Dear PoPville – How do you endure daily Office Life?

Photo by PoPville flickr user yostinator

“Dear PoPville,

I realize this isn’t exactly an advice column, but I think this online community might be particularly suited to help me understand a problem I’m having.

I have a great job that is interesting and allows me to make a positive impact on the world. My co-workers are fantastic and the benefits are excellent. The problem is that I cannot stand working behind a computer for 7 or 8 hours each day. It makes me stir-crazy, unfocused, and — at its worst — depressed. I have tried everything: I get up from my workstation at least once an hour for tea, a bathroom break or a quick run to a nearby store, walk at least 30 minutes outdoors at lunch in good weather and have an active life outside of the office. I’ve even manufactured my own sort of standing desk out of some old boxes (my supervisors will not spring for something fancier) to try to break up my movements and work during the day. These all provide some relief, but not enough to restore my sanity.

Unfortunately, my chosen field is social science research, and there aren’t a lot of opportunities to not be sitting at a desk. It is to the point where I am considering a career change, despite the fact that I love the work I do (just not how it is done). I’ve thought about speaking with a career counselor or even a therapist, but neither is really an option in my current budget. Is there something I’m missing? How do others cope?”

Some people are gonna jump down your throat because the economy is so bad and there are many looking for work. Screw them.

I think you need to start looking for a new job. Absolutely do not quit your current job but I def. think it’s time you started looking for a new job that is not in an office environment. Do you know anyone who has a non office job? Ask your friends if they know of any folks who don’t work in offices to learn about some options that are out there. You’ll need to take a serious look at your finances and see what is feasible, as it is quite possible your new job will require a pay cut.

On the other hand if it is not feasible to take a pay cut or there are no realistic alternatives – I think you may want to focus on afterwork pursuits. Sports leagues, volunteering, reading, art, music whatever brings you joy. Have something to look forward to at the end of the day.

For those that work in an office but hate office life – do you have any tips to make office life more palatable?

110 Comment

  • Please provide demographic data.

    Are you in your early to mid-20’s, were a “high achieving” student and in your first or nearly first adult office job?

    The advice varies with your situation.

    • I agree. My guess is you’re young and relatively new to the full-time job scene.

      If so, then your problem may stem from the conditioning people of your general age group have received which has given you the attention span of a gnat.

      I suggest you learn to adjust yourself to it, considering every other aspect of your job seems to be ideal. Most people are lucky to have even one or two of the qualities in their job.

      You could follow PoP’s advice and look for a job that has ALL those qualities AND allows you to work while lying under a shady tree, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

      • Ah, nothing like the fresh scent of ageism to freshen up office life. A word to all you “experienced” people out there who think everyone in a “general age group” exhibit the same qualities: kiss my ass

  • lots and lots of cigarette breaks.

  • Your situation sounds like mine. Office life can drain you. I see guys driving trucks, mowing lawns, and putting up drywall, and I think…that’s the life for me.

    My current solution:

  • Please don’t take offense: is there any chance you might have ADD? The “stir-crazy and unfocused” description immediately made me think of that. Someone close to me has found that a low dose of medication can make a big difference.

    If not, I find that I get that way periodically and think it’s pretty normal. Particularly around June, when I think we’re conditioned by 18+ years of school to expect a change of some sort, like summer vacation or an internship or something. But if this is a constant thing that doesn’t pass and you can’t deal, then of course it’s time to look for something new.

  • Well as everyone already knows here, I am desperately trying to figure this out. My regular work day is 9.5 hours – and I am already about to clock in 49.5 hours by the end of today. I get paid in the mid-30s range, am in my mid-20s, and want to shoot myself every day I am here. NO exaggeration – the place where I work is conservative-minded and not open to change which is super odd considering the line of work I am in.


    • Can you take a long lunch and hit the gym in the middle of the day? That is the best way to not only burn extra energy but increase the flow of positive endorphins in the middle of the day. It’ll make a bad/barely bearable situation much better – and it’s good for you.

      Life is too short of a job you don’t like so fix what you can currently and then network your buns off and find a new gig.

      Best of luck,
      Been there Done That!

