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Surviving Ennui In The Workplace

We’ve all had that moment. The moment that we hoped would never come, but with a creeping horror, we realized it had arrived. My moment happened when I was asked to change all our product codes from a lower case to an upper case before they were published in my company’s resource catalog. As I sat at my computer changing hundreds of letters, a thought crept through my numbed brain: “My life has become like Office Space.”

Whether you’ve been out in the working world for a long time or have only worked during the summer for a little extra money, most of the time, boredom is a regular occurrence even in the most fulfilling career. Some pass the time socializing with their co-workers, while others surf the Internet, check email, or stare blankly at the floor.

But should we be actively looking for distractions? Probably not, but for those unfortunate souls, whose job consists of mind-numbing tasks, distractions seem like an inalienable right. Especially when you’re working in a job that is below your potential or skill level.

With the shape of the economy, many college graduates have been forced to take any job that comes along just to pay the bills. Most of us find ourselves with less than our dream job. We need something just to break the monotony of our day. The occasional use of your employer’s equipment for entertainment may not be a grievous sin, but it may affect pay raises or your job search when you’re looking for a new job. If a potential employer calls for a job reference, you don’t want your boss telling them that you were lazy (whether or not this is the actual case). Here are some suggestions for other ways to entertain yourself at work:

[-] You could actually ask for more work. It’s the responsible thing to do; it would impress your boss; and at the very least they’ll give you a good job review when you are interviewing for your next position.

[-] If you have access to the Internet, sometimes it can be helpful and stimulating to research an area of your workplace that you aren’t involved in. The web is chock o’ block full of info on nearly any subject matter, so find out about other areas of the company you’d like to work in if you’re unhappy where you are.

[-] Read a book. You may not be doing work, but at least you’ll look intelligent.

[-] Pray. There is that thing about praying without ceasing. If your day never seems to end, then you’ll really be putting this principle into practice.

[-] Email. Some companies prohibit email and Internet use that is not work-related and almost all businesses today monitor employee’s computer activities. Obviously, if it’s against your company’s policy, don’t do it. It’ll be a quick way to get you fired. Even if there’s no explicit policy about email and computer use you should use discernment. Most managers would not look favorably on you if they thought you were goofing off all the time.

[-] Do something creative. Start writing that great American novel, sketch or compose a drum line while banging on your desk.

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[-] Finally, count your blessings. There are many people who are out of work right now and who would be willing to take anything to support themselves and their family. Your job may suck, but at least you have one.

Unless there are strict rules about what you can and can’t do at work, it’s best to use your discretion when engaging in recreational activities at work. Enjoy work as much as possible. Life is too short to be absolutely miserable.

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