By Guest Author, Ashley Andrews
With important projects and fast approaching deadlines to deal with, most people barely have time to grab a bite to eat, let alone do anything else during a workday. It’s rare for us to have a slow day, or even a couple of slow days at work. But if you are experiencing a quiet period, what can you do?
Instead of browsing through social media websites or playing a game on your phone, you can spend this time much more productively and complete tasks you’ve been putting off for a while. If you need some ideas on productive things you can do during downtime at work, here are my top 6 tips.
1) Organise your desk
When you’re rushing from one task to another and racing to get things done before the deadlines, you won’t have time to organise your desk or clean up the mess in your drawer. It’s not your priority so, understandably, it will have to wait.
The problem is, with a list of deadlines and an increasing amount of work to do, most people rarely find the time to organise their workspace. I’m sure we’ve all been in a situation where you desperately need a piece of paper or a particular document but you can’t find it in all the clutter, no matter how hard you look.
If you find yourself with some extra time on your hands, try to declutter your workspace. Clear off your desk, discard everything you no longer need (or is not necessary for everyday use) and take some time to organise all your important files and papers. Not only will this help you save a considerable amount of time in the long run, but it will also make work a lot less stressful.
If you need some tips on how to get started, Time Management Ninja has some great suggestions.
2) Tackle your emails
Everyone who gets several dozen emails each day will agree that organising your inbox can be a nightmare. Even if you go through a couple of them, another dozen will come in and you’ll have to start all over again. In no time, you’ll find your inbox filled with emails you’ve already dealt with or have put aside. When you have some free time on your hands, roll up your sleeves and start digging through them.
The simplest and easiest way to tackle your emails is to follow the “do, delete, delegate” process. Which means, read and reply to the email, delete it if you need to, or delegate it to someone else.
Another effective method is to dedicate certain times of your working day specifically for checking and replying to emails. You can read more about this technique on the Microsoft blog.
3) Make that call
If you’re guilty of putting off talking to people on the phone, now is the best time to get this done. You finally have the time to return your client’s call, or have a chat with your college friend, or that interesting person you met at a company trip or networking event. It’s always good to connect with your family, friends, and acquaintances when you have the time.
4) Plan your upcoming days
Although there are some people who love to plan their days down to the very last detail, most people find it a tedious and unnecessary task. The truth is, however, that people who plan ahead are generally more productive than the rest of us. Planning your days ahead of time gives you a tentative roadmap, and allows you to set the pace for getting things done.
If, at this stage, you realise that your time is better spent starting early on a project or tackling a task with a still distant deadline, you should do it. Getting ahead of work will help you avoid last minute stress.
5) Think about how you spend your time
Another productive way to spend your free time is to think about how you usually spend your time. Do you utilise your time properly? Are you managing your days well? Do you get things done without being stressed and get enough rest? Think about where you have the habit of wasting time and plan accordingly.
And, if you’re not entirely sure why managing your time is so important or how poor time management can affect a business, you can read about them on the Activia website.
6) Learn something new
As they say, it’s never too late to learn. Whether it’s something that contributes to your productivity at work or something that would reduce stress and give you joy, take this time to learn something new. Perhaps you’ve been itching to learn origami, or need to develop your presentation skills. You can use this time to sharpen these skills.
How do you make use of downtime at work? Do you have any other tips that you think might be useful? Let us know!