    • Network. Network. Network.

    • Well for one, your in the wrong town for a 40 hour work week. In addition, as a 20 something early careerist, you’re imminently replaceable so you’re going to get the crap end of the stick when it comes to seniority, slack and work load.

      What you’re going through is a quarter life or career crisis. It’s time to start (in your spare time) looking for another job that doesn’t make you stare at the ceiling in the morning and wish that you could join the peace corps. You need to start forcing yourself to network –with people actually worth networking with, not other 20-ish year old’s. However, at your experience level, you’re not likely to find a hugely better job but sometimes a change of scenery is in order.

      Caveats: no matter how much you hate your current job, don’t leave on anything other than glowing terms, even if they get nasty. Take everything they give you on your way out with a smile. Someday you’ll need one of those bozos for a reference and they’ll appreciate that you left professionally even if they didn’t act that way (especially their HR).

      At the end of the day office life sucks, but it pays for the other things you want to do in life.

      • why not consider the Peace Corps?

        • I would have to second the PC due to the fact that you sound like you could be a bit younger and no accustomed to office life yet. I went into the PC when I was 25 and would compare it to College the Sequel (without classes) and a great cultural experience. Granted that they have unbearable big brother rules, you still get to make your own day up most of the time.

          With the economy, I am guessing that the Corps is a bit crowded with applications but you never know.

        • Because the Peace Corps doesn’t want people that are office flunkies that are trying to figure out their lives, they want people dedicated to the mission.

          • austindc

            No they don’t. My wife and I applied to Peace Corps, and we are both dedicated to the mission. We both speak French and she has an M.A. in urban planning and I have an M.A. in education. We also have many years of work experience in our fields. I also got my wisdom teeth out as part of the process. 19 months after we applied, they asked if we would like to do business development in the Ukraine, which apparently is their default program. No attempt to place us based on our language skills or work experience. Seemed like we had a lot to offer, but Peace Corps couldn’t organize enough to place even one of us in an appropriate position. We spoke to many current and returned volunteers, and it sounds like “office flunkies that are trying to figure out their lives” is exactly what Peace Corps wants. So yes, if you’re young and have very little experience, it’s probably great, but don’t waste your time (or go to an oral surgeon) if you have more than 200 words on your resume.

            To be fair, many of my friends did PC when they were younger, and they loved it. It even opened doors for a few of them, but they went right out of college.

          • what did your teeth have to do with it?

  • Read PoP!

  • I save up my vacation and do one blow out trip a year. 2~3 weeks in another country beats the hell out of the long weekend at people in this area seem to love to take. Not to mention it gives me something to look forward to every year.

  • Get another job, don’t get another job. This is a question entirely for you that no parent, friend, therapist or random person on the internet is going to be able to answer. If you feel caged, get a job outside. If being a landscaper, construction worker or delivery person isn’t for you, start your own business. If thats out of the question, identify what it is you do want to do and go back to school and continue to “degree-up”.

    If being unable to afford a few hundred bucks on a couple therapy sessions is true, then I wouldn’t ever consider quitting your current 9-5 until you have a plan of attack or another job in hand.

    At the end of the day, if none of those things work I suggest you simply acknowledge that your “working” situation is the sheer envy of 99% of the worlds population and try to put yourself in the shoes of some ditch digger, or Chinese laborer, hell…anyone who doesn’t get paid to sit in a comfortable office and cruise the internet all day long. It will put things into perspective People whose biggest problems in life revolve around having to go to that annoying daily 9am office meeting are living a pretty charmed life.

  • I don’t know where you work (social science research) but if it’s a larger organization, are there any opportunities for doing more “field work” that requires gathering data from people?

    Otherwise, do look around for a new job. Like PoP said, don’t do anything drastic like quitting without a game plan, but be on the look out for other career options.

    Best advice though–Do not be discouraged to change your career track. I withdrew from law school a few years ago, bored out of my freaking mind, but scared about the future and landed in a completely fulfilling job. I realize that not all are fortunate to land somewhere, but I do believe that if you start looking you’ll find something more rewarding. Best of luck out there.

