Friday, November 12, 2010

Use Downtime Productively

Inevitably, you experience some downtime on your job, for example, between projects or while awaiting feedback on a current project. How you choose to spend your downtime can reveal the kind of worker you are and will likely be noticed by your manager and co-workers. Use this time wisely to organize and prepare—both should promote success and efficiency during busier times and cause your employer to take notice.
Following are some downtime tasks to consider. Although the list is geared toward those currently working, some of the tasks apply to job seekers as well.
  • Organize your work area: This can involve organizing your desk, files (both paper and online), and reference material, etc.
  • Clean out and organize your email: If your email isn’t automatically archived, consider archiving those you may need to refer to later. Respond to emails that weren’t a priority during busier times and delete emails that are not needed.
  • Prepare for upcoming tasks: If you are aware of upcoming projects and/or tasks, complete any upfront work possible. For example, if you produce the company newsletter, ask for article ideas or submissions in advance. In some cases, you may only be able to plan and schedule upcoming tasks—but doing so may help you hit the ground running once the work begins.
  • Offer to help your manager or co-workers: Offering assistance is almost always appreciated. Your manager, in particular, will be glad to see you taking the initiative.
  • Identify opportunities for improvement: If you have ideas for how a process might be improved or how the company can grow business, use downtime to research the ideas. If you present the idea and it doesn’t get implemented, you’ll most likely still get credit for being proactive.
  • Sharpen a skill or expand your knowledge: Identify resources for developing your professional knowledge or sharpening a skill. For starters, look into a Webinar or take an online training course.
  • Catch up on current industry news and trends: Stay current on what is happening in your industry and the trends that are being discussed.

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