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Turning Downtime into an Opportunity


Downtime at work may seem like a foreign concept – maybe something you read about once or saw on Office Space. It does happen occasionally, and it can even leave us confused when a lull happens in our workday, and we’re not quite sure what to do with our time. If we’re not careful, it can come and go without us using the time wisely.

To avoid wasted downtime, we’ve come up with a list of ways to take advantage of that awkward hour or two that occasionally finds us with nothing to do in the office.

Organize & Clean

Our workspaces can become somewhat of a disaster area when left neglected for a length of time. We undoubtedly have a good excuse when it happens – we’re busy! Use your downtime to clear off that stack of paper that’s been sitting on the corner of your desk for a few weeks or the variety of coffee cups it looks like you’ve started to collect. Maybe even clean out a few drawers if you’re feeling bold!

Plan & Create

Our best creativity doesn’t come when we’re rushed. Creativity flows more easily when we have space in our brains to think and wonder, even when we’re bored. Use this time to take an early look at some upcoming projects and start to brainstorm. There’s no pressure; you’re simply thinking ahead and brainstorming. See if the lack of urgency leads your planning and creativity to some ideas you want to explore.

Work on your “Someday List”

We all go through different day-to-day processes at work and think, “Someday I need to update that spreadsheet,” or “That would run a lot more smoothly if I could just figure out xyz,” or “Ideally we would keep a database of this particular information.” We have these fleeting thoughts, are too busy to do anything with them, then forget about these “someday” tasks when downtime sneaks up on us. Use this time to start working on those tasks you always say you will do, and maybe start keeping a list so you don’t forget.

Help Out

See if there’s anything a coworker or supervisor needs help with. You’re willingness to help will definitely not go unnoticed and will hopefully be repaid one day when you’re feeling swamped.

Downtime is a wonderful thing when it happens. We should definitely enjoy it, but perhaps playing on our phone the whole time isn’t the best way to do that. After all, when we waste that precious time, we often look up afterward wishing we had utilized it more wisely. The list above are a few things that are outside the scope of our everyday tasks. They’re not difficult, but they are a way to make the most out of time we’re not often given.

For more resources on how to use your downtime, click here or here.

For more from The Source on time management, click here, here, or here.