For women like me who thrive on routine, it can be tricky to navigate circumstances that are out of the norm. A slow work day is akin to a brain freeze for busy-bees, who are as good at taking breaks as they are at sleeping in (but, oh, how we wish we could...).
Even the most hectic workplaces will see a slow day every once in awhile, and even the most resourceful workaholics can be left twiddling their thumbs.
Expectations for how to use down time can vary a lot depending on your role, your supervisors and your company culture; When in doubt, don't hesitate to reach out to a colleague to inquire about proper protocol.
If your to-do list is done but you've still got hours to go, don't torture yourself by watching the clock. Try out these 5 productivity boosters to keep boredom at bay and stay productive during slow work days:
Organize your desktop
Busy work weeks lead to messy desktops: Scattered files, messy folders. I'm guilty of it too. Slow days are prime time to whip that mess into shape by deleting all the files you don't need and reorganizing the ones you do.
I like to organize my work files using a clear hierarchical system. It's the same system I use to organize my blog files on my Macbook at home (Luckily, my work computer is also a Mac).
Tidy up your inbox
Nothing is more evident of a busy week at work than a jam-packed inbox. Like your desktop, the cleanliness of your e-mail usually falls to the wayside while your most critical tasks take center stage.
Refresh your workspace
When you work area is overflowing, it's hard not to feel overwhelmed. Pens, paper, reminders scribbled on sticky notes; These and other office staples can quickly be reduced to collateral damage from the total tornado of a busy week.
It doesn't take much time to give your workspace a clean sweep, so set aside a half-hour one dreary day to spruce it up. Better yet, make it a habit by giving your space a one-minute makeover at the end of each work day.
Optimize your routine
Tedious tasks are part of the job – every job. These regular work week duties are the most time-consuming and the least rewarding, which is why we tend to work through them at a snail’s pace. When you do find pause between these dirty jobs, use it wisely.
One project with a satisfaction guarantee? Content templates. Spending just a few minutes to set up these documents, spreadsheets or other personalized tools ends up saving so much time on tedious tasks in the end.
Research industry trends
No matter how much experience you have in your industry, there's always an opportunity to learn more.
Take advantage of slow days by reading up on news, thoughts and trends related to your field of expertise. Pinpoint the most influential leaders in your knowledge network, then make sure to keep up with them on their most-used social media account.
Harvard Business Review organizes all its articles into a nifty industry directory, so you can browse for content specific to your field.
How do you like to spend slow days at work?
Share your thoughts in the comments or tweet me about this post!