Author Topic: Free Time at Work  (Read 8373 times)

TalkingGoat

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Free Time at Work
« on: August 28, 2014, 06:42:52 PM »
Long time lurker. So I've gotten tons of great tips that I've incorporated into my life to make it more Mustachian. So I thought I'd reach out to the MMM council for advice on what to do with my free time at work. I did a quick search but didn't find any posts (if someone has asked this before please just point me to that post) on the subject.

So with all this free time not only does the day drag by, but I also feel so unproductive. If I have all this time, why shouldn't I know use it to improve myself or do something useful. I have to be at my desk, and I can't just watch movies on my tablet or read a book, but whatever the internet has to offer is at my fingertips. I am considering learning Python maybe writing short stories. Any other ideas? What do you all do with downtime at work?

Thanks,
The Goat

MillenialMustache

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Re: Free Time at Work
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2014, 06:49:21 PM »
Read this forum...seriously though, I am interested in what others say as well.

I do small things to earn a bit of money, like Swagbucks and taking surveys. I enter sweepstakes and visit sites that you can earn daily points from for prizes (like Purina My Perks). Not exciting, but amuses me some.

Interested to here about others.

MsRichLife

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Re: Free Time at Work
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2014, 08:29:46 PM »
I read this forum a lot and research around the world trips which aren't going to happen anytime soon. :)

I should be writing my thesis, but next year I'll need some internet based stuff to fill in the free time at work. Looking forward to more 'productive' suggestions.

momoneymama

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Re: Free Time at Work
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2014, 08:47:28 PM »
i don't have tons of free time, but when I do, I...

1. Improve my craft. I'm a designer so I follow tutorials, read blogs and simply create for the sake of improvement.

2. I learn something new. I'm currently taking a skillshare.com class to learn app programming. Skillshare does cost a little so it may not be mustacian. But, perhaps, if you turn those skills around to make a profit, it is. Maybe?

3. I plan the next weeks meals.

4. I research my current parenting woes and frugal activities to do with my toddler.

5. I brainstorm future creative projects... Like, writing a children's book or a new blog or a fun app I'd love to develope.

mxt0133

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Re: Free Time at Work
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2014, 09:51:28 PM »
When I was younger and career oriented I would ask if there was anything that needed to be done or if someone needed help.  If nothing is brought up I would try and solve issues that I knew the team/group had or try and improve something.  The goal was to always keep learning.

Then we I became a little more jaded.  I would work on projects that were kinda/sorta work related to expand my skill set to be more marketable within the company or outside of it.  The trick is to make sure it is related to your job, something we call in the software industry as resume driven development.

Now that I'm not so career oriented, I make sure I do my work as efficiently as possible (you can always do it slightly better and faster) and then work on personal interests.  I have a pretty flexible work schedule and can work from home.

Gimesalot

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Re: Free Time at Work
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2014, 08:03:22 AM »
One time I completed my six sigma green belt.  One time, I watched all 3 seasons of "Whale Wars" on netflix...

Can you read books on your desktop/work computer?  There are thousands of free books available online.  Also, your local library may offer some books.

I feel like you just need to narrow down your interest and then find something.

Fonzico

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Re: Free Time at Work
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2014, 08:12:57 AM »
I've been learning random things on Khan Academy (it's free!)
Currently attempting to (re)learn algebra, for no reason other than I find it difficult and figured it would be good to make myself do something intellectually challenging. I could probably pick something that falls under that category that might actually be useful (like coding). But now that I've started, it's become a point of pride that I get through it.

Also, my library has an ebook collection that I can read through my browser. I love it.

LibrarIan

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Re: Free Time at Work
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2014, 09:07:31 AM »
Also, your local library may offer some books.

I'd say this is a safe bet. ;-)

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Free Time at Work
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2014, 10:27:21 AM »
At my last job, probably 60-75% of my time was idle.  It drove me absolutely NUTS.  Here's my advice (in order):

0) Perfect the work you do.
1) look for something you can do for the company.  Bosses like employees who show initiative and solve problems without being asked.  Something along the lines of "Hey, I noticed problem X, and I can fix it by doing solution Y.  Are you ok if I go ahead and do it?"
2) As my brother repeatedly told me, "Invest in yourself."  Develop skills.  Research interesting topics.  If they're related to your current job, so much the better.
3) Ask for something to do (if you can't find anything in #1).
4) If there's nothing you *can* do, work on other non-work-related projects, as long as your primary work duties are being fulfilled.

apfroggy0408

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Re: Free Time at Work
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2014, 10:49:35 AM »
One time I completed my six sigma green belt.  One time, I watched all 3 seasons of "Whale Wars" on netflix...

