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Three Ways to Make Use of Your Free Time at Work

by Julie Maness | January 10, 2019

Raise your hand if you feel anxious when you aren’t “busy” at work. I recently came back from maternity leave and have been easing back into my work routine. My first week back, I knew it was unlikely that I would have a list of tasks waiting for me. I KNEW THIS. Yet, I still found myself uncomfortable with the slower pace of work.

It got me thinking: Why do I need to be busy in order to feel like I am contributing to the team? Shouldn’t I be enjoying this slower pace at work before it picks up again? I decided to try these three strategies to help me take advantage of this time I was given:

  1. I thought about my professional development. Professional development is something that I value. However, I don’t always have time to incorporate it into my day-to-day work. I made a list of areas I wanted to improve and then created a plan to develop those skills. By enhancing my skill set, I ultimately become a more valuable resource to my team.
  2. I continually looked for new opportunities to contribute. I sent multiple emails out to the entire team letting them know I had availability. Sending a simple email opened the door to opportunities in departments that I don’t typically get to work with, such as Marketing and Human Resources. Informing others of my availability brought new learning experiences and exposure to tasks that I would not have known about otherwise. Filling in the gaps where I could, helped decrease other team member’s workloads and gave me new hands-on experience.
  3. I worked on “low priority” tasks. We all have tasks on the back burner reserved for “when I have time.” Even if these tasks will provide a positive impact, we often push the low priority items to the side. If you have a lull in your schedule, this is the perfect time to tackle low priority items. If you haven’t already created your list or backlog, use this time to think about issues or opportunities for improvement, no matter how small, and find a solution for them. The beauty of having more time is that it gives you more head space to brainstorm creative solutions.

Next time you find yourself unexpectedly idle, don’t panic! Try these 3 strategies to take advantage of your newly found time!

Extra time, not something you have an abundance of? Try this approach to take control of your time.


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