10 Productive Things to Do on a Slow Day at Work

It’s the slow season at work, and if you waste one more day playing “wastebasket ball”, you’re going to go crazy. But all your work for the day is done, and aside from counting down the minutes until lunch break, you’re out of ideas for things to do. Take control of your extra time and try these 10 ideas for productive things to do to fill your slow days at work.



Both professional and personal intentions for the upcoming months or year are crucial for growth and prosperity. Make your intentions visible for you to see every day and share them with freely with others — so take time to evaluate your current goals and intentions, and consider setting some new ones.


“Noises” always come up when you’re running a process; especially a process is dynamic and changing all the time. To better your work and enhance your productivity, use the slow times to evaluate a particular process you use rather frequently and create more efficient ways to work.


It’s hard to be productive when you’re low on mental energy. Try to manage your time wisely and organize your specific activities prior to the start of the day. The best way is to make a TO-DO LIST, which helps you to choose and complete tasks with better focus, and to reflect on your overall role and whether you’re achieving your larger objectives.


On a normal day, it can be hard to find the time to organize your files properly. On slow days, clean off your desk, label your folders, clean up your inbox and archive your emails, and otherwise straighten out your notes and files. That way, you’ll be more prepared when you get busy again.


Your work for the day may be done, but what about tomorrow’s work? Or next week’s work? If there’s anything you can do to get ahead, DO IT. Your workday may be slow today, but you never know when a crisis will hit and interfere with your regular workload.


It never hurts to ask your supervisors for an extra project if you’ve run out of things to do. They will be impressed by your initiative, plus you won’t be bored anymore. Make sure this is just a side project without a strict deadline though, in case you do get busy.


Take a walk around the office and check in with your colleagues. If anyone looks overwhelmed, offer to help them out with something. Not only will you be building a rapport with your co-workers, but you’ll be able to call in a favor in the future if you ever need some help yourself.


When you’re busy, your calls to clients are likely short and straight to the point. Take advantage of your free time and make a few courtesy calls to your customers, just to chat and check in; or write a thank you card. Building good relationships with your clients will help you to become more well-known in your industry.


Stay informed about your industry by subscribing to newsletters and reading the latest news in your field. Staying knowledgeable will give you an edge over your colleagues. If your industry is slow, read articles about current events instead to keep yourself up-to-date on world news.


It’s time to take action when you’re feeling bored. Exercising before work will give you an extra energy boost to carry you through the day. When you’re in the office, you can lift 5 pounds weights, or do some yoga and stretching poses designed to be done anytime and anywhere. Taking a quick break and walking around the block also refreshes and reenergizes.


The End of the Office Dress Code

Below are excerpts from an article first published on May 25, 2016 in the New York Times.
working girl
Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford and Sigourney Weaver in a publicity still for the film “Working Girl.”CreditHerbert Dorfman/Corbis, via Getty Images via the New York Times
We live in a moment in which the notion of a uniform is increasingly out of fashion, at least when it comes to the implicit codes of professional and public life. If once upon a time Melanie Griffith’s character in “Working Girl” could manipulate viewers’ assumptions about her job and background simply by swapping leather jackets and minidresses for greige suits, today it would be impossible. “We are in a very murky period,” Ms. McClendon, assistant curator of costume at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, said.
The slippery slope may have started as a gentle incline way back in the 1970’s, and become a bit steeper during the Casual Friday movement of the 1990’s and the success of the Facebook I.P.O. in 2012 with its hoodie-wearing billionaires. But today, we are speeding down it at breakneck pace, partly thanks to the hot-button conversation around gender equality, and fluidity.
“There has been a dramatic change very recently,” said Susan Scafidi, a law professor at Fordham University and founder of the Fashion Law Institute. She noted that last December the New York City Commission on Human Rights announced new guidelines for the municipal human rights law that expressly prohibited “enforcing dress codes, uniforms, and grooming standards that impose different requirements based on sex or gender.”
As a result, no employer may require men to wear ties unless they also require women to wear ties, or ask that heels be worn unless both sexes have to wear them. And though this applies only to “official” dress codes, the trickle-down effect is inevitable.
“Dress is now open to the interpretation of the individual, rather than an institution,” Professor Scafidi said.
This has created an even greater tension in the more ambiguous areas of office dress, especially as the boundaries between home and work become ever blurrier. And that has led to all sorts of complications. One person’s “appropriate” can easily be another’s “disgraceful,” and words like “professional,” when used to describe dress requirements, can seem so vague as to be almost meaningless. Kanye West wearing ripped jeans and a jeweled Balmain jacket at the Met Gala: cool or rude? Julia Roberts at the premiere of “Money Monster” at Cannes this year in bare feet: red carpet pioneer or a step too far?
These issues are only going to get more complicated. “We are moving into an era where personal expression is going to trump the desire to create a corporate identity,” Professor Scafidi said. “It’s a huge power shift.” And it has already begun.
**** Editor’s Note:  This article was written two years ago.  It seems particularly timely given that our current President has been reported to want women who work in the White house to “dress like women.” ****

