What do you do with your free time at work?

defman profile image Sergey Kislyakov ・1 min read

Sometimes I complete my daily tasks faster than I expect, getting a lot of free time. What do you do with your free time? I scroll memes and stuff, but that takes about 30 minutes, and I have ~2-3 hours left. And I don't really know what I could spend it on.


markdown guide

I'm always trying to improve my skills, workflow, etc. Even if it's just taking a little rest in between tasks to make sure everything is done correctly. I watch youtube videos, read articles and blog posts, test new theories out.

I never have nothing to do.


Kudos for that! I always try to keep up with technology and learn new stuff and free work hours are the best time to do so :)

I also try to optimize my current workflow. So... I could not agree more with you


That's bad, when you have free time you should use it for fun or you'll end up stressed, i know it sounds super good to "learn more" but everyone need some fun.


Exactly what I do, learning now stuffs is where the fun starts.


I go to community sites and try to answer people's queries. It helps you keep your skills sharp and gain free real world knowledge.


And, even if you can't answer but are otherwise interested in the question, it often causes you to research things.


Definitely. More than half the knowledge I have gained through researching those questions, developing solutions for them and reading other response who may approach the problem differently than you do.


I try to fix linting issues, refactor some code, improve our tests code coverage or upgrade libraries / tools (...etc) when I have an hour or two available. More than two hours ? I pick the next unclaimed task or make one up :)

That's a good question. We all deal with it differently. I have a developer in my team who likes to go through technical books while another one just goes around and chats.


Clean code.
Find places where the application can be made faster. And also, less data hungry so that people on slower networks can use the app.
Meta-dev - Developing stuff that makes developing stuff faster. :)


I would have to agree with Fris there. Turning off is just as, if not more, important than being switched on at work. Don't get me wrong, if I see something that interests me about work I'll have a little peruse, but if I want to really look into it I'll slap it into my to-do pile and leave it for work.

If you're working all the time, I feel you're only ever going to work a fraction of what you could if you had dedicated time to work, and plenty of time to refresh.


I have been working at several companies, but it is really a rare case when I have 2-3 hours freetime. But if I have freetime I'm either drinking a coffee in the kitchen and chatting with other or reading some tutorials.


Hi, Gary Ash. Thank you very much, i do know that too. But luckily, I'm working for an startup. Everything was fine and comfortable with me here :). Just done all tasks and i allowed to do what ever i want.

Btw, i'm not doing things to sell. I mean that i do some project to learn new things, learn how to improve performance to frameworks. So it's not a big deal :D


Usually, my task-queue far exceeds the number of hours I'm either willing or able to work. Across any given six-month period, I'm usually billing to three to six different contracts. At the beginning of each month, my company's contract coordinator sends me the maximum number of hours I'm allowed to work against each of the contracts I'm associated to that month. Most months, if I wanted to, I could probably work 50-75% more hours than would fit in your basic 9-5 work-week.

All of this is background to explain why it is I don't really have "free time" or a day that's so prescribed that I have a fixed or limited number of daily tasks that I can burn through and have free time. Basically, if I've used up what I can do against contract "A" on a given day, I can flip to burning hours against contracts "B" or "C". Side benefit, it also means that if I get on a roll and burn to my pay-period minimum number of hours with 1-3 days left to go in the period, I can just take those days off (great for mini-vacations).

The closest I come to "free" time are my "meeting days". Those are designated days where I need to either be in the office for face-to-face meetings. Most quarters, this works out to about a 10-12 hours per pay-period. Since the structure of those days is mostly out of my hands, I end up having between-meeting dead-spaces. Unfortunately, when I'm actually in the office and people discover that fact, those dead spaces tend to get sucked up ("oh, hai: the corporate presence indicator says you're in the office! Got a quick sec to help me with/answer a question/have an impromptu face-to-face/etc.?"). Even when that time doesn't get sucked up, the connectivity at the office — particularly during core business hours — gets saturated (not to be unduly snarky, but usually by the people using their "free time" to watch March Madness, SCOTUS-nominee hearings, etc.) meaning that casting about the web for either constructive things or just mind-fluff is its own exercise in frustration.

On telework days, we tend to have a couple pre-scheduled telepresence meetings (phone and/or video calls via Hangouts/Chime/Skype/etc.) — one of the joys of geographically dispersed teams and customers. So, for sanity/continuity sake, one usually tries to reach a logical break-point before a scheduled call. So, that creates small breaks. However, those small breaks generally aren't useful for much more than Slacking, meme-trolling or hitting up social media or Ars/Cnn/etc.

