Bored? 7 Ways Turn Downtime into Uptime

BoredWhen you’re self-employed, it’s very common to experience periods of downtime. In fact, in my experience, there tends to be a somewhat predictable cycle that brings about periods of increased workflow that’s followed by a slow down.

When the slow down occurs and how long it lasts is different for every business. But if your business is anything like mine, the periods of the workflow cycle can be intense – from more incoming work than you can handle to an abrupt quiet period. I have come to appreciate this downtime, though, and have a number of things I do to turn the silence into productive time for my business. Here are some ideas:

1. Revisit Your Goals

Spend some time analyzing your goals, the progress you’ve made and what you need to do to stay on course. It’s also helpful to create some mini-goals that will help the process and give you specific activities with measurable results that you can do immediately.

2. Focus on Social Media

Review and revise your social media accounts, update your profiles and join new online business networks. A slowdown in work is also a great time to become more active on social networks and start to build and enhance your relationships.

3. Assess Your Web Site

If you have less client work coming in, it could be the perfect time to give your own web site a close look. Read through the content, check your contact information, perform a SEO check, and test out forms and functionality. You may also want to update your portfolio so it reflects your most recent projects.

4. Reach Out to Clients

Downtime is a great time to send clients a feedback survey to get their take on your work if you didn’t do it at the end of a project. You can also use this time to ask clients for testimonials to use in your marketing materials.

5. Follow-Up and Re-Pitch

Do you have a few proposals out there that you have yet to hear back on? Follow-up with prospects to see if there is still an interest. You may be able to generate some new work, or at least clear your pending list of dead opportunities.

6. Get Organized

If you’ve been fumbling with your tasks and struggling to manage projects, now is a great time to work on your systems. Migrate to a new project management app or try out a new to-do list system to become more productive and less scattered. It’s also a great time to clean your office, organize your files and focus on administrative tasks that tend to be forgotten.

7. Get Away from Work

A workflow slowdown can be the perfect time to take a break, get away from work and refresh your outlook. In my experience, a quiet period is usually followed by a quick ramp up in work, so take the time to enjoy the calm before the storm.

If you can predict this period of downtime, keeping a running list of downtime tasks can help you avoid wasted time. And being focused and busy when work is slow will help you avoid any stress and anxiety that may come with a lack of work.

Plus, if you truly make the most of downtime, you will likely find that it goes by too fast to allow you to accomplish all of your downtime goals, which is not a bad position to be in.

How do you handle downtime in your workflow?

Image credit: Joseph Mankin

Free book: Jump Start HTML5 Basics

Grab a free copy of one our latest ebooks! Packed with hints and tips on HTML5's most powerful new features.

  • annedougherty

    Good tips! One I would add: reassess your skills and determine if you need to update them (for programmers: has a new standard or version of a language you use come out recently? for designers: are there new versions of the tools in your toolbox? do you really need to buy them?)

  • devAngel

    Nice list…during my slow times I usually take a break and reach to some of my clients. That way, they know that I’m still alive and available if they have projects in the future :D I also update my site’s portfolio.

  • http://www.atulthanvi.com atsa

    Nice ideas. Will surely try if i will ever face slowdown :)

  • Jeff H.

    Great ideas.
    I always am changing my ideas, and coming up with new ones. Downtime is always a great way to streamline and perfect what we are already doing.

    Web Ideas Online