9 to 5 For Radicals: How to Survive Your Soul-Sucking Office Job

You are one of the lucky ones. You have a job, in a climate-controlled building with coffee available in the kitchenette and possibly even a special chair if you have back pain. You have health insurance, and if you open your mouth to complain about the commute your friends glare at you because they just sold their printer on Craigslist in order to make rent; they do not have health insurance, and they have toothaches that last for six weeks because they can’t afford the dentist. Your parents are proud of you for having a cube with your name on the outside.

But maybe you do not always feel lucky.

Maybe you felt lucky after leaving the interview, went out for drinks with your roommates that night and grinned stupidly, but you did not realize that every day after that would also be a job interview; every day, all over again, you would have to sit up straight and pretend to be interested in innovative business strategy that drives productivity and results, and also your boss’s new car. He is always getting new cars.

Maybe your little cube is in a corner where the light is dim and you can easily go a full eight hours without talking to another human being except via email, and you realize your entire job is just something they haven’t quite figured out how to automate yet. Maybe you sometimes wander around the building holding a mug under the pretext of getting coffee just to break up the hours staring at a screen. And maybe when you go home you realize that the highest point of your day was reading TMZ on your lunch break. Maybe you have had this job for five years, or ten, or thirty, and you still have the fleeting impulse to lie every time someone asks what you do. You could be an astronaut. They don’t know.

But you can’t complain, because you are lucky. Sometimes being lucky just means being lonely, that’s all. Right?

Well, I don’t know. Maybe. But regardless, no one deserves to tell you that you don’t deserve to complain. You can definitely complain, because the fact of the matter is that the corporate animals of America are built for money and nothing else, and it is a universally acknowledged truth that what is good for money is almost never good for your soul. So in the interests of your soul and possibly your heart and brain as well, I urge you to take action. Some of them are small actions, some are not – but when you have one of those days when you look at the container of paper clips on your desk and think “Is this all that I am now?” you need to do something, or else you might think the answer is “yes.”

Of course — most office jobs are not soul-sucking. In fact, they might be exactly what you want to do with your life! You win! This article might not be for you, but you can read it anyhow.


Remember what it was you wanted to do before you did this.

“I used to be free spirited
Now I’m just free of sleep
I got a burning passion in my throat
I got a burning passion inside me
I got a job that wastes my time and gift
I got a life that needs a serious lift”

– Tegan & Sara, “More For Me”

Of course not everyone who ends up in an office 9 to 5 is a thwarted bohemian; you did not necessarily want to become the next Proust or Sofia Coppola and ended up processing payroll documents in Akron, Ohio instead. But maybe you did enjoy reading Proust, or maybe it was Borges or Kuhn or Kant. Maybe you liked soldering things together or writing tabs for the theme music to obscure Japanese game shows.

Depending on how long you’ve had that office job and the depth of your emotional reserves and level of commitment to the things you love, you may have stopped doing these things entirely. While you were initially excited that your robust new paycheck could fund more raw materials for your blacksmithing hobby, you now find that when you get home from work you only have just enough energy to lay on the couch and watch The Office. You don’t even have the energy to wince at how pathetic a choice of entertainment that is in light of your current situation.

The first step is to stop doing this. Imagine those scenes in movies where someone slaps the hysterical character across the face, and after a moment of wide-eyed shock they say “thank you, I needed that.” Tell yourself, “There was a time when you wanted to compose a rock opera about a love affair between Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice, and by God, you’re still going to!” See, you needed that.

Just telling yourself this won’t make it happen, though. You need a plan. Set aside twenty minutes or a full hour every day, and tell yourself that this belongs to you and you owe it to yourself to keep it that way. Because I hate the heartless reptilian corporate machine that I work for, I like to use company time for this.

First thing in the morning, right after I get my Keurig-machine French Roast and turn the computer on, my time begins.

