Turning a Slow Work Day into a Time for “Extra” Productivity
So, you’ve made it through the crush of the busy season where your multi-tasking and time management skills were regularly pushed to the limit with new challenges flying at you multiple times per day. But what do you do now that everything has slowed to a snail’s pace? What if you have hours, or even days, of otherwise free time on your hands? Discounting things like Facebooking and shopping on Amazon, take a gander at several ways to use your extra time productively and help make the next rush that much easier to plow through.
Even after you have read your entire email backlog and organized your desk just so, there is still room for improvement. Once you file every email away into the proper archive, now is the time to save important messages, such as those regarding hiring and HR matters, emails you spent hours creating, and positive feedback you have received on your past efforts; these fit in great on a resume cover letter. Finally, take some time to handle any emails you keep putting off for the indefinite future.
After you’ve completely overhauled and organized your email collection it’s time to catch up on any calls to clients or other VIPs. Even if you call to simply touch base, get their feedback on how things are going and where they have found any room for improvement. This is an excellent trust and relationship building activity that shouldn’t be overlooked when you find yourself with some extra time to spare. One thing though, make sure you have a purpose when calling out of the blue or come to a mutual agreement on when a good time to call may be. You may be making calls largely to kill time but the other person may be inconvenienced by an unannounced call.
Even though you find yourself twiddling your thumbs at your desk, some of your colleagues may be swamped with catching up. If your immediate coworkers are in no need of assistance, take the extra time to learn about other departments and even gain new skills if one of them should request your assistance. Helping others is always appreciated and never goes unnoticed. But should your entire organization be in a slow phase, actively seek out new projects. Browse through company materials and look for out-of-date information that should be replaced or identify parts that could be made clearer in successive updates. This not only helps your organization as a whole but your initiative reflects well on you with the higher ups.
But, of course, there are always periods where you may not have enough time to start a project, help a colleague, or seriously edit corporate materials. Should you have only an hour or less to kill, look for brief, self-centered activities such as your own professional development. Think about aspects of your job or organization that you would like to know more about and read up on them. Browse industry blogs, update your network, catch up on trends, and otherwise work to increase your value.
All of that having been said, if you find that you are regularly faced with extended periods of unproductiveness, you may need to approach your boss and develop projects that will allow you to contribute to your company. After all, while the occasional slow period may help you normalize, having slow days every day is a symptom of a deeper issue.