Many of us who work in offices have had at least one slow work day or a season when we feel bored because we do not have enough work to do, which may be the result of us becoming expert multi-taskers, we have been doubly efficient in our job, or simply we have not been assigned anything else to make sure we are available for new projects or tasks.
Of course, it is normal and inevitable that at certain times there is downtime, but the problem is that the more bored we are, the slower the time will pass. However, having a slow work day can be enjoyable if we spend time on productive and less boring things than just waiting for new tasks.
Here is a list of productive things you can occupy your time at work and not lose your mind trying.
1. Read about work-related topics
Without a doubt, when we have a slow work day, one of the most productive ways to take advantage of the time is to focus on our professional development, which we can do by reading books, articles and updated information related to our work and what we would like to know about. For example, leadership, marketing, networking, among other topics.
It is good to discover that there is always something new to learn, but that we can also drive success at work while we do so since by staying informed and learning something else we can increase our value as employees and even look for a new job in the future. Consider taking your learning online, either by attending a webinar or completing an online course.
2. Organize your emails
Although for many this may seem a tedious and boring task, others may find satisfaction in the fact that they are organizing their emails, something that can be very useful and productive especially if your job is to send emails on a daily basis since, in addition to helping us pass the time, it will allow our inbox easier to manage. Not to mention that it will also help us stay on top of all our emails.
To do this, we can create or configure folders for all the subjects or categories of emails we may receive. This will make it easier to know where to look if we need to check or use something later. You can even save your emails on a shared drive in your company or in your personal files.
3. Plan ahead
While killing time at work is fine sometimes, when we have a slow work day there is nothing more productive than planning work in advance. To structure your day, you can choose to buy a weekly desk calendar or create your own paper calendar to plan your weekly or monthly tasks, projects, and goals. Although, if the paper is not your thing, you can create an account on special project management sites such as Trello.
For good planning, you can start by making a list of all the tasks you do on a daily basis. For example, checking emails, making phone calls, or attending meetings. Next, you can make a list of your medium and long-term projects and tasks. Once you have everything ready, the last part of your planning will be to define the importance and urgency with which you will attend to each task.
4. Offer help to your co-workers.
If you have plenty of time on a slow work day, it does not mean your co-workers have too, so asking if they need help can be doubly beneficial for them and for you. First, it is a great opportunity to learn about other parts of the organization or acquire new skills. Second, they may appreciate it and kindly return the favor the next time you need help with your work.
In any case, you have nothing to lose and much to gain because your boss may also see your willingness to help others and reward you in your next performance review.
5. Have fun
Even though work may be the last thing you want to do, trying to make it fun can be a great way to avoid demotivation. Our first option may be to turn to the internet, there is an inexhaustible source of entertainment, whether it is playing mind games like Sudoku or reading online newspapers and magazines on topics of interest. However, you just need to make sure that you do not get caught because the last thing you want to do is get fired.
On the other hand, also try turning tasks into games, for example, keep a count of the number of emails you can reply to in 15 minutes or you can assign points to each page you write for a report. This will certainly make work more enjoyable and entertaining.
Another way to change your approach is to engage in more conversations with your co-workers in and out of the office since it will allow you to create a warmer work atmosphere. You can also work on motivation by giving yourself as a reward at the end of each hour a snack or a short five-minute break.
Just remember that having fun does not mean wandering to your colleagues’ desks and engaging in an hour-long debate on any topic because even though we have time to kill, it is possible that they have it too.
6. Organize your workspace
If you notice that your workspace does not look very tidy, it may be the best time to give it a good cleaning. Organizing your workspace, in addition to removing dirt, will allow you to know exactly where everything is and will reduce your anxiety levels since it will save you time when looking for what you need and thus improve your productivity and efficiency.
To efficiently organize your office, the first thing to do is identify what items you need to do your job. Then we must designate a place for each one, for example, a box, tray, or pencil holder.
After that, the next thing to do is to get rid of everything we do not need by putting, for example, old documents in the paper shredder and recycle pens that do not work. Then, add a decorative element to your workspace to fill it with joy. This can be a vase with fresh cut flowers, an inspiring landscape, or a family photo in a beautiful photo frame.
7. Find a new job
If you find that you are permanently bored and unmotivated at work, this is possibly an unequivocal sign that you have already lost interest in your work and do not find it challenging, or worse, you are suffering from the effects of burnout. Either way, the antidote for both cases is the same: find a new job.
However, instead of doing it lightly, you should first update your resume with the new skills and qualifications you have acquired. Of course, without neglecting the new achievements you have made since your last job search.