My office had a super busy summer, and we all got used to the fast-paced work day that was necessary to stay on top of paperwork and keep up with the growing prospect pool. The last few weeks, traffic and paperwork has slowly waned, and we found ourselves finally finding time to go through our stack of things to get to “when we have time.” Do you have one of these stacks? As necessary and comforting as they are daunting and dreaded, we went through every file and report until all our lists were caught up. What do we do when all pressing issues are addressed and all deadlines have been met? As tempting as it was to spend entirely too much time looking for a new desktop background while counting the minutes until lunchtime, it was important that I buckle down and not let the absence of ringing phones or new prospects allow my productivity to slide. For days that get slow, I’ve listed four ways to take advantage of down time at your desk and make that slow day productive.
4 Ways to Make a Slow Work Day a Productive One
1. Organize anything and everything you can. Whatever pile of notes, scratch paper, and Post-Its has been gathering for the past two weeks needs to be sorted through. Toss whatever has already been addressed and compile a list in one place of any outstanding tasks that need to be completed. Make sure all your supplies are back in the right place and restock if you need to. If you do your own filing or document scanning, do it now. The goal is to have no loose papers and a (purposeful) home for every item.
2. Plan out the next four weeks. I have the same somewhat slow day every month when my company performs month end accounting. For half of that day, we are in read only mode in our software and can not save any changes we make. I dedicate that afternoon to planning out the following month, including notating deadlines and assigning a date to routine tasks. To keep myself on track with prospects and future residents, I will write down when to follow up with what paperwork so I make sure I don’t forget any important documents for their file, which can apply to so many businesses where you work with a client base. Hold yourself accountable to the timeline you set for yourself. Also make sure you use pencil if you are using a paper planner and not an electronic one! Having scribbles everywhere takes up room and looks messy, which is the opposite of the look (and mindset) we’re trying to achieve here.
3. Help your colleagues. Just because your desk is clear doesn’t mean everyone else’s is. Ask your coworkers if they have any projects they can use a hand with or if they need someone to bounce ideas off of. Not only does this promote teamwork, but it gives you a valuable opportunity to cross-train in other areas of your field you may not have as much experience with. Learning all the different spokes of the wheel that is your industry gives you more insight into how you can perform your own duties more effectively and how you are contributing to the bigger picture.
4. Create new goals. This is also a good time to check-in on where you are with accomplishing existing goals, as well. Regardless of how big or small, plan out the steps to get to where you want to be (plan them out with specific dates if it applies). Creating a timeline for your goals will also give you more to work on during future slow days. Take advantage of your down time to be proactive about the success of your office, as well as your career growth.
Next time you have a quiet day at work, try these out and let me know how it goes! I’m also curious to know what others do… how do you make the most of a slow work day?