5 Ways To Make The Most Of Slow Periods At Work

Whether you’re a full-time freelancer or an office-bound 9 to 5-er, there will always be slow periods at work. Depending on which way you look at them, they can either be much-needed and revitalising, frustrating and boring, anxiety-inducing and scary, or all of the above.

But just because work is idle, it doesn’t mean you have to be too. From jetting off overseas to learning a new skill, here are five ways to embrace the slow times – not fall to pieces.

Treat yourself with a trip 

I’m a diehard advocate for treating yourself. As a freelancer, this might seem like a counter-productive philosophy to hold dear, but I can’t help taking a break when the opportunity presents itself.

Of course, going on holiday is much easier to justify when you can afford it. For me, this usually means taking a dip into my safety net, combined with the knowledge that I have potential work on the ever-elusive horizon.

When you’ve got the security of a full-time salary, taking some leave during a slow month can be the best thing for you. Burnout can happen to the best of us, so it’s worth using the opportunity to tune out, catch some rays, go hiking, spend time with family, or do whatever it takes to recharge those batteries. Remember, perspective is priceless.

Refresh your brand and portfolio 

For freelancers, this could mean updating your website to showcase your latest and greatest, or reviewing which of your services needs special attention.

Think about ways you can build your personal brand, tinkering with your overall theme, style, writing and tone. You might want to add another social media account to your web presence, or expand upon the ones you already have. Basically, it’s a great time to take a long, hard look at yourself.

For office-bound folks, slow periods are perfect for making lists of all your recent responsibilities, completed projects and new skills you’ve accumulated since you last checked. You can use this info to polish your CV, as well as identify areas where you still need to develop.

If you’ve got a side-hustle idea brewing, why not use the extra brain space to get it off the ground?

Reconsider your worth 

Do you deserve a raise? A slow period can either be a good time to approach your boss about asking for a salary bump, or at least think about what you’re really worth to the company. Have you taken on extra responsibilities? Is your annual review coming up?

Gather all the evidence you need to convince your employer to give you a big old “yes”: projects you’ve nailed, KPIs you’ve smashed, leads you’ve nurtured. If you need help making sure the conversation runs smoothly, just follow our lead.

When you’re freelancing, reconsidering your rates can work both ways. On one hand, it might be time to boost your rates to accommodate for dry spells – especially with clients who appreciate your expertise. On the other hand, you may need to think about settling for a little less, simply to remain competitive in the industry. However, there are many variables at play here – and it’s often best to look at it on a case-by-case basis.

Do a little networking 


how to deal with slow periods at work

When you’re facing a freelance famine, remember that clients don’t drop off the face the earth. Even if there isn’t much work coming in, try to keep a steady line of communication going. Just being in the loop ensures you’re top of mind for when things heat up again.

You can also use this opportunity to think bigger about your services and reach out to new businesses, brands, organisations, agencies, or individuals who could benefit from your skills.

While networking can be a cripplingly unattractive notion, there are ways of doing it without hating it. If your goal is to develop professional relationships, the key is to keep an open mind.

Whether it’s a one-on-one coffee chat with a colleague or a massive industry event, you’ll inevitably meet some like-minded legends, gain new insights, and even broaden your career objectives.

Skill up

Perhaps the most productive thing you can do in a slow period is catch up on some learning. Chat to your boss about potential upskilling opportunities. Who knows – you might end up shadowing a colleague in another department, or taking an external short course. The good news is, you can often claim a deduction for self-education expenses.

Don’t know where to start? Just think about the kind of work you want to be doing, or the types of clients you love working with. What new skills can you gain that will give you that competitive edge? It might mean finally getting to grips with Photoshop, learning the basics of coding, or enrolling in a language school.

Either way, the more skills you have in your weaponry, the more employable you’ll be.

Doug Whyte is a freelance writer and copywriter. He’s worked in branding agencies, digital publishing and written a bunch of articles for a bunch of publications.