You’re Between Assignments at Work. What Do You Do?

You’re Between Assignments at Work. What Do You Do?

by Bloomberg Stocks
0 comment 2 views
A+A-
Reset

Being in a lull period at work can be a great opportunity to shift gears, recalibrate, get organized, and even stretch yourself. To make the most of a slow period, keep a running list of ways that you could challenge yourself. The list might include taking up new hobbies, enrolling in a short-duration class, or deliberately placing yourself in an uncomfortable situation, such as a public speaking role, for the purpose of growth. What tasks have you been putting off? A slow period at work is an excellent time to cross them off your list. Don’t waste a good slowdown. It can be a great time to step back from work to think big picture, give back to your community, ramp up your fitness routine, or simply recharge your batteries for the next busy period.

A lull between assignments or a dip in your weekly hours can be a chance to recalibrate. Many senior leaders jump at the chance to re-organize their commitments, ponder longer-term initiatives, or relax. But not everyone sees this opportunity; for some, a lull can be debilitating. If you’re a senior manager who draws energy from always being challenged and keeping busy, a lull can make you feel stuck. Here are four steps to help you experience forward motion again.

Set a Time Limit

How long are you willing to sit on the sidelines before addressing the circumstances with your own manager? Timelines are individualized — there’s no hard-and-fast rule for when it’s appropriate to reach out.

Some folks intuitively know when they’re crossing the line into long enough. One VP I worked with found that after two weeks, he needed to challenge himself. He got a gut feeling about when to push leadership to give him assignments: an uneasy, jittery sensation, which meant it was time to ask for a new task.

Others opt for a data-driven perspective. Another senior vice president analyzed his calendar over six months to gain insight on his “lull comfort period.” He estimated the time between assignments — and when he would experience discomfort — and used this data to determine when to reach out to his manager. Another client used her calendar to analyze the exact amount of time each lull lasted, and to track her mindset during slowdowns. That record-keeping allowed her to remember details she would have most likely forgotten. Armed with the data, she was able to share her feelings about her workload, confidently and transparently, with her manager.

Challenge Yourself

Being in a lull period can give you the chance to try something outside of your comfort zone. To seize the opportunity provided by a lull, keep a running list of ways that you could challenge yourself. This list might include taking up new hobbies, enrolling in a short-duration class, or deliberately placing yourself in an uncomfortable situation for the purpose of growth. For example: if you don’t feel comfortable in front of large audiences, ask to present at your company’s next town hall meeting.

One former client decided he was going to try out for an elite soccer league. He hadn’t played since high school and seized the opportunity posed by a work slowdown to focus again on his athletic skills. Another client decided to learn two new instruments simultaneously. Yet another chose to train for a half marathon after years away from running. The lesson: a lull at work can offer an excellent opportunity for personal growth and development outside of the office setting.

Give Back

Another way to take advantage of lull periods is to give back. Studies show giving back has positive implications for mental health: helping others can open up creativity and expand your thinking. Another happy by-product is the energy you will feel when helping others. One former client decided that during her slowdown, she wanted to help middle school girls polish their essays and interview skills for high school applications. The opportunity gave my client a chance to share her management skills in a non-traditional way.

Finish a Task

What tasks have you been putting off? A slow period at work is an excellent time to cross them off your list. Think of activities that you don’t enjoy, yet know are essential for proper functioning within your role. For example: one former client used his lull to clean up his office. The task included shredding files and other documents he no longer needed. This client took stock of his company’s positioning; he knew that, as his company continued to grow, his messy office would be an increasingly inconvenient liability. My client took advantage of his lull to prepare for the upcoming busy season.

Lull periods are an excellent time to seize opportunities outside of work that present challenges and growth opportunities. Don’t waste a good slowdown. Decide on a time limit for when you will reach out to your manager and ask for new tasks — and in the meantime, develop latent skills, explore new ones, look for creative ways to contribute, and tackle those tasks you’ve been avoiding.

Read More

You may also like

Leave a Comment