We all have it every once in a while (that includes you, busy-braggers) (you know who you are): downtime. And while we may not admit it, we’ve all passed that time with mindless activities, be it chatting with coworkers about nonsense, perusing Facebook until our eyes burn, or scoring some sweet (unnecessary) deals from our favorite online retailer.
But as a young professional – especially one looking to stand out in their career field – how can we better-fill that downtime? How can you see it less as a detriment and more as a chance to grow? Here are some ideas that have worked for me.
Read industry news/blogs.
Pretty obvious, but sometimes it’s hard to find that good content. Often times, your employer will already have online subscriptions to industry-related news sources that you didn’t even know about. Or, if you’re familiar with influential individuals in your industry, see if they have a blog or something like it that you can check out regularly. Being in the marketing industry with a passion for social media, here are a few sites/blogs that I frequent:
Pro Tip: Subscribe to your favorite new sites’ email newsletters! Then you don’t have to hunt.
Jack up your LinkedIn.
Notice I didn’t just say “LinkedIn Profile.” While I’ll never bash perfecting your profile, LinkedIn has even more than that to offer. Check out Pulse (under Interests) for articles related to your interests and industry. Follow companies you care about to stay up to date on their posts. Engage with clients, colleagues, and others in your network to grow your presence. Follow industry influencers to stay knowledgeable.
Pro Tip: Make sure you’re not viewing profiles anonymously, and then view with purpose. LinkedIn notifies users when someone views their profile, so if you’re looking to show up in someone influential’s notifications, it’s a good, non-invasive way.
Grow as a social media professional.
When I first started in the world of marketing, all of my social media accounts were for personal use only. And that’s not to say I was posting inappropriate pictures or vulgar statuses all over, but I simply wasn’t using social for a professional purpose.
Fast-forward 2 months, and I really started to gain an understanding for how I could use social media, specifically Twitter, in a professional sense. So, I decided to create a “professional-only” Twitter account, and I also took the privacy settings off of my Instagram account. Not only do I now use them for connecting with colleagues & clients, but they are now my “window to the world” in the marketing industry. I use them to connect with industry professionals to gain knowledge on industry trends. I use them to connect with others at industry-related events I attend. Plus, I love using my Twitter account for industry “chats” (specifically #AdweekChat). While I don’t devote every waking second to them, I do take advantage of downtime to update my profiles, find interesting things to share, discover new people to follow – you get the picture.
Pro Tip: While you should always keep a professional tone on your professional social media accounts, it’s okay to be silly/fun. Don’t sound like a robot – make jokes, comment genuinely, and, well, be a human!
Go above and beyond for your client/company.
This might already be expected, but often times we’re too busy to devote time to it and then forget when we actually have time. Think about it: how can you go above and beyond to either wow the client or improve things within your company (or department)? Devote 20 minutes or so during downtime to thinking up “free ideas” for clients. Or spend 10 minutes chatting with coworkers about a certain work process to see how others feel it could be improved. Who knows, you might just come up with a big solution!
Pro Tip: Regularly block out time on your calendar for brainstorming. Good ideas often come from a flowing thought process, so avoiding interruptions can make for the best results.
& when all else fails… take a break.
I used to work for a company that allowed 15 minute breaks ever morning and afternoon to go for a group walk around the development. It might seem like a waste of time, but so often I came back more awake and energized and ready to start pumping out some great work. Removing your brain from the task at hand can recharge your system and get you re-inspired. Just make sure to check with your employer first 🙂
Pro Tip: If a walk isn’t your thing, offer to make a coffee run to a local Caribou or Starbucks. Ask your coworkers if they want anything. Not only will it get you out of the office for 15 minutes or so, but you’ll be delivering smiles (& caffeine) to your coworkers – win/win!
What do you do with your downtime? How do you stay busy? Share your tips in the comments! & as always, thanks for checking out what #EmilyFayeSays!