Stay Busy at Work

It can be challenging to stay busy at work on a slow day. However, there are many different ways that you can utilize this time and achieve greater results in your job. Stay busy at work by tidying up your work space, increasing your productivity, and planning for the future. Your efforts are likely to be noticed and appreciated.


Increasing Your Productivity

  1. Make a to-do list. When you make a to-do list, you keep yourself busy in the moment and give yourself things to do in the future. Keep your lists reasonable. Only add three to five items at a time to avoid getting overwhelmed. Once those are complete, you can make a new list.[1]
  2. Work ahead. If you’ve finished up your work early, keep your momentum going by starting in on the next day’s tasks. Of course, this could leave you with even less to do tomorrow, but it keeps you busy for today and puts you ahead of the curve. If you are continuously ahead, you could talk to your boss about giving you more responsibilities.[2]
  3. Take on an extra project. If you are having trouble staying busy at work, you may need more to do. Take on an extra project to fill in your free time. It might come with the added bonus of getting your boss’ attention.[3]
  4. Help a coworker. If your coworkers are a little behind, you can help them get caught up on their work. This will keep you busy and show that you are a team player. Your efforts will be respected and appreciated by your coworkers and your boss.

Tidying Up Your Space

  1. Organize your desk. Free time can be soaked up quickly if you look for a few things around your office to do. One that most people happily put off is organizing your desk. Clean out the drawers, throw away any trash or unwanted files/notes, and put things in an orderly fashion.[4]
  2. Clean up your email inbox. Just like your desk, your email inbox can quickly get cluttered. Use your downtime at work to clear out your inbox, set filters to organize your emails, and respond to any lingering messages. If you have multiple email accounts, you can even work on linking them together to help keep them organized.[5]
  3. Spend time filing. Whether your files are electronic or hard copy, they need to be organized. When you’re not busy you can put hard copy files into filing cabinets (in an organized way). You can also clean up the files on your computer and get them into the right folders.[6]

Planning for the Future

  1. Invest time in learning. Spending time learning a new skill will make you a more valuable employee. This can benefit you in your current position, and more importantly, make you more valuable in the future. Take a professional development or continuing education course in your free time. Try to choose something that allows you to be certified or recognized for your work. That way, it can go on your resume.
  2. Nurture your networks. Keeping up with work contacts is often daunting because, well, you’re at work. When you have some downtime and aren’t busy, though, you can reach out and connect with people. Whether you are nurturing contacts you already have, or creating new partnerships, networking is a great way to keep busy at work.[7]
  3. Set goals. Goal setting is somewhat like a long term to do list. Decide what things you want to accomplish over some period of time and write them down. Once you have set your goals, you can track your progress and work toward them in your downtime.
  4. Record your accomplishments. When you set goals, it is imperative to acknowledge your progress. In your downtime, you can evaluate how far you have come toward your goal. This will also give you an idea of how far you have to go to meet your goal.[8]


  • If you have some downtime and prefer to rest a bit, you can make yourself Distract Yourself From a Job You Hate. Use your computer to browse the internet, play a game on your phone, or even socialize with your coworkers.

Sources and Citations

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