    • This. I do socia science research, and at various points it has sent me to jails for interviewing, gay bars for surveying, police ride alongs, hospitals, gay pride parades, etc. There are a number of social science research jobs that involve a good mix of field work and data crunching/report writing, esp. if you’re willing to work odd hours. Let your bosses know you’re interested in those activities

  • If it’s any consolation, I’m in my early 20’s make in the high 20’s (!!!) and am not doing what I want to do or have been educated to do. Every day of my job is utterly miserable, dead end, and filled with gaps of nothingness. Try as I might, I can’t find a new job either. I can commiserate.

    • jim_ed

      I mean this in earnest, so I hope this doesn’t come across as internet snarky, but how do you afford to live in DC on that kind of salary? Do your parents help? do you split a room with someone? I see these non prof jobs all the time that sound interesting but have salaries below 30k, and I always wonder who they expect to take those.

      • No, I know. I ask myself that every day. (Results in an unhealthy amount of self-pity). My parents help if need be, and no I don’t share a room (although I live in the ghetto…but in a nice place). They expect people like me, with semi-worthless specialized liberal arts degrees that can’t actually get jobs in their field to take them. The sad part is we do. Lots of despair here.

      • I started making low 30s when I moved here. It’s very, very hard. I did it without parental support (they would have if I asked, but I did not ask). I ended up getting a second job – worked 6 days a week, and my second job was manual labor. Ended up making good money, and an extra perk was that it made me so tired, I had no social life with which to spend the money I made from the second job! It was…..great!

        Things to get better in DC if you stick it out and try to work your way up. But looking back, I was happier earning less and working more than being behind this desk 8.5 hours a day with people who don’t respect federal civilian work…

  • That’s work man. I don’t know if you’re going to find a job that you’re going to be happy in if you can’t stand doing the same thing all the time. I mean, have you ever had a job that you actually enjoyed? Maybe it’s not being in an office, but rather working that you don’t like.

  • I think PoP’s “screw them” is the best advice yet. Start an affair with someone in your office. Doing the nasty in the supply room a few times a day will take care of your boredom.

  • It sounds like you might just want to try a different company – perhaps the corporate culture there just isn’t for you. Not to mention, most people don’t have their “dream job”. It’s hard to find a job where you like all aspects of it.

    That being said, the feeling of wanting to shoot yourself (although a hyperbole, I’m sure) is pretty strong and it isn’t going to get better the longer you’re at the job.

    I suggest that while you’re looking for a new job, listen to music at your desk (someone suggested Spotify; Grooveshark and Pandora are also great) and just focus on getting through the day. You’ll find something that you like better, even if it’s not in the same field.

  • “Oh, you hate your job? Why didn’t you say so? There’s a support group for that. It’s called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar.”” -George Carlin

  • It sounds like you like the work, like the people, but just hate the office bit. Quite honestly, the first two things are usually the hardest to get right. If it really is the office, is there any way you could work out a situation where you get to telecommute–from a library, starbucks, home, etc? What about squatting in some conference rooms for a change of pace? If it really is just the office environment but everything else is good, that is the easiest part to suck up. That is why they call it a job and not play or vacation.

  • I don’t think its fair to jump on the OP for a ‘first-world’ problem, especially when they seem to genuinely be looking for advice, and not just to complain. OP, is there anything similar to what you do that would allow you to travel, do field work, etc?

    For short term relief, I recommend adding a dance party to your daily routine. My roommate did it all the time in grad school, and I’m sure if you listen on headphones, you won’t be bothering your co-workers! I think the dancing helps to get get some energy out so you can re-focus.

    • the whole “first world problem” thing is idiotic. to what should we aspire?

      when we just let “first world problems” slide by as if they shouldn’t be dealt with, we fuck ourselves royally.

    • Emmaleigh504

      I used to do the dance party in my office in my last position. It so helped with the boredom. Sadly, my current office is too public to continue the dance party, but I still dance in the elevators.

  • I have the opposite problem of trying to deal with a bunch of freakin 20 year olds bouncing off the walls like they are allergic to their desk and chair. This is not play time people. A walk every hour, store, bathroom? You’re not going to have to quit you are going to get fired.

