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I don't want to go into detail, but I'm contracted to maintain a large amount of computers. Every now and then I'll end up with 20-50 minutes of downtime where all the computers are working autonomously at the same time.

Do I stand around, look pretty?

marked as duplicate by Kate Gregory, Monica Cellio May 26 '14 at 16:42

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Every now and then I'll end up with 20-50 minutes of downtime where all the computers are working autonomously at the same time.

Okay, do you realize that—for the most part—repairing a computer & just sitting around a computer looks pretty much the same, right? Welcome to everyone’s work day!

The reality of any job is—in most cases—you are not hired to be 100% busy all the time, but rather be there so if something does happen you are ready to act.

That is basically every workplace: You come in, do work, and if the work stops it’s not the end of the world. Take advantage of the slack time to wind down a bit. And if you want to feel productive engage in some kind of pro-active work. Like maybe organizing your notes or review things you have repaired.

But all work days are filled with downtime. Don’t get too hung up on it.

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Catch up with your email. Coordinate with your colleagues and manager. Do a little light professional reading. Work out your tasks for the day or the week. Get yourself some coffee. Check up on tour systems from time to time. And don't forget to look pretty :)

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There is really nothing you can do while the computers are doing something that takes a while? I don't believe that.

If you regularly have this down time, then arrange other tasks to take advantage of it. For example, don't check your emails first thing in the morning in such a way that it displaces other work. Get the computers cranking, then check email while you're waiting.

Even if you have no other immediate job tasks to perform, there is surely always something more to learn. There must be a manual to read about this new software you're not really up to speed on, new product announcements to look over for relevancy, forums for IT people to check out and maybe pick up a few pointers from you never thought of before, or even just cleaning up your desk. There is always something better to do than just sitting there.

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The most professional thing to do is to tell your supervisor that this is the case so they can be aware of this 'problem'.

They might assign you some extra work for these situations or they might not think it is important to do so. In case they say it's OK to do whatever, the most professional thing is still to look for ways to add value in your current job (improve processes, improve yourself as it relates to your job, etc...).

  • What about 10 minutes of downtime? 5 minutes? – Umbasa May 25 '14 at 0:22
  • You are a contractor. I imagine that you are paid by the hour. So if you have nothing to do for almost an hour, that's one thing. If you have nothing to do for 10 min that is another. If you were a psychologist and charged $200 for a half an hour counseling session, your clients will be very mad if you cut 10 min off their time. It is situational. – c_maker May 25 '14 at 0:29
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    “The most professional thing to do is to tell your supervisor that this is the case so they can be aware of this 'problem'.” No. – JakeGould May 25 '14 at 1:00
  • @JakeGould: would you be so kind to elaborate? If I frequently had nothing to do for half an hour, I would definitely discuss this with my boss. Why is this not professional? – S. Kolassa - Reinstate Monica May 25 '14 at 11:36
  • @StephanKolassa “If I frequently had nothing to do for half an hour, I would definitely discuss this with my boss. Why is this not professional?” You are assuming your boss is unobservant & unaware. And yes, this can be done if downtime is a chronic issue, but again your boss would notice this. It is indeed “professional” but what will happen is you just get burdened with more & more work to the point you can’t unwind that. Your job is to work. Your bosses job is to manage. Have slack time? Make it work for you. – JakeGould May 25 '14 at 15:42

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