Every five weeks or so, our team finishes up another issue of our magazine. The last week of production is always the most stressful. We send our issues to our printer on a Tuesday, and then we all sit back and collectively sigh with relief.
Those Tuesdays always feel like Fridays to me due to my adrenaline rush. By Wednesday, I am exhausted…but I still have the rest of the week to do…something! These three days, and sometimes the week after, are the slowest days in our production cycle, and while I really don’t feel like doing a whole heck of a lot…I have to keep pushing forward.
Here are some ideas I found online on how to stay productive when there isn’t a whole lot on your plate:
Pick up the Phone
When you have time, take the opportunity to schedule catch-up calls with your clients and stakeholders. Begin with small talk, then ask for their thoughts on how things are going or on any ideas you’ve been bouncing around. You’ll build trust and a spirit of teamwork, and you’ll strengthen the relationship. —TheDailyMuse
It’s important to check in with your clients every so often so they know you are continuously thinking about them—even if you aren’t currently working on something they have assigned you. These don’t have to be lengthy conversations, unless the person on the other end of the line is a talker, but they show thoughtfulness and initiative.
When my mother comes into my office she sighs with disdain. I have magazines strewn all over the place, empty water bottles here and there, papers on the floor—basically it’s a mess. And while she wants to clean it for me, I won’t let her. I wouldn’t be able to find anything!
There is a method to my madness, but I definitely take the opportunity of a slow day to clean my office—even if just to organize it for the next onslaught of the next crazy-busy time. I make sure to run a vacuum through and dust, too. And I clean my keyboard and phone with disinfectant.
This is also a good time to get your receipts and other business in order. Create spreadsheets to track your travel and expenses if you haven’t already, and if you have, take the time to update them. It’s better to do these things every so often rather than leave them until the end of the year.
I like to take advantage of slow days to get ahead on my blog and work on planning out stories months in advance.
With blogging, consistency is of chief importance. If you want a group of regular readers, you need to be consistent with your posts. It doesn’t matter what rate you decide to post at, whether it be once an hour or once a week; however, it is important that you pick a rate and stick to it. —JohnChow
Life happens, and most of us can’t find time to write a blog post every day. This is why it’s important, during slow times, to create some blog posts for your “bucket” as I like to call it. Write and schedule blog posts ahead of time to save yourself stress! Right now, my blog posts something three days a week—Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Since I know I am going to be taking a big chunk of time off in the very near future, I am planning and scheduling a few weeks of blog posts to automatically publish while I am away from the office. The consistency is still there, even though I’m physically not.
Slow days are great days to do this sort of work. I can bang out a few blog posts in no time when I’m focused and on a roll.
Learn Something New
To stay ahead of the curve, you always have to be learning new things—especially as a freelancer. One of the ways I learned how to use Photoshop was by working my way through Adobe’s Classroom in a Book on slow days at a previous job.
For you designers out there, maybe learning some new techniques, a new program to spice up your designs, or maybe just sit down with a pad and a pencil and get back to the old days before you got into digital design, and sketch some still life, or sit in a public place and do some character sketches. — FreelanceFolder
Maybe it’s time to finally check out Google+ or familiarize yourself with LinkedIn. Delve into that book on leadership or marketing that has been sitting on your shelf for months. There is no time like down time to expand your horizons.
What tips do you have to stay productive on slow days? We’d love to know!
Photo credit: Some rights reserved by xilius.