I work as the sole designer for a healthcare tech startup. Its super meaningful and gratifying work, but sometimes I'm in the awkward position of having excess down time; lots of our users are doctors, who are notoriously difficult to wrangle for interviews and usability testing, so its not uncommon during a project that I don't have any actionable insights to design for. I try to fill the spare time reviewing our research data, taking on side projects for stakeholders, and other miscellaneous stuff; but it mostly amounts to just insubstantial busy work, which... isn't good. Are any of you ever in a vaguely similar situation? If so, what do you do to stay engaged and truly productive?
read articles... research new web dev techniques... learn something new...always be increasing your value as a designer and what you bring to the table.
what do you do when all your time at work is 'downtime'? you learn, you make your own projects, you talk to people, you watch all of youtube, you spend a week in wikipedia rabbit holes, you wonder what it was ever like to have billable hours.. and you prey that you are still relevant when it's time to have 'uptime' again
I try to learn a different facet of design. Is there something you're interested in that you always wanted to learn that is out of your comfort zone? Icon design? UX Motion and animation? Font design? Print design? It helps to pour yourself into a project that will give you hands on learning experience in a new skill. Maybe even coding?