Inventive Incentive Programs

To motivate and retain employees, and generate high performance, employers need to use incentives. There has long been discussion as to whether noncash rewards is a better motivator than cash rewards or vice versa. Again and again research has shown us that most employees are not motivated solely by the amount on the paycheck. However, many employers are still using cash rewards as a sole motivator or as the prime motivator instead of considering more financially aware options such as noncash rewards.

Maybe you, as an employer have thought about updating your incentive program but just never got around to start that project. Here follows some advice and basic information that could help you get started.

What Should be Rewarded?

Ask yourself what behavior you, as the employer, want to reward through an incentive program. Do you want to reward employees for the effect of their performance on the bottom line, or on how they live company values? This question can be divided into two categories: performance-based rewards and value-based rewards.

Performance-based rewards – for example exceeding sales expectations – can easily be rewarded with hard cash. This means you are rewarding behaviors that translate into an economic benefit for the company. Using performance-based rewards can be good when you want to meet specific goals and generate a lot of business, however, these types of rewards can easily create a competitive atmosphere amongst employees.

Value-based rewards can be more subjective. They acknowledge behavior such as teamwork or traits such as ability to build morale, and they don’t have to be cash-based to work effectively. Value-based rewards are good for creating and establishing a strong company culture and help long-term future goals.

Which Rewards Should be Given?

Realize that every employee is different, and therefore prioritize different things in life. Some will be motivated by a higher salary and some will be motivated by working part time.

It is important that you understand your employees and what motivates them. To do this look at both demographic and psychological factors. For example: an entry-level employee with a lower income level might have more basic needs and might prefer cash, but an experienced and well established employee earning a higher income might prefer something with trophy value that enhances their self-esteem.

To explore these psychological factors, simply ask employees what types of behavior they would like you to recognize, and how. A survey takes out the guesswork, and employees will appreciate the fact that you asked.

Communicating the Rewards

People have a tendency to repeat a behavior when they are rewarded for performing in that particular way. How well they are motivated is a function of how clear the connection is between rewards and performance, and how valued the rewards are.

How well the incentive program is communicated is vital in making the whole project actually function. The rewards for specific performance or behavior should be clear to all employees. For example: if you are using performance-based rewards to motivate sales staff to reach certain call quotas, it should be fully clear to the employees how many calls are expected of them. They should also know what happens if they don’t reach the call quota, or what happens if they reach it with great exception.

The simplest way to communicate the incentive program is through creating a company policy, which shows the specific behavior, what goals to reach and what will be rewarded for reaching them.

The Power of Noncash Rewards

Let’s examine the power of noncash rewards. Maritz, a sales and marketing service company focused on employee motivation, recommends using non-cash rewards because they are clearly separated from pay. Employees treat cash, no matter when it is offered, as pay. This makes the reward less of an incentive tool and more as a form of compensation for hard work already done.

A Hay Group research representing about four million employees worldwide, shows that some of the most common reasons for leaving an organization are connected to nonfinancial issues. These include: lack of career development opportunities; poor work climate; lack of challenging work; direction of the organization and lack of recognition. To work closer with these issues might lead to stronger employee retention.

My own experience with this topic has shown me candidates will leave long term career positions with highly paid benefit packages and great salaries to try out new positions and assignments. When I interview candidates, and the topic of compensation comes up, most of our candidates answer that they are flexible dependent upon the circumstances of the available position. Also, when discussing why they left their old job, many of the candidates talk about the environment and the atmosphere or specific assignments and tasks rather than the compensation and benefits


I hope this article has given you some advice and information to help you get going on the project of updating your company’s incentive program. More information about this subject can be found at these links:

Also, check out DanielPink’s presentation “The Surprising Science of Motivation” at TED(can be found on Youtube or at


Staffing Intern

Success Indicator

The Success IndicatorHere, at the end of the year, Monroe Personnel Service, LLC & Temptime is evaluating what has gone well, what hasn’t gone well, and we want to “kick up the success meter a bit”.  Here’s a visual guide created by MaryEllen Tribby, founder and CEO of She also shares an inspiring story…

“A few months ago I spoke at an event that Steve Wozniak also spoke at. As you can imagine, when it was time for Steve’s session, it was jam-packed. Packed with attendees, vendors and all the other speakers.about her dinner with another successful entrepreneur, Steve Wozniak….

