4 Ways for Staying Productive During Your Idle Time at Work

Are you longing for a promotion? Is there a high-paying management role you’re hoping to score? Good news! You can prepare for advancement in the workplace by learning how to use your idle time to add value to the team! 

“I don’t have what I need to move forward!”

We’ve all faced this scenario in the workplace. While a temporary lack of resources is unfortunate, what you do with this reality can make or break your reputation in the workplace. Followers wait for a leader. Leaders take initiative.

If you’re longing for promotion, use these four tips to display a leader's mindset during idle time.


Use Your Voice

Unsurprisingly, the first way to stay productive during idle time is simply to use your voice. Don’t just sit at your desk, waiting for someone to bring you another assignment.

Communicate! Be sure your supervisor knows why you’re idle and what you need to do to move forward. This is not the time to send an email. Unless your supervisor is in a meeting, speak to them directly. Passive communication displays low motivation to hustle. Enthusiastic communication reveals that you understand the value of time and proves your willingness to be as efficient as possible!


Help Someone Else

Are you idly waiting for supplies while the department next door is racing frantically to fulfill orders? Step up and step in! Say, “I can only help until ___; is there a way I can assist during this time frame?”

Helping others while your department is at a standstill proves that you care about your company’s overall success. Your collaboration will make your coworkers feel valued. You’ll build new skills. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of your company’s operations. You’ll make new friends. You’ll boost your reputation.

Best of all, helping others will leave you feeling fulfilled.


Organize Your Workspace

At the risk of sounding like your mom, we’ve got to tell you: training yourself to see opportunities is just as important as actually following through.

People who both notice and act are always valued in the workplace. These are the people who replace toilet paper, wipe dried-on soup out of the microwave, and keep their files neatly stored—these people shout value without saying a word.

Organizing your workspace is the easiest and most accessible way to use idle time. Remove clutter. Put away things you’re not using. Restock. Organize your tools. Repair anything that’s broken. Wash and refuel your company vehicles. Clean the common areas. Clean the uncommon areas. Clean the street! No, now we’re just kidding.

Bottom line: if you notice something out of place and you have two minutes to spare, just do the thing. Tiny bits of work piled up over time—like stacks of unfiled reports—are what create the mountain of burnout.


Educate Yourself

Self-education is a powerful investment to your team. The world’s top leaders are lifelong learners. Keep a list of skills you want to learn, along with methods of learning them. Then, use your idle workplace moments to build your mind!

If you only have a few minutes, tackle something small. Ask a question. Learn the meaning of one new word. Watch a 5-minute YouTube video. Read two pages of a book and write down the sentence that intrigued you most.

If you have a longer window of idle time, learn a new skill. Ask for permission to shadow someone who performs an operation you want to learn. Take a MasterClass. Practice using the tools you’re not yet proficient in.


When you follow these four tips, you’ll transform idle time into a powerful investment into yourself, your company, and your team! Your initiative will be noticed, and your reputation as a leader will grow!

Ready to get out there and take the lead? We’re rooting for you!