The face of the labor market has changed dramatically over the years. Today, it’s not uncommon for a company to provide flexible hours as a perk to their employees. Not only does it save operations costs, managers find that less stressed workers improve office morale and boost productivity.
Despite the advantages, it’s not easy for most people to get used to this arrangement. A lot of workers still find themselves attending regular office hours or just leaving early to go home, just because there’s a lack of stuff to do. Don’t waste this valuable opportunity! Here are eight smart suggestions to get you started.
#1 Call Friends for Lunch or Coffee
One of the best things about flexible working hours is that you can leave early to meet with friends or family. But all that nighttime revelry is sure to get old real fast. Plus, it’s not healthy to wake up every weekend with a hangover. Break the routine and throw in some unexpected meet-ups during workdays.
Why not call up your best friend to have lunch at that new salad bar? If you’re working through your lunch hour, send her an SMS for a late latte instead. To begin your day on a good note, invite your partner over for breakfast. Nurturing your relationships during weekdays helps you avoid work burnout, while giving you something to look forward to during the day.
#2 Work Up a Sweat
If you’ve always found it challenging to stick to a workout routine, having flexible hours gives you the chance to exercise whenever it’s convenient. You don’t need to spend your lunch hour or break periods eating (especially if you’re not hungry). Instead, why not use the time to take a brisk walk in the park? If your company has a gym – and the treadmill is free – grab the opportunity to burn some carbs and boost your mood.
As long as you’ve brought a change of clothes, a towel, and personal toiletries, you’ll be ready to face the remaining hours at the office without smelling like sweat.
#3 Attend Nearby Events
The archaic 9 to 5 working hours have unfortunately barred most employees from attending events they would have loved. Happenings such as concerts, art shows, or book signings can be missed if you’re still stuck with a regular schedule. With flexible hours, plus the help of a reliable app service, you can now enjoy these events and be back on time to finish your tasks.
You don’t need to wait until the weekend to do something exciting. Why not invite a friend to enjoy coffee and jazz music at a nearby café?
#4 Take Classes
When you can leave earlier (as long as you’re done with work), you now have the luxury of time to spend on whatever you wish. But after binge-watching on Netflix, you’re probably thirsty for some mental workout. With more free time, you can choose to enroll in online classes or take several training sessions at your community center.
Ask yourself: is there something you’ve always wanted to learn? Whether it’s pottery, painting, swimming, or maybe advanced coursework for a future promotion, classes will keep you sharp and expand your horizons.
#5 Run Errands
The regular 9 to 5 work schedule can be a pain, especially if you have a doctor’s appointment. Instead of making a beeline to the customer service counter every single time, use those flexible hours by completing errands earlier than planned. Chores like paying the bill, grocery shopping, or picking up the kids can be done in a snap without compromising on productivity.
#6 Get a Freelance Gig
One of the main reasons why plenty of people prefer flexible hours is so they could squeeze in a couple more jobs on the side. There are a good number of freelance projects that could add to your income. From writing blogs, photography, package delivery, web design, to consulting, there’s a freelance assignment for every talent.
Interested? The first thing you should do is ask your boss if you could take on additional work. Some employers forbid this, so be sure you’re not compromising on your day job. Once the management agrees, it’s time to search for gigs that match your skills. Websites like Upwork, is a great place to begin your hunt.
#7 Schedule Everything
So you have all these amazing things planned. Your week is now filled with online courses, lunch with friends, plus fun local happenings that you can travel to in less than 10 minutes. Now what? Make sure you don’t waste your flexible hours by keeping it all within your schedule. Keeping a planner (whether through an app or on paper) is the best way to stay on track. If you have nothing to do during your office breaks, take it out and jot down plans for the weekend.
Don’t want to go out and mingle? Too lazy to work up a sweat? That’s normal. You’ll have days when you won’t feel like doing anything. If that’s the case – but you still want to stay productive – just doodle! No need for art skills. All you need is paper, pens, pencils, or markers. Sit somewhere relaxing (like your workplace lounge, the cafeteria, or an empty conference room) and begin doodling.
Jot down whatever comes to mind. According to recent studies, doodling has been linked to improved focus and idea retention. In need of a fresh new concept by 3PM? Doodle your way into a great proposal while feeling relaxed at the same time.
If you’re among the lucky few who have a job that offers adaptable schedules, take advantage of it by honing your skills, exploring other prospects, or simply creating more “me-time”. Not every worker is going to be blessed to have one. So fill up that extra time with things that matter.
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