It’s amazing how so many people do so little work. I know that I personally can waste time with the best of them, losing hours to meaningless email, workplace chatter and random meetings that accomplish next to nothing. As I’m rarely wasting time by myself, perhaps you or others can relate?
One of the most frustrating things about trying to be productive at work is the occasional “pop-bye” colleague who drops in and stays beyond a reasonable amount of time. What can you do to keep them moving along? Here are some suggestions:
Reposition Your Desk: If your desk faces the doorway or a hallway, you might consider moving it towards a wall or so that you don’t seem as accessible to the sporadic drop-in. Sure, it’s less friendly but depending on your job, it might do the trick.
Buy a Large Clock: Placing a clock in a key location in your office is helpful as it allows you to look at it occasionally and then comment on it. “It’s getting late, I better get back to work,” or “Wow- 4:15 already,” are helpful lines that give your visitor a clue that you are actually trying to get work done.
Look at Your Watch: Sure, it’s rude and borderline obsessive-compulsive but it works. A quick glance to the watch will tell your friend that time is money and something not to be wasted. Your watch doesn’t even have to be working- your visitor doesn’t know but will quickly take the hint.
Stand and Don’t Sit Down: When someone arrives for a pop-bye, stand and greet her but don’t sit down. Standing tells your visitor that you have things to do so let’s get on with it.
Use Savvy Lines Like “I’ll Walk You Out”: I’ve used this many times and it works wonders. You can also the visitor if they know the way to the front of the building or you can inquire about the location of their parking. You’re not being dishonest, only strategic with your time. Some folks can talk forever so the smart worker knows when it’s time to hit the evacuate button.
Head Out the Door to a Real Appointment: As you are a savvy knowledge worker, use your own schedule to your advantage and start heading out the door to your own meeting which is scheduled. A polite “excuse me, I have a meeting to attend,” is all you need to say.
Head Out the Door to an Appointment With Yourself: If you don’t have a meeting with someone else, you can always schedule an on-the-spot meeting with yourself. Who says you can’t work in another location or even off-site? Know when to pick up some work and then move to another spot. You’ll decrease the time of the pop-in and probably get more work done in the new location.
Be Honest: Last but never least, honesty can be a potent conversation killer. Remember, you’re not being rude, only focused. If you just don’t have the time to chat, tell the other person or schedule a follow up at a time that works for you.
Most people want a few more dollars in their wallets. But between an employer and family, the time most of us can devote to a second job is severely limited. Running a small side business can provide a few more options: you don’t have to show up at a set time and you can use skills you already have. Not all will be perfect for everyone, of course, and I’m sure that you’ll have a few ideas of your own after reading this list. If you’d like to share any other business ideas, please add them in the comments.
Selling collectibles — From antique books to teddy bears, there are plenty of opportunities to buy and sell collectibles. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the collectible of your choice but if you choose something that you’ve been collecting for a while, you’ve got a head start.
Locating apartments — It can take time to sort through apartment listings, but you can make some money by finding the perfect apartment for a renter.
Baby proofing — New parents often prefer to bring in an expert to make sure their home is safe for a new baby.
Calligraphic writing — If you’ve got elegant handwriting, you can pick up gigs writing or addressing wedding invitations, holiday cards and more.
Selling coupons — Search on eBay for coupons right now and you’ll see thousands of listings for coupons. It’s just a matter of clipping and listing what you find in your Sunday newspaper.
Pet training — A surprising number of people don’t know where to start in training a pet. Even teaching Rover simple commands like ‘Sit’ and ‘Stay’ can bring in a few dollars.
Running errands — A wide variety of people want to outsource their errands, from those folks who aren’t able to leave their homes easily to those who have a busy schedule.
Researching family trees — Amateur genealogists often call in experts, especially to handle research that has to be done in person in a far off place. If you’re willing to go to a local church and copy a few records, you can handle many family tree research requests.
Supplying firewood — The prerequisite for selling firewood is having a source of wood; if you’ve got some land where you can cut down a few trees, you’ve got a head start.
Hauling — As more people trade in their SUVs for compact cars, hauling is becoming more important: people have to rent a truck or hire a hauler for even small loads.
Image consulting — Image consultants provide a wide variety of services, ranging from offering advice on appearance to teaching etiquette.
Menu planning — For many people, the trip up in eating home-cooked or healthy meals is knowing what to prepare. Meal planners set a schedule to solve certain dietary problems.
