Take Initiative at Work

I've had many conversations with people who complain that they're bored at work because they don't have enough to do.

When I tell them they should find something to do, they respond by saying they've asked for more work but aren't given anything.

In essence, they're telling their boss that their position isn't needed and should be downsized.

If you don't have enough to do, it's time to start taking some initiative.

  • Write a best practices document.
  • Clean your workplace.
  • Volunteer for another project in your organization.
  • Research the latest trends in your field.
  • Provide unbelievable customer service.
  • Learn more about your organization.
  • Assist a busy coworker.

If you have lots of free time at work and aren't looking for productive ways to fill it, you're not worth your paycheck.

The first professional job I got after college was as a Data Entry Specialist* for a Senator.  I have a $100k education, and I'm doing data entry.  Not exactly my dream job.

But before long I started helping my boss manage our database, and I did much of the work of a flaky coworker who was never in the office.  I began assisting staff in another department that I wanted to join, and I did my own work with excellence so that other peoples' jobs would be easier.

I once got a mild reprimand for taking too much initiative after making a slight error in a project.  I was told that maybe I should cool my jets for a little while until the dust settled.

But you know what, my supervisor got management to give me a $3000 bonus that wasn't normally given to first year employees, and when I left the job, that same boss said I had brought a new level of professionalism to the position.

If you don't have enough to do, it's time to start taking some initiative. The rest of us are busy and could really use a hand.

Photo by sunshinecity

*Yes, the title really included the words "Data Entry" followed by the word "Specialist."  I couldn't make that up.

Posted at 1:27 PM on November 21st, 2011

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