I think we all know how to go into robot mode when we have 100 things on our to-do list. Show up to work and zoom through the list as fast as you can while also getting to your unread messages and doing that thing your boss asked you to do a week ago, eat lunch at your desk (if you’re lucky) and leave at the end of the day feeling drained and knowing you have to do it again tomorrow until it stops.
But what about after the busy season, after the big project? How do you handle your job when it slows down?
My life has been crazy for the past few months. First, I moved to a new city. Then it was getting adjusted while starting to focus on summer events at work and also a huge project I was responsible for at the end of the summer. It was chaos by the end of August. I could accomplish only the tasks that were directly related to events happening within the next day or week.
Now, our summer events are over, my big project is complete, and all were a success. And now, I have had a few weeks of time to catch up on work and regain my balance and I’m thinking about how to wisely spend my time now that I don’t have deadlines and events breathing down my neck (for a minute). Have you ever felt this way? Found yourself crazy busy and a week later sitting on Facebook and staring at the clock? Here’s my advice.
What to do when you have downtime at work
- Go back over old emails you missed during your busy time. I have a folder in my email where I save things that I don’t have the time for right now but still need to do at some point. Start there. Answer questions, fix little bugs, give updates to those who might need them. Don’t neglect things just because you are busy, you wouldn’t want someone to do that to you!
- Catch up on your communicating. When I am busy at work, I feel like I just don’t have the time to talk to my colleagues. I’m either out of the office traveling or I’m only in the office for 5 hours and have 500 things to do and no time to chat! When work slows down, take the time to catch up with your office mates. Don’t take this as gossip time, but use it to catch up on what they are working on or anything you might have missed. Ask them if there is any work you can help them with. Go to lunch with your team, get back in the swing of communicating with your people and it will be worth it.
- Keep track of your personal growth goals and visit them now. In my job, I have the work that it is my job to do and that includes the things I was hired for. But I also keep a notebook in my desk of all the ideas I have to improve my job and my professional skills. These are my ideas I get in meetings or talking to people about what I think can really improve my company that others aren’t doing. I keep a list of things I want to accomplish for each quarter of the year. If you haven’t done that yet, take some time to think of ideas you might have tossed aside the past few months. What projects can you start on that will add to your experience and your companies well being. For me at this stage, it’s not about thinking big, but more about thinking small and covering little details on your job.
- This is also a good time to journal and reflect on the past few months. Keep track of what all you accomplished and how it made you feel, what skills you developed and what things you went through in the process. Not only will this help you in the long run when you are trying to apply for new jobs, but it also will help you the next time you have a project coming up to remember how you can be better.
How do you spend your downtime at work?