Thursday, October 23, 2008

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

by Paul M. Carhart

Last time we reviewed a few ways to keep stagnation at bay in the office. Here are a few more ways to keep things fresh so you can stay passionate about your work.

Podcasts, Podcasts, Podcasts
There’s a new medium of delivering content to consumers and it’s called a podcast. Basically a podcast is an mp3 audio (or in some cases mp4 video) file that is delivered in a serialized format. There are now podcasts on every subject from political science to basket weaving. Some are very professional and some are homegrown, likely recorded in the garage or spare bedroom. You can subscribe via Apple’s iTunes or other aggregator applications, allowing automatic downloads of the latest edition of each podcast whenever it’s ready. Many people listen to podcasts on their iPod (thus the name, podcast) or portable MP3 player. Most computers these days also play MP3s and iTunes is a free download from Apple’s website. If your company doesn’t mind you highjacking the bandwidth in short bursts, you can download podcasts at work and listen directly from your office computer in headphones while you diligently whittle away at your workload.

Audio books, Audio books, Audio books
Audio books have been around for awhile, first on audio cassette and then on CD. But now even books are being serialized via podcast. And often at no cost. Check out to discover what’s available for free. Even books put out by traditional publishers sometimes make it into audio format, even if it’s not via podcast. You can listen to an audio CD on your computer through headphones or you can copy the contents of the CD into a program like iTunes and listen to it directly off the hard drive.

Decorate for the Holidays
Everybody decorates for Christmas. But if you really want to inject fun into the workplace, consider decorating for obscure holidays like Ground Hog Day, Box Day and Chinese New Year as well as the old stand-bys like Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Eventually your co-workers will try to figure out what on earth you’re decorating for. You can even offer a prize or some candy to the person who first guesses correctly.

Instant Messenger is your Buddy
Some places I’ve worked prohibit the use of Instant Messenger type programs. Others have embraced it. Indeed, I’ve worked at places where it was a primary means of communication between co-workers on different floors and even in offices in different states. Just make sure you won’t get in trouble before embracing the wonders of Instant Messaging technology. The most popular version is probably the AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) which also interfaces directly to AOL. Microsoft also has a version. Whichever you prefer, now you can type real time messages to anyone you have a “buddy name” for (AOLese for username). You can chat, send pictures, share files, even bring in multiple “buddies” to chat. And, unlike e-mail, it’s all in real time. The best part though is that the casual observer probably won’t know if you’re chatting with a co-worker or your girlfriend. And, also unlike e-mail, there’s no record of the conversation unless you choose to save one. Did I mention it’s all in real time?

Express Yourself
Part of what can make your work day so stagnating is the fact that, usually, nobody talks about anything other than work. So try this. Put up pictures of your kids or props and posters from your favorite movies around your desk so there will always be other topics of conversation. It’s a great way to derail boring shoptalk to something you actually care about.

So there you have it. You won’t have less work to do and you’ll still have to put in your time, but maybe you won’t get burned out so easily if you can exercise a few of these workplace distractions.

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:

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