Look at you! It’s the day after Christmas and you’re holding down the fort at the office while your co-workers are at home with their families, skiing in Aspen, or just rolling out of bed, their bellies still heavy with turkey and dressing and gingerbread men from the night before. Maybe you haven’t accrued enough PTO to take off, or maybe you didn’t start in time to snag a slot on the holiday calendar when it was making the rounds.
Whatever unfortunate series of events put you in this undesirable situation, there’s no need to despair. Next year there will be another new guy to pick up the slack while you’re lounging in your Jacuzzi, sipping leftover eggnog. But until that glorious day arrives, here are four ways to make the best of your circumstances:
- Work remotely. If you have the option to work remotely, take advantage of it. Being away from the office can help you decompress a bit, but you’ll still be available to move work through as needed.
- Be on call. If you know work is going to be sparse, try to be on call. Then you can lounge around the house in your new Garfield boxers your mother-in-law gave you, at least for a little while. Just be ready to put some pants on and actually work if you do get the call.
- Enjoy the downtime. Chances are, things are slower at work this time of year (unless you’re working the returns desk at Wal-Mart). When I worked in publishing, all of my team’s books went to the printer by the first week of December, and work didn’t really ramp back up again until mid-January. If you’re in a similar situation, enjoy the calm and quiet. Sure, you may be stuck in a cubicle, but at least no one’s breathing down your neck about that TPS report.
- Get a leg up on your vacationing co-workers. While they’re getting in quality family time (or wishing they were having a little less), use this time to brush up on your mad skills, update your LinkedIn profile, organize your Post-it notes by color, alphabetize your paper clips, go to lunch with your boss, or work ahead, if possible. This is your time to shine while you have little to no competition.
Whatever you plan to do in the office during the holidays, just remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel — and it’s probably not a train. Someday, you’ll be the one on vacation while everyone else is slaving away in their cubicles. Just keep reminding yourself of that while you’re trying to figure out how to alphabetize your paperclips.