Okay, it’s 9 a.m. and you’re sitting down in your office, all dressed and ready to work. Problem is, you just sent in your last assignment yesterday and you know more work is coming, just not today! Resist the temptation to watch Pride and Prejudice (the 6-hour version), and consider trying one of these 10 ways to make good use of this extra time.
- Tackle your filing
Keep a rectangular wicker basket on a shelf in your office solely for items that need to be filed “someday” – today is that day. Go through that basket, making piles on your floor, then file everything in your filing cabinets or boxes (which you have already set up during a previous lull in work!) Clean out any papers you no longer need to keep. Take on your to-be-shredded pile.
- Update your financial records
Have you been too busy to update your spreadsheets? Do you have business expense receipts sitting around waiting to be dealt with? Do that housekeeping now, to make tax time that much easier – expect that you will be busy working by then! Are your bookkeeping methods working for you? Think of ways you can streamline your system and keep track of invoices more efficiently.
- Edit your work space
Tackle one box, shelf, or drawer at a time – don’t be overwhelmed by the size of the job. It may have been quite a while since you’ve done this! Look through a box or drawer and decide if you really need each item or piece of paper – be ruthless. If you haven’t used it in the past year…well, you know the rule. Any paper items that may contain confidential info can be put in your “to shred” bag to be tackled another time.
- Freshen your web presence
Does your website need some editing or some fresh photographs? Do you have recent work or reviews you can add? How about your LinkedIn page? Is your profile up to date and interesting? Any spelling mistakes? Take time to make intelligent comments on groups you joined a while ago or on other blog posts – remind people who you are.
- Write future blog or Twitter posts
Maintain a list of potential blog posts and add ideas as they pop into your mind. Then when you have some time between gigs, do some writing. If your blog or Twitter feed is part of your networking plan, you will need to post at least once every week or two, so take advantage of this work lull to write future posts – you can even schedule them to be posted automatically for you.
- Encourage yourself
Don’t let yourself wallow in pity or worry about future work. Re-read encouraging feedback from clients. Keep kudos like these in a document, and consider adding a positive review to your LinkedIn page or website. Keep a list of your strengths and remind yourself of all the benefits of freelance life. Count your blessings!
- Tackle a project
Keep a list of big household to-dos – things like painting, repairing, deep cleaning. A lull between paid jobs is the ideal time to check off one of these projects. You will feel productive – you have accomplished something worthwhile — and stay on top of things in your home.
- Go for coffee
Another good list to have on the go is one with potential clients or colleagues (or friends!) to see face to face. Now is the time to have that lunch or go for coffee. Do this regularly, even if you’d rather hibernate. It’s good for your mind to get out of the office and have real conversation with a human being. Be sure to keep track of mileage and receipts for any business-related expenses – coffee counts!
- Deep clean your office
Move everything off your desk, clean it well with a damp cloth, then clean each item before putting it back. Funny how dust builds up, eh? Carefully clean the fur from your coworkers off the back of your computer. Use a Q-tip and clean the toast crumbs out of your keyboard. Deal with paperwork that may have been piling up.
- Learn something new
Are there blogs or group discussions you’ve been meaning to catch up on? Take the time to comment on a post that intrigues you and consider reposting it to your own blog. Choose an essay or article from your “to read” list. Does the library have any new books in your field? Maintain a record of books you have read and a file for quotes you can use in future blog posts or articles. Write a book review. Make it a habit to learn something new every day – such as a new tip to stay efficient and productive between paid jobs!