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Why a Slow Workday Is Actually Good for Your Productivity

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This is a guest post by Brian Zeng. Brian is the owner of Ponbee.com. He is an entrepreneur by spirit. Through Ponbee, Brian would like to share his insights on an array of topics related to business, e-commerce, digital marketing and entrepreneurship. His recent post comprising 55 inspirational leadership quotes from some of the most notable leaders of all times will surely help the reader become a better leader.


Each day at work is a fresh experience. Sometimes the day gets over before you know it and at other times, you find it hard to kill time until you log out from work. You get downtime only after you have attended to your priorities and accomplished your tasks. If you are a task-oriented person, you will either find it tough to drag yourself through such days or you may worry about the security of your position at work.

Slow work days are rare in most offices, yet you may come across them every now and then. There is a good chance that you are having one today, considering you are reading this post. Did you know that these quiet days can actually be life-changers if you use them well?

Slow days are a blessing because they enable you to focus on peripheral tasks that aren’t urgent but are certainly important. You can spend these quiet periods to check if your business is in line with the organizational vision or whether you are on track towards achieving your long-term goals.

You can adopt countless strategies to turn a slow workday into a productive and enjoyable one. Here are five useful ways to do so.

Organize Your Life

Organized Drawer

During lean days, organizing your work terminal should be the first task that you take up. This will help you be better prepared for tasks when you get busier in the coming days. Take advantage of the slow pace at work and spend time clearing the clutter in your mind, on your laptop, and at your workstation.

  • Clear the Clutter: First things first – arrange your office desk and shelves. Get rid of old useless papers, sticky notes, and files that have been lying on your desk without any reason. A clean desk creates breathing space, opens up your mind, and makes you more efficient.
  • Set New Priorities and Deadlines: Spend a few moments thinking about the organization’s vision and how your priorities and goals complement it. If they do not, set new priorities so that this purpose is achieved.Most probably, you already have a few long-term projects that are awaiting your attention. Take time to break a large complex project into smaller actionable tasks and set deadlines depending on the priority.
  • Pay Attention to Background Tasks: On any given day, dozens of low-priority tasks and projects get ignored in the face of high-priority jobs. For instance, you may put off tasks like documentation, reporting or other administrative jobs on your busy days. Use the slack period to take up these pesky, but important tasks.You can also use the slow period to take up tasks that will benefit your team and the company’s image. For instance, a seasoned marketer can accept a pending invitation to conduct a guest lecture at a business school in his/her lean time. Taking up such tasks will contribute to social responsibility, enhance the brand image, and earn you brownie points over your competitors.
  • Plan Your Subsequent Days at Work: Plan your work and work your plan. Slow days offer you the luxury of spending time on achieving your short-term objectives. When you plan your day in advance, you will experience a significant boost in your productivity. Spend your downtime mapping your priorities for the next day/week. Doing this will make you feel in control and you will be able to achieve more in less time.

Connect with People

Business People Sitting Talking in an Office Building

A successful team player is self-assured and fosters healthy business relationships throughout his/her life by connecting with internal (subordinates, peers, and seniors) and external (clients, vendors, and competitors) stakeholders. When working on a challenging project, you count on your team and other departments to get things done. Use your slow days to connect with these people and strengthen bonds with them so that they will help you in becoming more productive.

  • Build a Rapport with Your Team-Members: Invest quiet days in connecting with your team and focusing on their needs. Discuss with them the vision of the organization and their crucial role in realizing it. Encourage them to share their views and suggestions. Conduct reviews and brainstorming sessions to assess performance and invite new ideas.
  • Help an Associate: If you are free and not sure about how you want to use your time, help a coworker who seems to be tied down with work. Assisting your peer/team member is fun and tasks are completed faster and better. Moreover, you learn and appreciate the role of your colleague in the organization. This improves your work relationship, which in turn, has a positive impact on your efficiency.
  • Network: Networking with other members of the industry (competitors, vendors and clients) will keep you informed about the prevailing trends and give you high visibility in the circle of professionals. Get active on LinkedIn and engage with your followers. You can also write an article on a trending topic and build your name as a thought leader in that space.Networking earns you a good reputation, introduces you to the tricks of the trade, and attracts fresh opportunities. Thus, you can improve your self-worth when you have an easy work schedule.
  • Meet an Important Client: Engage in field work and get in touch with a core customer who you have been planning to meet, but haven’t been able to because of paucity of time. Personal interactions make customers feel special and open up new avenues. Therefore, invest your free time in strengthening relationships with your patrons.

Measure Your Performance

Measuring performance

There is no point in setting priorities and goals if you are unaware of whether or not you are making progress on them. When you measure your success, you get an idea of the extent of your performance, which acts as a powerful motivator to stick with your objectives. A slow day is the perfect time to take inventory of your achievements.