Can you read books on your desktop/work computer?  There are thousands of free books available online.  Also, your local library may offer some books.

I feel like you just need to narrow down your interest and then find something.

where do you work?

Jane

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Re: Free Time at Work
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2014, 11:16:55 AM »
I started a blog (not ER related) which I find fun, it makes me feel productive, I can continue to do it after I leave my job, and right now I'm making ~$800/month from ads and occasional sponsored posts.

I used to download ebooks from the library and read them on my computer. That filled the time well too.


Weedy Acres

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Re: Free Time at Work
« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2014, 03:49:18 PM »
OK, I have to ask:  who has more time than work?   What kind of jobs do you guys have?

Fonzico

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Re: Free Time at Work
« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2014, 04:25:32 PM »
I do reception/bookkeeping for a small construction company. Basically, the reason they don't just pay me to work the hours I would need to actually do the work is that they would like to have a live person answer the phones, and I'm often alone in the office. However, I mostly answer telemarketer calls, if any.

It's dreadfully boring, and I'm thinking about applying for some similar but busier positions... except they would pay about the same amount, and I wouldn't have as much flexibility to do supporting work for my side gig. I'm also in an uncomfortable position of being due for a raise, but feeling too guilty to bring it up, since I don't feel like I provide sufficient value to justify one. I really can't decide what to do!

Emilyngh

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Re: Free Time at Work
« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2014, 04:51:24 PM »
Long time lurker. So I've gotten tons of great tips that I've incorporated into my life to make it more Mustachian. So I thought I'd reach out to the MMM council for advice on what to do with my free time at work. I did a quick search but didn't find any posts (if someone has asked this before please just point me to that post) on the subject.

So with all this free time not only does the day drag by, but I also feel so unproductive. If I have all this time, why shouldn't I know use it to improve myself or do something useful. I have to be at my desk, and I can't just watch movies on my tablet or read a book, but whatever the internet has to offer is at my fingertips. I am considering learning Python maybe writing short stories. Any other ideas? What do you all do with downtime at work?

Thanks,
The Goat

I go home.   Seriously, unless you work in customer service or something requiring one to be on-call, if you have more than 10 minutes free here and there, see if you can arrange things to telecommute or even just downright leave early. 

 I used to worry about appearances, and maybe this isn't the best idea if one is brand new at a job.   But, I feel that I have adequately proven myself and earned a reputation for being completely on top of things and doing a great job, so now I work efficiently scheduling things in large chunks whenever possible, and then just leave.   

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Free Time at Work
« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2014, 05:30:26 PM »
OK, I have to ask:  who has more time than work?   What kind of jobs do you guys have?

Every IT job I've worked has had free time.  Sometimes a lot.  The accounting position I held was the same way.  I imagine some fields are inherently busier than others, but I think a lot of it is company culture.  I currently have more downtime than not while a friend who is at the same level in a similar position hasn't had time to catch his breath in 2 years.

At my last job, probably 60-75% of my time was idle.  It drove me absolutely NUTS.  Here's my advice (in order):

0) Perfect the work you do.
1) look for something you can do for the company.  Bosses like employees who show initiative and solve problems without being asked.  Something along the lines of "Hey, I noticed problem X, and I can fix it by doing solution Y.  Are you ok if I go ahead and do it?"
2) As my brother repeatedly told me, "Invest in yourself."  Develop skills.  Research interesting topics.  If they're related to your current job, so much the better.
3) Ask for something to do (if you can't find anything in #1).
4) If there's nothing you *can* do, work on other non-work-related projects, as long as your primary work duties are being fulfilled.

This exactly, in that order.  Also 100% agree on the driving me nuts part.  #4 can be really open or tricky, depending on your freedom.  At my last job I used downtime to learn french on my computer (had a PDF version of a french book I was trying to read, and used google translate as needed).  Unfortunately I can't safely do that at this job due to open floor plan.  Boss wouldn't care but other people probably would.  Anyway, if you're sure you've exhausted 0-3 above, make a list of things you want to do/learn in life, and start working on those the best you can while at work.

