I used to sell sunglasses. Some days were busy, but most were a bit boring, with only one or two customers stopping in every few hours. I was confined to a 20×30-ft. store space—and cleaning and organizing stock only took so long. Some days I cleaned the same counters and glasses repeatedly just to pass the time.
We’ve all been there at some point—that moment when your to-do list has been completed, and you haven’t seen a customer in at least an hour. You’re racking your brain for something to occupy your time to fight the boredom.
But downtime isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it is quite natural for professionals to have a few slow days here and there. What you do with that time is extremely important. Time is a valuable resource that most professionals lack.
Here are five ways to thrive in the slow periods:
Don’t wait for someone to give you work—look for it, even if it doesn’t fall under your job description. Does the filing system need reworked? Fix it. Is the website boring? Set up a blog. Do your co-workers need help? Volunteer. Make a list of your skills and email them to the staff, offering to help with relevant projects. Try to get involved with things above your pay grade.
Whether you’re a newbie or a sage, there is always more to learn about your industry. Use extra time to expand your professional knowledge, attend webinars, read, or keep up with top business sites. Research what others in similar positions do with their time.
Consider how you wish things were, and figure out how you can make them that way. What product would help? Which person do you need to talk to? What barriers need to be destroyed? Be the catalyst for change.
What will you do next week? Which long-term projects can you start? What goals do you want to reach and how?
Sort through your desk, files, inbox, priorities—anything that could use more structure or purpose.
Some companies have constant traffic flow, endless responsibilities, and backlogged work to fill the hours. Others don’t. In these spare moments, a lot of people surf the internet, shop online, send emails, get on social media, or play games. But you can do more! Turn your boredom into opportunity.
Have you ever had a slow day? How did you fill the time?