I use the first half hour or so to write for my own personal pursuits, and since I’m sitting in front of a keyboard and no one else has had their coffee yet either, no one notices or cares. If you don’t feel comfortable with this, though, or if your job involves cancer research for babies or something where slacking off is maybe less okay, your lunch break is a good time too. Get out your sketchpad and work on Shakespeare set pieces, write poetry, knit kneesocks, do your thing.


If you have actual friends or people who don’t make you want to vomit at the place you work, you might want to eat lunch with them; this is permissible. Spend the first or last half hour of your break working for yourself, and then spend the rest gossiping over sloppy joes from the cafeteria.

You won’t believe how much this does to combat the foggy, mournful feeling of “What did I even do today?” as you walk towards your car in the afternoon. You’ll be able to answer “I wrote the scene where she finally tells him she’s leaving!” or “I figured out how many links of chain mail I’ll need to make a historically accurate chest piece!”

Doesn’t that feel better? Now do it again, and again the next day, and before you know it you feel like a real live human being.



Keep it secret, keep it safe


Since most large corporations are actually designed so that all your time is documented and reported on and every move you make is monitored by a person or a machine or both, actually making time for yourself can be difficult. The most insidious and difficult to overcome obstacle might be their surveillance of your work online; even if the sites you visit at work don’t get actively blocked because of some kind of objectionable content (where I work, Pandora is blocked, but Grooveshark isn’t?), there’s about a 99.9% chance that every single click you make or character you type is totally exposed to the company you work for.

The content of your emails (even personal ones, on you personal account, if you’re on the company’s network connection) and phone calls are within their rights to read, and if you do anything criminal on a company computer they can and will have you prosecuted for it. The IT guy at my company looks exactly like Kevin Smith and keeps a jar of bacon bits on his desk at all times. I don’t want him knowing about the emotional breakdown I had that was so bad I had to email my mom about it. So the question, clearly, is how to do what you want without having the company peering over your shoulder the whole time. There are a few ways to do this:


Go off the grid.

Like for real, don’t even use a computer. I bring a notebook to work and keep it next to my keyboard to write in; as long as I look up at a computer screen every few minutes, there’s no one to say I’m not taking notes for something work-related. If you can do something in the real, physical realm – drawing or knitting or even writing out code longhand, do it. It is the safest and also most satisfying way to do your thing completely under the radar.


If you don’t have a smartphone yet, you might want to think about it.

It would be trying to write an entire novel on an iPhone, but people have done it. And there are plenty of neat little tools and apps on a variety of different platforms that you might find useful. This is also totally not suspicious at all; it’s beyond normal for people to have a smartphone or six (seriously I feel like people have a lot of them sometimes?) laying out on their desk, beeping and burbling occasionally. At the very least, you can send out that email reminding people that the first meeting of your deep breathing hot rock yogilates regression therapy group is tonight, and to wear loose clothing, without worrying that the IT guy is reading it while pouring bacon bits into his mouth straight from the jar.


For the really intrepid or really desperate, it is possible to SSH through your company’s network and connect to another one entirely

which should mean that whatever it is you’re doing on their computer is actually on a completely separate network and therefore undetectable to them. This might require teaching yourself a quasi-significant amount of programming, but if you really need to be able to maintain your lesbian furry porn website 24 hours a day, it might be your only option. It also requires having another server to SSH to, which you would have to set up on your own outside of work or have someone do for you. But if you’re that motivated, here’s a quick tutorial on how all that works, more or less. This is also probably something that will set off major alarm bells if anyone figures out you’re doing it, in a way that shopping for new rain boots on Amazon will not, so be careful. But also, man, you’re really badass.



Sticking it to the man

Hopefully, balancing your time between what is owed to the thing that pays your salary and what is owed to yourself will go at least a little ways towards combating the feeling that your head and also heart are full of cotton balls at the end of the workday. Even so, though, it doesn’t hurt to have a few things up your sleeve that are maybe kind of childish but ultimately improve your quality of life. In an environment where your ability to ‘act like an adult’ is really the only skill you’re supposed to exercise, being childish can be a huge relief.


