A few weeks ago I think I wrote a post that had many things you could do to show initiative or take risks today without permission. Along the same lines, and perhaps the exact same lines this post is going to address "What to do when you can't do what you do?"

Why waste time on such a pointless title? Well... I work at Egltech, Inc. and this is a bit of a delicate issue since we are supposed to have our stuff in order. The truth, however, is that we are only as strong as our weakest link and even though we have all kinds of great stuff, we are at the mercy of our cable internet provider. Sadly, our ISP has been letting us down. As someone who talks to people on the phone and remotely controls their computers (insert eery music) my team and I depend on a solid Internet connection which has been too sporadic recently to even get caught up on my Amazon Wish List much less consistently help people. 

At one point today someone (innocently) uttered the words "Can't do much without Internet". OHHHHHHHH Really. Remember the dark ages when there was just dial up? Remember when people used to write a letter, lick the envelope a few times (it tasted so good) and actually mail it with a sticky stamp. Or I don't know... going outside? 

So if you ever find yourself with out Internet, or without a machine that you need to produce your goods, or short of a cup of flour for that ever important wedding cake you are baking, here are a few ideas I have for what do do when you can't do what you do. (Although if you really are baking a cake call me. No bride should be without cake because you were short some flour, I'll spot you a cup)

  1. Take out the trash. Sure it isn't your job but if you ever want to be a hot shot in the office then you have to do the menial things like moving a week's worth of drink mix packets to the dumpster out back.
  2. If it is snowing out you could man up and shovel the drive or sidewalk in front of your business. Again, perhaps a menial task but people notice and if you are smart enough to play the long game it is well worth your time. 
  3. Read one of those, um... what are they... oh yeah, books! I have days worth of reading on my shelf at work. Some is work related, some is just to make me a better human being. I'm quite certain if you had training manuals or certification courses to rifle through your boss isn't going to mind using some unexpected down time to educate yourself. 
  4. Say Thank You. You have a cell phone right? The one you were just playing (insert hot game here) on? Do you still pay for calls by the minute? No? Great! Use your own phone (again the long game, don't ask for reimbursement) and call five clients to say thank you. To ask how they are going, or even to schedule a meeting in the future. I really wish I had thought of this earlier today when I was staring at the rack hoping my death gaze would bring the Internet back. 
  5. Say Thank You again! This is a super stretch, but maybe just maybe you could write a real tree killing paper thank you note to a client. Email is great, phones are great, but if you are like me there is still something special about getting mail addressed to you. If your office has gift cards for clients snag a few and drop on in the thank you note. Personalized mail with gift cards has to be a double or triple win. 
  6. If you are feeling super duper social, and your phones aren't dead, offer to sit in for the receptionist for a few minutes. Those great people do a thankless job and if you are not able to do yours for a while, let them NOT do theirs. Just don't make me use the fax machine, they are my kryptonite. Well, fax machines and grammar. 
  7. Clean your disgusting desk. Sure it isn't glamorous, but the rest of the staff is mentally begging you to do it. They are just too polite to say it out loud. 
  8. Hold an impromptu staff meeting. Set some goals for the next quarter, discuss headaches from the past week, play rock, paper, scissors. Or have a coke vs. pepsi vs. meijer cola (I won $25 this way once) taste test. Anything that builds the team or furthers the business. 
  9. Along the same lines, set some personal goals. Use the down time to really evaluate yourself and what you want to accomplish, or what you have accomplished. 
  10. Write a marketing plan. Does your office not have a marketing department? I bet they do and I know exactly where they are... go look in the restroom mirror and KAPOW! there they are. Now that you've met, work on telling the story of what you do. Simon Sinek says "people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it". SO TELL THEM WHY! Then order the book

So that's it for now. Just because you can't do what you do doesn't mean you are stuck. Don't be these people: 

I'm sharing this at the bottom so that I can feel honest while at the same time not advertising that I was, in fact, these people. Not today, but in the past I had a similar attitude and though I didn't take the brunt of it, the team was basically told GO SHOVEL THE SNOW. So the next time things were broken, I put my jacket on and started shoveling. Whew. Weight off the chest :)