you via the good ol' interwebz (we all do it). It's both funny and frightening how comments you made on some obscure blog when you were seventeen can come back to haunt you a decade later.

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8. Charge Your Devices

If you're anything like me (and I hope for your sake that you're not), I leave my devices in the bottom of my diaper bag or shoved under a pillow, only to find them after two days of being dead. When you have the energy, go around and grab your FitBit, the phones, tablets, laptops, and iPods and plug them all in to charge. It may be the only time in your life that every single chargeable item in your home is, in fact, charged.

9. Call in Your Prescriptions

Somehow, I am the keeper of prescriptions in our home. I say "somehow" because I always manage to wait until the little orange bottle is empty before I remember to call in our meds, and yet, I'm still trusted with this task.

Next time you get up to use the bathroom grab your prescriptions and a phone (it should be charged by now . . . ) and begin the journey that is dialing in numbers to your local pharmacy. Or, if you're more progressive, hop onto whatever website or app you use and get those things refilled.

10. Update Your Wishlists

I am also the keeper of Wishlists in this home (weird and creepy trivia—as I was writing this sentence, a character on my kids' show said the word "wishlist" . . . whaaa!), sending said wishlists to grandparent's when they ask around the holidays and birthdays, and keeping track of what's been purchased elsewhere and what is no longer relevant or available. And I inevitably end up scrambling to do all of this updating at the last minute.

Take half an hour to delete items that are no longer wanted and add a few for upcoming events.

11. Clear out Your Inbox

This is as good a time as any to face your demons head on. Open up your inbox and hit the select all option. Then, go through and un-check any emails that you still need to read or that are important to keep around and trash the rest. Repeat for all folders.

While you're at it, unsubscribe to any newsletters, mailing lists, and coupons you don't regularly read or use to keep your box from getting so cluttered in the future.

12. Do a Social Media Checkup

Check your social media to see where you stand on privacy settings and the information you're sharing with friends and strangers. Update passwords and check for profiles connected to email accounts you no longer use.

13. Shred Old Papers

This is a chore most of us push to the back of the closet (literally) until it's spilling into the laundry hamper. Drag that pile of five-year-old tax forms, appointment reminders, and brochures to your bedside and start inspecting, ripping, and shredding until all that remains is a tidy little stack.

14. Make Appointments

This isn't the most fun suggestion on this list, but it'll definitely make you feel productive. When your head is clear enough, browse through your calendar and jot down the people, places, and things you need to make appointments for in the next three months. Then start calling up dentists, clients, and teachers and pencil them in before your next steam shower.

15. Rethink Your Routine

Now is as good a time as any to sit back a take a good, hard look at your day-to-day. Is there something you dread doing on a regular basis, a task that you've taken on without much thought but that makes you kind of miserable, or an activity that someone in your family really kind of hates but you keep paying for anyway while you'd really prefer to get an extra hour of sleep and save that money to pay down a debt?

Give yourself permission to let go of the unnecessary, reschedule your life, and say no to things that aren't an absolute must.

Is being home sick helping you realize just how many hours you have in each day? Make sure you're spending them on things that really benefit your present and your future.

Is being home sick helping you realize just how many hours you have in each day? Make sure you're spending them on things that really benefit your present and your future.

16. Explore a New Interest or Hobby

If there's something you've been dying to try but haven't had the time to sit down and research it, this is a great time. Because you're supposed to be sitting down anyway.

Whether you're interested in going green with your cleaning products, cross-country skiing, alpaca farming, or sound engineering, pull out your laptop and start exploring the ins and outs while you have the time.

17. Cash In Your Rewards

Check your credit card points and cash-back programs from your phone or laptop to see if you have enough to turn in for rewards, cash, or a discount on your bills.

18. Prioritize Your Subscriptions

Take a few minutes between binge-watching to take inventory of your current subscriptions—from magazines, beauty boxes, and your digital media to services like Amazon and Thrive Market and decide if there are any you don't utilize enough to continue paying for or if there's a subscription that you would benefit from that you aren't already using, like meal delivery.

Also, check out your product subscriptions and update those too. My kid just recently went up a diaper size which means I need to go through my diaper subscriptions and adjust accordingly.

19. Clean Out Your Phone

If your phone has been nagging you to clear out the selfies for the last seven weeks, now's a good time to finally part ways with bad pictures, unused apps, and old downloads.

20. Organize Your Music

Use your downtime to sort through your libraries, organize playlists, and discover new music on Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube.

21. Journal

If you don't already, invest in a little self-care in the form of journaling. Experts believe that the practice of putting words, emotions, thoughts, and ideas on paper is a great way to practice emotional intelligence and clear your head space.

22. Grab Some Cleaning Supplies Without Leaving Bed

I know this is hard to think about right now, but when this is all said and done, you're going to have a lot of de-germing to do on top of the laundry and dishes that are piling up (I'm just trying to be real). Pick up a disinfectant spray, wipes, a tub of OxiClean, an extra jug of laundry detergent, new toothbrushes—oh, and toilet paper!—from, Amazon Prime Pantry, or Target online, and have everything delivered to your door right on time for the sanitizing to commence.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 Kierstin Gunsberg


Jyoti Sisodia from Bangalore on July 16, 2020:

Wow! You got me here

" It's both funny and frightening how comments you made on some obscure blog when you were seventeen can come back to haunt you a decade later". Well, it's kinda true and yea, when we do something like that on social media like Instagram, it happens when you see your own weird comment after somedays. It feels like heck! why I commented like this in the first place.

Kyriaki Chatzi on February 25, 2017:

Lovely piece! I love your sense of humor!

As for the inbox part, couldn't be more true...

Being sick at home is probably the best thing that can happen to my inbox.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on January 18, 2017:

These are all great ideas, Kierstin! I commend you for being so ambitious when you're sick. When I don't feel well, I stay in my PJs and binge watch Food Network, Lifetime, or the Hallmark Channel. I give myself permission to be lazy and unproductive. Of course, I don't have small children or a husband, so I can get away with it.

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