When 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
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