September 21, 2015 in Culture

Life at Centresource is nothing if not dynamic. We have to be spry enough to seamlessly jump from project to project, and resourceful enough to proactively fill our day when work slows down. The latter can be hard for some folks to do. Here are some thoughts on good ways to utilize downtime.

Audit Your Tools

With so many project management, prototyping and design tools out there, there’s a good chance your team has a few accounts that have gone untouched for a while. Take a look at all the paid, active accounts you have and ask your team if they’re using all of them on a regular basis — “regular” being a relative term, of course.

On the flipside, ask people what tools they’re using in general, both at the office and in their own freelance work. Maybe someone on your team has found a great time-tracking app or a free conferencing tool that can add value to your team’s processes.

It’s a good idea, in general, to task yourself and your company with regular tool review intervals. Maybe every three to six months you look at what’s caught on and what’s withered on the vine. It’s also a good opportunity to assign folks to vet free trial accounts.

Be Your Own Clientdowntime-at-work

If you work in a consultancy or an agency, chances are you have a fair number of formal processes you take your clients through on a regular basis — but do you have a feedback loop in place?

Any legacy process probably needs a review and refresh, while any brand new practices or tools will need a test run. The fastest way to uncover any inefficiencies or oversights is to place your own company in the seat of “the client” and take things for a spin.

For example, we created a proprietary tool to help clients prioritize initiatives into a 6-month roadmap. After going through ideation, planning and execution, we walked our own organization through the steps. We found ways to improve the content and architecture, while also giving ourselves a chance to see what implementation would be like.

Network

Whatever industry you’re in, being present in the local scene cannot be undervalued. Networking is an immediate and effective way to get you and your company in front of your fellow practitioners and potential clients.

If you’re not already doing some professional outreach, take the lull at work to see what’s happening in your community. Not sure where to start? Check out your Chamber of Commerce’s website or meetup.com.

Review & Update Job Descriptions

For folks working in smaller, nimbler organizations, chances are you wear a lot of hats — most of which represent duties you were not hired to do. This occupational scope creep can happen slowly and subtly (usually), so much so that you don’t even realize you’re the content strategist AND the social media manager AND project manager on that thing you thought you were just consulting on and so on…

Taking stock of all the things you do on a daily basis is a great way to keep yourself and your colleagues aware of how much is actually on each other’s plates, as well as the value people provide. An obvious angle for this assessment is to ask for a raise, which is all well and good, but it can also be used to justify an alleviation — whether that takes the form of new software, more resources, or another team member.

While at times it can be difficult to use downtime at work effectively, free time in the office does not need to be time wasted. Utilize lulls between tasks to audit, reflect and improve your processes — both you and your company will benefit as future projects will move along much smoother and more efficiently.