Where do workaholics unite?
September 29, 2009 12:03 AM   Subscribe

I like to work. I love to solve problems. I don't enjoy spending time in bars or watching television. Where can I find people like me?

I fancy myself a doer. I really get a kick out of looking at a situation and finding ways to improve it. I like to feel like I am making a contribution, whether by building something with my hands or writing computer code or anything else that will make things better. People will tell me that I need to relax, but things like washing the dishes or or shining my shoes are to me very meditative and relaxing. I am not at any point manic, I move slowly in everything and work it through with care. I do like to just do nothing from time to time, laying on the grass in a park or getting to know people at a party, but most often I would rather be working or learning something new.

My friends tend to shy away from too much productivity. On occasion something needs to be done, or something fixed, and if I happen to be in the right place at the right time I'll have a chance to shine, but more often than not they're just up for "hanging out". How can I find more people like myself to work together with?
posted by mockdeep to Human Relations (21 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

habitat for humanity
some sort of hike for a cure
toys for tots

i'm sure other people will have better charity suggestions - but, bascially, get yourself around other people that don't define a social outing as getting as drunk as you can on vodka tonics.
posted by nadawi at 12:14 AM on September 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Definitely volunteering/nonprofit/activist work. Find a cause, preferably one that you're passionate about, and donate your time. You'll be TOTALLY put to work in whatever capacity you like. Dishes, keeping the books, organizing, figuring out their ancient and frustrating computers, teaching kids/seniors/immigrants/vets computers, building some kind of serviceable website for them, organizing a database, creating volunteer packets, mapping whatever data needs mapping, sorting things into their respective bins, asking for donations, coming up with some kind of plan, whatever. There are millions of non-profits out there, and there are tons of jobs in each one that need to be done. You'll feel put to work - useful - and they'll love you.

People who volunteer, especially those with a part- or full-time job already, tend to be doers. So while you're volunteering together, you'll be doing something. And they're more likely to be 'doers' in the rest of their life too.

VolunteerMatch might be a good place to start. But there are tons of non-profits not listed there - things like arts groups, local schools, and more underground activist groups just aren't there. But it's a start.
posted by barnone at 12:16 AM on September 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

posted by KokuRyu at 12:30 AM on September 29, 2009

You may get a kick out of Maker Faire and the like.

I saw the Tech Shop in Portland, OR and it was pretty awesome. They only have three locations now, though? (Menlo Park, Portland, and Durham?)

I'm not involved with or particularly informed about any of these, but I assume they must have some sort of community events where you could, you know, build random cool stuff with other people.
posted by kprincehouse at 12:35 AM on September 29, 2009

If you have any experience with programming, robotics, or engineering (and maybe even if you don't, I don't know) and if you aren't sufficiently horrified of teenagers, you could volunteer as a coach with the FIRST highschool robotics competition thing, too.
posted by kprincehouse at 12:41 AM on September 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you like building things, check with theater groups in your area and see if any of them need help with building scenery. My dad met my mom this way.
posted by marsha56 at 12:58 AM on September 29, 2009

If you enjoy making things and think that creating canvas tents, jewelry, weaponry, armor, and medieval siege engines sounds cool check out the SCA (http://www.sca.org/).

If you live in Washington state send me a message. the really cool part about the SCA is that nearly everyone is ready and very willing to teach you new skills. I've learned how to weld, advanced leather working, sewing, cooking, and I really enjoy the fighting.
posted by RawrGulMuffins at 1:12 AM on September 29, 2009

Start your own business which I guarantee will provide you with more work than even you could possibly want.

Alternatively, join MENSA.
posted by dmt at 1:27 AM on September 29, 2009

I'd have to second dmt there. I'm very much the same personality type as you describe, and ever since starting my own business around three years ago, i'm solving problems all day, every day, and I'm the happiest I've ever been. Not only because of the nature of the problems, but at the end of the day, I am benefiting myself and my employees and clients, which is a pretty cool feeling!
posted by LongDrive at 2:22 AM on September 29, 2009

Depends on where you are. Where are you?

I fill this particular personal need by just jumping in and doing what needs to be done, regardless of the venue. Every now and then, I really screw something up, but on one recent trip to a friend's house in Portland, Oregon, I adjusted gas burners, repaired a door bell, wired an electrical outlet, reattached a disconnected overhead light fixture, fixed a computer. At another house, I did one of those 'How do I get this pot cleaned?' projects, repaired a doorbell, and troubleshot several flourescent lamp fixtures.

I never go anywhere without a Leatherman Wave, and if I have my man purse, it usually has a few small tools, flashlight, and sometimes, a small multimeter. It's actually fun to do this sort of thing, but it won't get you laid, just appreciated.

Some folks don't like it, but being aggressively helpful when you have energy and tech skills is generally something folks don't discourage too much. Don't bite off too much, though. I have a pending promise to jack up a foundation and another to move a small garage back into a vertical aspect. Some would probably say this is being a little too helpful!

