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bored through no fault of your own October 16, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Experiences, Wasting Time.
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cc-licensed photo by Jason Scragz

cc-licensed photo by Jason Scragz

In the past I’ve talked about how, when you’re bored at work, you need to find something to do to make it look like you’re working. Well, for the past… oh, week or so… I haven’t really had much to do.

And it sucks.

I haven’t been blogging the entire time; I do most of my writing for CorporateSpeak on break or at home these days. But at least writing in a Notepad window on my computer screen looks like I’m doing something useful.

(Now that I think about it… if I was writing this in Dreamweaver, would it look even more like work? Probably not, because the text wouldn’t change colors often enough. But it was a good idea, right?)

I’ve moved past jobs that are full of boredom and drudgery. I spent my time in retail and in data management. As a web developer and ostensible programmer, I should be able to do more interesting things to further the cause of my company. And when it’s busy, I certainly do — and I get noticed for it these days, which is really nice. But we’re in a slow period right now for my department.

And slow periods mean little or nothing to do.

I swear I’ve done everything I can to look like I’m working: I’ve done some coding for coding’s sake; I’ve read my instructional manuals; I’ve done “research” via RSS feeds; I’ve even gone so far as to over-document things in our system just to give myself something to do and to make me feel like I’m working.

But there’s nothing happening. In the past 48 hours, I’ve received five requests, and none of them were the kind that took me more than an hour to complete. Two of them were the kind where I could immediately send back an e-mail to answer a question and then mark them as done.

I guess what I’m getting at here is this: what do you do if you’re caught out doing nothing when there’s nothing to do? How do you explain to your boss that all the requests are fulfilled, that there’s nothing new to be added to any projects, that everything’s running smoothly, and that it only looks like you’re sitting here doing nothing?

You really don’t.

Look, it’s getting so bad that I’m dragging my heels on a project with a time budget of one month (I’m one week in). I could easily finish it in two weeks if I sent enough e-mails to the clients involved, but if I get it done too fast, then where will I be?

Bored again.

My old boss cautioned me against showing that I was quick and efficient in my work. I could show him, but I should manage expectations both inside and outside the company so I wouldn’t be asked to do things at a pace that would burn me out. I guess I understand that, but at this point I think I’d actually enjoy having too much work to do.

Of course, everything around here happens in the last hour of the work week — 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Last Friday afternoon, five requests all came in at the same time and two of them were the ones that I needed to set processes for and then wait for the next quarter-hour so they’d run. It was an awful lot of hurry-up-and-wait but at least it was work.

I’m not going to my boss to say I need more work. That’s just stupid, and it makes me look bad. But between you, me, and the internet… someone please sell something complicated to a big client. I need something to do for the rest of the day.

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