Have a project.

Mine is origami. I spend a lot of my time on conference calls, only about 20% of which actually require my participation or even attention. So I am slowly mastering the art of post-it note origami; I have a small army of cranes already, and am working my way towards finishing this. For you, it might be wallpapering your cubicle with the annoying coversheets from the printer, or keeping a picture of Gillian Anderson next to your computer and telling people who walk by all about the big plans you and your fiancee have for the weekend. Have fun with it. God knows it’s not going to happen any other way.


Look into what your company offers, and figure out how to take advantage of it.

Depending on your company’s set of benefits, you could qualify for discounts on travel, computers, or cell phones by inputting a company code. Does your company have paid volunteer days cleaning up trash, or are there employee-formed groups aimed at reading Tolstoy or learning the tabla? It’s possible that everyone you work with is dumber than a pile of hammers and also annoying, but maybe they’re not.

The best way to find people who probably don’t suck is to look for ones who are new and also low-ranking; temps are great, for instance, because they have less to lose. Make conversation with one, and see if you can gauge whether they’re as close to just laying down on the beige carpet and giving up as you are. If they seem like they’re also beginning to forget why they even bother showing up at this place, maybe it’s safe to blurt out “This place makes me want to change my name to Silverleaf and run into the woods to live alone, surviving on berries and raw fish, so I can finally be free of webinars. Do you want to watch fifteen minutes of Community on my iPhone in the supply closet with me?”


If your company is so mind-bogglingly corporate that they have deleted Minesweeper and Solitaire from the computers, you can get them as extensions in Chrome and use them without leaving the browser. If you aren’t allowed to use Chrome or download anything, then God help you, my friend, for you have gone to a place where I dare not tread.

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  1. I can relate to a lot of this, even though I work for a small progressive nonprofit, not a faceless corporation, and my hours are a lot longer than 9-5 a lot of the time.

  2. i have a desk job where i take calls all day for medical insurance.. we have no internet access since we have to follow the HIPPA laws (thats privacy laws) Besides the systems we use to look at benefits the only other thing really have access is to there member website.. Due to all the boredom though i have discovered that the website has a mini game for the members with a blimp that cant hit the storm clouds… I AM AN EXPERT BLIMP FLYER!

  3. I am very, very disappointed that pooping on the clock was not mentioned. I mean, you don’t – and probably should not – literally defecate on any timepieces in the office. Rather, you just make sure you time your shits to take place during your alotted work days, preferable in one of the coveted single-stall bathrooms hidden away somewhere else in the building. In my case, there’s two in the back hallway near the fire exit/door we go out of for our smoke breaks. I also worked in a place that had one hidden down a long scary corridor in a disused portion of the basement. Believe me, though, when you know you’re getting paid CASH MONEY to drop a deuce at your place of employment, then fighting off cave crickets or the people under the stairs is well, well worth it, ladies.

  4. Hah. This is a great article. It doesn’t exactly mirror my situation — so far, I have mastered the art of bouncing from job to job in different cities, never keeping one for more than a year. But in my last job, I definitely found myself taking random walks around the building for a break from the glow of my computer screen. I bet my co-workers thought I had bladder problems.

    Your last point is so true. I found it really difficult to have idle chit-chat with my co-workers, who were either too lasered in to their work or too aware that our boss can overhear anything we say. I found myself on a very regular basis sneaking up the reception counter. There, me, the receptionist and an intern would watch episodes of Glee, play Sporcle and make fun of Republicans on CSPAN. I’d just stay down there until someone from my department came down — then I’d act like I was just coming from the kitchen with some tea or water. I never laughed as hard or bonded as much with my colleagues ranked on my level, which is a shame. But at least I had some fun. I, of course, got my shit done, but let’s be honest. A lot of the hours you put in are for appearances.

    I can’t tell you how many times I finished what I needed to for the day but stuck around waiting for my boss to go home so I was the girl who always left before everyone else. I found a website that let you play Oregon Trail online.

