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How to Get the Most Out of Downtime at Work

How to Get the Most Out of Downtime at Work

Originally posted on the Fast Company website by Miles Kohrman, excerpts below:

You’ve been working hard most of the day, but now there’s a lull in the action. Maybe you’re waiting for a call in five minutes or a presentation in a half hour. The bottom line: You’ve got nothing to do. So. . . what do you do? First off: Remember that it’s okay you have nothing to do. Obviously you can’t be working for eight hours straight–and, in fact, maybe you shouldn’t even try. Of course, your first instinct is to while away the time on the Internet looking at pictures of cats and silly videos, but there are better things to do and you know it. Here’s a handy set of productive suggestions to spend your time wisely, no matter how much downtime you have.

5 Minutes: True, it’s isn’t that much time. So you’re going to do something simple. Take the opportunity to unplug or to organize your desk and get your workspace in tip-top shape. Because clutter cramps productivity.

15 Minutes: Fifteen minutes doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but it is–you’re just not thinking about it the right way. So start a good habit, and clear out your calendar and send some emails. Or, if you’ve already done that, go for a walk around the block (it doesn’t have to be a meeting). Get some fresh air, recharge your batteries, and realize that, yes, there is life outside the office.

30 Minutes: Learn a fresh perspective by watching a TED talk. At a minimum, you’ll have an interesting conversation topic for the rest of the day. At a maximum, you’ll have a career-changing epiphany. Alternatively, get some exercise. We’re not suggesting you buy one of these, but getting the blood flowing is the first step to crushing the inevitable stress of the workplace.

60 Minutes: An hour is a good chunk of time, so you’re going to put it to excellent use. You’re going to do something constructive, and learn. Take the opportunity to make your office more fun! It might not be work in the conventional sense, but a self-led effort to boost office culture will make you the most popular person in the workplace and (you guessed it) will be really fun. Two quick suggestions: Decorate the office. What’s that, not everybody like white walls, white ceilings, and soulless lighting? Just because it’s an office doesn’t mean it has to be an office. When you spend such a significant amount of time in one space, it’s important that it reflects not only the culture of the company, but the people who make it run. After all, humor inspires creativity. Second suggestion: Play a game! Obviously, you need to be respectful with this one. But if the time is right, bring out that karaoke machine that you’ve been hiding under your desk for months and blow off some steam with your coworkers. Or, if quieter is better (which it often is), keep a pack of cards in your desk, or whip up your own fun version of Jeopardy. If nothing else, this will force you to talk with your colleagues–and that’s actually a good thing.

Click HERE to read the entire article from the Fast Company website.

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As COO of IDEAS, John manages the day-to-day operations of the company. He is a category expert in studio production and is responsible for bringing advanced digital media technology to IDEAS.