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looking like you’re working even when you’re not October 9, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Wasting Time.
Tags: , , , ,

As part of the recent reorganization at CorporateSpeak, I’ve been moved to a department that’s a bit more high-profile, which means I’d like to avoid looking like I’m not working when I’m not working.

Wide-Awake-Glasses_9045FD12It’s not easy.

Some suggestions:

  1. Read a book. If your job involves you having to learn new programs or programming languages, odds are good you’ve got at least one book about said program or language. As a coder, I have books on JavaScript, Flash, PHP, MySQL, CSS, Perl, and Actionscript. Right now I’m about 70 percent through the JavaScript book; it’s boring, to be sure, and the one I have is woefully outdated (it was a gift), but it looks like I’m learning.
  2. Apply your knowledge. The stuff you read about in item 1 is ripe for you to play with. Write a little app. Do some coding. Make a pretty Flash animation to test your Actionscript knowledge out. And in the end you’re only helping yourself.
  3. Organize your stuff. You can only do this maybe once a week, and it involves being messy, but take an hour to organize your e-mail, file your messages, put old files into the proper folders in your desk or on your PC, do whatever you need to do to clean up. Maybe even redo your post-it notes to make them easier to read.
  4. Research. This one’s probably my favorite. Find some RSS feeds that are relevant to what you do, put them in a folder in your RSS reader of choice (I prefer Google Reader, but you may like something else; I do, however, recommend using a web app over a desktop app), and when you have perceived down-time start reading. You can call it research, and you can do it with a smile.
  5. Volunteer. If all else fails, volunteer for more work. This, however, can backfire because your boss or colleagues may think you don’t have enough to do.

Here’s some websites that might be useful for your “research” folder:

  • BoingBoing and BoingBoing Gadgets — technology, weird stuff, and cool things you can’t afford.
  • CNN — for the news, obviously. You may also want to drop in tech feeds from other news sites, but mostly you’re going to get AP rewrites.
  • Consumerist — technology and money.
  • Digital Trends — technology and computing.
  • Facebook and Twitter — using GTweet, you can get your tweets in your RSS feed, and it’s possible to figure out your Facebook feed as well.
  • Futurismic — technology and futuristic stuff.
  • Giveaway of the Day — you may find some useful apps here, and they’re free.
  • Gizmodo — technology.
  • Lifehacker — useful apps and techniques.
  • Smashing Magazine — design.
  • The Daily WTF — coding and tech-sector stories.
  • Word of the Day — from your favorite dictionary site, or even Urban Dictionary.

And one more suggestion: if you like My Life is Average, Texts from Last Night, FML, or similar, their RSS feeds are pretty clean and you can work them into the other feeds for an occasional laugh.

I’d love to see what you’re reading when you’re trying to kill time — drop me links in the comments — or what else you can think of for me to do. Because sometimes I get really bored.

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1. charry - October 12, 2009

This is… interesting. If I want to pretend that I’m working, I usually read a management or training book (because that’s my line of work) or I read countless magazines like Time, Newsweek, Forbes, Fortune.

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