There will come a time at your job when you experience the slow season. This is the time when you probably spend more hours scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed because there is simply nothing to do, right?
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Studies show that workplace boredom is a top cause as to why people quit (so if you are a manager, this is important for you to know). Also, when people are bored at work, they tend to feel unfulfilled, unchallenged, and less engaged. On the same note, people are known to quit higher paying jobs for jobs that are lower paid but more satisfying.
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When the slow season at work occurs, I will admit that this is something that you may not have any control over. However, there are plenty of things that you can do to prevent suffering from workplace boredom. As I like to tell my staff, "there is ALWAYS something to do."
Read below for 7 things that I have done (and that you should do) when works gets slow.
1) Organize your emails
When it is busy, I typically get over 100 emails a day (yes I said 100!). Although I have rules set up to automatically forward certain emails to specific folders, there are times when I need to do a little email clean up. My rule of thumb at work is to NEVER delete any emails--you never know when you may need it. When it is slow at work, I take time to archive my emails and set up new auto-forward rules. Between archiving and having auto-forward rules for my emails, my work life becomes sooooo much easier. If you use Microsoft Outlook at work, setting up auto-forward is easy-peezy. Click here to learn how. If you use Google mail, it is also a piece of cake. Click here to learn how.
[Related: #FixItFriday: How I Manage Email Overload]
2) Create an operations calendar
If you have a job like mine that can be pretty inconsistent throughout the year, creating an operations calendar for yourself or for your department will be very useful for the future. An operations calendar is basically where you would list out each month, think about what typically goes on during that month, and then write down things that you can work on (be detailed and specific; you will thank yourself later). Not only does it help you set your mind to always think forward, but it also helps you plan in advance. When you are making your operations calendar, get feedback from your team (if applicable). This then becomes a cool team-building exercise, and it helps everyone get connected and to see the bigger picture of what they do. Once this operations calendar is complete, be sure to email it out to your team, save on your desktop, and upload to Google Drive or Dropbox for protection (if your computer crashes, you do not want the files to be lost).
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3) Educate yourself to be greater
If you don't believe in yourself who will? When it gets slow, use this as an opportunity to build on your skills or find new ones. Although your supervisor is responsible for your professional growth, you are just as responsible (if not more). At most companies, there are training manuals and videos available. If you are unsure if your job has any, ask your boss or someone in HR. Take time to not only learn more about items that can increase your skills, but challenge yourself to learn something new. If your company does not have an online source with training manuals and videos, talk to your boss and see if she or he has any training materials for other departments that you can read.
4) Learn how to be a Jack (or Jill) of all trades
One of the easiest ways in becoming more marketable is to become an expert in more things. Instead of pinning new recipes on Pinterest, use your time wisely and ask for cross-training opportunities. Maybe you work in PR, but have a desire to learn about accounting. Schedule some time with the person in accounting to learn more about what they do. Also, ask for opportunities to assist them with a project that they may be working on. This not only helps you build more skills and become more marketable, but it helps you build a positive relationship with others at work.
5) Streamline a process
There are plenty of things that we sometimes gripe about at work when it comes down to how certain things are being done. When I talk to some of my friends, they complain about their work and say things like, "why do we have to do ____ like this" or "if we did ____ like this it would make all of our jobs easier." My response back is always, "well did you outline this new process and share it with everyone?" If you don't like something and choose to complain about it, make sure you have an alternate plan. With my team, I am known for always asking for feedback on the way things are done. I always tell my employees that if they don't like the way certain things are being done, then come up with a new plan and let me know. If you find yourself frustrated with a process, put together a well thought-out, detailed plan, and present it to your team and boss. You never know, your new process may be the winning idea and it may help out your team.
6) Mentor someone
Giving back and finding a way to be a service to others is important. If there are any newbies at your job, or even someone that you don't work with but you know could use a little guidance, take them under your wing. Teach them things that you know and find different ways to build a healthy relationship with them. Some companies even have an official mentoring program, so if yours does, find a way to join it as a mentor.
7) Update your resume
You should always have an updated resume on deck. Not because you are anticipating on leaving your job, but because true bosses are always ready when an opportunity knocks. Whenever you start a new job, immediately add that experience to your master resume. A master resume is a document that lists literally everything that you do and know. This is important to have so that you can jot down everything that you are awesome at. When you are applying for jobs, curate a different resume that caters to the job description.
I also recommend continually adding on to your master resume as you progress at your job and learn new skills. On the same note, update your digital resume and portfolio (aka your LinkedIn profile). Update your LinkedIn profile with new projects that you are working on, or new skills that you have gained. Taking time to update your resume will not only boost your confidence, but it will also prepare you for the next opportunity.
What are some productive things that you do when you are bored at work. Share your thoughts below!