As I sat there and listened to Steve poignantly share the story of Apple and his relationship with Steve Jobs, I was enthralled. He started from their middle school years and went right up until the present, after Steve Jobs’ passing.

It seemed like he did not leave out a single detail. He just talked. There was no power point presentation, there were not even note cards — he just told his story from his heart.

What struck me the most was not Steve Wozniak’s extreme brilliance or his exuberant passion.

No, what struck me the most was his overwhelming sense of gratitude. His gratitude for having the opportunity to make the world a better place. To help us all to be able to communicate with loved ones, to run our businesses better and to have an enhanced life.

That evening I had the opportunity to sit with Steve at dinner. This was one of the smartest individuals I have ever met, and he was literally thanking all of us at the dinner table for allowing him to create some of the best technology in the world.

This experience prompted me to go back and examine a chart I created a year ago about the characteristic traits of successful people vs. those of unsuccessful people.

I have enhanced that chart and added traits that I believe to be some of the most important because nothing in life is satanic.

This chart was inspired and composed after meeting and working with some of the smartest, most successful entrepreneurs in the world, many of who are dear friends.
The following is that chart I compiled of characteristics, traits and behaviors of successful people vs. unsuccessful people.

Drum roll please . . .

The Success Factor Indicator

Successful People
Have a sense of gratitude
Forgive others
Accept responsibility for their failures
Read everyday
Keep a journal
Talk about ideas
Want others to succeed
Share information and data
Keep a “to-be” list
Exude joy
Keep a “to-do/project” list
Set goals and develop life plans
Embrace change
Give other people credit for their victories
Operate from a transformational perspective

Unsuccessful People
Have a sense of entitlement
Hold a grudge
Blame others for their failures
Watch TV everyday
Say they keep a journal but really don’t
Talk about people
Secretly hope others fail
Horde information and data
Don’t know what they want to be
Exude anger
Fly by their seat of their pants
Never set goals
Think they know it all
Fear change
Take all the credit of their victories
Operate from a transactional perspective

If you are ready kick up the success meter a bit, make a conscious effort to eliminate the traits on the right hand side of the chart above.

Hey, none of us is perfect but as long as we recognize and identify where we need to improve and continually strive to get there — greater success will follow.”

Hire Diverse Personalities

“Diversity” is a crucial word in workforce.  In fact, there are many companies promoting diversity in their policies. Monroe Personnel Service, LLC & Temptime also accepts various people as our employees.  Even in this small office, each person has quite different personality and we often influence each other in good ways for work.  It’s probably easier to hire and manage employees who have the same kind of personality.  Still, the reason that hiring various kinds of people is said important is that there are several benefits of having them in the workplace.  Today, we’ll share the following article to maximize their potential.

The Secret to Successful Hiring and Retention: Embrace Diverse Personalities
by Linda Finkle (Incedo)

No two people are exactly the same. We all have our own traits, attitudes, and capabilities. You may be able to do one thing better than another person, but it doesn’t mean that you are absolutely better—we all have varying strengths and weaknesses. Everyone is unique in his own way. Given this fact, every business must understand this as they go about the process of hiring and retention of their staff.

Working with people of diverse personalities and work habits may be a challenge. A manager must be able to maximize each one’s potential in a way that one person will compliment the other, thus allowing a team to work in harmony. You can never expect everyone in your team to be exactly the same, to work in the same pace, and exhibit identical behavior. Though, you can set your expectations high in terms of work quality, you need to understand that each employee may be better in one area than another and vice versa.

Managers need to look at staff diversity in a positive way and embrace each one’s uniqueness to compliment the entire team. But this does not mean tolerating bad behavior. No. It only means accepting each one’s strengths, weaknesses, and skills and using it to everyone’s advantage. This is a very important consideration in staff hiring and retention rate.

