Maximize Workplace Downtime

By: Julie East, Corporate Marketing & Recruiting

Mar 30, 2021

In my early career, I worked at a national ice cream store. As you can imagine, there is a lot of downtime between customers. I am not one of those people who can just stand around. The old saying, “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean,” was my motto. I took the down time to learn other skills like building and decorating ice cream cakes. This skill opened up opportunities for me to move into a training role, then eventually into management. No matter what your job entails, there are a plenty of things you can do to maximize your downtime.



As stated above, learning a new skill in your downtime can have long-term benefits. Look around your workplace to see what interests you. Find a colleague who needs help, observe how to operate something (forklift, wrapper, etc.), or offer to assist in a different department. Taking up new roles breaks the monotony of your routine. Plus, it adds value to your career development and could bring better opportunities along the way.



Reading has a number of benefits. Whether it’s reading a best-selling novel or an industry specific book, reading stimulates the brain. You can combine reading and learning a new skill that would give you an advantage in the workplace and marketplace. And it adds up quickly:  15 minutes a day makes 75 minutes per week, which is probably a book per month. Plus, the more you read, the more words you gain exposure to, and they’ll inevitably make their way into your everyday vocabulary. If you don’t have time to read, you can listen to a pod cast. Knowledge is powerful.



Learning a new language is not only fun, but like reading, it stimulates the brain. Plus, knowing a foreign language can give you a competitive edge in the workplace, especially if your company has offices overseas and needs personnel to be bi-lingual. It can also help develop yourself by learning new things about another culture, even if there is not a specific goal in mind.  A few new words a day will make a huge difference in six months.



In today’s social media era, it seems silly to remind ourselves to make a personal phone call.  It makes a difference when you can have a back-and-forth conversation. Take that small down time to pick up the phone and make a call. Call your mom, aunt, cousin, sibling, friend, or co-worker. Sometimes hearing someone’s voice can not only brighten your day, but also strengthen those personal relationships. 



When we get involved in our day-to-day tasks, it doesn’t take long for our workspace to get away from us. If you work in the industrial field, scraps, shards, and tools can pile up. Not only can this lead to a workplace accident, but it can also negatively affect your mental state. Office workers are famous for putting items in a junk drawer or to-do pile. Take a few minutes to organize your space by filing or shredding the stacks of paperwork. A clean workspace is a clean mind. It also helps to let your supervisor know that you care about your workspace.



No one likes a full mailbox, but the emails just continue to pile up. Take a few minutes between tasks to clean-up or organize your email folders. Sometimes it’s as simple as unsubscribing to email notifications or spam that we are planning to get rid of as soon as we have a minute for ourselves. Sometimes we mark an email as unread as a way of keeping it for a follow up. In either case, emails can pile up very quickly. Email de-cluttering can be one of the most productive things to do in your free time.



If you are like me, when you get home after working all day, the last thing you want to do is pull up to the table and pay bills. It is one of those chores that doesn’t take a lot to time or effort, but it’s not my idea of relaxing after work.  Since most bills can be paid online or through an app, take a few minutes during a break to knock them out. One less thing to worry about when you get home.



This one can be challenging, especially if you are shy around new people, but networking is crucial when it comes to staying at the top of your game. Reach out to a co-worker, ask if they’re up for a short coffee break. By networking, it can help you understand your industry, gain insightful knowledge about the company and how things are changing, and help you build stronger relationships with your co-workers. As Tommy Lofton would say, relationships are built one on one.



Yes, you can maximize your downtown with a little exercise.  Take a 15 minute walk around the complex. Find a space in the building to do a few planks or simple stretches. Take the stairs up and back down a few times.  Simple exercises can pay off in a ton of ways. Not only will it make you feel better, but it gives you a mental break from your day. 



Like paying bills, setting appointments is one of those tasks that is NOT the most fun thing to do during the day. However, it is a task that can be done during a short break. Take care of appointments like calling to schedule a doctor’s appointment; oil change or tire rotation; dentist appointment; or even getting the dog groomed. Check off one of those “to-do” items that lingers over your head. It not only frees up your personal time, but gives you a sense of accomplishment. Good job!


  About Lofton: Founded in 1979, Lofton Services offers clients the best of all worlds. We provide the responsive, personal service and flexibility of a small local firm while having the technology, resources, and infrastructure to deliver the benefits of the biggest players in our industry. Lofton Staffing can deliver the right people, with the right skills, right when you need them. Contact us today.

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Relationships are built…one on one.
Know your people - match interest and talents to the tasks.
Don’t manage by numbers. (They just show if we’re on track.) People do the work.
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