Leverage Your Downtime

If your small- to mid-sized business is like many others, chances are that things slow down from time to time. And while slow days in most work environments are rare, when they do come around, it’s important to make the most of them. Here are some things you can do when you find yourself with a few free moments.

Get organized. A slow day is a great time to get paper and information clutter under control. It’s also a chance to get on top of those e-mails flooding your inbox. Consider following a classic management approach known as ‘Do it – Dump it – Delegate it.’ This gives you the physical, emotional and head space to focus your attention and bDowntimee more productive. Plus, it’s a great feeling to know things are in good order.

Plan. Spend time planning what your next day or week will look like, focusing especially on what you will do with the next slow day that rolls around. The worst thing to do is have downtime and not have some ideas on how to spend it.

Learn. Knowledge is power. So use this time to expand your own professional knowledge. Browse the top online business, trade and blog publications and sites in your industry, and share what you learn. Your boss, co-workers and clients will always appreciate articles and links of interest that you send, and you’ll be seen as someone who cares enough to be proactive in your industry and your career.

Improve a process.  When you’re going full speed ahead, it’s hard to see the forest through the trees. Slow times are the perfect opportunity to take a step back and evaluate a particular process or system you use often, and if you’ve always felt it needed some tweaking to be more efficient, now is the time to look for ways to create this increased efficiency.

Get ahead. This could include getting an extra jump on deadline-driven work or perhaps segments of larger projects that need to keep moving forward. Quiet time also allows you to start to tackle longer term, back burner projects. Sometimes these seemingly lower priority assignments will suddenly come to the forefront. When they do, you’ll be glad you got a head start on them.

However long your downtime, whether it’s a few hours or a couple of days, consider this a chance to focus on being proactive. And when you use this time well, you’ll be able to gain professional knowledge, feel more on top of things and improve the likelihood of advancing your career.