  • Quit whining. You sound pretentious and ungrateful. Maybe your parents didn’t let you cry or scrape your knees when you were a kid of something, but you come across as one of the most unnecessarily helpless people I’ve ever heard post on here.

    Obviously no one wants to sit behind a desk 8 hours a day, but if we can’t stand it we either cope or get out. It’s pretty freaking simple.

    You give our generation a bad name. Freaking deal with it idiot. You’ve made it far enough in life to land a decent job in your chosen field, which puts you ahead of most of the rest of the world.

    • really helpful dude.

    • “Our generation?” I missed the part where the OP identified his or her age.

      You say that the options are to cope or get out. This person is looking for advice on how to make coping easier and has admitted to considering getting out. What else do you want? This isn’t whining – it’s just someone unhappy trying to improve their situation. I don’t see what’s so offensive.

    • Seriously? How does “I have a great job that is interesting and allows me to make a positive impact on the world” sound ungrateful or whiny to you? And as to your “either cope or get out” advice… That’s kind of exactly what the OP is asking for advice on, isn’t it? S/He literally asks how other people cope, so telling him/her to cope doesn’t really help.

      I don’t mean to sound like the OP’s mom or anything, but this just seems really unnecessary. Personally, I work in an office where almost everyone would rather be outside, but we work in cubicles because that’s where we can do the most good. It’s hard sometimes, but I know I’m going to spend the rest of my working days sitting at a desk, so some advice on how to deal with that would be really helpful.

      To the OP: I go with walks. Lots and lots of walks. And when I get really desperate, I spend a few minutes planning something that I can look forward to.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      “Freaking deal with it idiot.” is not acceptable. Please don’t do that again Dave.

    • You sound like you’re one of those guys that helps make work life unbearable. I feel bad for your coworkers. At least you took enough time out of “freaking dealing with it” to make your point on a blog. Good job.

  • Out of 50+ different jobs in my life, I’ve only done 2 very brief freelance jobs that required me to be in an office, but I was overwhelmed by the gloom and depression generated by the hideous office environment itself. Bad lighting – especially fluorescent (the hum, flickering and harsh light itself) numbingly cold AC – also with an omnipresent hum. Ugly colors of industrial materials – and the constant weirdness of having other people working around you in their own cubicles. No sense of privacy or real personal space.

    Do whatever you can to change your physical office environment to better colors, textures & lighting and you might feel a real difference.

    • Also, read about Chinese slaves in the Guano mines on the Chincha islands of Peru in the 1860s.

    • I totally agree with this. Bring in calendars, pictures, anything!

      • Find some fabric you like and tack it over the padded gray cubicle walls. Get an inexpensive rug at Target to cover the ugly carpet. Buy a small lamp with a red/yellow/orange shade or at least a warm colored bulb. Fresh flowers. Put out a dish of fresh-cut lemon or orange peel for the scent. Get a little koosh ball or some other squishy/kneady hand thing. (I love playing with the little rubber ring I cut off a new toilet flapper ball.) Any chance the office will allow pets?

  • I could set the building on fire.

  • Start drinking. Especially at work. And keep mints handy for when the boss comes by.

    • Peanuts are better. The mints actually bring out the smell some. Peanuts make your breath smell like only peanuts. I drink too much in my cubicle. Oh and if no one is monitoring your computer feel free to explore the magical world of internet porn. You will actually love coming in to the office!

  • I can somewhat relate to this reader. It was a tough adjustment for me to be in the working world, despite really liking my job as well. As an extrovert, I need a high level of human interaction to give me energy throughout the day, and when you’re mostly sitting behind a computer, it’s hard to achieve that.

    My solution: Make it a point to interact with your colleagues throughout the day. Come in first with a work question, and then chat them up for a few minutes. Also, make sure that you have at least a few lunches during the week with other people, as opposed to just grabbing something. Just my $.02 🙂

  • Thanks to so many of you for advice and suggestions. For those who asked, I’m in my early 30s, been in the working world for awhile, with several (4-6, depending on how you count internships) organizations of varying types (corporate, nonprofit, government). This has always been a problem for me, and I’ve always been told to just “get used to it”. That hasn’t worked, and at this point am not sure I will.

