Thursday, October 16, 2008

Zooming Thru Life:
Enjoy Your Cubicle Job While Building A Reputation As The Most Industrious Employee At Your Firm

by Paul M. Carhart

Sometimes working the same office job day after day is a recipe for stagnation. Here are a few things you can do to spice up your day.

Surf the Internet
This is the obvious means of wasting time in the office. Be careful though. Some companies monitor their web network religiously, logging every single thing you do. Still others take a more cavalier approach. Be mindful of which camp your employer falls into. And never view anything on your work computer that you wouldn’t mind the world knowing about. Because someday they just might.

Look Out for the Catered Lunches
If you’re a mover and shaker in your firm, you’ll probably attend your share of catered lunches. Even if you’re not, you can keep your eyes peeled anyway. Some companies will make leftovers available in the common area. This might sound vulturish, but try to make friends with the person who orders said lunches. You might occasionally get a few items added to what’s delivered or even pull off first dibs on the leftovers before word gets out. Whatever the case, some extra chow can hit the spot during a long day.

Removable Media is Your Friend
A great way to use your office computer for your own nefarious purposes is to bring a small flash drive to work with you. You can easily store small MS Word and Excel documents on these tiny USB devices and access them during slow points of the day. Not only will you be able to type away on a private project or balance your checkbook, but you won’t look like you’re idle either, thus perpetuating the illusion of your steadfast work ethic.

Play Practical Jokes
We, as a society, probably take ourselves a little too seriously. I mean, can anything really be more important than your family and children? No one on their death bed wishes they spent more time at the office. So why not inject a little fun into your co-worker’s day? Remember to be benign. Don’t damage property or harm someone. But you can come up with funny things to do and say that will make every one’s day a little less bleak. Including yours. And remember, sexual harassment is against the law, but just plain old ordinary harassment isn't.

Web Mail is Your Friend Too
It has been said not to put anything in an e-mail that you don’t care if the whole world reads. I heartily agree. Do yourself a favor. Don’t ever use your office e-mail for personal reasons. Everything that goes in and out of your office e-mail account is considered the property of your firm. Copies of your e-mail are likely backed up and precedent has been set to have them brought into light for court cases that involve your company… or virtually any other reason. If anything, the amount of personal e-mail you generate could be put in front of you during a review or used as an excuse to fire you. So, never ever mix personal and business in e-mail. Period. That said, there is a safe way to access your personal e-mail account over the web from your office computer. It’s called Web Mail. There are a few companies who will let you do it and it’s usually free (I use You use the settings from your personal e-mail account to access your personal e-mail via a web browser (many of the larger e-mail hosts such as AOL also provide a means to check your account through their website). Now you can check your e-mail, send new e-mail, forward e-mail, etc., all of a personal nature from your office computer via the Web. When you’re done, make sure you erase the browser’s history and empty the cache to prevent others from accessing your account. What a great way to stay in touch with non-work associates, friends and family!

Paul Carhart’s book, Zooming Thru Life: Creative Tips To Bring Sanity To Your On-The-Go Lifestyle, will be available from your favorite online bookseller, August 2009. Stay up to date:


Anthony Buccino said...

RE: Removable Media is Your Friend

Some companies seriously frown on having this in your cubicle or anywhere near their company-owned PCs.

Paul M. Carhart said...

Thanks, Anthony. This is is why I jokingly said "nefarious" purposes. A lot of this article is written sorta tongue-in-cheek. I'm not suggesting anyone spend most of their office time surfing the web or checking their e-mail either. I happen to work in a pretty lax environment. But you're right. If it's something your company policy strictly forbids, you might not want to risk your livelihood by defying the powers that be.