Having spent the last 2 years in constant, full time employment, and getting two internships under my belt before that, I can honestly say that learning how to kill time at work is one of the most important skills you can master if you work in an office setting. Some of these ideas may even work for people in different environments as well, such as convenience stores. Let’s face it, unless you are working yourself to death, which no one should be doing, you are going to have down time at your job, and there is nothing more frustrating than staring at your cubicle wall. At times, it will feel like you are sitting in a prison cell and that you have a 30 year sentence ahead of you until you can ‘retire’. Well, I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to feel like you are in prison!
Kill Time At Work By…
1. Get Up From Your Desk - This is for all you office workers out there. Do NOT sit at your desk for more than 1 hour at a time. I had a problem with this when I first started my desk job. I actually sat at my desk, thinking I wasn’t really allowed to move unless I had a meeting or it was time to leave. This is absolutely not the case. I now make it a point to get up every hour, on the hour and just wander randomly around different floors, acting like I belong there, for around 10 minutes. It’s probably for the best, since your muscles will get very stiff if you sit for much longer. I know this as well, from personal experience. Doing this every hour, for 8 hours lets you kill nearly an hour and a half! Pretty awesome way to kill time at work.
2. Stretch Your Neck/Shoulders – Also for any office workers who are reading this, in order to maintain your sanity, you will need to be regularly stretching your neck and shoulder muscles. Contrary to common sense, working at a computer can be more strenuous than you think. If you don’t have proper posture and don’t stretch often, you will regret it! I have had days where I thought my head would explode from my muscles being so tense. This, of course, was back when I started my career, and I didn’t know anything about cubicle life. I now make it a point to do 5 minutes of neck stretches at every half hour, so 8:30, 9:30, etc. This lets you kill 5 minutes of every hour of the day, which is 40 minutes. Not too shabby, plus it’s good for you!
3. Get To Know Your Bathroom - I know this may seem nasty to you, but this is an excellent way to kill time at work. Many people even snooze in the stalls where I work. You wouldn’t believe how many times I have sat down in a stall, with someone in an adjacent stall, and then I leave 20 minutes later and they are still there. It’s not that uncommon, because it’s a private place to get away from the hubbub of an office. One guy even came up with an amazing idea of creating a Bathroom Stall Hammock! Way to go, Justin.
Using The Internet.
4. Create A Blog – Having a blog can be an amazing way to kill time at work. Not only does it look like you are working on ‘official’ stuff, you can actually make money by doing it on a regular basis. I started this blog a year ago, and have used many office hours to work on it. Fact is, it’s a great time to do it, since you are at your computer anyway. As long as you work in an environment where it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you meet deadlines and put in 8 hours in your cubicle, I don’t think you’ll get fired for doing it. If you do, you needed a new job anyway, since they would probably not let you do much of anything. Go create a blog right now! I easily spend an hour a day on it to kill time at work.
5. Surf The Web – This may or may not work for you, depending on how draconian your employer is. Some employers block over 50% of all web sites, while others block nothing at all. I am fortunate to have around a 10% blockage rate which consists of stuff that should be blocked anyway (not that I’ve tried to get to them, but some sites come up under the ‘suspicious’ category, like black hat sites and stuff, so I know it exists). Also, some employers will monitor your web habits, so I’d keep it well under an hour a day of surfing, probably closer to half an hour. This way you can say it was for your breaks, which you should have. Still not too bad of a way to kill time at work.
6. Instant Messaging - This is probably the best way to kill time using the Internet, since it’s the least suspicious. Strike up a conversation with a friend on your instant messenger! Most companies will have Microsoft’s office communicator installed, so you could chat it up with other co-workers who are as bored as you. If you don’t have this, or want to chat with friends outside of work, install the chat client on your work computer if you are allowed. If this isn’t allowed, or is blocked, get a Gmail account. If you go to your gmail account, using any standard web browser, they have a built in chat client right in the browser! No need to have anything but a browser, which everyone has by default. Also, if you have the privilege of having Google Chrome, which is Google’s browser, they have a Google Talk plugin which runs within the browser application, eliminating the need to install any application, or sit on gmail all day. Pretty amazing! I used to kill at least an hour by chatting throughout the day.
…While Still Getting Things Done
I don’t condone not getting your work done by the established deadline, and I certainly don’t want you to get fired, so keep most of these things in check. Obviously it’s good to move around so do that on a daily basis, but use common sense. Don’t spend all day chatting it up with people from a different floor, and ignore your bosses emails wondering where you are at! After all, you sort of need those paychecks each week. Just don’t think that you have no freedom at work, because you have more than you think!
Do you do anything to kill time at work? Would you add anything to this list? Feel free to leave a comment!