“Do you want your computer to update now?” the little notification says on the bottom of your computer screen and you think “Sure, I was just going to go make coffee anyway” and press the update button.
Then you regret your whole life.
Windows updates have turned into unexpectedly long processes; I just did one this morning and it took my computer two hours to update. I am usually good at remembering not to do this during the workday, but what’s a productive person to do while your computer is rendered useless for some indefinite period of time?
- Scan checks. Most banks have mobile apps where you can deposit your checks while you sit, wherever you are. Remember to hold onto them for 15 days until they clear and not to shred them right away!
- Open mail/pay bills. Whether you do mobile bill pay, pay by check, or some combination, get those business bills up to date.
- Go buy stamps… or whatever it is you’re out of. We all run out of stuff and wait a bit to replace it. Get a good list going and head out of the office for a bit to get those “odds and ends” you’ve been meaning to replace for awhile.
- Sharpen your pencils and dump your bad pens. Clean out your jar of writing utensils and throw out dead pens, put anything you don’t use anymore aside (in my case it was a bunch of colored pencils from when I was a camp counselor 20+ years ago) and donate it to your favorite kiddo, a day care, and/or a local arts organization. You can do the same for any desk drawer, too.
- Scan/deal with business cards. Whether you are an old school Rolodexer or use Evernote, get those cards from pile on your desk/in your bag to someplace useful.
- Catch up on your shredding. Maybe you have some checks that have cleared or old bank statements. I always have a pile going on my desk and when it reaches critical mass (or my computer is updating), I go shred.
- Scan receipts. However you track expenses, keeping a pile of receipts on your desk or in your wallet can feel chaotic. Scan them and get them into your accounting software (or wherever you keep them) for tax time- you’ll thank yourself later.
- Call that person. If you hate phone calls as much as I do, go through your voicemail and delete what is no longer relevant and follow up with people you need to follow up with.
- Go for a walk. Sometimes you have to embrace that the universe has given you this unexpected break. Go grab a coffee, check your mail, or get bagels for the office.
- Clean out the office fridge (or some other communal area). Get some coworker good karma and tackle something everyone would appreciate, whether it’s the supply closet, the fridge, or other communal area. If you work from home, you’ve got even more stuff you could tackle that everyone should appreciate.
- Catch up on offline reading. That trade publication or book your coworker lent you has been sitting there for awhile. Consider this a chance to hit the books and give your eyes a break from screen-reading.
Computers have to be updated every once in awhile, and even our best attempts to coordinate this with non-working hours can go awry. As you can see, this doesn’t mean you have to resort to twiddling your thumbs or stressing out about how much you aren’t accomplishing. There’s always plenty of offline things to catch up on around the office that you’ll thank yourself for later!