Different Personalities of Employees and How to maximize their Potentials:

  • The helper type. These are staff who are always ready with a helping hand, they enjoy the feeling of being needed and appreciated for their service. Their personality tends to bring out the best in their co-workers. Managers must be generous with kind words of affirmation to keep this type of people in helping others and performing well at work.
  • The creative type. They explore their deepest passions and pour it into their work. They may seem sensitive, but they just want to be understood for what and who they are. They can stimulate other people’s creativity in projects and activities. A manager must learn to maximize their creativity and accept them for their uniqueness.
  • The quiet-observer-type. They are the quiet ones who would just sit in meetings, intensely listening and paying attention to details. They are self-motivating, are often really creative, and even brilliant with their craft. Managers must learn to see through their quiet behavior and appreciate the brilliance that lies beneath. They don’t need to be forced to speak-out in a big group, just allow them to quietly learn and perform at their best. As a consequence of their shy and quiet behavior, these types of employees may also harbor negative emotions, instead of speaking to their co-workers, or yourself, to straighten out a problem. Make sure you talk to them once in a while, and encourage them to speak up about difficulties and problems they may have.
  • The aggressive type. They want to be the best, and thrive on leadership and challenges. They may seem to boss people around, so managers need to look out and keep them guided without killing their enthusiasm to get things done. They can also be confrontational and exhibit a strong personality.

All these traits are gold in the hands of a good manager, but it may be destructive otherwise. During the process of hiring and retention, managers and business owners must learn to understand the personality of their employees and how they can complement each other.

Getting the Most Out of Networking


By Kayla Bayens

Networking can be a scary and stressful thing no matter how many times you do it. Especially if you happen to be in those fields that cater to those of us with social anxiety such as the technology fields. But there is no need to worry, even with your heart racing at one of these events as you try to schmooze you can still come out on top. Here are just a few of my pearls of wisdom on how to get the most out of a networking opportunity even if you might have social anxiety.

Nurture Existing Contacts

You never know what they future may hold. That truth carries over to the people around you as well. Your best friend in college may find themselves as upper management in your dream company. You and your former coworker may end up starting a business together because you kept in touch. Or an idea you held onto for a long time might finally be brought to life because you reached out to an old friend. Relationships are the biggest thing you need to focus on when networking. Not just creating and cultivating new ones, but maintaining old ones. Don’t neglect people because you feel like they can’t do anything for you. Networking isn’t about that, its about creating a web of connections that you can always fall back on. Whether that be for support, connections, collaboration, or advice.

Set Goals

You can’t achieve something if you don’t know what you are going for, so set clear goals for yourself. Take 20 business cards and don’t leave the event until all of them are gone. Decide you won’t leave without having made 5 meaningful new connections and setting up at least 1 meeting. Its really not a hard thing to do. However you first need to know what it is you are looking to get out of networking. Are you looking for a job? Or a business partner on a new venture? To increase your current business? Maybe you are on the other side trying to find a good person to hire. Whatever your situation, they need to come with goals. So sit down and spend 10 minutes deciding what those are and which ones are the most important.

Business Communication Duplicate modelKnow your story, make it stand out

You are you’re own best salesperson. Literally no one on the planet knows who you are and what you can do more then you do. So be confident in what you are selling. You are awesome, you are amazing, and you are going place! Before the event spend 10 to 15 minutes standing with your legs shoulder length apart, your back straight, and your hands on your hips. This is called a power pose and is proven to boost yourself confidence. Use this pose as you practice how to introduce yourself. Keep you’re introduction short so that its easier for both you, and the person you are meeting, to remember. Think of it like an elevator pitch for yourself. Something you can say in 30 seconds that explains who you are. Wither that be what you do, what you are looking for, why you are at the event, or just even who you want to be.

Customize every conversation

Now I know I just told you to have a pitch memorized but now I’m telling you to customize it. You should know your elevator pitch so well that you can tweak it as needed. Make the conversation personable from the beginning. If you don’t you’ll start to unconsciously sound robotic in your introductions and that will have an effect on the tone of the rest of your discussion. Have different little tidbits prepared for those their in suits, those their in casual clothing, artists, engineers, etc. Try and create something that will engage the person from the very beginning. I know it sounds like a lot of work, because it is. But the people you are meeting will take notice of the extra effort and you’ll be highly rewarded for it later on.

Smile & Mingle
Lets say say you come to the event by yourself. Who do you approach? Well the easiest people to approach and start a conversation with would be the people standing by themselves, much like you. If everyone is in groups already then pay attention to body language. Groups that all already know each other and just want to catch up with form closed shapes and be turned inward to each other. Groups open for people to join will be an open ended shape and make eye contact with people approaching. If you have some very social butterflies at the networking event they tend to make their groups more welcoming by making eye contact and smiling before moving to open the group to you.

