The Sick, (Uh, Slow Work) Day

A recent study discussed on MSNBC’s Today Money website reports that some people will call in sick on what they consider to be a slow work day. While some bosses may see it as a way to lower stress levels, others may see it as a form of slacking off. If your boss falls into the latter category, there are ways to use your slower work day to take some of the stress off you rather than calling in sick.

*Clean out/reorganize your email and voicemail. Email and voicemail can really pile up during busy times and make it difficult to find information when you just have to have it. Ideally, you keep your messages under control so this doesn’t happen. However, communications sometimes come in so fast during the day, it can be hard to keep up. Use a slow day to delete unneeded info and reorganize what is left so you can quickly access what you need.

*Clean off your computer desktop. Same deal here. It’s tempting to keep all of your important files on your desktop so you can easily access them. However, you may end up with several versions of the same files, making it confusing and hard to find the right file. Put the old file versions in the trash, and the files you need to keep organized into desktop folders.

*Organize your desk. Recycle unwanted papers and clean out files. Do you really need four different copies of the employee handbook? Not if you aren’t an HR specialist. Clean out your tickler file or set up one if you do not have one. A tickler file system reminds you of important dates and projects coming up, but it doesn’t work very well if you don’t keep up with it. Not sure how to set one up? Watch here. Put unused paper files away.

*Do lunch. This takes some planning ahead, but networking and mentoring should be a part of your work day. One way to fit in mentoring of employees or networking with colleagues is to schedule lunch. It doesn’t have to be a “lunch meeting.” It can be a birthday or anniversary celebration or even just a time to touch base with those people you mentor or with whom you network at work.

*Get your expense receipts under control. Expense accounts can be a real blessing, but expense reporting can be a headache if you do not take the time to organize a receipt system and to understand how expense reporting works at your company. If you have an assistant who does this for you, then lucky you. Check with that person to ensure that the system you are using works, and tweak it if it doesn’t.

*Go over your report templates. Many jobs demand regular reporting, often done in Excel. If you have to do your own reports, set up a template to make reporting easier. If your report templates are already set up, review and tweak them to make reporting easier if you are allowed to do so. Take a few minutes to learn/review some basics in Excel that can make reporting easier.

*Plan some fun. Fun can be birthday celebrations or just rounding up people for pizza at lunchtime. It can be dressing up for holidays such as Halloween or declaring one week as time to wear your jeans to work. Go in on a large lottery prize ticket or set up a pool to guess the birth date and weight of a co-worker’s baby that is due soon. None of this takes a lot of time, and it can build camaraderie among departments that do not often interact.

Every job is different. So keep a note file, either a paper pad or a computer word processing file, where you can jot ideas for things that can be done on a slower work day. It helps relieve work stress without taking a sick day that may make you look like a slacker to your boss.

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