One of the hardest parts of the winter season is that it coincides with my own professional slow season. It used to be that these slow seasons would freak me out — I’d worry about my job security, if I was being proactive enough, that I was missing, missing, missing out. It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve learned to relax, appreciate the time and learned how to use it for my own professional benefit.
Here are some ideas I’ve tried to put in use to get the most out of the slow months:
Yep, probably the least exciting thing you can do. But, as it relates to your workspace, tossing things out — both physical and digital — can be as cathartic as it is just a good way to keep things in order. This is the time I go through all my files and make sure I’m only backing up things I need; I go through all of my inboxes and delete or file – especially those that have any large attachments. I’m constantly amazed at how my workspace collects things – coffee cups, wine glasses, slips of paper, books, etc. It’s also a good time to try out any of the inbox helper/work productivity apps you might be collecting: like UnRoll.me; SaneBox; Pancake; write out authentic canned emails; ToDoist, and more.
2. Drink tea.
I feel like the benefits of drinking tea over coffee are well-worn, which doesn’t mean I’ll be dropping one or the other any time soon – but if it’s cold/rainy outside, I want to be drinking something warm and an uncaffeinated tea is miles away from a decaf coffee. (Want to hear a joke? Decaf) Be careful what type of tea you drink because while a cup of Earl Grey in the morning is delightful, it’s a seriously caffeinated black tea that will keep you up all night if you sip on it all day; even green tea has a caffeine so I relax in the afternoon with a cuppa Chamomile.
3. Browse deliberately.
I browse the internet often when I’m procrastinating, but I’ve found more focused browsing to be incredibly helpful. As it relates to my work, there are certain things I always want to be up-to-date on: industry trends, industry leaders, reference images (from Behance, Dribbble, Instagram) for pitches and inspiration; I’m often in need of font references (Typewolf, Fonts.lol, among others) from relevant creators like Jessica Hische and Lauren Hom. I say “browse” because I feel like it should still be a fun, semi-mindless thing you’re doing. If it’s too much work, you’re not going to consider it when you have downtime.
4. Learn something.
I’m a huge proponent of diversity – probably in all ways one can frame it. Here, I’m referring to having a diverse skill set – not mastering a different form exactly, but acquiring at least a working knowledge of a variety of skill sets. Certain skills (organization, time management, etc) are needed in every career field, and it’s interesting to see how those skill sets change with different practices. I’m a fan of Skillshare – currently loving classes by Kate Arends (of Wit & Delight); Marte Marie Forsberg (Photographer and author of The Cottage Kitchen) and hope to jump into something from the MasterClass series; additionally Lynda.com is a great resource, as is YouTube – which sounds like old news, but if you find the right content creator, you can find some really great tutorials – some of which I’ll be posting in the next few weeks. Continued learning is a guaranteed way to improve your work.
Enjoy the slow season if you’re fortunate enough to have one, but don’t let it make you passive. What are some tools you use to kickstart your slow days?