    • “I found a website that lets you play Oregon Trail Online.”

      …and you didn’t include the link?

      FOR SHAME.

  5. Use boring jobs to save $ for scuba diving. When you’re looking forward to seeing squid or a mini city of sea anemones on a night dive after work, you don’t give a fuck. No ocean needed to do this. People dive in lakes, ponds, rivers, flooded mines, caves, etc., pretty much any water.

  6. I work in a textbook warehouse. Which is great when a good book comes down the line and i can sneak in reading it, but that typically doesn’t happen. Today one of my coworkers and i competed to see who could throw the fillers the furthest. I won. . .

    One day a coworker and I made fortune tellers (you know, the middle school foldy paper things?) and it was all work related. . . that was fun.

    And i make stencils. when all you have is a pen, paper from the printer, and a box knife, you make do. . .

  7. My dream is to one day have a sitting-down job.

    Not one where I stand on my feet for 8 hours a day, 6 days a week, fantasizing about shoving an ice cream scoop up the bum of a loud american tourist / my 18 year old “boss” who likes to talk abour grabbing my ass.

    • see the thing is i had the job that you are talking about and now i have a job not dissimilar to the one described in the article and i honestly think i was happier at the former. so, i mean, not to dismiss your experience, but there’s always silver lining. in your case the silver lining might be ice cream. just fyi.

    • I’ve been on both sides of this and I promise that the standing-up job is probably the way to go. The thing about desk jobs is that nothing ever changes. Never. You see the same desk and cube and people every day and you probably do the same shit every day. At least with a service job you have new faces to look at and funny stories about god-awful customers and you’re not gaining 20 pounds from sitting on your ass eating chips all day cause everything is so fucking boring.

  8. I wish I’d had this article back when I was employed. As it is, I am sending it to all my employed friends, because this is it, spot on, right down to the wandering the hallways with a coffee mug.

    There are jobs in the world that don’t feel like that, right? Jobs where you don’t need these survival tips?

    • yes, there definitely are. When you’ve found something that you love to do, your job will not need these survival tips.

  9. “It would be trying to write an entire novel on an iPhone, but people have done it.”

    I’ve been doing this for years due to my bad handwriting, but the very idea of using it to dispel boredom in the workplace… That, my friend, is awesome.

  10. It’s really funny to me that our posts about being unemployed or working from home are swarmed instantly by gabillions of ppl wanting to talk about themselves, but posts about surviving at work or coming out at work are not. i wonder what that says about our (commenting) readership.

  11. I work in a small office and the boss doesn’t really understand tech, so we have no filters on our internet and I spend a good portion of the day looking at random websites and avoiding small talk with my co-workers.

  12. This is my life. But despite being a cog in the wheel of a corporation, I can’t bring myself to slack off on corporate time. I am learning to take advantage of my insanely long commute (via train) and can’t wait for warmer weather so I can spend my lunch out on a bench by the river again. So there’s that.

  13. I worked with a great bunch of people once and we’d fill the time creating with odds and ends. Someone brings in a bin of legos, everyone grabs a handful of pieces and uses office stuff to build something out during the day. Judge them at lunch or just subtly put them on the cube walls at a given time.

    Find/buy a pack of cards or two. Make strategic cuts in them to facilitate card stacking. Again, each person take a small handful and builds something. We worked with dinosaurs, army men, crappy slinkies, anything left over from birthday parties or showers, poker chips, monopoly money (garage sale purchases of incomplete games for the pieces are popular), homemade playdough, pennies, and rocks. Or rip up an (old, tattered, unloved) book or dictionary and everyone redacts their page into a work related story. On one particularly dull week, we even made desk poetry “magnets” by cutting out words from our beleaguered dictionary and glue sticking them on the sticky parts of post its. It doesn’t take long before you have a whole stash to use for your creations.

