Quiet work week? How to keep yourself from going nuts

If your job is anything like mine, in the week between Christmas and New Year’s, there are about 3 people actually present in the office on any given day—you, the receptionist, and one other random staff person.

It seems like my whole office goes on exodus during the holiday week, which you might think is a lovely, relaxing thing…and it is, for the first couple hours of the first day. But then, as no phones ring because everyone else at all the other offices are also on vacation, and as the quiet that was so nice at first starts to make you want to take a nap, you start to wonder what on earth you’re going to do to fill all the rest of the “relaxing” days you have ahead of you.

Here’s what I’ve learned to use this week for:

  • Catching up on my filing. I have to admit that this is probably the part of my job I’m the worst at. I’m pretty good about keeping up with the filing for the active matters I’m working on, but anything else tends to get tossed into my filing tray for those “down times” I never wind up having. This week is great for tackling that stack of paper because there are less distractions (both of people coming into my office with other tasks, and self-created distractions I use to avoid filing!).
  • Cleaning out my email. I am guilty of keeping way too many subfolders to archive all my old email, then leaving them on my system way after I need them. This is a good time to get rid of any unnecessary messages or folders and double-check my “follow-up” folder to make sure I don’t have any loose ends I need to take care of.
  • Cleaning my desk/work area. As neat as I try to be at home, things get pretty cluttered at work because I’m usually too busy to keep on top of everything. I like being able to give myself a literal “clean slate” for the new year so that I can come into an orderly, calm environment when the workload picks back up into normal gear.
  • Get things set up for 2013. Making out my monthly calendars and writing task lists for upcoming projects makes it easier to stay on top of things when they get hectic.
  • Taking a little “me” time. Now, don’t get me wrong…work comes first, and I only do this once I’ve exhausted all my work-related activities. But, sometimes I get through those pretty fast and I don’t have anything else I can work on at the moment. So, I’ll admit it, I give myself a little holiday present and work on writing blog posts, catching up on my RSS feed, or answering personal emails. My work is loose about monitoring employee computer usage, so I know some people might not be able to get away with this. But as long as you’ve done everything you’re supposed to, I don’t see anything wrong with enjoying a little down time since I’m one of the dedicated souls who trekked into work this week. 🙂

What is your job like during the holiday week? If it’s quiet, how do you keep yourself busy?





photo credit:  TKCS


  • One thing I would do if there is some down time is talk to the other people that are there. Go to lunch with them and get to know them a bit better. I like when there’s not many people either because it gets real noisy here. I just wish the traffic to and from work during the holidays is that way year-round!

    • That’s a really good idea. And I agree with you about the traffic…I’ve had the expressway all to myself! It’s lovely!

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