It happens to all of us from time to time and it’s nothing to be afraid of. The slow down, the lull, the quiet time. Sometimes it’s planned and needed, sometimes it happens out of nowhere. When you know that downtime is about to happen you probably have some other tasks planned that generally get sent to the back burner. What do you do when a lull catches you off guard? No worries, we’ve created a list of suggestions for you so that you’re always prepared.
Take a breather
First things first – don’t panic. If you’re used to running around like a chicken with no head, this is actually a blessing. Get up from your desk, look away from your computer, get some water, and stretch your legs. I’m not saying to do this for hours or days, but giving your eyes and brain a chance to rest for a few minutes is a good thing and will help you refocus.
Evaluate your to-do list
If you’re anything like me you have a bunch of different to-do lists in a bunch of different places. I have multiple lists on saved my computer, on post-its, in a notebook, and in my head. This isn’t efficient and can lead to items getting missed and tasks forgotten. When you’re busy, it’s usually good enough to write things down somewhere. When you have a few minutes, find all of your lists and compile them into one. There are great electronic resources, like Wunderlist, that make it easy to keep multiple lists in one place (Update: Wunderlist has since been shut down, you can check out Wunderlist alternatives here.)
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Attend a webinar/conference
How many times have you signed up for a webinar only to end up skipping because you ran out of time? Take advantage of your downtime and finally attend one instead of getting the link to play it back, only to never watch it.
Look at your own data
You’re serving customers, clients, managers, stakeholder, etc – it’s time to take a look at your own data set. Unless you have the luxury of being dedicated to working on the business, checking in on the health of your team and company probably falls to the bottom of your priorities.
Revisit data governance
Who owns what, where does it live, how do you grant access, what is being collected? These are questions that we don’t get to ask ourselves often enough. Have your business goals changed, have you introduced new things? You want to make sure you’re collecting the right data to measure your success. Take advantage of some quiet time to make sure your data governance and security documents are up to date.
Audit your systems
While you’re reviewing your data governance, it’s a good time to also evaluate the tools that you’re using. Are they up to date with licenses and software patches? Are they still the right tools for you, your business, your customers, and your clients?
We’re not saying you have to do all of these things – your downtime might only last for an hour or so. But you should be thinking about how to make the most of the time you do have to reset. The bottom line is that when your work hits a lull it’s a good opportunity to take a step back, breathe, and get your head on straight.
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Also published on Medium.