    Anyone can participate. It’s simple and silly and independent of talent. It’s not substantial enough to draw unwanted attention from supervisors or resentment from do-gooders. If you’re swamped no big deal to skip it. If you’re killing time second by second you can make something more elaborate. It’s a modestly creative outlet.

    It gave us all something to talk about and a reason to eat lunch together or an excuse to take a walk (health break instead of cigarette break…didn’t you read something about the importance of that in the HR manual?).

    • Your coworkers sound delightful! What a fun group of people to work with. I it when you can manage to fit little bits of lightheartedness and creativity into everyday routines.

      • They really were a great bunch of people! And having something innocent to fiddle with made a big difference in all of us not losing our minds at that job.

  14. i work in a classroom with three other adults and children. there are several parts of the day that feel like an office job, simply because the kids are on the computer or you feel like you have done every single puzzle. so i go to the laminator to cure my boredom. i feel like messing with the laminator, copy machine, ellison machine, and decorating bulletin boards has been my saving grace.

  15. I feel like I’m in purgatory.

    I’m not a dropout that’s unemployed.

    I’m a forced dropout that’s employed, but not gainfully since it’s retail.

    I wish I had that cube with my name on it. If only so I could sit for a while. Or so that I could loiter at a water cooler/coffee area. Or even open a browser window, for that matter.

    Instead, I clock in. Stand all day. Get paid less than a man who has a job a level below me, has been with the company half as long, and is actually terrible at just standing at a register.

    I should probably call HR. Or the Labor Board. Or something.

    I should probably just find another job.

    I should probably have typed this into a box, in a blog, in a browser.

    But I didn’t.

  16. I work at a call centre for a giant telecommunications corporation doing collection work, and there is very little more soul sucking than asking people for money who don’t have any.

    Unfortunately, we aren’t allowed to use the internet, or cell phones, or have pens at our desk (we might steal credit card numbers), they deleted all the games from our computers and we have to be logged in to a dialler at all times so finding ways to rebel has been… tricky.

    Generally I make lists of people who have amusing names and give everyone extra time to pay their bills even though I’m not really supposed to. I also read when it’s slow, but the oragami suggestion might be worth a try…

  17. I’m in the middle of applying to jobs that might be just like the one described. Makes me think maybe I should look elsewhere, especially since I can hardly stay awake at the 5 hour/wk office job I currently work…

  18. I too work for a lifeless, soulless corporation, but one where it has literally gotten to the point where everyone openly talks about how much they hate it.

    Here’s the thing about IT though – my other half is an IT lady (no bacon bits!) and she tells me that there isn’t some Orwellian conspiracy in which they sit there reading everyone’s email. Mainly, they don’t have the *time* for that. (Talk to my girlfriend about how much time she has in the office sometimes. Preferably after a few drinks.) She tells me that if someone has poor performance and their boss requests a report, then they’ll export it, but that only happens if you’re slacking off so much that you’re not getting any work done. (Also she says they’ll export email inboxes when key people leave, but I’m guessing we’ve got no one reading this that high up the food chain!)

    Of course I’m only speaking for one place of employment here. However, considering how understaffed most IT departments are, I think you’re mostly safe to write emails about your hot yoga magic class so long as that’s not the ONLY thing you do all day.

    • Dina’s partner makes a good point about more corporate environments: it’s not that big brother is watching you, it’s that at his discretion he can generate a report recreating pretty much whatever you have done through the company’s digital interface.

      Most people do things on company time that are technically grounds for termination (doing all your holiday shopping online from work, etc.). When you want to fire someone, it’s often more litigation-proof to get rid of them on those grounds than on performance.

      If the company is big enough to have an IT department and they know what they’re doing well enough to try to wall you in, they’re also going to have flags and filters for online/email behavior that they consider worrisome or problematic. We all know the obvious. But IT is also it’s own strange little world. One place I worked automatically printed and read every email to/from a corporate userid that had the words “murder” or “kill” in it. (Today we’re calling it “translation”…)

  19. I wish I’d read something like this back when I worked as a paperwork monkey for a law firm. It was a small extension office of a large firm located in another city, so it was pretty quiet and laid back, but boring as hell. I goofed off plenty, but it was mostly just surfing the internet. I think something like you talked about in this article would have been more engaging and might have actually improved my life. Wish I’d thought of it.