Once you have selected your target then comes the introductions. Remember to smile as you firmly shake their hands, and repeat their names as they are given. The repetition will help you remember their names when you are talking to them. Make sure to stay focused on the conversation happening through active listening (something I can go over in a later post if needed). Ask questions for more information or details, or just to engage those in the group with the conversation happening. List more then you talk. I know that seems counter intuitive but alot of people when they get nervous just talk about whatever pops into their heads. Instead take in the conversation and be thoughtful with your responses and questions. Contribute to the discussion going on but make sure its in a meaningful way even if that means bringing in another perspective to something being talked about.

business-networking-meetingLastly, take notes. Its weird I know but you will need it. Maybe the conversation gives you a great idea, or something is mentioned you want to look more into. Heck you can even use it to take a few quick notes on what is being talked about or who said what to use later in your follow up emails. Remember you can never have too much information, but don’t let the note taking take over and keep you from the discussion.

Follow-up within 24hrs

Its best to work fast while you have someone’s attention. For this I suggest that the people you are meeting that seem like the most promising contacts, set up a meeting somewhere outside of the event right there and then. Arrange to get coffee the next morning, to get lunch, or to meet up after work for drinks. You need to strike while the iron is hot to make sure you can get the most out of the experience while you are still fresh in their minds. Now this won’t always be possible especially if they are like me and have so many things going on that they need to sit down to look at their schedule. In that case you should send a follow up email the next morning suggesting you all meet up at one of the activities I mentioned above to talk more. Make the message personable and reference specific things for the networking events conversation that you want to follow up on. This will trigger the memory of the person you are emailing and make it more likely that you will get a positive response. Plus its a gentle, nice way of reminding them who you are from a sea of faces they probably met at the event.


Evolve Your Beliefs and Evolve Your Career

Sometimes it’s necessary to see where we are in order to be able to move forward.  Have you thought about what holds you back from reaching your career goals?  All we really have to offer the world is our attitude (this is my belief).  I believe it’s useful to examine my attitude and adjust it as needed on a daily basis.  As I do this, my belief structure naturally evolves as I learn what’s important to me, what I can do to contribute to the health and well fair of my community and how my contribution might be translated into an income.

Geoffrey James has described some beliefs he has identified as henderances to successful careers.  He has written this under the title: 5 Toxic Beliefs That Ruin Careers.  As you read his post perhaps you will see where your beliefs are holding you back from living and working they way you would like….

5 Toxic Beliefs That Ruin Careers

The Book of Proverbs in the Old Testament is, in my opinion, one of the best business books ever published.  One passage, in particular, contains a world of business wisdom: “As a man believes so is he.” (23:7)

In the past, I’ve written in this blog about the beliefs that make people more successful.  However, I’ve observed that there are five other beliefs that consistently make people less successful. Make sure you don’t subscribe to any of these

1. My self-worth is based on what others think of me.

Some people define themselves based upon how they guess their boss, co-workers, relatives and friends see them. When they are convinced that others think poorly of them, such people lack the self-confidence necessary to consistently take action.

2. My past equals my future.

When some people experience a series of setbacks, they assume that their goals are not achievable. Over time, they become dispirited and discouraged, and avoid situations where failure is a risk.  Because any significant effort entails risk, such people are then unable to make significant achievements.

3. My destiny is controlled by the supernatural.

Some people believe that their status in life–or even their potential as a human being–is determined by luck, fate, or divine intervention.  This all-too-common (and ultimately silly) belief robs such people of initiative, making them passive as they wait for their “luck” to change.

4. My emotions accurately reflect objective reality.

Some people believe that their emotions are caused by external events. In truth, though emotions are determined by the perception of those events, combined with preconceptions about what those events mean. Such people find it difficult or impossible to “get out of their own heads” and see situations from another person’s viewpoint.

5. My goal is to be perfect or do something perfectly. 

Because perfection is unattainable, the people who seek it are simply setting themselves up for disappointment. Perfectionists blame the world (and everything in it) rather than doing what’s necessary to accomplish extraordinary results.  That’s why “successful perfectionist” is an oxymoron.

If you’re suffering from any of these five beliefs, I strongly recommend expunging them in favor of better beliefs. I explain how to do this in this post “How to Be Happy at Work” (in the post, I call them “rules”, but that’s the same thing as “beliefs.”)

 Geoffrey James writes the “Sales Source” column on, the world’s most-visited sales-oriented blog. His newly published book is Business to Business Selling: Power Words and Strategies From the World’s Top Sales Experts. @Sales_Source