Thursday, October 28, 2010

7 ways to do better work when your job sucks

  1. Its all about your frame of mind. Think whatever you need to think to do the bullshit tasks that you’re expected to do. If you need to get mad, convince yourself you’re the underdog and you’ll show them by doing a fantastic job, do that. If you need to force a smile and whistle while you work when, in truth, you can feel your soul dying inside, do that. The power of positive thinking my friend: fake it till you make it, or come up with whatever frame of mind you need to do the next steps.
  2. Write down exactly what you’re expected to do in your job. I, for example, have three main areas of responsibility, each with specific tasks associated with them. You don’t like writing stuff down, making lists etc? Tough cookies. Do it so you can look at it. It’ll help, I promise.
  3. Break down those areas of responsibilities and tasks even further to daily routines. What do you have to do first thing every morning? What needs to happen every week, or at the end of every month, in order for you not to get fired?
  4. Now that you know just what needs to be done, you can estimate how long each task will take. I guarantee you its less than the 8 hours you’ll be sitting at your desk today. This is good news.
  5. Look for other shit laying around that needs to be taken care of, and take care of it in your extra time. Filing stuff, cleaning stuff, replacing stuff, organizing stuff. You think it’s beneath you? Dude, you have a terrible job. What else could be beneath you? Just do it. Someone will appreciate it, and you’ll always look busy.
  6. Then you have maybe a little extra time. I use that to write shit like these blog posts, or make up stories, or read interesting news stuff about zombies and aliens. Mostly to think. It’s nice to have my brain stimulated once in a while, and it feels like I’m actually creating something that a divine human being like myself should be doing, instead of the tedious, repetitive stuff I do otherwise that a lower ape could handle.
  7. And look at that, you’re filing all your responsibilities, doing a little extra that makes your stupid supervisors happy, and you have a little time to yourself from 430 to 530 maybe to think about your big plans and goals and dreams.

And you’re not going to get anywhere if you aren’t dreaming.

What to do when you feel crappy about your job

So your boss is an idiot, you aren’t doing tasks anywhere close to your potential, and your self-esteem, and self-respect, is pretty low accordingly. Welcome to life as a graduate in 2010, when your entry-level job has no opportunities for learning and professional development.

You can numb yourself with alcohol, carbohydrates, sugar and TV and bitch about the economy, sure. But that’ll result in a big belly, big thighs, and even less progress.

So what do you do when you feel crappy about your job?
You remember it’s just a job. It’s not your life and it doesn’t define you.
Then you think about what does define you or what you want to define you. Then spend the 7 or 8 hours of the day when you’re not at work or sleeping doing that. Writing, acting, dancing, exercising, fixing things, painting things, caring for people or things.

Ok, so now you’re working out after work to get rid of all that frustration. You’ve started the next great American novel with 30 minutes of furious writing every day at lunch. You volunteer once a week at an animal shelter. But your job still sucks and you still lie in bed at 5am dreading the alarm and having to drag yourself out of bed every morning.
Then get a new job.
I’m not kidding, you can do it. You think if you want just a few more months you’ll be in a better position to do something – whatever. That’s an excuse.

You think because you’re not shining like a rockstar at your current job, no one else wants you and, in fact, you don’t deserve anything else. That’s bullshit. First of all, you can always do better at your current job, which will make you feel better; we’ll address those strategies soon. But second of all, negative environments have a negative effect on people. Look for a new job with a positive environment that will allow you to shine.

Start looking for a new job now while you have a job. You’re not desperate; you could stick it out where you are. And when you go for a job interview, remember: you’re interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you – ask questions and try to find a place where you can grow and shine.