  20. i spent a lot of time in high school/uni making paper crane armies. also i can make the sonobe module! but i guess i was paying to do that rather than being paid.

  21. This year, I’m giving the “professional lab rat” occupation a go. I’m going to try to see how many $3k minimum research studies I can enroll myself into. At the moment, I’m doing a study for NASA that is paying me $5.4k for forty-two days of my time.

  22. I work in a soul-sucking corporate job. Maybe not soul-sucking so much…but so boring that I sometimes feel my brain leaking out of my head at times. But I do have my trusty Dexter bobble head complete with knife and blood on my desk…which no one seems to notice, and that makes me smile.

    Whenever the people in my department find out/realize I have degrees, they all say (without fail) “Why are you working here?!” Annnd my 4 year anniversary is coming up in May.

    Yeah….I need a new job. At least I get to leave work at 3:30 (I come in at 7) so that’s a plus.

  23. i have a dilemma, i have recently been made permanent in my job at a call center after a whole year of a temp contract, but i can be dismissed at any point because i still have 6 months probation before “its official” which is kak! any way the dilemma is that this potentionaly could be a job for life, but i can NOT do this job for the rest of my life… after only a year its already getting boring & repetitive. yea sure thers a chance i could get promotion/ change departments but I think 22 is a bit young to commit to something like this but then on the other hand bordom is a small price to pay to have a regular pay check?

    i may/maynot b a commitment-phobe, i havnt decided on that either!

    and the bordom front i cn not skive/pretend to work as all of my productivity stats are recorded as well as assesed and discussed in a meeting with my manager bi-weekly. ergh.. we are not allowed to have mobiles out whilst working, only have access to the company intranet, not allowed to read between calls, i even have to ASK to go to the loo. I feel like im back at school! lol.. ok rant over..

  24. So I’m still in high school, but I do NOT want a job like that. I’d just get bored and quit.

    I think I’m destined to be a flaky vagrant. Or maybe a waitress at a maid cafe in Tokyo, serving cake and iced coffee to 30-something-year-old nerds who’ve probably married their Mikuru body pillows and been disowned by their parents.

    Actually that will be me at twenty. I DON’T KNOW WHAT I WANT TO DO.

  25. Thank you for writing this. I hate my job and therefore it feels like a soul-sucking waste of time and talent. However, your suggestions are rad and I think are totally going to help me get through the next few months as I save for a move to a new city and new opportunities. THANKS!

    Also, “Do you want to watch fifteen minutes of Community on my iPhone in the supply closet with me?” Sounds like a pick-up line and I kind of like it.

  26. This relates so well to my situation that I’ve saved it in my favorites to read at a later date. Perhaps my “me” time tomorrow.

  27. When I suddenly found myself with extra time at my soul-sucking desk job, I used it to start a blog. Now I don’t have that job anymore, and wherever I land probably won’t offer up the same situation (I mean, thank god), but I’ve kept up with the blog and feel like it’s helped me become a more disciplined writer. So yes, hurray for worktime personal projects! (I’ve also used plenty of work hours and office supplies in the management and promotion of my band.)

  28. I am currently working as a bartender because I couldn’t stand my soul-sucking desk job. Now I am getting sick of asshole people who treat people in the service profession like shit, and I want a desk job again. It’s a lose-lose situation. I think I need to work for myself…

  29. I am back at my desk this morning after a week off and my brain has already flicked back into ‘kill me now’ mode automatically. I think it does that when I start up Outlook and see the emails flooding in.

    I don’t work in a cube as such, but I have a laptop screen and 22 inch monitor to hide away behind. My colleagues are so dull that I sometimes daydream about drafting them all off into the military and watching them crumble. One of my colleagues spent an hour on the phone the other week, asking the paper recycling company to put into writing that we can’t recycle envelopes with windows. DULL!!!

