Slow work days can feel like weeks. They usually happen when there’s a lull in the work you need to do, or if you’re waiting for teammates to meet deadlines so you can continue a project. Slower days are inevitable, but they don’t have to feel as slow as you might think.
Even when it feels impossible, you can always stay busy at work — even on those days that seem like they’re dragging on. Here are six easy ways you can be productive the next time your day is starting to drag.
1. Look at Your Calendar
You may not have anything big to do today, and that’s great. It’s nice to have a break from clocking in and jumping straight into your workload. Not having much to do is how a slow day begins, but you can still create a to-do list without having anything on your plate.
The first thing you should always do on a slow day at work is to look at your calendar. What do you have to do later on in the week? What about over the next month? Look for your biggest upcoming projects and see if you can get a jump on them.
Write out to-do lists for the whole project or even start working on them if it’s possible. What you’ll do may feel like busy work, but you’ll be helping your future self out while also speeding up your day.
2. Do One Thing at a Time
Once you’ve got a few lists planned out or projects in mind, take things deliberately slow. Spend your time really thinking about the work you’re doing. You’ll keep yourself busy for a longer period of time, without blowing through the work you just created for yourself that should take up your slow day at work.
Try to do one thing at a time. You’ll have a better quality of work on what you get done, and you’ll stretch out your to-do list to make it last longer. You may also find that you can tweak some things as you go. Your to-do list may include reviewing work that’s already been done, which could give you time to edit anything that needs changing.
3. Learn New Things
You got hired at your job because your boss knew you’d be great at it, so why not keep getting better? If you learn something new, you’ll also have much more value at your workplace.
That could lead to saving you from cutoffs or awarding you a promotion for advancing in your field. Look around online for anything that’s educationally related to what you do. Watch videos starring other professionals, so you can learn from them and become the best professional version of yourself.
4. Sort Through Your Inbox
Your inbox may feel like a never-ending void of what you need to get done. Emails are constantly coming in for meeting invites, conference call invitations and more. It’s easy to set aside managing your inbox for bigger projects you need to tackle, but a messy inbox could cause you to miss or forget about important messages.
When you have a slow day, it’s the perfect time to sort through your inbox. Chase down all those unopened messages that have piled up, delete what you can, empty your trash can and unsubscribe from anything you don’t actually read. You can also update your signature or automatic responses if you haven’t reviewed those in a while.
5. Update Your Resume
People only ever look at their resume when they’re actively looking for a job. So, if you’ve been at the same job for a while, you probably haven’t opened your resume in quite some time. When you have free time at work, update your resume to make it more accurate. You don’t need to start fresh with an empty document to do that, either.
The first thing you should do is move any old, unrelated job positions to the bottom of your resume — or deleting them completely to make room for better accolades. Update your list of skills, double-check your contact information and review for any lingering errors. These little tips will transform your resume into something you can be proud of.
6. Develop Your Workplace Relationships
It’s always a good idea to bond with the people you work with. If you’ve been at your job for a while, this may not seem important, but you can always become better friends with your coworkers. Networking is a powerful professional tool, and the only way to do it is to get to know the people around you.
Talk with people in the morning when they’re getting their coffee as an easy way to break the ice. Invite them to lunch with you, whether you’re going out for a quick bite to eat or sitting down in the break room. It may not seem like a big gesture of friendship at first, but you’ll be laying the foundation for great relationships that are sure to follow.
Slow days at work can feel like some of the worst, but they don’t have to be. In fact, they present the perfect opportunity to get a few steps ahead of the game. Use your free time as a chance to get busy, and you’ll notice significant improvements in your productivity and attitude.
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