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With Thanksgiving come and gone, and Christmas season around the corner, you guys, like me, may have experienced a couple slow days and may be subjected to some slow time during the latter half of December. Now, I like to pretend to be busy whilst browsing the internet as much as the next guy, but I feel that this presents a potential opportunity to differentiate ourselves and add value to the group while some of the other analysts are refreshing ESPN for the 10th time.

There are a few things that I've done or am planning to do with my downtime which I hope have and will help out the team - read past the break to check them out and share your tips.

One of the easiest things you can do when you have some downtime is to dig in to Thomson One or a similar research database to find the latest and greatest research on your relevant industry. This will not only keep you up to date on trends in your industry, but sharing it with the group can earn you cred with your peers and superiors who won't go digging for research.

Similarly, reading up on companies that your group covers can help the seniors stay up to date on specific company's plans. Reading through quarterly conference call transcripts or MD&A can provide a lot of information on capital raising plans, acquisition or divestiture plans, etc. Simply staying on top of this and shooting an email with some highlights will help to keep the group on top of these companies.

One of the things that I'm planning to do when I have some time again is organizing "the drive". I can speak firsthand on the frustration of trying to track down a commonly used file, but as a result of a poorly labeled, poorly formatted drive having to send out a group blast. Taking some time to sift through the various folders to try and organize often used files can save you some time, and earn you some respect from your peers. Being able to find a file easily on the drive rather than having to send a blast out at midnight is certainly less stressful.

Lastly, there is an analyst in my group who has been taking oft-used files and improving upon them. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten mad at how terribly a certain file runs (thanks FactSet) rather than just taking some time to make it better. There are enough standard templates out there that could be streamlined or improved upon that this should definitely be an option for your downtime. Stress testing models and the like will only make you more familiar with them and ultimately improve them.

Hopefully the above provides an idea or two on how to keep busy and add value to the team when things are slow. I'm sure I'm not the only one who can only browse the internet so much before I'm bored out of my mind. Let me know what you guys think and share your ideas in the comments.

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Comments (6)

  • reformed's picture

    Agreed that downtime at work sucks.

    Learning vba is always good.
    Learning to work with bloomberg/cap iq add-ins can be especially helpful and save you a lot of time in the future.

  • above_and_beyond's picture

    Are you guys "allowed" to leave the workplace, i.e. grab a coffee, do some shopping, do some random stuff in the city or whatever while you're waiting for updates/new data/feedback, or are you expected to stick at your workplace? My friend is working at an American elite boutique (think EVE, GHL, Moelis) in London and he is always hanging around in the city when he has some downtime. Pretty cool imo, hopefully my shop will allow me to do the same..

  • In reply to above_and_beyond
    Cruncharoo's picture

    above_and_beyond:
    Are you guys "allowed" to leave the workplace, i.e. grab a coffee, do some shopping, do some random stuff in the city or whatever while you're waiting for updates/new data/feedback, or are you expected to stick at your workplace? My friend is working at an American elite boutique (think EVE, GHL, Moelis) in London and he is always hanging around in the city when he has some downtime. Pretty cool imo, hopefully my shop will allow me to do the same..

    It really depends on your MD and their schedule as well. A lot of the time your MD will be out meeting with clients and going to different networking events so there will be a significant amount of "on your own" time. A lot of people will run errands and grab coffee, etc when they get the chance. A lot of the time it is expected that you are at your desk when your MD is around.

    This to all my hatin' folks seeing me getting guac right now..

  • meabric's picture

    I think most people just take longer on their daily news run (or start it later) when there is less to do. Fixing old slow files is good as well, along as is reading. Getting coffee, long lunches, etc. can be done if you know you won't be needed. Also volunteering (post-sandy, one guy just went and helped for a few days until he got staffed), although that depends on culture.

    In most groups relevant research, industry outlooks and the like get sent around anyway. Although right now there is quite a backlog of 2013 outlook type stuff if you really want to muddle through it.

    Be careful with reformatting the drive if you don't have primary responsibility for that coverage, you might royally screw someone. Fixing factset links yourself is a waste of time if the file isn't confidential, as factset will do it for you. Fixing models mechanics can be helpful as little inefficiencies add up. Splitting up monster files should also be considered if possible.

  • In reply to above_and_beyond
    ER_Monkey's picture

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