On the plus side of such a time-framework, there's a lot of flexibility. If I choose to overload hours across a day or set of days in a pay period, I can then opt to take the balance of a pay-period's days off. That's far more effective for recharging the mental batteries than unused time in the middle of a given workday. Plus, having a variety of tasks that I can move across to "keep busy" means that I don't often allow myself the opportunity to get bored due to lack of things to do.


My workload technically never ends :)

But, to break up the day, I do scroll through the occasional meme. Most likely, I'm seeing who is saying what on Twitter. I also like to read at least one long-form article a day. Maybe it's tech related, maybe it's not, but I like reading about new things. Most links I get from my Twitter feed or as recommendations from Pocket.

If I'm trying to keep my free time work related (we have an open office floor plan), I'll clean my desk, desktop, inbox, downloads folder, etc.


I always have so many blog articles and news about technology to read that I generally do that on my free time. Sometimes I watch webinars and read books about development. Since I'm there as a developer, it is good to spend time horning your skills, I think it is also good for the manager to see that you are not just goofing around and learning new things that potentially can add value to the business.


I have an office-guitar, so when I have 15 minutes to wait until my framework-initialisation finishes I practise the piece I'm learning (I have always 1 or 2 pieces ongoing). Really silently of course, we have a large office, so the chatter and clickiddy-clack-background-noise is much louder so nobody notices anyways.

When I know that I have 30 Minutes or more, I work on my current learning-project/online-course. I used to do that at home but I get less and less time outside work due to family, so I need to bake that into work-time.

When I do boring work or HTML/CSS-Routine-Stuff I watch Handmade Hero on the side. Or talks.


At what point do you consider the task done? If you are finishing things quickly maybe you could broaden the scope of the task. If the task is part of some broader goal you can take on more responsibility for getting that done. Or spend more time refactoring code you are working on, adding tests etc to make it easier to work on.

If you've got loads of free time and are lucky enough that nobody cares what you're spending it on, then you could use that time to work on an online course, or just find some problem your team or the business has and see if you can solve it. Things like that are great for career development. At a company I used to work at, one of the main products basically only existed because some devs had too much free time.


At what point do you consider the task done?

Once the pull request for that task is reviewed and merged.

I'm using TDD so it's already covered by tests, I'll look into refactoring though.


That's why I'm here daily :P By nature of QA, I have to have feature complete work from devs to do my work, so in the meantime, I'm here reading my backlog of stuff on the reading list or the latest articles.

I've tried doing bigger pushes like reading tech books, working on tech debt within the automation framework, or even picking up bugs to fix myself, but since the priority has to be on doing QA things at a moment's notice, I can't bury myself in side work. Reading tech articles is a good balance of productive but easily droppable.


hah nice question, I like how everyone is super productive! I also scroll memes sometimes, or watch some stupid youtube videos or reply to dev.to articles. Kind of depends on if it's a Friday afternoon or a Monday morning though, and in general there are not many times I have nothing to do!


I work on my personnel projects, reading & explore for cool things on github. :))


Since I'm self-employed I simply stop working and enjoy life, haha.


research/learning - blogs, github, personal stuff, pluralsight. All that being said... free time?


Something that could help you would be to try and find ways to improve your workflow as much as possible. Write code templates/snippets, learn tricks in your IDE, etc


Add a cool new feature. write some automatic tests, build an internal tool to make more free time in the future, learn something new on Youtube tech conferences, or play some ping-pong :D


Side projects, learn something new. It's really on your own motivation though to pick something up to do.


Watch youtube videos, animes and twitter.


I read books or I usually work on some personal project or I watch youtube. It just depends on the day and also what your company allows.


My company allows me pretty much anything. Thanks for sharing :)


I'd be so happy to have free time :P But if I had surely I'd try to refactor something, work in a small project for the company, study something on Coursera, read the RSS fee


I used my free time at work to learn programming. Now I have no free time.


When I have some free time at work, usually refactor some old code, work in my side-projects or learn more about the technology used at work.


Reading books and working off stale tickets mostly.


I read when I have free time


I normally read articles on javascript, php, build systems, whatever I am interested in or might be related to my current tasks for the week


Play True Skate in my phone and check out what's new in Github, Medium and here in Dev.to. Most of my time I spend it in learning more programming.


I set aside all day friday to refactor, but if I guess if I found myself with extra time that's what I'd do. Either refactor or write developer tooling to make stuff the team does often easier...


Free time at work? This literally never happens to me haha