Uptime or Downtime? How Do You Manage Boredom

7 June 2018
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Every action and inaction is a choice. Driving an hour or five minutes one-way to work is a choice. The current job you have is a choice. Your reactions to consequences, positive or negative, are choices. The way you spend your time is a choice.

It becomes the classic scenario of wanting what you do not have while not putting in the work. Successful people do not have a lot of dead time, if any. A plane flight across the country is not spent staring out the window. Emails are outboxed so when an internet connection is available, tens if not hundreds of emails are sent at once.

The following are common downtime scenarios which you can make useful:

Commuting to Work

Some have long drive times while others do not. How do you spend this time? If you choose downtime, you spend it on autopilot in traffic waiting for the light to turn green or the person in front of you to idle forward. Music may be playing to keep the doldrums of sitting in traffic to a minimum.

Uptime appears much different in this scenario. An audiobook about management or history is playing. A podcast discussing world events might pique your interest. You are utilizing this time to learn and develop new skills. Making phone calls to determine the day’s activities take place so when you enter your office, you have a few items to take care of immediately.

People Who Are Late

Be it a meeting at the office or on site, someone in the group will inevitably be late. How do you spend this time? A general conversation about the weather or potential weekend activities is downtime. Sitting separately in each other’s vehicles is the definition of downtime.

Uptime is somebody looking at their notes preparing for any and all questions. Maybe making phone calls and sending emails to stay up to date on other projects running simultaneously. Starting the meeting on time without the other individual discussing topics that do not involve him or her can make use of the time.

No Fires or Issues

Everything seems to be running smoothly. You are getting no phone calls or urgent emails. No one is coming into your office. Somehow, you have a natural break in the day. How do you spend this time?

Scouring the internet for random gossip stories or following up on your social media is downtime. You have replaced inactivity with passive activity. You find a coworker in the hallway to corner and discuss randomness until you get a phone call. Driving from jobsite to jobsite is another way to appear busy while just wasting time.

Uptime turns you into a problem seeking missile. Rather than sit back and wait until something comes up, you are reaching out to your team(s) asking questions. Maybe you find yourself in the office of a subject matter expert trying to learn more about their functions to improve on your end. You can take a closer look at the specifications or plans again to ensure your next steps and possible call the engineer for any clarifications.

So, once again, I ask you, how do you spend your time? If you ain’t living, you’re dying.

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