So all the people out there with craptastic jobs, quit the bullshit and take heart! We're all in this together and there's a way out!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Role Models

It's funny that this popped up on Salon today after I chatted with AG about how much we hate Mel Gibson. And, after reading it, I thought a few interesting thoughts.
  1. Is it ok to hate someone I don't know at all? I judge people based on their actions and overall behavior, and his is atrocious, but am I in a better position than Jodie Foster, who knows him, presumably, to judge him? Really, no one should hate anyone, we should be at peace with our fellow man and forgiving etc etc. I suppose instead of hating Mel, I should say I disagree with him and think he's an bigot and an idiot, but I can't judge him as a human being. Can you be a good human being if you have such hateful opinions and, in general, behave hatefully?
(I have to remember this next time Jenny McCarthy and her anti-vaccination, autism-cure talk gets me fired up. I don't HATE her, just think she's nuts.)
  1. Is it ok to not like, or not see/consume, someone's movies or other artistic products because of their views or behavior? Roman Polanski is a pedophile, so he should be in jail (or electrocuted), but that doesn't mean his movies are crap. Mel's been arrested for drunk driving, he should be in jail too but that doesn't mean his movies are crap either (though, in my personal opinion, they are pretty crappy).
  2. And then, should we neglect Jodie Foster, dismiss her as a role model, because of her personal views? I mean sure, most of her best work is behind her thus far, but she's a famous, powerful, generally good person who's a woman and a lesbian in an industry where being power and being a woman, much less gay, is rare. Plus, she has the right to be friend's with Mel. I might not want to be, but maybe that just means I shouldn't be friends with Jodie either. I can just watch Silence of the Lambs or Flightplan and enjoy them without bringing the extra stuff into it.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Sounds close to Ice-T, but so far from as awesome as him.

I saw an ad the other day asking the men in the audience if they’ve stopped feeling like themselves and suggesting that they might have Low T and that they should ask their doctor about some prescription drug.

Just more proof that men are attacked just as often as women by advertising telling them something is wrong with them and they need to spend money on X, Y, or Z to fix it. I hate it.

Check out this post from Better Health (my favorite medical blog) about Low-T.

Feeling good on a Monday

Guys, big news: I’ve brushed my teeth 10 out of the last 11 nights! Whoohoo! My mouth feels cleaner already. I even ATE BREAKFAST and then BRUSHED MY TEETH this morning too. Holy crap. I’ll be flossing like a madwoman in no time.

More good news this morning: I took a not-quite-30-minute walk with Maddie, as I so proudly tweeted (stretching the time slightly in my pride) and BQ so proudly replied. She and AS have contributed greatly to my desire to be healthier, what with all their Avon Breast Cancer walking and infectious excitement about cooking things – like apples and pork (fruit and meat? Whaaaat?) – that make we want to be all grown up and chop and sauté and bake rather than defrost and re-heat. So kudos to them!

In fact, I’m beginning to change my opinion of the gym. I’ve always been one of those millions who purchase a membership, go a few times over the course of the first couple weeks, then trail off and give up, paying the exorbitant cost to get rid of the membership or just forking over a ridiculous amount every month for the privilege of having a membership card on my keychain. But it’s kind of like going without TV: sure, I can exercise at home, but I don’t do that either. It takes the same amount of discipline and willpower (that I don’t have) to do that too. Maybe more, since my couch is SO CLOSE. And since Maddie thinks I’m playing with her when I’m doing squats and likes to jump up and lick my face.

So maybe it’s time to revist the gym membership. And maybe I’ll nut up and get the full fledged BAC membership instead of just the express one, so I can really be brave and work out with BQ, AS, and RV.

But let’s not get carried away. Still working on brushing my teeth here.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My maturation as a sports fan

I surprised myself this weekend by caring about the Yankees-Rangers game. I was actually excited to follow the Rangers efforts against the Empire. Maybe I’m just experiencing what every Red Sox fan does at some point in their lives: hatred of the Yankees. But I’m also interested in the careers of hockey players that aren’t on the Bruins, and, guys, I’ve sat through almost two full Patriot’s games this year already. I even kind of want to watch SportsCenter on a regular basis.


I just had to make a Sports label for my blog now.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What do you want to be when you grow up?

