5 things to do at work when you have ‘nothing’ to do at work

It’s the beginning of the academic year and I’m a university employee (An RA), so my life has been going through some super highs and lows in regards to workload. Specifically, the weekdays have been pretty chill but I expect the weekends to slowly start ramping up.

work

I figured I’d make a list of things to keep in mind when I have some down time at work, and why not share my so-called knowledge with the world? I’ve been working here for three years, which is practically ancient in our department. Seriously, out of almost 90 student employees I think maybe 9 or fewer have been here three or more years. So all my hard-earned yet somehow still laughably short experience has taught me to seize any down time to accomplish all of the things. Getting those smaller, tasky things out of the way will also get you noticed as someone who takes the initiative.

1. Plan. Everything. Make a list, write it on your calendar, break long-term projects down into steps. Just knowing that you’re prepared for upcoming projects can make you feel more relaxed. It also means that if there’s suddenly a lot of work or things blow up (sometimes literally, in my job) you know you have a plan and the time to get things done.

2. Ask a coworker if they need help. Letting a strained coworker know that you’re ahead on some stuff and can give an hour or so of your time to their project can be their saving grace. (Note: while being supportive is great, be careful that you don’t start doing a lot of work that someone else is taking credit for.)

3. Study up. Google your job or profession, see if there’s anything in the news about your area of focus, seek out reputable blogs or websites that focus on accomplishments your industry. No one says your education has to end once you finish your days in a classroom.

4. Clean/organize the office, storage areas, or community work spaces. Some places may have some kind of custodial or maintenance staff to see to some of this, but chances are you and your coworkers have had conversations about how certain supplies should be on the lower shelves, or the boxes need to be labelled, or any one of a hundred other random tasks that people in the workplace talk about but never have time to actually do. Or when they do have time, they don’t remember, which takes us to the next item on the list.

5. Have your coworkers keep an ongoing list of tasks around the work place that need to get done. Those things that someone mentions and you all come to the consensus that it will get done one day, but no one ever actually does it. When you and your coworkers are struggling because you all need to reach different files, but they’re in the same drawer, and you talk about how the files should be stored separately? Put it on the list.

What constructive stuff do you do during your down time at work?

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