    The best bet is probably trying to work out a telecommute schedule, as some of you suggested. If grad school taught me anything, it is that changing my environment regularly is a good help, but I worry about staying on task and losing the interaction of my coworkers. But perhaps it’s time to pursue that.

    The ADD idea is an interesting one. I’ve never thought about it because I can concentrate on things for hour or two (or three) at a time, but definitely worth checking out.

    Lastly, as so many of you mentioned — this is not quite worth quitting a job over, particularly given the current economic climate. That plus hefty loans from grad school limit many of my alternative, non-office career opportunities, but I’ll keep looking in case something pops up.


    • And to be honest – please don’t take offense at this – you sound like a terrible candidate for a work-at-home job. Sorry, but it’s true – you sound like a person that would always be outside, running errands, meeting someone for lunch, etc.

      For someone with focus issues, being at home can be really dangerous… if I were your manager I would not be amenable to such a suggestion, just given how hard it is for you to stay engaged at the office where presumably there’s nothing to do BUT be engaged.

      • Oh, no. I completely agree! That’s why I haven’t pursued it prior to now. We have a pretty flexible office, though, and perhaps one day a week out to focus on writing or a specific project would probably work out well. But, yeah, on a more regular basis than that? I would be worthless as an employee.

        • Many employers offer a flex schedule with one day a week at home… when my brother lived here his company (in Tyson’s) did this because of how horrible traffic/commutes are… but I don’t know how your manager would feel about you pitching that sort of thing.

          Do you have summer flex options? Four ten hour days and then Fridays off for the summer months? Maybe a couple-month shift in the routine would help.

          I do feel for you. I’m lucky enough to have a job I love that actually gives me some control over whether I’m at my desk or out in the field, and I probably take that for granted a little bit.

        • I have had a lot of the issues that you’ve mentioned, and in addition to trying to brighten my environment (pictures, color, trying make the cubicle more personalized), I found that adding *more* structure was really helpful. I have come to realize that I, too, would not be the best candidate for telecommuting: in fact, having the separate spaces “work” and “personal” life helps me stay focused. Coming up with a way to keep myself accountable – for example, a monthly work plan that my supervisor and I developed together – has really helped me keep on task and feel a sense of completion/accomplishment to motivate myself. It’s easy to feel down and adrift in a gloomy office environment, but I think that 1) talking it through with someone (maybe one or two sessions with a therapist/career advisor) and 2) figuring out what tools will help motivate you at work will at least make it more bearable. Whatever happens, know that everyone works differently and you’re not alone in having trouble adjusting to an office environment.

          Good luck!

    • I can sympathize with you. I’m in my mid 30’s and have been in this situation at more than one job. Including the one I’m in now. What works for me is staying busy. The days when I’m slammed with work go by the fastest. On days when I have little to do I just want to walk out and quit.

      Another key for me is having something to look forward to after work: hobbies, exercise, movies, drinks with friends whatever.

      When I was about 25 I quit a job and tried to start a little business out of my home. For me it was a huge failure. There’s some good advice on here so best of luck.

  • Develop an interest outside of work – photography, drawing, running races, etc. Really develop it – take classes, enter races/contests, start a club/group… give your life a greater purpose than your office job.

    Also – practice. Working at a desk all day, that kind of patience, just takes practice, especially for younger people who are used to life moving in 2-4 year incremements.

    High school (four years), college (four years), grad school (two years)… the first 2-4 years outside of that rhythm can trigger that itchy feeling that it’s time for a change. It may be, or it may just be that you’re accustomed to the rhythm of predictable changes.

    Adulthood is a transition in many ways.

    • I completely agree with this one. Also, I have found that an early morning workout keeps me energized throughout the day (even though it’s painful getting up before you need to, it has a huge payoff).

  • Self medicate. A lunch time joint can do wonders.

  • One tangential piece of advice:

    If your love life is unfulfilling, it doesn’t matter how good the rest of your life is, you’ll think it sucks.

