Press & Media

How to Stay Productive at Work When You Actually Have Nothing to Do


So you have just successfully completed an important project before the designated deadline as requested by your boss. Phew! Finally you can breathe a sigh of relief after submitting the final report and answering all emails in your inbox. After days of turmoil and hectic schedules, you can now relax while waiting and preparing yourself for the next challenges.

With the extra hours or even days on your hands, how should you make use of the spare time? Having a slower period, does it mean that you can scroll through your Instagram feeds or watch random videos on YouTube all day in your cubicle? Of course not. Obviously, online window shopping and deal hunting are not recommended options as well. Then the question remains: is it possible to remain productive and indulge yourself in something useful when there is barely anything to do?

While taking a break from daily work fatigue is a must to keep you sane, this does not mean that you can slack off and spend your time for nothing. It would be better if you can use your time wisely so you can stay productive while twiddling your thumbs. If you are wondering what you can do to keep your mind active and busy when you have finished your main responsibilities, here’s how you can stay prolific without racking your brain:

1. Come up with your own project

Don’t just be an ordinary employee who can only follow orders and take directions from the boss. If you want to move forward in your career, you must show that you have the initiatives. You can do this by creating your own project. Arrange a detailed project plan, conduct thorough research and brainstorm then present your ideas to your boss. If you can develop something interesting, there are good chances that you will be appointed as the project leader.

2. Organise your emails

Maybe you have always wanted to organise the inbox and spam folders in your email, but you have no time to do it yet. If that is the case, then you can start organising your emails during slow season. If you find your inbox packed with EDMs or newsletters you signed up long ago but you never really read them again now, maybe it is time to unsubscribe from those sites. Don’t rush to delete everything that goes into the spam folder, because not all of them contain junk emails. You never know if it there are important emails that are misplaced by the system.

3. Learn new skills

You’ve probably been too busy with your assignment that you do not have time to find out the latest news and developments in your industry. Or, you have long wanted to learn new skills to support your skills. It is a good occasion to use your extra time to expand your professional knowledge. For example, you can join webinars that can increase your skill set, or watch TED videos on YouTube to gain motivation and seek inspiration.

4. Clean up your desk

Clean environment helps clear mind. Spend your time to tidy up your desk and clean off the dust. Get rid of files or documents you no longer need, as well as tidy up and keep your office stationeries in a more accessible place. Thus, you can be free from the stress coming from a dirty and messy cubicle and return to work with a fresh feeling.

5. Evaluate your performance

Self-evaluation is an important way to measure your own success in meeting your personal goals and achieving personal growth. During the slow season, you can jot down any projects and accomplishments you have made for a certain period of time, the impact you bring, the obstacles you face on the journey, as well as how you handle it. By doing so, you will know your own self-worth and motivate yourself to perform better.

6. Check in with coworkers

During busy period, you might frequently miss a chance to have lunch or coffee break with your coworkers. Take this opportunity to check in with your office-mates and build stronger bond with the team. You can catch up with them, ask how they are doing, and listen to their stories genuinely. These activities will not only give you insights of what is happening in the department and industry, but also a great way to show your personality.

7. Update your social media profiles

Have you heard that majority employers are performing social media check to screen candidates before hiring them? Instead of wasting your time scrolling aimlessly through your social media feeds and getting nothing but gossips and hoaxes, it is a good idea to check your profile page and update the information there. Clean up your social media account from everything that can tarnish your good name, because you never know who might pop up into your page.

8. Get some exercise

Slow period is a perfect time to do some light exercise at work. For example, you can go for a walk around the office and do yoga in your cubicle. Not only does this make you physically fit, it will help you think more clearly too.

9. Offer a helping hand

As you pass your friend’s desk, you overheard them sighing loudly with frustrated faces. Ask them how things are going and if there is anything you can help with. Use your free time to do good by volunteering yourself to help coworkers who seem to be overwhelmed with their tasks, because you never know when you will need their help as well.

10. Reach out to new people in your industry

Building a professional network with people in your industry will help you stay current with the latest industry trends while remain visible in the circle. That being said, you need to expand your network by meeting new people and connecting with them.

Next read: How to Master the Art of Efficient Working and Escape the Overtime Traps

Next read: Want to Have Awesome Working Days? Try These Office Games and Activities