Whether you’re an IT professional or not, working in an office will usually involve you spending a lot of time at the computer. While computers are pretty fast at most things, you will probably find yourself waiting for it to do something every now and then. Compiling code, starting up, or installing software are just some tasks that the computer needs to do that take up a lot of resources. Stay productive during this time by getting other things done, as suggested below.
Go Over Your Handwritten Notes
If you’ve got a pen and paper or notebook nearby, you have probably got some notes written down. These could be notes that were taken when you went to meetings or brainstorming exercises, diagrams you’ve drawn, or things you’ve discussed with others. While you’re waiting for your computer to load, you can spend the time going over these notes and determining what to do with them, such as:
- Work out if there are any actions required. Some notes require work to be done, either by yourself or by others. Have a read of these notes and see if there’s anything you need to act upon or delegate.
- Recreate your diagrams. This involves using software to recreate any diagrams that you’ve written down. This probably can’t be done while your computer is doing something intense, but you can note it and remember it for later.
- Clarify any points you’re not sure of. If you’re reading your notes and you’re not sure about something, mark it so you can clarify it, either right away with someone or later when your computer is running again.
Tidy Your Desk
Another thing you can do while your computer is loading is clean up your desk. You might normally keep it pretty clean, but you can take this time to organize it a bit better. Ask yourself:
- Is there any rubbish that needs to be thrown out?
- Is there any filing to be done?
- Do any old notes or files need to be thrown away?
- Does it need to be wiped down?
A cleaner desk can help you focus on the work you’re doing, and performing this kind of clean up every now and then keeps your desk looking good. It also sends a good impression to those around you that you’re organized and focused.
Talk To Your Co-workers
Speaking to the other people you work with is a great thing to do while waiting for your computer. Yes, you could be doing this even when your computer isn’t loading, but it’s a good chance to do it now.
You can talk to them about issues they’re having, ask them any questions you have, or ask how they are going with their own piece of work. You can even ask about non-work related topics, such as their weekend or plans for the night. Spending time getting to know your co-workers is a good thing, as it can make your team work more effectively and help you develop your communication skills.
If you have any actions from your notes that you identified in the tip above, you can speak to the people you need to in this time. You can also make whatever phone calls you need as well, depending on how long you will be waiting for your computer.
Grab a Coffee or Some Water
This is an old tip, and is actually the source of a few jokes. Back when computers were horribly slow, people used to joke that they could run something on their PC, walk away, make a coffee, come back, and it would still be loading. While this is still true for some intensive tasks, normal tasks are much quicker.
For these intensive tasks that take a little longer to run, use this time to get a coffee. If you don’t drink coffee, get a tea instead. If you don’t feel like caffeine, get some water. It’s good to keep hydrated throughout the day, and getting a coffee, tea, or water has the added benefit of getting you away from your desk, getting some exercise, and stretching your muscles. If it’s a regular task, such as waiting for your computer to log in in the morning, you probably know how long it takes. Every morning while my computer starts up, I take that minute to go and get myself a coffee and some water. It’s up and running for when I get back.
Write or Check Your To-Do List
Having a to-do list is a great way of keeping organized and productive at work. It’s a list of tasks that you need to get done at some stage, and an indication of the priority and the date they are due. It can either be computer-based or written on paper.
While waiting for your computer to load, use this time to check your to-do list. If it’s on the computer, print it out first! Better yet, sync your devices. Go through any notes you have taken, have a think about what you need to do today, and write it down. Writing it down helps you keep track of what you need to do, and you can refer to it when you’re ready for the next task. If you don’t have a to-do list, now is the perfect time to create one.
I hope these tips are helpful for whenever your computer is busy while you’re at work. If you have any other tips to share, please leave them in the comments below.