    • Wrong on so many levels. If you need someone else to be happy, you shouldn’t be in a relationship in the first place.

  • claire

    Someone else earlier up mentioned telecommuting and I think that sounds like an ideal solution for you. The benefit of telecommuting is that you get to break up the work on your own time – though you’ll probably still be expected to be accessible and getting stuff done from 9 to 5, you have a lot more freedom in terms of moving around, taking breaks, running errands, etc.

    It isn’t always possible (I am currently in a job where it’s not really an option), but my boyfriend has managed to switch to telecommuting typically four days out of the week, and he much prefers it. Here’s how he did it (and advises others do):
    1) Try to telecommute as an exception for a day here and there (for instance, you have a repairman showing up at some point during the day, ask if you can work from home just for that day). When you know you’re going to be telecommuting for a day coming up, save your completed work from the prior few days and then send it out, respond to as many emails as possible, etc, on that day. 2) Further down the line, ask to telecommute more regularly (every Friday, let’s say), citing that you’ve gotten a lot of work done and think you are more productive at home (I genuinely think lots of people are).
    3) Slowly add more days until telecommuting becomes your default and you just go in for meetings/special exceptions.

    • claire

      Ah, just saw that the OP posted while I was writing this and mentioned he/she wouldn’t do well telecommuting regularly, but maybe someone else will find this advice helpful!

  • work is work. sounds like this person just needs to find something they enjoy and work on becoming really good at it.

    I used to feel the same way until I started my cocaine hobby.

  • Switch to a work-from-home setup. Take masterbation breaks during the day when you get restless. That will break up the monotony more than your current walking around at the office breaks.

  • I don’t agree with the posters who say working = sitting at a computer a day and anyone who can’t handle it needs to suck it up.

    I can think of plenty of jobs that involve way less sitting at a desk.

    If you do begin a preliminary job hunt, what about looking for positions that involve more dynamic/”in the field” duties? Or a job that includes lots of travel?

    My current job involves a lot of boring computer time, but what I do enjoy is that I get sent to a lot of conferences, trade shows, and off-site meetings that allow me to interact with people and break up the scenery. Sometimes I end up working projects that take me away from my desk for long amounts of time (I’m spending most of today on the set of a photo shoot). Just something to keep in mind if you do job hunt.

    • So this is what I’ve really been thinking about with a job hunt. But I can’t seem to figure out how to look for that type of job. Is there a way you screened places to apply by travel requirements, etc? Because the rare opportunities I’ve had to travel off-site to work, host a conference or work with partners on the ground, I’ve loved it. Most job descriptions don’t seem to get to this level of detail, though.

      • I guess that’s why you network and ask people lots of questions about what their work environment is like. Same for asking specific questions in interviews.

        My job description when I applied was actually pretty specific: it said that I’d organize conferences, attend briefings, manage video production, some travel required, etc. While I wouldn’t search for those things, if I were you I’d start by looking for jobs you qualify for in your field, and then jump on those that sound less computer/research oriented.

        Downside is, jobs like mine are considered somewhat administrative and don’t pay that much. Ironically I’m also job hunting/thinking of grad school right now, haha.

      • My mom spent her career in medical sales and had a home office. But she was constantly on the road – traveling to hospitals, doctor’s offices, client meetings, etc. Home office, company car, job talking to people and selling things… good salary plus commission… check out Pfizer or MedImmune or similar companies.

        You seem like you might be really good at sales.

  • I never thought I could work from home until I started working from home. I also get easily distracted – and found that working from home is great.

  • Wow, I can’t believe the comments I’m seeing…

    First, don’t let anyone tell you that you are wrong to feel this way. You are not (necessarily) just too immature or undisciplined.

    Second, while some other commenters seem content to accept that work is a soul-crushing endeavor and the best remedy is to close your eyes and think happy thoughts (or drink), that doesn’t mean you should settle for being unhappy.

    I don’t know your specific situation, but for what it’s worth, I have nearly a decade of post-college employment under my belt, I’m well educated, and I’m way past the point where more money would make me any more satisfied with my life. I’m asking myself the same questions that you are and have been for some time.

