Tips for Staying Productive During Your Idle Time At Work

Tips for Staying Productive During Your Idle Time At Work

Tips for Staying Productive During Your Idle Time At Work
What is idle time? 

Idle time is when an employee or a piece of equipment is able to do work but is not anything productive. For example, if an employee requires approval before starting a task, the time spent waiting is referred to as idle time. The employee is ready and available to work but since they require manager’s approval, they are spending the time not doing any other tasks. 

What are the types of idle time?

There are two types of idle time which are:

  • Normal 

It is anything that comes from normal business practices. For example, a delay due to a lack of communication or manpower. These are things that the management can control. 

  • Abnormal

These are the results of circumstances beyond that of the manager. For example, bad weather causing power cuts within the office of employees losing access to the internet. 

Related link: 7 Ways to Value Vacation Time

Common causes of idle time

1. Workflow inefficiency

A workflow inefficiency is when there is room for improvement within a company’s process. For example, employees who do not have the tools needed to complete a job or when employees spend time waiting for approvals. 

2. Employee inefficiency

Employee inefficiencies can be caused by various reasons. For example, a new employee may not be as efficient at their tasks as they are still learning what to do. Other than that, employees are not getting enough scheduled breaks and losing inefficiency as a result of overwork. 

3. Equipment & technology

When a piece of machinery or equipment breaks down, this can cause downtime. For example, if a delivery truck gets a flat tire or an employee’s computer has a hard drive failure, this can prevent the employee from performing their tasks.

4. Accidents

Accidents are typically out of a manager’s control. This is when there is an injury within the workplace or someone spills coffee on an important document. Managers can look to reduce accidents by ensuring they have a safe workplace. 

Tips for staying productive during idle time
  1. Review your goals 

Take some time to reflect about your career objectives. Professional goals include things like what you want to achieve in your profession or objectives for a specific project. Reviewing goals might help you choose the next steps for your next project. 

2. Plan your next steps

Determine what actions you will need to take once your idle time has expired. For example, if you’re waiting for a document from a team member, make a list of the tasks you’ll need to complete once you get it. By planning your steps ahead during your free time, you can immediately start on them once your time ends. 

3. Educate yourself

Idle time is a good opportunity to learn new skills. You could look for anything you can learn that will help you in your current job. For example, you may enrol in a course and complete all of the classes during your downtime. Using your idle time in a productive way can make yourself a more valuable employee towards the company. 

4. Organise your workspace

Make sure to keep yourself organised during your idle time. This could include removing any clutter from your workspace or organising any unwanted files on your computer. Plan out what kind of workspace would bring out the best and most productive self out of you. 

5. Schedule your breaks at the right time

Try to schedule your breaks only during your idle time. For example, if you have to wait 30 minutes for a file to come at the same time every day, you can plan your break around that time. This allows you to take the necessary breaks while avoiding idle time in other portions of your day.

6. Move around

If you must spend the entire day at your desk, it is critical to move around frequently. Moving around increases blood flow, which is incredibly beneficial to your health. You might take advantage of this time to go for a little stroll and perform some simple stretches. Moving around can help you feel more energised and focused for the rest of the day.

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