I do love to do this kind of thing, though. Pushing the world in the direction you want it to go is very satisfying, with inanimate objects, of course.
posted by FauxScot at 2:23 AM on September 29, 2009

Start your own business which I guarantee will provide you with more work than even you could possibly want.

Seconding this. Starting your own business presents you with a veritable Rocky Mountains of learning curves: marketing, sales, administration, strategy, pricing, networking, hiring, firing, managing people, studying your chosen field, research, development. Never enough hours in the day, but endlessly fascinating.
posted by NekulturnY at 2:25 AM on September 29, 2009

I think the question is about meeting people, not about filling your time engaging in 'doing' activities, so i don't necessarily agree with the 'start your own business' responses. this, if anything, will probably take you further away from people as you obsess with all the problems that occur whilst operating a business.

so the question is, what type of people do you want to meet? 'do-ing people' yes, but what type? the suggestions for charity work imply that you have that moral (yes, a hefty word) intention. you may not.

it sounds like you're a physical/problem-solving type of do-er. what about taking carpentry or engineering-type courses? something where you can solve problems and engage in creative activity while meeting others that are of the same mind frame? this, to me, seems especially pertinent as things "like washing the dishes or or shining my shoes are to me very meditative and relaxing." if that repetitive, physical activity is relaxing then there are many similar activities that would connect you with like-minded folk (but, i can't think of any, other than carpentry and/or engineering, off the top of my head right now).
posted by skauskas at 3:22 AM on September 29, 2009

...Right here? On the internet?
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:57 AM on September 29, 2009

Try searching for 'hacker space' and your city. There's a growing movement towards communal workshops that may house the sorts of people you're interested in.
posted by cCranium at 6:27 AM on September 29, 2009

I don't suggest volunteering, because your over the top motivation for problem solving probably doesn't do well in a teamwork type situation where people may be 1/3 as motivated because there is no pay and then they'd have to have you to work with, which sounds stressful.

Have you thought about getting a second, paying job?
posted by anniecat at 6:35 AM on September 29, 2009

Is there a games night at a local coffee shop? Can you start a games night? Scrabble, Risk, Monopoly, etc.

Take a few adult Ed. courses, in anything that interests you. Then find a skill you want to teach and offer a course (Most Adult Ed. Programs love to offer new stuff).

I have a friend who loves learning, and learns new languages as a hobby. Classes are a nice way to meet people, and languages are a great skill to acquire.

In the US, there's a program in every state, and probably every county, that serves the elderly. You could volunteer to do small repairs. Or you could put up flyers and do small repairs for money. I know several people who do that, partly for the money, but also because they enjoy being active. Habitat for Humanity builds houses, and energetic, skilled volunteers are welcome.
posted by theora55 at 7:01 AM on September 29, 2009

Dancing (contra, folk, ballroom, swing, ...) or playing music (ukulele!!!) would give you a social life that's centered on doing something. So would historical reenacting, local theater (I enjoyed building sets), trail maintenance, and all the volunteering that others have mentioned.

P.S. I have my own business, and while I agree that it's fascinating and fun and I never want a job again, being self-employed has actually increased the distance between me and my friends.
posted by PatoPata at 8:46 AM on September 29, 2009

Thanks for all the tips. I have been working on starting my own business as I've had my fill of working for others, but I kind of suspected, like PatoPata said, that it would result in somewhat less interaction with friends, as well as not offering me much opportunity to meet the kinds of people I like to be around. Volunteering and hackerspaces are both great ideas. I did check out the hackerspace here in Chicago, but it wasn't really floating my boat. Maybe I'll have to give it another chance. I'm considering moving, though, once I'm finished with school in the next few months. Judging from all the lip service Portland is getting here I may have to add that to the list of places to check out.
posted by mockdeep at 9:41 AM on September 29, 2009

If you're in Chicago, I know the Chicago Ubuntu LoCo fairly large and active. They're having a BugJam meeting on October 4th to fix Ubuntu bugs. It sounds like you might fit in.
posted by pwnguin at 3:08 PM on September 29, 2009

If you want to try out games, there are much more complex and satisfying games than Monopoly and the old standbys -- the newer games involve logistics and resource-management etc, heavy thinking. If this sounds appealing you should see if there's a local game shop nearby, which will probably have an open games night. Go there and play Power Grid or a similar game.

Or think of some of the good old nerdy hobbies that you would find in a 1960s popular mechanics; they're still alive and have small groups of people who are intensely into doing some particular buildy-type thing:
Ham radio
Model (trains, boats, planes...) building

does your school have a radio station? they may need an engineer

Learn to cook!
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:18 PM on September 29, 2009

Build stage sets or make costumes for a community theater.
posted by yohko at 10:20 PM on September 29, 2009

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