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How to make the most of a slow day in the office

Laura Johnson

Laura Johnson gives her top tips on how to make the most of a slow day in the office during the festive period

Downtime is a rare thing in most workplaces but if you find yourself working between Christmas and New Year, there’s a good chance you’ll experience a slow day. During busy times we long for these times, but when they’re handed to us on a plate we quickly find we get bored to tears. So if you’re wondering what to do once you’ve answered all of your personal emails, checked Facebook for the millionth time, reorganised your desk and made another cup of tea, here are seven productive ways to use the extra time.

Get organised

It’s estimated around 144.8 billion emails are sent worldwide everyday. But only one in four emails we receive are actually essential for work and only 14% are considered critically important. As a result, most of us suffer with congested inboxes full of spam, e-newsletters we had good intentions of reading (but never will) and messages that should have been archived back in 2012. Use a slow day over the festive holiday period to clear out old mail and deal with those messages that have been lingering in your ‘for later’ folder for a little too long. 

Network

You may be at work but it feels like everyone else in the world is eating Quality Street in front of their favourite box sets, so how can you network? Remember that pile of business cards you collected at that pre-Christmas drinks reception and the delegate list you tucked into your pocket from that seminar back in September? Maybe it’s time to add this information to your client relationship database and work out how you’re going to turn these names into valuable new contacts for your business in 2015.

Pat yourself on the back

The end of a year is a great trigger to fondly reminisce about your achievements in 2014. So use this time to take any emails you stumble across from clients thanking you for doing an excellent job and transform them into a glowing testimonial (marketing will love you for it). And as for that that blush-inducing feedback you got from a colleague on a project – that’s great material for your next appraisal, so file it away safely.

Revisit rainy day tasks

Update your personal biog for the company website, write up a case study for a project or the blog you promised marketing months ago, or take the time to finally work out what LinkedIn is actually all about and make sure your online profile is accurate. Quiet time allows you to make a dent in back-burner projects. Then enjoy the cathartic effect of crossing them off your to-do list once and for all.

Boost your knowledge

Without the distraction of looming deadlines and office politics, make the most of having time to kill by dedicating it to your professional development. Browse industry blogs, swot up on a subject you think could be the next big thing, seek out webinars or dust off those industry magazines stacking up on your desk. And then prepare to impress your colleagues with your knowledge in the New Year, when all they have to talk about is what happened in the EastEnders Christmas special.

Visit other departments

Chances are if you’re bored everyone else who’s found themselves in your office over the Christmas break is feeling the same. Why not pop over to see a colleague in a neighbouring team? It’s a great opportunity to find out more about what they do and identify ways you could work together more efficiently in the year ahead. Or if they’re foundering in the face of an unforeseen crisis while the rest of their team is swigging mulled wine at home, maybe you could offer a helping hand.

Seek out bugs (and solve them)

Is there something that’s been bugging you at work for a while? The truth is we all do things that we know deep down are nonsensical when we’re too busy to question them. Maybe it’s a process that seems overly complicated, an antiquated system that causes you unnecessary stress or a report that could be a single page rather than a 10 page booklet. Taking the time to re-evaluate any inefficiencies and implement new procedures is a great way to kick off a more productive start to 2015.

But arguably the most important thing to do on a slow day is to… go home on time (or even a few minutes early!) With our working hours constantly on the rise, it may be your only opportunity for a while.


 

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