    I am allowed my smartphone at my desk, as well as my lunch, stationery and desk phone, all of which I have considered maiming myself with at some point. (Thinking about trying to hurt yourself with a ham sandwich is DESPERATE TIMES) Failing that, throwing myself down the one flight of stairs to my office might provide suitable drama if things really get that bad. Soon then.

    I have changed my stationery order of lined notepads to square ruled now, so I can at least draw pretty patterns whilst on conference calls. Sometimes I even go crazy and draw with a red biro instead of black.

    I am senior European Management and the higher up the ladder I get, the more I realise I am working for a soul-less, blood sucking corporate that wonders why it has a high staff turnover but fails to do anything about it.

    My only ‘friend’ here has a job interview today. I am very jealous and also sad. Meh.

  30. I have a job that involves timed tasks. I’m given a few minutes to do each one and I have a target rate at which I’m supposed to be completing them. But I’m a super-fast reader so I’ve figured out the exact right rate at which to do things so that I can spend a couple minutes reading things on the internet in between tasks. Like autostraddle.

    Also, if you’re allowed to have headphones you can listen to audiobooks!

  31. thank you times a million for this article. I am going to bookmark it and return to it on a daily basis ’cause it’s just that relevant.

    granted, I manage a cafe inside of a bookstore. still. it’s the same thing day in and day out. I’ve spent the last few days on the verge of tears because I work with a bunch of idiots and it’s just so frustrating.

    I hate that anger makes me cry. I want to look hardcore pissed, but wind up looking like a teary pushover.

    thank you again for the survival tips. seriously, greatly appreciated. autostraddle makes me feel not so alone in so many ways.

  32. i usually do 10 hr work days for a publishing company. i like what i do most days and they keep us really busy. it works because i get bored fast.

    ive been doing it for almost 3 yrs and when there are days i feel like i want to do more and get more out of life – what i do is compartmentalize my feelings.

    what i’ve realized is, i must always be looking to improve my skill set so i can move on and move up and dont stay stagnant.

    *i even thought of offering some commercial work for AS but im in asia and not yet apt working with western/US market.

  33. I just checked to see if I had minesweeper or solitaire… both gone. I cannot install google chrome ‘without administrator priveledges’

    Pass the gin!

  34. I work as a hostess, which I know many people may have done, but for those of you lucky few who haven’t, it means that I seat people and serve as cashier. Not so bad, but the restaurant is usually dead.

    In one hour we had only two customers come in.

    And while the rest of the waitstaff hangout behind the service wall and get to chat, I must stay up front in case someone decides to come in. I don’t get my phone or paper with me, but your article has inspired me to take paper with me anyway and write on my thirty minute break. Thanks! :)

  35. Instead, I worked really fricking hard in school, same in grad school but with more alcohol and LSD and now am forced to spend the rest of my life doing really cool, interesting work that’s useful to our society … and sometimes to our war machines … but only in a sense that a hammer is pretty useful but dangerous too. In return, they give us free food and other perks and I occasionally get to spin up a spin off such as now … and it’s fun.

    Since I really like doing all this, I’ve become “the boss” — but I threaten to fire people if they don’t nap when tired and I could give a damn what they look at on the web, or if they take an extra week or 3 of vacation … as long as they get their stuff done or I’ll fire them, but in a really friendly way.

    Randomly I’ll head them out for a nearby wine bar for a whine session that can include anything especially me. Also, we’ll sometimes head off-site — skiing or beach pad where we ski, boat etc and then work all night until we drop. Anyone can tag out of a meeting by calling bullshit and everyone pays cash at any meeting that goes overtime. I never micro-manage, I just set the big picture and we self-organize to get it done via Google docs. Much of the time we’ll end up doing something different or in a different way since I listen A LOT (only way I became boss given that they’re all smarter than I am). If people are bored, have a down day, I tell them go sleep, go home, ride a bike (which are provided for free) or whatever. If things go collectively really bad or good, I send people out for exotic beers while we fry up something gross to drink them down with. For all this, most of them are pulling all-nighters and working like crazy … since I only hire/retain really good people. But, just like naps, I insist they take their vacations since I’m now older and tell them they’ve got to have funwhenyoung.

