9 Useful Practices during a slow work day for the 9-5 knowledge worker

A peak at some of my Q1 reading list.

During a slow day at work the worst thing you can do is scroll social media while refreshing your email reactively. Your brain is rotting and you are dying a slow death. There is a better way. Maybe your job is slow around the holiday’s; if so, here are some practices I have found to be useful on a slow day:

  1. Sprint first thing. Go on the offense. Anything that needs to be done or sent to your boss tackle it quickly and immediately.
  2. Plan a thinking walk. Leave your phone at home, take a pen & paper, and go for a stroll around your neighborhood. Try to focus on one problem that you want to make progress on. When you have a breakthrough, stop and write it down. I have found this to be particularly useful when brainstorming personnel situations, strategy for a problem, or how I want to build a system.
  3. Build a system. Take a problem/task that you do regularly and think about how you can make it more efficient with a system. The solution might take the form of an SOP/video, code, macro or some other means. The main thing to realize is that you usually only have time to execute, now can be time to put a system in place that will save you time later.
  4. Make yourself a fun lunch. My wife and I have been enjoying Pro Home Cooks’ 15 minute lunches this week. Taking the time to learn some budget friendly healthy lunches brings variety and energy into our lives.
  5. Call a colleague, mentor, or mentee. Go for a walk and ring someone you used to run into in the office and enjoyed catching up with. Now is a good time to shop talk and build relationships.
  6. Read. I don’t know why, but I still feel guilty reading during the work day, so this week I blocked some time at the end of the day to read a work related book. This can be a good use of 30 minutes during any day.
  7. Reflect on the year & set goals for the new year.
  8. Get sunshine. On a regular day I try to walk before work and in the afternoon. Yesterday I hit mid day bike ride for about 3 miles; I felt great when I came back. During the winter time it is important that we all get some vitamin D.
  9. Wrap-up early and enjoy some family time. When you sprint during a slow day the ability to wrap up early and enjoy some family time around the holidays opens up. One of my favorite articles to revisit at the end of the year is “The Tail End” by Tim Urban. It is slightly morbid, but grounding in the fact that it helps the reader understand that our time together may be less than we think.

That’s my list, note that not all of these happen in one day. What do you like to do during a slow day?


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