    I don’t have any easy answers for you, but I can tell you this: Humans weren’t made to live the way we do, and I’m pretty sure that most people aren’t truly happy. I think most people are willing to settle for “numb and secure”. If you demand more from life, there’s nothing wrong with you.

    The conventional wisdom is that you work hard now at something even if you don’t like it so that you can enjoy life later. The fact is that later never comes. If you aren’t happy doing the hard work itself, you never will be.

    Chances are, you’re going to have to make some painful changes to find work that makes you happy. I know I’m going to. Best of luck to us both.

  • Everyone feels this way. Work is boring. Anybody who legitimately has 8 hours or more straight of work to do is getting railroaded by their employer, sorry to say.

    DC is not a 40 hour a week town? That guy is right. Most people whose job code includes a “GS” will mark down 40 and do about 10-12. The other 38-40 hours get dumped on federal contractors.

    I guess what I’m saying is get a government job. You can take random vacation days in the middle of the week, not show up, ineffectively telecommute, and still not be fired. Oh and the benefits are great.

    • Are you joking? I get paid for 40 hours a week, but I am physically in my office 42.5 not to mention all the emails I answer after hours and on weekends, all the time I have worked while on leave (when I can take leave). Work through lunch every single day, and not allowed to work out during the day. I’m not allowed to telecommute, flex time, or even SHIFT my schedule by 15-30 minutes to commute when it’s not as crowded.

      Maybe I need to work where YOU work.

    • Nice subtraction skills, btw.

      I’m a GS, put 40 on my timesheet, and work well into the evening, as I know many MANY of my co-workers do. Stop believing the stereotype of a government employee. I get paid shit to work for our country when I could be making double in the private industry. Why not switch jobs, you say? Because I like the feeling of actually contributing something our society, instead of turning a profit for some no-name company.

      • if you bust your butt then you’re not the government worker ak’s post was aimed at, so don’t take offense.

        there’s good and bad everywhere, but if you think there’s not a lot of lazy rolling around the fed gov, or that it’s not waaay harder for a gov worker to get fired for this trait, then you are outta your mind.

        • honestly? i haven’t seen a single person like this. everyone I know in my division/department busts their ass. I’m wondering if it’s because we’re kind of a different type of gov facility? all engineers type of thing. Idk, I’m always very offended when people assume I’m lazy because I’m a govt employee.

          • Emmaleigh504

            +1 and I’m a contractor. The feds and contractors at my place work long and hard hours. My place is a little different b/c people can be fired easily. I just wish people would quit smack talking feds so that my place can hire more feds. 1) We need more employees 2) I could make more money doing the same thing at my job if I were a fed.

        • It’s true that it’s much harder for a government worker to be fired than for someone in private industry to be fired.

          Beyond that, though, from what I’ve seen it appears that the amount of goofing off, laziness, incompetence, etc. in the government is about the same as that in the private sector.

      • Yeah, when I worked for the government (USPTO) everyone worked overtime to meet their quotas, though we were actually required to sign something every biweek saying we didn’t work any additional hours. The government folks I support now (military) also put in a lot of extra time.

        That said, I know other government employees who hardly work at all, and when they do it’s for some nonsense like planning an office party. I think it depends a lot on the agency.

  • All I know is that I have spent about $1150 on a plumber over the span of three days (found some plumbing problems during a renovation). I thought, I don’t make that much per hour and I have an advanced degree and a GLAMOROUS government job with FANCY benefits (cough cough HAHA).

    I think that trades are something to consider – good electricians, good plumbers, they’re all hard to find. Reconsider what you do and realize that there are jobs that get you out there, moving, working, that bring home good money.

  • I felt the same way for a few years but now that I am 6 years into working at a desk I am just used to it. In the past I had gained weight and felt depressed but now I take time out for myself during the day. I take a walk at lunch, read a hell of a lot of POP and make sure I take the time out to go to my weight watchers meeting. I figure that I do a lot of work at home so why not also make my home at work.

    It also helps to have a big, pretty mac monitor… I convinced them that I needed it for productivity.

