Unfortunately, using raiding time well is about as much of a challenge as is downing Illidan. In preparation for this article, I've spent the past three weeks keeping track of the down time in raids. We raid Sunday through Thursday nights, from 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. We experience a downtime of about 51 minutes for each raid, which is about 20% of the time. Down time is defined as the time that my character is standing still, not attacking, not moving, and not being MDed to.
Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I'm not really sure.
Tip #1: Chain pulling
Personally, I do my best at the main tank to chain pull and push the trash through as fast as possible. This works out 99% of the time, however the 1% of the time it doesn't work out can grind the raid to a halt. Case and point: The trash to Supremus isn't too bad, and is a lot of packs where the MT, OT, and Pally tank each have some mobs to tank. There are also some ranged dragons that the Warlocks tank. These pulls can go very fast, and are very predictable. Pulling slowly we can do this in about 40 minutes, while chain pulling each group, we can push through in 15.
Tip #2: Fully self buffed, all the time
It doesn't take much to buff yourself. Every class has some buff they can apply to themselves, be it food buffs, spell buffs, or shouts. The key here is that you can find a minute or two to always buff at least yourself, if not others. Although, it might not always be possible to buff others as you're going along - and that's okay with most raid leaders for trash pulls.
Tip #3: Stay at the raid
While there will be moments when you aren't doing anything, don't contribute to it. If you miss a ready check because you were tabbed out and not paying attention, then you're bad. If you're busy playing with your cat instead of paying attention to the raid, then you're bad. If you're chatting it up in /tells and can't take a moment to click the "I'm ready" button, then you're bad. Don't be bad, be good. Stay in the raid and pay attention.
Tip #4: Do your business before our business
There really isn't any need to take a bio break in the first hour or so of raiding. Of course, there are going to be cases where it's necessary. God only knows the number of times that I've raided sick and have had to frequent the loo. But please, try to do your best to do this before you come online or start the raid. It makes it much easier on everyone.
Tip #5: Have your addons updated
Yes, Omen does update about every 30 minutes or so. And yes, sometimes it's going to be necessary to update an addon in the middle of the raid. But do your part and don't be that guy that always has to DC for five minutes right after the raid starts to update your addons. It's so easy with tools like WoWAceUpdater. Make it a point and work it into your routine to always update your addons before the raid starts, and you'll be golden.
There are a lot more that can be said on each of these subjects, and I'm sure that some of you, dear readers, will want to sound off and agree, disagree, or just generally lament. But one thing is for sure: we can all do our part to help minimize downtime.