How to Be Productive at Work When There’s Nothing To Do

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How to Be Productive at Work When There's Nothing to DoIt’s happened for the third day this week.

There’s absolutely nothing to do at work.

Of course, this is bound to happen.

There are times when you are inundated with work, and then there are times when you wish you had at least one small project or assignment to occupy your time.

It’s just the natural cycle of things.

In this post, I offer some ways you can be productive at work when there is seemingly “nothing to do.”

Sometimes you have to think creatively, and laterally, to find ways to occupy your time.

Ask a colleague if they need help.

This is a fast way to get out of the “nothing to do” doldrums. Maybe someone in your office has a project or two to spare. Ask around, you never know who might need some help.

Clean out your filing cabinet.

You’ll free up precious space in your filing cabinet. Go through each of the files, one by one and remove expired or outdated material. When you’re finished cleaning out your files, you can spend the remainder of your time shredding or recycling documents.

Follow up with past contacts.

Get in touch with all those people you’ve been meaning to email or call. These could be clients, partners, customers, and vendors. Begin by making a spreadsheet of everyone you want to contact, then contact everyone on the list.

Plan a new project.

You can make great progress on an upcoming project even if project plans haven’t been finalized. All you have to do is think about your project on a broad level. Generally speaking, what materials, resources, staff, or knowledge will you need? Take your time to create a rough outline.

Declutter your computer’s desktop.

Open up files one, by one. Trash any expired or irrelevant documents and files. Take the time to create new file folders or file items into already existing folders. While you’re at it, why not set a relaxing desktop wallpaper and screen saver?

Organize communal office supplies.

If there is a heavily used office supply shelf, room, or closet, in your office, it probably could stand a bit of TLC. Group like office supplies with like, consolidate supply containers, and organize items so it’s easier for people to see and find what they need in a pinch.

Review and transcribe notes.

Do you have stacks of notes sitting around from recent meetings, brainstorms, or conferences? Now’s a great time to sit back, and read all of your notes from start to finish. Make notes or create action steps from relevant information, and transcribe any interviews or conversations as necessary.

Disinfect your workspace.

Workspaces can quickly gather a lot of germs. Use a pressurized air canister or a vacuum to remove crumbs and dust your computer keyboard, wipe down tables, counters, credenzas, tops of cabinets, and the like with disinfectant wipes. Collect all those coffee mugs and put them in the dishwasher or wash them by hand in the kitchen.

Take inventory or catalog a collection.

This is a great idea for those times when absolutely nothing is going on at the office. You could take inventory of products, office supplies, or t-shirts for the company’s annual picnic. Catalog books, magazines, files, work materials, you name it. Use your imagination!

Declutter *that* drawer.

Yes, that drawer. You know, it’s the one where you dump notes from work projects, excess office supplies, and promotional items from industry conventions. You can spend a good deal of time throwing out or recycling what you don’t need, and reorganizing everything you want to keep.

How about you? When was the last time there was nothing to do at work? How did you occupy yourself and stay productive? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!

Follow Rashelle:
Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.
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