x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Take advantage of down time to spring clean and multitask

How to fill the time when work slacks off ¿ busy yourself by polishing your skills and learning new ones

A friend of the columnist has seen her client list grow after improving her make-up application skills. Amy Leang / The National
A friend of the columnist has seen her client list grow after improving her make-up application skills. Amy Leang / The National

One of the questions I am often asked is how I come up with different topics to write about every week. I admit that sometimes the process is a piece of cake, but at other times, especially when I have got a lot of things on my plate, I struggle to be inspired.

The same goes for freelancers and employees out there. Whether they work on a project- by-project basis or their work is seasonal, they face slow periods when work is scarce. And April is one of those slow months with people taking holidays, many of them travelling abroad for the spring break.

Having to go through a slow period drives me nuts. I do not like having nothing to do. I always aim to be working on a project. In fact any project will do.

But going through a slow period sometimes turns out to be beneficial in the long run. And instead of sinking into that depressing feeling as a result of boredom, try some of the following techniques that will enhance your skills and your business or profession.

Take advantage of the free time that just popped into your schedule and improve your skills. Can you enhance your professional skills to make you more desirable to existing as well as future clients? Then go for it. If the courses you are aiming for are not available in your area, then look up some YouTube video tutorials or accredited online courses.

A friend of mine improved her make-up applications skills, and learnt new tricks of the trade by watching countless videos and make-up tutorial websites online. Her client base continues to grow as a result. Whenever she has free time on her hands, even if only 20 minutes for her lunch break, she puts the time to good use to enhance her skills.

Having some free time is also an opportunity to revamp your website, and social media pages, and it is vital to highlight any skills you have acquired on your web pages. If you are the product, then marketing yourself is key, especially for freelancers.

While you are at it, you could also reorganise your work process - and your life routine. Take the time to archive old items in your email, sort out documents on your desktop, or rearrange your cupboards. This will make things easier and clear your mind from thinking about such matters when things get busy and projects and work start rolling in again.

Remember when you were too busy to meet people or attend events because you were inundated with work? With some free time on your hands, take the chance to attend seminars, events, and meet people to expand your network.

Personally, I feel more energised and driven to work after attending such events, and you could be surprised and often inspired by the great ideas shared by professionals in the field. Besides, you never know what kinds of opportunities will present themselves at such events. I have personally been involved in several initiatives that I am proud of as a result of attending community exhibitions and seminars.

As a freelance writer, I sometimes do not find time to write, especially when I am away on holiday. And thus I have learnt to prepare articles in reserve, ready for such moments. I do not have a blog yet, but I have many blogs on my daily reading list. And if you happen to have a great talent and an increasing number of readers, then maintain that and do not turn them off them by disappearing "off air" for a few weeks at a time.

Say your blog is strictly about business, and currently you have nothing to write about until your next seminar meeting. Until you have a topic to report on then you could post about different things in between: for instance a list of business books you are currently reading, pictures from your recent travels.

Your readers may be drawn to you when they have an insight to your personality and interest. It certainly does not hurt to give your readers a small glimpse into your personal life.

Until those projects stack up again, get busy and become involved in things that will boost both you and your business or profession.


Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and fashion designer based in Abu Dhabi