If you have a job that lets you manage your own time, then you know what it feels like to be idle.
Idleness at work leads to boredom, and that kills your spirit. Staying engaged, interested, and active at work is essential for your productivity, as well as your satisfaction.
When you find yourself between projects, a lull can set in, which begins sucking the energy out of your work. Staying engaged is a skill in and of itself. What you need are some strategies to reengage yourself when you start slipping into boredom.
This article provides seven ideas for how to kill time at work that keeps you excited to come to work. Learn some easy ways to give your brain what it wants while remaining on-the-job. Find out how to use free time in ways that impress your boss.
Seven Ideas for How to Kill Time at Work
No matter what job you have, every job is a job. Even the most exciting jobs are a drag every now and then. No matter what you do for a living, everyone has the experience of being bored at work.
Sure, you can whip out your phone to read a buzz world online article or play Candy Crush. But, not only is that a waste of time, it is only a distraction from your boredom.
Distractions from boredom only serve to distract you more from what you should be doing. Disengaging into your digital time-killing mode only suck the passion out of your working spirit.
Boredom is the worst. It sucks the joy out of anything, and some jobs don’t have much joy to spare. But it isn’t up to your job to engage you. It is up to you to engage with your work.
The following ideas are great for any skill level, career, or job. That being said, unskilled labor jobs, like retail or service industry jobs cannot help but become boring after a while.
Some workers can find a single thread that enables them to remain engaged and satisfied with their job, day after day. Most workers find that thread in their career. So, if your career tends to leave you looking for ways to fill the time, try these ideas:
1. Organize Your Desk and Computer Files
The saying, “clean house, clean mind” applies to every aspect of your life. Your house is anywhere that you claim ownership over the space. Your office, cubicle, or desk area is under the category of your house.
If you find yourself with time to kill, start with the physical organization of your desk and computer. Your work computer is an extension of your house and desk. It is important to treat your digital office with the same respect as your physical office.
Look around your desk area. Are there papers pilled up? When you open the drawers can you find what you need in less than 10 seconds?
Take time to label and organize your desk drawers so you know exactly where everything is. Open up your computer desktop and do the same. Organize your desktop with file folders. Put all of your documents into a folder so you know where to find them.
Do the same for your email folders. Organize your emails by category. An organized email is the gift that keeps on giving.
An easy way to begin organizing work stuff is to make three folders. The first folder is for work stuff that is pending. The second is for completed projects, and the third is for in-process projects.
By organizing your workspace you might stumble across a few unfinished projects. Throw them into the in-process folder.
Create digital copies of physical documents and files. Physical documents are vulnerable so back everything up to your computer. Then you can always find your project files in their entirety.
2. Feng-Shui Your Desk
A great way to use your free time at work is to integrate Feng-Shui in your workspace. Feng-Shui is a Chinese science that seeks to create harmony between energy and your environment. It uses principles of geometry, directionality, and natural elements to create a soothing and productive atmosphere.
The great thing about feng-shui is how directly you can implement the principles into your office. You might not have an entire office to decorate, but you have a desk.
Your desk exudes an energy of its own. Organizing your desk was the first step to creating a good desk space. Now, consider the desk, itself.
If you have the freedom to choose or replace your desk, avoid glass. Glass desks are unstable and give off unnatural energy. They are slippery and hard to write on.
If your job requires creativity, use a wooden desk. Wood is natural and carries creative energy, but can easily skew your focus. To counteract the frenetic energy of the wood, place a metallic or crystal object on the desk.
If you are an academic, scientist, or engineer use a metal desk. Metal encourages focus and productivity, but it needs a warm touch. Place a living plant or wooden piece on top of your metal desk to even the energy.
Beyond the desk, itself is the orientation of your desk. Feng-shui teaches to position your desk so that your back is to a wall. Placing your back to an entryway does not give you control over your environment.
When you are sitting at your desk you should have a direct line of sight to the doorway. If you are unable to reorient your line-of-sight, place a small mirror on your desk that reflects the doorway.
Desk Chair and Office Lighting
Ideally, your office has plenty of big windows that let in natural light. But most offices are not so well endowed. Natural light is essential for your focus and productivety–not to mention your happiness.
If you don’t have windows in your office use mirrors to reflect a natural light source. If that is not possible, place a full-spectrum light on your desk or across the room.
If you work in a cubicle or bull-pen office space, it is likely that the aesthetic is quite pale. Bring in some indoor plants to add a natural color into the room. Using feng-shui makes the office more enjoyable for you and your co-workers.
3. Update Your Resume and Portfolio
Now that you have got your workspace all set up for the maximum productivity, it’s time to get productive. Start with your resume and portfolio. When you find yourself with time to kill, make a habit of doing regular updates to your CV.
Having an up-to-date resume and portfolio shows that you are professional and reliable. Make a digital resume and CV that you can easily send in an email.
Make sure to include at least one hyperlink within your resume. Place a link to an online example of your work. If you have a large catalog of work then start an online portfolio website.
4. Catalog Your Success
When it comes time for promotions and evaluations you need to prove that you are a superior worker. After your resume and portfolio are updated, start a list of successful projects in which you played a key role within the company. Formulate your list chronologically and describe the strategies you used to bring about a successful result.
When it comes time to hand out the raises you are a shoo-in. The boss wants to give promotions to those who know their value. So, catalog the proof of your worth.
5. Learn New Skills
There is always something you can do to become better at your job. Whether that is learning a new language or becoming certified in a new process, you can justify spending your free time at work in pursuit of more valuable skills. As long as your purpose is to be better at your job it is a valuable use of your working time.
What skill would be useful for you to know, that you do not yet have? Learning Spanish is a sure-fire winner in any job. And, being bilingual raises your pay grade in future jobs.
Coding and computer programming are in-demand skills. You can enroll in free coding courses, like Codecademy or Khan Acadamy. If you find a great program that costs money, talk to your supervisor about paying for your skills training.
6. Network and Collaborate with Your Team
If you are in a supervisory role, a great way how to kill time at work is by showing appreciation for your team. Make a habit of doing the rounds to initiate contact with each member of your workforce. A personal connection with employees strengthens a teams work ethic and serves to unify your team.
7. Browse Job Openings and Seek Other Opportunities
If you try all of the ideas, above, but you still have time to kill, maybe it is time to seek out other employment. You are a worthwhile and eager employee, so you deserve to practice your skills. Too much downtime in your job might indicate that the business is on a downward spin.
If you find yourself in the position of seeking out other employment opportunities, the work you put into your resume, portfolio, and achievements is time well-spent.
Upload your electronic resume to Indeed and Monster to seamlessly apply for jobs as they arise. Even if you don’t plan on jumping ship just yet, it is always valuable to know the landscape of your job market.
When all else fails, bust out your phone and play Candy Crush, or start a binge-worthy Netflix series, like The Good Place. Better, yet–read a good book! But, if you are perpetually bored at work and can’t seem to engage your passion, it is time to look for a new job.
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