I Have Nothing To Do At Work And It’s Killing Me

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I Have Nothing To Do At Work And It's Killing Me

I have a very cyclical job. Depending on how many projects I’m working on, where we are in the project lifecycle, or just the natural ebbs and flows of how demanding a client will be, I could either be putting in repeated weeks of late nights in the office or sitting here with virtually nothing to do for a day or two. I’m currently going through one of those down phases, and it’s driving me nuts. And listen, I love having nothing to do – free time is like the golden ticket – don’t get me wrong. It’s just that I feel wicked uncomfortable just sitting in my cube blatantly goofing off, especially if my surrounding colleagues are on other projects and actually have shit to do.

If I decide to write, it looks unusual because I never do actual work in Microsoft Word. If I’m dicking around on various websites, it’s even more blatant that I’m getting down with some serious “me time.” I’ve got the podcasts going right now, but I have no idea what to put on the screen. Right now I have a side project for internal use only on my screen. I’ve done pretty much all I can do to it at this point, so I just sort of write and re-write shit and make minor adjustments to the formatting. Yesterday, I asked for something to do. I was given a 30-minute assignment that I had to stretch the length of an afternoon. It was like putting on a TV show but pausing it every few minutes to get a new beer or check Twitter, and next thing you know it’s a few hours later and you’ve successfully goofed away a whole afternoon.

When I have nothing to do, I always feel like I’m the one being judged because it’s so transparent how checked out I am. Like I just spent two hours researching for the gambling whirlwind that lies ahead in the form of March Madness, and I can’t help but feel like I’m the one doing something wrong even though I really have nothing positive to be contributing to my employer.

I wish I could just hit the gym mid-afternoon disappear into an empty office, put on some Netflix or write or read a book about sports in peace. I can be out of sight out of mind, happily reading PGP alone, and if you need something, email me. But being so exposed in a cube gives me such a hesitance to do anything to pass the time that sometimes I’ll just wind up staring at the computer screen with an old PowerPoint deck open just aimlessly scrolling through while not absorbing any information. And that’s just a huge waste of everyone’s time, and probably murders brain cells. (Sidebar – I found some link to an article about basic high school math problems most high schoolers should (I repeat, should) be able to solve, and I just tried them and I was utterly perplexed. I attribute this 100% to not using my brain at all over the past two days.)

I know work is going to pick up soon. In fact, I can see my impending doom, as a few projects are going to be ramping the fuck up real quick, like I’m sitting on a railroad track and can see the train rumbling towards me in the distance. It’s unavoidable. I know I should relish these few days I get every so often of not being busy at all, but I like to stay busy, and sitting here doing nothing makes me antsy. If you’re not going to give me something to do, let me work on my hobbies in my cube and don’t judge me for it.

I know there are plenty of you that have the same exact issue. Does anyone have any advice? Anybody have a deal worked out with their manager or supervisor that if you ask for work and they’ve got nothing for you that you can just leave, kind of like when you could leave class if the professor was 15 minutes late? I need to work something out, because I could save so much time if I could take a gym break in the middle of my non-busy days, unabashedly catch up on my shows in the cubes, or write fire content for you.

Image via Shutterstock

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