  • Track Your Achievements: Use your slow days to reflect on your performance. Look back on the goals set and see if you are advancing towards them. This is a good time to rephrase your old goals and/or set new ones. Conducting multiple performance reviews makes it easier to get a pulse of the situation and devise a solution before it’s too late.
  • Evaluate Your Dreams and Intentions: Slow days allow you time to think about innovative product ideas and give you a sense of how things would have worked out had there been no barriers. Daydreaming triggers creative thinking as it helps you visualize the goals you want to achieve at work. Visualization helps in manifesting your innermost desires in an effortless manner.Your professional and personal intentions are crucial for the growth of the organization. Goals stem from intentions. For instance, if you market an antiseptic liquid soap, one of your intentions will be to ensure hygiene in all public places. Thus, you set a goal to increase your production by 20% to improve your reach.Slow days allow you the mind space to think about your dreams and intentions. Thus, you can get back on track and be more productive.
  • Evaluate Your Time-Management Skills: A quiet day is the perfect opportunity to analyze whether or not you are using your time effectively. Get into the character of a time management consultant and examine how you spent your day/week. For instance, you may have spent too much time in business reporting and too less time on attending to urgent emails from clients. Study your daily workflow and make necessary amendments to improve efficiency.

Create Something New

Meeting Discussion Talking Sharing Ideas Concept

During slow days, it is best to keep yourself occupied by engaging in useful pursuits like crafting and/or executing new ideas or strategies. This will keep you enthusiastic and make you more creative. The sense of fulfillment, thus gained, will keep you motivated and productive.

  • Suggest a New Idea/Strategy: On easygoing workdays, spend time on generating novel ideas in your chosen field. For instance, if your organization is involved in a social cause, you can start a fundraiser for it. If you are a part of the marketing team, you can recommend knowledge-enhancing tools that can help your sales team perform better. If you work with a law firm, you can make/suggest new strategies to market your legal services in the corporate space. Proposing new ideas will illustrate your potential for taking higher responsibilities.
  • Propose a Better Workflow: Utilize slow times to evaluate a particular process or a system within the organization. Examine minute details and look for opportunities to make it more efficient or find a better/faster way to perform the same task. Look for processes and procedures that everyone grumbles about, work out ways to improve them, and present the proposal to the higher management.

Sharpen Your Saw

Learning something new

‘Sharpen Your Saw’ is one of the seven habits mentioned in Stephen Covey’s magnum opus, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Though the book was published nearly 25 years ago, its principles hold true even in present times, especially for those facing slack period at work. It suggests that there is always something new to learn or do. On any given day, acquiring the latest knowledge is important but not urgent; hence you do not spend much time on upgrading your skills. Hence, you can use your downtime to ‘sharpen your saw,’ i.e. work on your skill set in the present to improve your effectiveness in the future.

  • Engage in Personal Development: Consider signing up for an online course or participate in a webinar that relates to your area of expertise. If you are a specialist in a particular subject, consider developing an online course or workshop for others who are inexperienced in that field. You can effortlessly create an online course using platforms like Skillshare.
  • Learn a New Skill: If you are new to digital marketing, start by creating a blog to write about your learning from the industry. Be clear on what you want to achieve and engage your followers by posting an article at least once a week. You can also start a Podcast and invite other thought leaders in the industry to share their experience. By engaging in these activities, you will hone new skills, namely digital marketing, writing, and researching.
  • Visit the Library: Use the slow period to expand your knowledge. Spend an hour or two in the library reading the most recent business magazine articles or catching up on useful online information pertaining to your area of specialization. Keeping yourself updated on the goings-on of top businesses, trades, and blogs will bring you recognition among your team members, thus benefiting your career.
  • Visit Other Departments: If the day at work is slow, you can make it productive by meeting employees in other departments and learning about their processes. You can also help them with a few peripheral tasks. For instance, if you are a part of the marketing team, you can visit the finance/accounting department and understand their role in analyzing the bottom line of the organization.
  • Take up a New Responsibility: When you show initiative and shoulder more responsibilities during your slack time, you showcase your ambition and trigger your creative thinking process. If you are confident of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, take up an additional responsibility. Think about the skills you want to develop and seek out opportunities that can help you achieve them.

Don’t lose heart during slack times as the busiest of positions also experience a dull phase at work from time to time. Slow days are opportunities that can be used to your advantage. Using this time sensibly will help you be better prepared to handle the pressure on a hectic day. When you use your slack period to improve your productivity, you will be seen as an asset to the organization and will be rewarded. You will gain a sense of self-worth and will feel motivated to achieve more. If you are facing one of those days that feel never-ending, you can use the above-mentioned tips to enhance your productivity.


This is a guest post by Brian Zeng. Brian is the owner of Ponbee.com. He is an entrepreneur by spirit. Through Ponbee, Brian would like to share his insights on an array of topics related to business, e-commerce, digital marketing and entrepreneurship. His recent post comprising 55 inspirational leadership quotes from some of the most notable leaders of all times will surely help the reader become a better leader.

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