    I’m told people like working for me and it’s probably true since they could all go to Google or whereever whenever … all this works because I only hire if they’re really good. Anyhow, my life isn’t my work but I wouldn’t mind if it was and it’s better to spend time at what you love.

  36. I like my job. But I could easily get all my work done in only about 2 days a week. So the other 3 days I just… Read random crap on the Internet. I have gone WEEKS literally WEEKS without doing ANYTHING. My boss is an older guy who snorts. Literally snorts like a pug dog, sucks in his snot, swallows it down. He repeats the same stories over and over and over and over again. Stories I do not give a shit about. But when I’m actually doing work it’s all good. I just so rarely have any work! My boss has less to do than I do. I wonder what he does all day. I go for walks and run up and down the stairs sometimes. Have started drinking coffee. I eat too much when I’m bored, even food I dislike, hence all the walking and stair climbing. My boss wants me to take his job when he retires but I CANNOT. I need out. Surely I am capable of more than this.

  37. I am a high school teacher at a ‘rough-end’ school, and I love it. Every day is slightly chaotic, and no two days are ever the same. I laugh loudly numerous times a day, and get the warm fuzzies at least once a day, seeing a student ‘get’ an idea. My colleagues are among my best friends. I have hair-raising work stories that are an endless source of amusement for my friends and family. I count around 120 teenagers a day as ‘extended family’. At times I cry about the ones I haven’t been able to reach. But many days on the drive home, I feel like I am flying. I love my job. I wish there were more hours in the day.

    To those of you who have not found your calling, I truly urge you to take time, dig deep and think to yourself ‘what is it that I truly love?’
    Enrol in ‘at your own pace’ courses, do something small every day to reach your goal, and live like you mean it. Don’t look back. You owe it to your spirit and all those who came before you, to make you who you are.

  38. Thanks so much! I’m a cold caller for a charity and it is seriously soul-sucking. I get told 1000 times a day what a horrible person I am for calling people to ask for money for disabled children. People are so rude! And then theres the waiting for a call to come in and having to pitch to every person with emotion in my pitch. It’s exhausting!
    I’ve been doing puzzles at the desk and gone through many puzzle books. So now I’m going to bring in knitting, origami and I’m gonna write songs based on the funniest calls.
    The pay is brilliant but this job is so exhausting I just might quit in the middle of a call one day!

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  40. THIS IS SO RELEVANT TO MY LIFE! THANK YOU! I just accepted a corporate job after working at newspapers (no money) and non-profits (really no money) for 10 years. No one warned me and I had no idea what corporate life meant. Eyes on the prize. Cash money. I’m starting my third week tomorrow. God help us all.

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  43. Thank you. I’m a full-time student with a part-time office job. My weekly routine consists of re-phrasing what other people wrote for 60 hours, paperwork for my student loan/scholarship, and watching “Corporate”. I searched for “how to surive an office job” today and found this article. Thank you for reminding me of what I really want to do with my life.

  44. I’m nearly a decade late to the party (and much of your links are now dead), but I love your post. I’m so profoundly anti 9-to-5 that I actively fought in senior HS to become eligible for a home semester. I loved those 6 final months to bits.
    Being a solopreneur, which I am, can be a can of worms in its own right, but I hated my on-site corporate stints with a passion, so here I am. Thanks for the affirmation.

  45. Of course, you can wholeheartedly hate your workplace if it is gloomy and untidy, and colleagues behave inappropriately. But how can you change your mind if you find “your” place? Pleasant staff, cool corporate culture, a large, bright office is divided by glass office partitions, which only enhances its space and beauty. You have no idea how all this can affect your well being in this environment

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