Everyone seems to be asked to do more with less time these days.  That said, making an investment in personal growth within your profession typically gets pushed aside when time is tight.  Although we are all very busy, it only takes a few minutes of down time during the work week to commit to building your skills and developing yourself as a professional.  I recommend two productive options for you when you have a moment to spare.

1. Take a deep breath, find a 10 minute distraction and clear your head, this will help you stay sharp and on-point the remainder of the day. While it may seem counterintuitive, taking a moment to be unproductive can make you much more productive later in the day. Whether it’s listening to your favorite song or watching an entertaining clip on the Internet, these short “brain breaks” are necessary and extremely beneficial.

2. Take this time as an opportunity to learn and grow. You can take charge of your own professional growth with some simple (and even fun) tasks right at your desk! Here are a few ideas to explore:

  • Read the latest articles about your industry trends
  • Learn more about your current organization’s services/products
  • Do some research to better understand your competitors
  • Read articles about your profession/skill
  • Find motivational articles to keep yourself moving forward

I could easily expand this list to 20 bullet points instead of five; however, it may as well be zero if you are not personally motivated to grow.  Each of us needs to determine our personal goals and map out a plan to reach them.  Once this is done, build a list of supporting causes (your own set of bullet points) that will better support the growth needed to reach those goals. Once completed, take the occasional down time at work as an opportunity to either refocus for the remainder of the day, or to personally grow in areas that you are looking to develop.

If you have any other tricks to use your downtime at work productively, let’s hear about it in the comments below!

Steve Yakesh is the EVP at Versique Executive Search and Consulting. He has over nine years of experience in the recruiting industry, as well as sales and marketing leadership experiences from both global 50 and Fortune 500 companies. He can be reached at syakesh@versique.com.