Things I've gotten into due to almost 100% work-time research and learning:
 - Motorcycling, motorcycle safety, and motorcycle camping/travel
 - Backpacking
 - Personal finance (this is the biggest, been reading PF stuff online for 8 years, hardly ever from home)
 - Still working on the french thing, but it got me started

TalkingGoat

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Re: Free Time at Work
« Reply #15 on: August 29, 2014, 07:50:46 PM »
At my last job, probably 60-75% of my time was idle.  It drove me absolutely NUTS.  Here's my advice (in order):

0) Perfect the work you do.
1) look for something you can do for the company.  Bosses like employees who show initiative and solve problems without being asked.  Something along the lines of "Hey, I noticed problem X, and I can fix it by doing solution Y.  Are you ok if I go ahead and do it?"
2) As my brother repeatedly told me, "Invest in yourself."  Develop skills.  Research interesting topics.  If they're related to your current job, so much the better.
3) Ask for something to do (if you can't find anything in #1).
4) If there's nothing you *can* do, work on other non-work-related projects, as long as your primary work duties are being fulfilled.

I think this is a great outline, and pretty much the one I've followed, at least for steps 0 and 1. Now I am in the 2-4 section. These ideas are really good. I like the blog idea. Now just need to figure out what to blog about. :) Books on the computer are a good idea too, though I do have a lot of foot traffic near my desk and it might not be taken too well if I'm reading too much.

I have been building spreadsheet models for analyzing Lending Club notes and also did some good research on credit card churning. My SO and I are taking a free trip to Europe thanks to the credit cards. But those things are petering off and now I need something else for the downtime. Glad you all are helping get me thinking. Keep the ideas coming if you got 'em!

I work for IBM. The work ebbs and flows, it's not consistently downtime. It's a few weeks of getting slammed, and then a few weeks of much slower work.

Jane

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Re: Free Time at Work
« Reply #16 on: August 29, 2014, 07:53:03 PM »
OK, I have to ask:  who has more time than work?   What kind of jobs do you guys have?

I've yet to hold a job since college where I didn't have at least 50% downtime. Now that I work from home the majority of the time, it's amazing. The only downside is that I am still tethered to my computer because we have to use the stupid IM tool that shows when you are inactive, but I can do whatever I please at my personal computer that I set up right next to it.

I have worked in marketing and IT related positions for large companies. I think many large companies hire somebody full time to do a job that a person at  a small business would do as only a fraction of their job (I'm generalizing here, but I think this is often true). It's also a lot easier to get away with doing the minimum, since when it comes down to it, none of the employees really care about the company. They are all just there for a paycheck.

I've never had a lot of incentive to go over and above. I have always been highly praised, handed nice raises and promotions, and I do my given tasks very well. I try to be easy to work with, friendly with coworkers, and efficient. That'll get you much further at a large company than dreaming up new work for everybody ;)

TalkingGoat

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Re: Free Time at Work
« Reply #17 on: August 29, 2014, 08:04:04 PM »
I started a blog (not ER related) which I find fun, it makes me feel productive, I can continue to do it after I leave my job, and right now I'm making ~$800/month from ads and occasional sponsored posts.

I used to download ebooks from the library and read them on my computer. That filled the time well too.

What's your blog about?

How long have you been working on your blog? How long does it take to get to such critical mass?

Jane

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Re: Free Time at Work
« Reply #18 on: August 29, 2014, 08:37:40 PM »
I started a blog (not ER related) which I find fun, it makes me feel productive, I can continue to do it after I leave my job, and right now I'm making ~$800/month from ads and occasional sponsored posts.

I used to download ebooks from the library and read them on my computer. That filled the time well too.

What's your blog about?

How long have you been working on your blog? How long does it take to get to such critical mass?

It's a DIY and home decor type blog. It's not a very mustachian topic or hobby in general, particularly the decor part, but I get a lot of enjoyment from making my home a nice place and I enjoy talking about it. I don't really talk about finances or early retirement specifically on there, but I do often incorporate how I try to make frugal choices in these areas.

I've been doing it a few years and have been making decent money for the past 1.5 years or so. I network with a lot of other bloggers in the same niche which has helped a ton for learning about how to make money. Blog conferences are also good places to learn. I actually am fairly small time compared to a lot of other bloggers I know. Some make a decent full time income. It's a lot of time, effort, and dedication to get to full time income though.

TalkingGoat

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Re: Free Time at Work
« Reply #19 on: August 29, 2014, 08:44:34 PM »
I started a blog (not ER related) which I find fun, it makes me feel productive, I can continue to do it after I leave my job, and right now I'm making ~$800/month from ads and occasional sponsored posts.

I used to download ebooks from the library and read them on my computer. That filled the time well too.

What's your blog about?