Microfarming — Cultivating food and flowers on small plots of land allows you to sell produce easily.
Offering notary public services — Notary publics can witness and authenticate documents: a service needed for all sorts of official documents.
Teaching music — If you’re skilled with a musical instrument, you can earn money by offering lessons.
Mystery shopping — Mystery shoppers check the conditions and service at a store and report back to the store’s higher-ups.
Offering research services — Just by reading up on a topic and compiling a report on it can earn you money.
Personal shopping — Personal shoppers typically select gifts, apparel and other products for clients, helping them save time.
Pet breeding — Purebred pets can be quite value, especially if you can verify their pedigree.
Removing snow — During the winter months, shoveling walks can still be a reliable way to earn money. You might be asked to take care of the driveway too.
Utility auditing — As people become environmentally-concious, they want to know just how efficient their homes are. With some simple testing, you can tell them.
Offering web hosting services — Providing server space can be lucrative, particularly if you can provide tech support to your clients.
Cutting lawns — An old standby, cutting lawns and other landscaping services can provide a second income in the summer.
Auctioning items on eBay — Want to get rid of all your old stuff? Stick it up on eBay and auction it off.
Babysitting — Child care of all kinds, from babysitting to nannying, can offer constant opportunities.
Freelance writing — If you’ve got the skills to write clearly, you can sell your pen for everything from blogs to advertising copy.
Selling blog and website themes — Do a little designing on the side? Customers that don’t want to pay full price for a website will often pay for a template or theme.
Offering computer help — Particularly with people new to computers, you can earn money by providing in-home computer help.
Designing websites — It may require a little skilled effort, but designing websites remains a reliable source of income.
Selling stock photography — For shutterbugs, an easy way to put a photography collection to work is to post it to a stock photography site.
Freelance designing — Check with local businesses: you can provide brochures, business cards and other design work and get paid a good fee.
Tutoring — Math and languages reamin the easiest subjects to find tutoring gigs for, but there is demand for other fields as well.
Housesitting / petsitting — Stopping in to check on a house or pet can earn you some money, and maybe even a place to stay.
Building niche websites — If you can put together a site on a very specific topic, you can put targeted ads on it and make money quickly.
Translating — The variety of translating work available is huge: written word, on the spot and more is easy to find even on a part-time basis.
Creating custom crafts — No matter what kind of crafts you make, there’s likely a market for it. Etsy remains one of the easiest places to sell crafts.
Setting up a wi-fi hotspot — With a little bit of equipment, you can set up a wi-fi hotspot and charge your neighbors for the access they’ve been ‘borrowing.’
Selling an e-book — You can write an e-book about almost anything and put it up for sale online.
Affiliate marketing — If you’re willing to market other companies’ products, you can earn a cut of the sales.
Renting out your spare room — From looking for a long-term roommate to listing your guest room on couch surfing sites, that spare room can make you money.
Offering handy man services — Handling small household tasks can provide you with plenty of work, although you’ll probably be expected to have your own tools.
Teaching an online class — Share your expertise through a website, an online seminar or variety of other methods.
Building furniture — For those with the skill to create handmade furniture, selling their creations is often just a matter of advertising.
Providing personal chef services — Personal chefs prepare meals ahead of time for customers, leaving their customers with a full freezer and no mess.
Event planning — From planning corporate events to bar mitzvahs, an event planning business can require plenty of work and offer plenty of pay.
Installing home safety products — Particularly as Baby Boomers age, people able to install handrails and other home safety products are in demand.
Altering / tailoring — If your sewing skills are up to par, altering garments is coming back as people try to stretch more wear out of their clothing.
Offering in-home beauty services — Hair cuts, makeup and other beauty services that can be performed at home have a growing demand.
Business coaching — Helping others to establish and develop their businesses can provide many opportunities to earn money.
Writing resumes — Writing resumes can provide a reliable income, especially if you can put a polish on a client’s credentials.
There are plenty of offers that claim to provide you with the opportunity to make thousands of dollars a week. Unfortunately, none of these businesses will provide that sort of income, but they aren’t scams either. They were chosen because they all require a minimum investment to get started — some require nothing more than a flyer advertising your business. Even better, if you do enjoy any of these businesses, there is a potential with most of them to continue to expand — perhaps even to the point of going full time.