  • I identify with this situation. I have been 15 years in the workforce in 6 different jobs all of them office jobs. My current job pays well, i have a great supervisor, good team mates and colleagues, the mission of my job inspires me yet i feel depressed to spend so much time of my life inside an office. I daydream about doing something else…especially something that involves being outside and using my hands. I recognize there are trade offs and the perfect job and situation quite does not exist. I think i am going to make a list of possible non-office jobs i would consider and explore their ups and downs (i.e. pay, stability, creativity, etc.)

  • even in a field you like work is not always enjoyable. lots of people have this wake up call.

    My suggestion: you sound driven, keep your eye on the prize. Read up on leaders/execs in your field that Are doing what you like. Maybe you’ll find inspiration in the path theyve chosen. Notice they prob didn’t start off doing anything super exciting. Pay your dues, meet some people. Keep hope alive. If not, theres always happy hour..

    Have you seen my stapler?

  • You never hear hobos complaining about their job. Have you tried that?

  • I can completely relate. I left college for my dream job and was miserable within a year. I left that for grad school, was much more satisfied with my life, and then post grad school had the same problem. I liked my coworkers, I was doing interesting work, but I came home every day feeling depressed and broken. This was before the economy crashed(just barely, I was lucky). I ended up stumbling around through short term and part time work for a while before I completely changed fields and landed in education. Its long hours and I’m making literally half of what I used to, but while I have come home stressed, exhausted and frustrated, I have never come home broken.

    In this economy don’t quit your job with nothing lined up, but don’t listen to the comments calling you a whiner either. You are the only one who know what you need to feel fulfilled and sane. There are options out there, some that may even use your degree and previous training. Hang in there and think it through, but life’s too short to spend in a cubicle!

  • 1) The grass is always greener.

    I say this as someone with a non-office job. Do what suits you best, but don’t assume it’d be better if you worked in the field.

    2) Master your job.

    Half of your job is getting the work done. The other half — arguably the more difficult half — is overcoming the mundane/painful aspects, as it’s intrinsic to your/any job. You have to counter inevitable and relentless bullshit with pride and discipline.

  • I feel pretty much in the exact same situation. I’ve been in my current position for three years and have always had trouble focusing and concentrating. I can do it if I have a deadline or am really slammed, but those usually result from a lot of procrastination and not focusing. So it becomes a cycle. A few things that have helped me are below. They are mostly stuff that has already been said, and I have to change it up a lot.

    -switching locations to a conference room, meeting room, or coffee shop. Bonus points if no one knows where I am and comes and distracts me with conversation when they are procrastinating too. Luckily my office and boss are flexible about this.

    -listening to music on my ipod really loudly helps me shut everything else (my surroundings, background noise) out and lose track of time. Putting a playlist on repeat up to a point, then switch them out.

    -Explaining to my coworkers that it’s really hard for me to focus so if I do look focused, please do not disturb. I do like breaking up the day and having lunch with co-workers or friends.

    -Exercising and eating right makes a huge difference in my energy levels. Also, maybe check your iron levels. I had anemia for awhile and inability to focus is one of the symptoms.

    -Establishing monthly goals with my boss that are specific and tied to outputs (eg, write 50 pages or finish this many document reviews vs. work full-time on project x.)

    Long term, would suggest networking with people in the field about what opportunities are in your same substantive career field but less desk/research oriented and more of whatever type of work energizes you. Good luck!

    • One other option if you are friendly with your IT dept: My IT staff will turn off the internet access on my computer when I ask. MS Outlook still works for work email. Don’t know how he does it, and I don’t want to know b/c I would just turn it back on myself. But when he does it, I don’t want to bother him all the time and I leave it off for a couple of weeks at a time. This only works when at a stage in the research when everything is saved on the network drive rather than web research, but it works great when that is the case.

  • I also love my job but have struggled with the mechanics, and I’ve found two things really helpful:
    1) Morning meditation to quiet my mind
    2) Making my actual office space a warmer, happier place. I bought some plants, started growing sprouts on my desk for my lunches, fixed up my ergonomics, and am slowly eliminating a lot of clutter (mostly stuff stored in my office that isn’t even mine).

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