Are you using your downtime productively? I’m not talking about personal downtime, like taking an afternoon off. (The whole point of that downtime is not to be productive.) I’m talking about business downtime.
Many small businesses see a slowdown in the summer. But your downtime could come at a different time of year, like accountants who have downtime after all the taxes are filed or retailers who see downtime in February when the holiday shopping season ends. Whenever your business downtime is, here are some productive ways to use it.
- Get your house in order. Downtime is a great time to do annual housekeeping tasks such as taking inventory, catch up little tasks that pile up (like sorting your travel receipts), or literally doing housekeeping—at one company I worked for, we had an annual “cleaning day” where everyone cleaned out their computer files, paper files and office. We threw away or recycled mountains of trash every year and always felt re-energized and renewed.
- Update and upgrade. Are all your computer systems running smoothly? Is your hardware and software up to date? Is everything integrated and effective? Give your business a tech checkup and figure out how you could do things better. Maybe now is the time to invest in a scanner, digitize all your files and really streamline your storage. Or maybe it’s time to investigate whether iPads would really help your business grow.
- Learn something new. You and your employees can use downtime to learn new skills. Take an online course or webinar in something you’ve always wanted to know how to do. Dig deep into Google’s suite of tools to improve your SEO or your website. Have that social-media savvy employee show your whole staff how to use Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to promote the company. Have your team cross-train each other on their jobs so you always have someone to cover in case of absences.
- Get off-site. I’m not talking about a day off, but an off-site company retreat to think and talk about the long-term direction of your business can be just what your team needs to energize you after summer ends. Find someplace you can all get away from the distractions and duties of the office and discuss your business’s progress this year, your goals for next year and plans for how to get there.
- Build bonds. People are more relaxed in the summer, so use the slow time for company events that help your team bond. Company picnics where everyone brings their families, potluck lunches or happy hours are all fun ways to promote team spirit.