CW and I got cable back. Nope, we didn't even make it a whole year. Yup, hundreds of channels and thousands of commercials now flood into our home every day.

We were sitting on the couch one night this week, basking in the glory of the most passive of entertainment, and suddenly I snapped.

“What the fuck is up with all these commercials?!?”

“We were used to just two per break on Hulu, and short ones,” CW replied in his typical calm fashion.

“Well what the fuck?? Do you have any idea how many hours of marketing we’ve just consumed? How many millions of dollars were invested in those hours to try to manipulate our brains in the most cost effective way to get us to buy shit we don’t need or that’s going to rot our innards??”

“Shh, 1000 Ways To Die is back on.”

That’s basically how the conversation went.

There are days when I envision my future thusly: I’m a manager or mid-level type person in a marketing department or at a hip marketing firm in Boston, tracking web analytics for our various campaigns, pushing reports up to my bosses, talking to designers about what’s new, managing underlings doing data entry and teaching them about the magic of marketing.

Of course, I’d probably be making good money doing that. And, ideally, I’d find a marketing job for products that are awesome, helpful, and improving society and the world. But really, how many of those products are there? More likely, I’d wind up helping some evil corporation sell worthless shit to dumbasses.

That’s not a very happy dream.

I think I’d be pretty good at that sort of job, but over the last few months, that vision of the future has popped into my head less and less often. Instead, I want to tell people that stuff and shopping wont make them happy, and neither will TV or cruising the internet vacantly. That’s the opposite of marketing.

I’m sick of the jargony, pretentious, oh-so-happy marketing and social media stuff I have flowing into my Google reader every day. Yeah, technology is cool, but only in so much that it makes people’s lives better. Not in how much money it gets people to spend.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What to do when you’re not ok

This is not professional or clinical advice, this is just me talking about what I’ve decided to do now that I’ve admitted to myself and CW that I am not ok. And now that I've admitted it to you.

It’s a hard thing to do. Even when things are really bad, I tell myself I’m ok, or at least everything will be ok. I’m the rock, that’s what I do. I think that’s what most people do. But after a while, I couldn’t even fool myself. I’d let so much slip over the last two years that I was barely functioning on a civilized level. Not difficult stuff, people, we’re talking basic necessities: eating and sleeping and hygiene.

CW and I have accomplished the goal we set out to achieve two years ago. It was a long and difficult road that shook me up badly, but now that the mission is accomplished, I can take a step back and say
“I’m not ok. I need to make myself ok now.”
That means every morning:
  • taking Maddie for a long walk,
  • eating something healthy for breakfast,
  • brushing my teeth, and
  • looking decently professional for work.
  • It means focusing on work while I’m at work.
  • It also means eating something marginally healthy for lunch every day.
  • And it means getting some exercise in the evening, having a healthy dinner, having a conversation with my husband, and brushing my teeth again before going to bed at a decent hour.
Just writing all of that down makes me a little nervous. These are ambitious steps for me right now.

Especially brushing my teeth – for some reason, when I’m angry or sad, I can’t bring myself to go in the bathroom and take the two minutes to clean my teeth after they’ve worked so hard all day. I’ll pee right before going to bed, hop under the covers, and groan because I didn’t brush them, but feel that it is completely impossible to go back into the bathroom now. It’s too late at that point. Tomorrow morning, I promise myself. But of course I don’t brush them then either. I probably have a dozen cavities after two years of sporadic brushing.

So after admitting that I am not ok right now, I’ve decided to brush my teeth twice a day. Maybe after a few weeks of that, I’ll add flossing at night (something I’ve never been able to do regularly my entire life). Maybe by 2011 I’ll become a model of dental hygiene that my formal self won’t even recognize, bringing a toothbrush to work to brush after lunch or some such nonsense.

The good news is for a Monday morning, and a holiday on which I'm working, I'm surprisingly optimistic. Cavities, watch out.