How to Use the Holiday Quiet Time to Boost Your Career

By Kat Tretina on 14 December 2016 0 comments

Depending on your office's culture, it can become a barren wasteland starting right after Thanksgiving, and stay that way until after the New Year. Especially if your office is open the week between Christmas and December 31, it's completely common to find yourself as one of the few people in the office — if not the only one!

And while bingeing on Netflix or having chair races with the only other person in the office may sound appealing, office quiet time is a golden opportunity for you. The empty office gives you a chance to prepare for 2017 and build your skills. Instead of whiling away the hours on Candy Crush, try the following ideas to be productive.

Take a Course

Whether you want to learn how to code, dream of graphic design, or think mastering advanced Excel functions will help you in your current work, there are free and low-cost courses available to help you meet your goal.

Coursera

Coursera offers free classes from top universities like Yale, Harvard, and Brown in subjects like psychology, neuroscience, or fundamental programming concepts. While you cannot get credit for the classes you take, these are excellent resources for developing new skills.

Udemy

Similarly, Udemy offers free classes, but they also have more in-depth classes with a fee, too. Udemy courses tend to be more niche-focused. If you want to learn about the latest in social media, such as how to use Periscope for brand promotion, or how to use Photoshop's editing features, Udemy offers many options and self-paced learning opportunities. While even Udemy's paid classes tend to be very affordable, if the lesson can be applied to your work, check with your manager to see if the company will cover the cost. Your initiative will show a good use of your time during the slow season.

Research Tools That Can Improve Your Work

During the busiest months, it can get so crazy you don't have a lot of time to research ways to streamline processes or make your job easier. So you stick to what you know and what works, even if it is inefficient. The slow weeks can be a great time to find new ways of doing business that can make your life simpler in 2017.

There are many free or cheap tools available for every line of work. Below are just five free options that can help you in different industries, but there are hundreds of tools that can improve efficiencies and empower you to be more productive.

Asana

If your company struggles to keep up with deadlines and track who is accountable for what, Asana can be a gamechanger. Asana allows you to create tasks, assign people to each step, and set public deadlines. Asana is free for for teams up to 15 people, so it can be great for individual departments to stay on track and keep projects moving forward.

Canva

If you run social media pages, coming up with images for the different channels can be a major timesink. And if you have to wait on someone else to do them for you, that can make it difficult to capitalize on breaking trends. Canva allows you to create polished, professional-looking images in minutes, even if you have no graphic design training yourself. There's thousands of free templates, and while you can upload your own photos, they also offer stock photos for just $1.

FullContact Card Reader

Whether you work in sales, procurement, or marketing, gathering business cards is part of the job. And it's all too easy to accumulate a stack and forget about them, or lose them altogether. The FullContact Card Reader scans the business card and saves the information to a designated place that you can organize and search. You can save up to 1,000 contacts with the free version.

HemingwayApp

If you're a writer, you'll enjoy HemingwayApp. Not only does it recognize typos and grammatical errors, but it also highlights bad habits like passive voice, excessive adverb use, and overly complicated sentence structure.

Written Kitten

Have you been delaying writing an email or starting on a sales report? Meet Written Kitten, an utterly ridiculous free tool that may get you inspired. After you write 100 words, the site rewards you with an adorable picture of a kitten. Just don't allow yourself to cheat the system and start writing nonsense just to see the next cat.

Take Advantage of Your Time

It can feel like a real drag as the only person in the office. But this time of the year can be a fantastic chance to invest in yourself, learn new skills, and optimize your productivity. Dress comfortably, load up your phone with great music, and try these courses and tools to set yourself up for a strong 2017.

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