22 Things to Do During That Boring Conference Call

Last Updated Aug 15, 2011 9:48 AM EDT

On my "Crock Pot" post last week, I suggested ordering groceries online during boring conference calls. A few readers asked for a list of other things you can do during boring conference calls to pass the minutes and hours when you only need to pay a little bit of attention (like if someone says your name).
Despite my grocery comment, I have mixed feelings about writing such a post. Because fundamentally, if you repeatedly experience conference calls that require so little attention that you can multi-task, then why are you on them? The most productive use of your time and energy is to figure out a way to kill such calls, or pare down the invite list to only those folks who need to be there. You can also ask to shorten the time frame. Negotiate down to half an hour from an hour, and watch your life improve.

That said, we live in the real world. If you're not going to be able to change your glut of conference calls without making choices you don't wish to make, then here are some other ways to pass the time in a mildly productive fashion without checking Facebook (not that there's anything wrong with that):

1. Read a novel in bite size chunks at DailyLit.com
2. Write a love letter to your spouse

3. Look at photos of major art works at Metmuseum.org
4. Schedule a mole check or other health maintenance appointment you've been avoiding at ZocDoc.com
5. Knit

6. Doodle

7. Make a photo book at Shutterfly or another major photo site

8. Cross off a major financial housekeeping task (like setting up automatic transfers from checking to savings)

9. Pace -- it burns more calories than sitting there!

10. Do sit-ups or push-ups, or at least contract your abs

11. Challenge your notions of the universe by reading a political blog that represents views that are the polar opposite of yours

12. Read the website of a daily newspaper in a random small town you've never visited

13. Watch a video from the Khan Academy on a math or science topic that's long confused you (as long as you've got your phone call on mute)

14. Brush up on history by reading a document you haven't looked at since civics class (do you know what's in the Declaration of Independence?)

15. Read poetry at the Poetry Foundation's website

16. Send an email to an old friend asking how he's doing

17. Clean your desk
18. Plan how you can knock an item off your List of 100 Dreams this weekend

19. Send a thank you note to someone who's done something good for the world. Not necessarily someone famous; an under-appreciated volunteer at your church would be a good start.

20. Explore a subculture that's completely foreign to you. I spent some time earlier this spring reading posts on chicken-raising forums. Did you know a rooster was called a "roo”?

21. Via Alice.com, make sure you never run out of toilet paper again

22. Get started on your Christmas shopping, or pick out items and cards for birthdays and schedule deliveries in advance

How do you pass the time during long conference calls? Help me get to at least 25!

Related:
Photo courtesy flickr user, Jayegirl99

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