Post written by Marlon Ribunal.
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Once in a while in the office we experience those unexpected system outages or downtime. These outages would sometimes take hours, which is annoying especially if you are in the middle of something important. Downtime can cost us great amounts of productivity if we do not know how to manage it. Having no control over something that affects us can render us ineffective. How do you manage your productivity during office downtime?

Having no control over something that affects us can render us ineffective.

Review Your To-Do List

Look for loose ends that need to be tied up. You might find some tasks that require an in-depth review. Or you might have overlooked some details and the downtime is the perfect time to patch up. If you are doing your To-Do List correctly, it contains important details that describe your whole productivity flow. Aside from the customary weekly review, you can take advantage of the downtime as an opportunity for you to review in-depth, patch up, or correct your To-Do List.

Get Tasks From Your Someday/Maybe List

If you’ve been reading David Allen’s GTD book, you already know what a Someday/Maybe List is. It is simply a list for tasks that you might want to do if and when you have the time. It might also contain the tasks that you consider “pending”. You need to have a separate list for your To-Do Tasks and Someday/Maybe Tasks for obvious reason. You have to draw the line between the tasks that you can do now and the tasks that you could do when you get the chance. Downtime in the office might just be the appropriate time to tie the loose ends listed in your Someday/Maybe List.

Check Your To-Call List

If you really have nothing to do during an office downtime, check if you could use that free time to do your own business. You might need to call your insurance agent, set an appointment, or check your bank or credit accounts. The downtime might also be the perfect time to talk with your managers about your career plans and goals. Maybe you’ve been waiting for the perfect time to approach your boss to ask for a raise, and the office downtime might just be right opportunity to do that.

Acquire Knowledge

I always bring a book with me when I go to the office. If I am not going for a walk during my break times, you’d see me reading a book or articles on the internet. A Downtime at the office might also be a perfect time to organize your reference materials or read manuals. You could also use the office downtime to watch webcasts that have value to you (technical webcast; that is if you have access to the internet during the downtime).

To-Done Tasks

If you have an access to the internet during the office downtime, there is a cool web application that you can use to manage your mini-tasks. I think this is a perfect productivity tool when you suddenly find yourself on an office downtime and wanting to get something done. This web application is called To-Done App (Update: This Online App is no longer available). The concept of this application is simple and can be used to manage your Maybe/Someday List. List a task and specify the number of minutes that it will take to finish the job. Now, when you go back to the application, you tell the application that you have this X amount of time and it will give you the list of all tasks than can be done in X time. I’d recommend you check this web application

How do you manage your idle time? Do you have tips that you want to share with other readers? Please leave a comment below.

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