Maybe you just finished a huge project with time to spare. Maybe you don't have as many responsibilities as your other team members. Maybe things are slow and there's not much work going around. Whatever the reason, you're bored at work and you don't know what to do with your time.
Instead of playing on Facebook or chatting with your coworkers, put yourself to good use. Time is a resource with high monetary value, and your boredom is a symptom of wasting time you should be putting to good use. Take advantage of the situation and do something you wouldn't ordinarily be able to do. Start a new initiative, develop your professional skillset, or reorganize your current strategies; you'll make yourself more valuable and ultimately, you'll position yourself for a respectable salary increase at your next formal review.
Try any or all of these ideas the next time you find yourself bored at work, and turn your boredom into a higher salary.
1. Write a blog post
Your company likely has a blog, and if it doesn't, it definitely should. If you find yourself bored, research a possible blog topic and write a post about it. One of the easiest options available is to simply write a post about your field of expertise from your own perspective or in a way that makes it accessible to outsiders. You could also write up a piece on your company culture or a recent or upcoming event in the office. Your post could be valuable for your company's inbound-marketing or search engine optimization campaign, and will help build your personal brand by getting great content publicly published under your name.
2. Attend a webinar
Webinars are going on all the time, and most of them are free. Look around on sites and resources in your industry and see if there are any upcoming webinars you can sign up for. You can try and develop a new skill, listen to a sales pitch for a potential new resource, or view a competitor's webinar to see its perspective on your industry. Sit back, watch, and ask questions to get the most out of your time. Bosses love to see employees go out of their way to learn something new or attend a productive event, so keep track of all the webinars you join.
3. Sign up for a class
Furthering your education in any way you can is always a good idea. Sign up for a class or a series of classes that you can take as a way of developing your academic credentials. Some Master's degree or PhD programs are available almost entirely online, and you can get started with just a handful of courses at a time. Of course, if you're not interested in paying money for an advanced degree, you can take classes that appeal to you for free using a variety of quality, free sources, such as Stanford Online or MIT.
4. Get certified
Getting certified is another easy way to increase your chances of getting a raise. You can improve a skill and earn a tangible piece of recognition that displays your mastery. It's possible to get certified in basic computer programs, such as Microsoft Word and Excel, or Web tools such as Google Adwords. You could also get certified in skill-based procedures, such as CPR, depending on the responsibilities of your job. It may not seem like a formal certification can add much to your professional repertoire, but if your main goal is to become more valuable and earn a raise--every new certification counts as a concrete example of your initiative.
5. Research new trends
New things are always happening, both in and out of your industry. Spend some time immersing yourself in relevant news, and you might find yourself coming up with some new ideas that could help your department or the company as a whole. For example, you could learn more about a new strategy emerging in your field or a new technology that could change the way you communicate with your customers. You might not walk away with a trophy or a completed mini-project, but you will be able to show off your knowledge in conversations with your supervisors and bosses.
6. Visit the adjacent department
If there's nothing to do in your department, wander over to someone else's. There are two ways this can benefit you and your company. First, you can help out another department with minor tasks, such as data entry or micro-errands, to keep that department more productive. Second, just by being around their workers and observing their work, you'll become better acquainted with their function in the company as a whole and you might even learn how to do one of their jobs. Both are extremely valuable and can be beneficial to mention when you ask for a raise.
7. Start networking
Both internal and external networking can work in your favor. Internally, get to know the coworkers you don't necessarily see on a daily basis. Find out what they do and how they fit in the company. The more knowledge you have about how the company works, even down to its individual people, the better positioned you'll be for a raise or a promotion. It shows initiative, commitment, and communication skills. Additionally, use social media platforms like LinkedIn to connect with people outside your company to learn something new or open up a sales opportunity.
8. Organize your office
Organize your workspace both physically and mentally. Clear your desk of clutter and make sure you have plenty of space to work. A clean workspace makes a great impression to a boss casually walking through. Plus, you can use the opportunity to review and refine your workflow processes for any of your regular actions. Find new ways to make yourself more efficient, and document the changes you've made. During your next review, you can explain it as an increase in productivity.
9. Become an expert
If you're already good at something, do whatever it takes to become an expert at it. For example, if you're already somewhat familiar with Google Analytics, take every opportunity you can to learn even more about it. Whenever you're bored, take a few minutes to watch an advanced video, learn something new about it, or practice using it until you are a verifiable expert. Your expertise will show and people will begin to rely on you for it, giving you a great point of reference for your next potential raise.
10. Take on a new responsibility
Go out of your way to find a new responsibility around the office. It can be something complex, such as a task usually associated with another department, or something simple, such as refilling the coffee pot at a certain time each day. Whenever you're bored, look for a new responsibility that needs handling, and work it into your routine somehow. Keep a list of all the new responsibilities you've voluntarily taken on, and you'll be in a prime position to negotiate a raise.
Consider your boredom an opportunity. If you put effort toward something productive and valuable to your company, you'll immediately overcome your boredom, you'll improve the value and position of your company, and you'll set yourself up for a nice, fat raise when the time comes.