What To Do When You Have Nothing To Do

What To Do When You Have Nothing To Do

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Depending on what you do for work, sometimes there are down times.

Those days (or weeks) where you spend time at your desk surfing the web more than you usually do, organizing your pens more than normal, or taking 20 trips to the water cooler just to pass the time and stave off boredom as much as you can.

Most people will say “enjoy the quiet” or “it’s the calm before the storm”. But for you, I bet being idle is probably one of the worst feelings. Forget the boredom, it gives you an eerie sense of impending doom and your mind races with thoughts of downsizing, restructuring and layoffs.

So what do you do when you have nothing to do? When there is literally no work? Lots.

Here are few ideas, and why you might want to consider them.

1. Take a course or two

Many of the larger corporate employers have their own “University” which consists of a pre-selected, pre-approved offering of online courses. Take some. You never know what you might learn.

2. Learn how other departments function

Get to know your company better. Eyeing a promotion? This is one of the best ways to show your commitment to, and interest in, your company. Shadow coworkers in other departments, and let them do the same for you.

3. Work on your development plan

Have some stuff that you need to fulfill for your annual performance appraisal? Get it done now so you’re not scrambling at year end.

4. Take stock of all that you’ve accomplished

Don’t just make a mental list of all the ways you kick ass at work. Write down and make lists of the great things you’ve achieved. You’ll need this later if you ever want to ask for a promotion.

5. Pitch in where you can

You might have some downtime, but does everyone on your team? If not, ask them how you can help them. This is a great way to get cross-trained and forge an even stronger relationship with your teammates.

6. Write a manual for something you’re expert in

Focusing on succession and contingency planning shows your company that you are committed to your work. There’s nothing I hated more in my previous jobs than facing a complicated issue, seeing it was addressed before, and then finding NO documentation to back it up. Don’t be that person. Write manuals and share them with your team. It may seem like you’re making yourself redundant, but actually you are showing you are even MORE valuable.

7. Cross train someone

Similar to #6, help others learn how to do what you do. This will exhibit your leadership skills. If your whole team is experiencing downtime, this is an ideal way to fill your days.

Whatever you end up doing to kill time, make sure that it helps you overall career goals.

How do you spend time when you have nothing to do at work? Let me know by commenting in Facebook or by tweeting me.