How long have you been working on your blog? How long does it take to get to such critical mass?

It's a DIY and home decor type blog. It's not a very mustachian topic or hobby in general, particularly the decor part, but I get a lot of enjoyment from making my home a nice place and I enjoy talking about it. I don't really talk about finances or early retirement specifically on there, but I do often incorporate how I try to make frugal choices in these areas.

I've been doing it a few years and have been making decent money for the past 1.5 years or so. I network with a lot of other bloggers in the same niche which has helped a ton for learning about how to make money. Blog conferences are also good places to learn. I actually am fairly small time compared to a lot of other bloggers I know. Some make a decent full time income. It's a lot of time, effort, and dedication to get to full time income though.
[/quote

Thanks for your insights!

Lian

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Re: Free Time at Work
« Reply #20 on: August 29, 2014, 10:03:29 PM »
I fear free time at work. Free time is unbillable time, and I have billability goals I must meet. I make the rounds, and make some calls to other offices to line up billable work. If that doesn't work, I try to get in on a proposal or marketing effort - not billable, but still productive. And if that doesn't work, I make something up that sounds beneficial to company - I present the idea to my supervisor as something that is absolutely necessary that I will devote myself to for those times that I'm not billable. But the only thing that matters is meeting my billability goal.

Write Thyme

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Re: Free Time at Work
« Reply #21 on: September 02, 2014, 08:55:27 PM »
I have a lot of downtime. Over the years I stopped trying so hard because the company just doesn't care. I'm at a dead end so I make the most of my downtime. I always do my work and step it up when we're slammed.

I usually:

Read personal finance blogs/forums.
I research parenting issues.
I look for ways to be more frugal.
I do Swagbucks and a couple other sites.
Sometimes I blog.
I research and plan gifts.
I write to do lists.
I try to meal plan sometimes.

Schaefer Light

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Re: Free Time at Work
« Reply #22 on: September 03, 2014, 01:15:27 PM »
Long time lurker. So I've gotten tons of great tips that I've incorporated into my life to make it more Mustachian. So I thought I'd reach out to the MMM council for advice on what to do with my free time at work. I did a quick search but didn't find any posts (if someone has asked this before please just point me to that post) on the subject.

So with all this free time not only does the day drag by, but I also feel so unproductive. If I have all this time, why shouldn't I know use it to improve myself or do something useful. I have to be at my desk, and I can't just watch movies on my tablet or read a book, but whatever the internet has to offer is at my fingertips. I am considering learning Python maybe writing short stories. Any other ideas? What do you all do with downtime at work?

Thanks,
The Goat

I go home.   Seriously, unless you work in customer service or something requiring one to be on-call, if you have more than 10 minutes free here and there, see if you can arrange things to telecommute or even just downright leave early. 

 I used to worry about appearances, and maybe this isn't the best idea if one is brand new at a job.   But, I feel that I have adequately proven myself and earned a reputation for being completely on top of things and doing a great job, so now I work efficiently scheduling things in large chunks whenever possible, and then just leave.
That is exactly what I'd like to do, but it would not go over well at all at my place of employment.  If someone is getting his job done, then I don't see why he needs to physically be in the office from 8-5 every day.

Gerard

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Re: Free Time at Work
« Reply #23 on: September 03, 2014, 03:04:43 PM »
Sometimes I use my free time at work to learn life skills online... if I'm lucky, things that occasionally help my colleagues. For the last couple of years, I've gotten better at finding cheap/rewarding plane tickets, and I forward deals to some of my colleagues. I think it helps them cut me some slack when they walk by and see me on ITA Matrix.

But often, as some others have suggested, I'd probably be better off going home. I'm starting to do that more often now.

OzzieandHarriet

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Re: Free Time at Work
« Reply #24 on: September 03, 2014, 09:47:12 PM »
I had this problem in my last job. I tried everything -- asked for more work, helped other people, worked on my skills. When I still wasn't busy, I surfed the internet, read books, listened to music. As time went on, I was getting in later and later and sometimes leaving early. I worked at home one day a week and sometimes I had nothing to do on that day, either, so I would sit and wait for emails from work. When I had work to do, I would do it v e r y  s l o w l y unless there was some sort of tight deadline.

I was going crazy. I suggested changing my job to part time, but they didn't want to do that. I finally resigned, and I guess you'd say I'm retired now. So maybe it was just as well that I wasn't busier, or I'd still be there. And the work didn't exactly excite me.

What is it with all these places that hire full-time workers who sit around half the time doing nothing? I don't get it.