Is office boredom getting you down?
The holiday season is upon us. For many of us, that means your office has turned into a ghost town. Your colleagues are on vacation. Your clients are on vacation. Your boss is on vacation. You might find yourself doing any or all of the following:
- picking out a gift online for your postal carrier
- mapping out your weekly TV line-up for new shows that begin in January (for me this will include Off the Map and — gasp — The Bachelor)
- feeding office goldfish that belong to the aforementioned vacationers
- going through your Facebook friends and unfriending people you don’t really know
Maybe you welcome this break from the daily grind and look forward to a week or so of doing basically nothing. Maybe you really do need to log some serious hours thinking of what you’ll get the mailman. But I suspect that although you have no actual work to do, you long to be productive anyway.
Here are a few things to put on your to-do list when your to-do list is otherwise all crossed off.
Pre-write blog entries
You’re always saying you don’t have time to keep up with the company blog. Now is your chance to get ahead! If you truly have time to kill (not to mention a quiet office if your cube mate is in sunny Florida), you should be able to pump out a handful of blog posts in one day. Spend no more than one hour on a single post, then move on to the next. After you have four started, go back to the first one and begin making revisions. You could have a dozen written before Santa comes down your chimney.
Remember, you don’t want to publish a bunch of posts at one time even if you write them all between your morning coffee and lunch. Use your blog tool’s publishing calendar feature to have them automatically post on a later date. If you knock enough of them out before New Year’s, you may not need to write another post until St. Patty’s Day!
If you tire of actually writing posts, an equally beneficial exercise is reading other people’s blogs and making notes of ideas you’d like to write about in the future. Remember to subscribe to an RSS feed of any blog you want to keep up with (or bookmark it, but see bookmark overdose warning below).
Review your marketing materials
Unless you’ve recently had your marketing collateral redesigned, you probably cringe every time you look at that two-color brochure that was produced in 1982. If you are experiencing some down time, take this opportunity to evaluate your print and online marketing needs. Don’t just assume you need to redo what you had before. Maybe that two-tone trifold can go back in a drawer, and an email newsletter can take its place.
Think outside the box. Talk with others in your company about what materials they’d ideally like to have in their marketing arsenal. Make a wish list and create a presentation complete with how each of these pieces will help the company (not to mention how they were your ideas!) to show your boss when she’s back from visiting her family. Then work with a designer to figure out which pieces are the best fit for the company’s needs (and within your budget).
Update your website content
If your website’s homepage still says “We are thankful for our customers” with a picture of the company president dressed as a turkey, you should be ashamed of yourself (and the pres should be a little embarrassed). The best part about a website (versus other marketing materials; see above) is how easy it is to update, so there are no excuses. Whether you manage the updates yourself or you are in charge of sending new content to your webmaster, there is just no reason not to be on top of this aspect of your business or organization.
Open up your calendar (go on, I’ll wait). Maybe you already have big dates for the next few months marked — events, sales, anniversaries, project deadlines. Use these as a starting point to create website update appointments for yourself. Is your store having a sale beginning January 1? Then you should have marked on your calendar to promote this on your website on Christmas Eve, and to take the promotion down when the sale is over. Is your non-profit beginning its annual campaign in June? Then your calendar should have various dates noted to update the progress of monies raised on your website’s homepage or giving section. You only need to block off 15 or 30 minutes to write a quick blurb or gather photos.
Organize your bookmarks
All year long you come across great websites that you just know you’ll want to reference later. So you bookmark it. And then what happens? You get busy doing something else, and you leave the website, never to return again. That link you added to your favorites gets lost in a sea of URLs, most of which have labels that are meaningless to you, until finally, your list becomes a puzzling mess of blog posts, news stories and outdated articles. You now suffer from bookmarking overdose.
How do you fix this problem? If you haven’t organized your bookmarks in a long, long time, you may have to clear the rest of the afternoon for this project, because you are going to go through each of those links, one by one, and do one of the following: delete it OR give it a clear and succinct name and place it in an appropriate folder/category. As you go through the process, your categories will naturally develop (and even change). As a designer, some of my categories include coding, tutorials, design ideas, marketing, and blogging. If there is a time-sensitive article, I’ll make an appointment on my calendar for a later date to make sure I read the information before it’s too late to sign up for the webinar, before the sale is over, before, well, you get the point.
Once you are finished, your goal for the new year should be to think twice before bookmarking a new link (are you really going to need to see the YouTube video of the Macabeats again?), and, when making that call in the affirmative, to place it in a folder. I promise, you will be a more efficient worker (well, maybe not worker, but at least web surfer) all year long!