Help me be content.
April 25, 2006 2:51 PM   Subscribe

How do I reconcile myself to years more in a position that I loathe?

I have an admin job that pays more than I’ve ever earned before that I’ve been in for 3.5 years. It’s a 15 minute walk from home (I have no car - I'm working on that) and I have some flexibility in the hours I work. All good, right? However, the job is boring - there’s not enough to do and what there is, is not challenging; the co-workers are irritating (one babbles baby talk incessantly); and there’s no hope of promotion ever. I’ve applied for 8 jobs this year in this small country town, and I haven’t even made it to interview once. I have a family and financial responsibilities so saying, “bugger it all” isn’t an option. I’m studying (distance education) so I can have a job I love but I won’t be graduating for about 4 years and 7 months. How do I reconcile myself to years more in a position that I loathe? How do I get up everyday, happy to go to work?
posted by b33j to Work & Money (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Get a hobby. seriously, I have this same problem. So I write - I'm not good at it and I don't show anyone, but it's what I do. Learn to 3d model, make wooden ships, take kung fu, whatever, but get a hobby. If work sucks and you can't escape, you have to have something to escape to afterwards. I'll also refer you to members of the opposite sex. Don't drink, I tried that and it just makes it worse.

Also, keep this job you love in the forefront of your mind. It should be a shining beacon, a light at the end of the tunnel. Any time you get tired or annoyed or frustrated, you can take it out and admire it and long for it. It'll be that much sweeter when it comes. Good luck.
posted by the theory of revolution at 2:57 PM on April 25, 2006

Could you support your family on student loans and power through your schooling?
posted by acoutu at 3:05 PM on April 25, 2006

I second the hobby suggestion. If it's something you can do during downtime at work - even better. Start a blog. But don't blog about your job!!
posted by clh at 3:13 PM on April 25, 2006

Know that this job is only a means to an end. Though it is tedious and unpleasent, it is supporting you through school and that is a huge deal.

Remember this: Everytime something at work aggravates you, remind yourself that there is only a finite amount of time left in this position. You're making more money than you've made before, the hours fit your schedule, and your commute is to die for.

On preview: I agree about getting a hobby. Go for it!
posted by Rubber Soul at 3:15 PM on April 25, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the quick replies. I'm married with a mortgage and teenage kids and I'm in Australia. I doubt that the job I will get with the degree I'm doing will have me earning much more than I am now, so to take on student loans (if, indeed, they are available for someone in my circumstances) for living expenses would probably put me backwards.

I do see my study (Multimedia Studies) as part of my hobby because it ties in to the creative stuff I love - photography and art, and it certainly makes the hours after work fun.

Perhaps it is too much to ask to be happy during work hours as well - it is, after all, work.
posted by b33j at 3:16 PM on April 25, 2006

b33j, you can still have fun at work, just liven it up a bit. I feel the same way about my job. I get paid well, the hours are great but it's pretty tedious.

My entire experience has changed though by performing office pranks--there are many ideas on the net. If your workplace will tolerate some minor shenegans, I would try it.

It helps me ALOT! Everyone there has better attitudes now.
posted by snsranch at 3:31 PM on April 25, 2006

To followup on some advice given here, pick up a practical, lucrative hobby. Web development, small appliance repair, learning how to fix homes, typing fast (to pick up a job as a closed-captioning typist), etc.

Pick something that you'll enjoy and give you some additional income; that way you'll be able to pay off educational loans more quickly, be a better provider, and still have a good time.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 3:43 PM on April 25, 2006

If it's something you can do during downtime at work - even better.

I have, uh, heard of people who've written entire screenplays and stageplays during downtime at boring desk jobs. I certainly wouldn't know anything about this firsthand, however.
posted by scody at 3:50 PM on April 25, 2006

Life in a small town, particularly if it is a small town a ways from anywhere else, can become pretty insular. But in your work life, if you have a little extra time, you basically have a creativity challenge. Get involved in local business clubs, or regional or national business and industry associations. Most of these groups are constantly in deficit for volunteer time and being a contributor is good for networking and resume purposes, if nothing else. Plus, in the event vacancies open in your own company, you may have contacts to suggest who won't babble baby talk all day.

Do what you can administratively to make your workplace a more interesting environment. Last place I worked, the receptionist started bringing in floral arrays for the lobby that rivaled any commercial arrangements I ever saw. Her point was that she liked having flowers at work, and she liked raising flowers at home, and the one thing reinforced the other. So for 9 months a year, the rest of walked in and out everyday past fresh flowers, and whenever there was extra bounty from her garden, the ladies had (I understand) fresh flowers in their restroom.

Make a little rotating library in the breakroom. A few trade magazine subscriptions, regularly rotated, maybe a few of the most recent books on the best seller lists co-workers are willing to exchange. Somebody needs to take weekly interest in keeping up the subscriptions, and bringing new magazines, and disposing the old. Maybe keeping an index card file for loaned and lent books, etc.

Maybe find ways of brightening up the place by rotating wall art, working with local galleries, artists or national libraries and lending institutions, to obtain short term loans of works for display in public lobbies and break rooms.

The means and likelihood of doing things like this are often very specific to the attitudes of the employer and the willingness of colleagues to try new things. I've worked in the U.S. offices of conservative German companies, where there was a printed dress code and the walls were all painted in Pantone matched shades of the company's grey livery, and yet, even in such a conservative place as that, we managed to get a company softball team organized, and we got into a relationship with a local library for lending artworks for our lobby.

You'd be surprised what a few small projects for the workplace can do to liven up your work experience. And if you do have many more years to spend there, working on making it a better place is clearly in your interest.
posted by paulsc at 4:33 PM on April 25, 2006

Perhaps it is too much to ask to be happy during work hours as well - it is, after all, work.

Nonsense! See what scody said. I, too...have a friend...who wrote an entire (questionable) novel, and started three others, and did a lot of drawing and miscellaneous writing and sundry craft projects whilst on the clock.

My friend calls this set of activities Highly Interruptable Tasks as short-hand. He or she had a job that had 2-4 hours collectively of 30-90 second idle timeslices in a given 8 hour shift. If my friend had had longer stretches of idle time, oh the things he or she might have done!

It may be difficult to be happy while actually doing the work, but if you're a little bit creative and a little bit flexible, you ought to be able to reclaim those portions of the day where you are at work but not finding yourself working.
posted by cortex at 5:10 PM on April 25, 2006

When I saw the phrase "bugger it all" I assumed you were not in the States. I looked up your location by using the coordinates on your profile page--as best I could tell you were in the middle of the Pacific. No wonder you were bored as this had to be a very small island and distance learning made sense. I really have no idea how to solve your problem.. I saw my wife go through the same thing--it lead to long naps, anxiety, fretfulness and the good fortune of her job being eliminated. She received severance and started delivering luxury cars to journalists. There is still hope.
posted by rmhsinc at 5:54 PM on April 25, 2006

Highly Interruptable Tasks

I'm going to mention this phrase to my own friend, who I believe will enjoy it very much.

posted by scody at 6:48 PM on April 25, 2006

Are you able to study during work time? If so perhaps you could take on one or two extra subjects so that you gradually shorten the time before you graduate. I'm not sure what you're study requirements are but if you need to do electives perhaps you could choose a couple subjects that might be a little removed from your major but that would be suitable to study at your work desk.

Knowing that you are doing something towards your goal while you're at work might be enough to make going to work feel more tolerable.
posted by harmless at 7:03 PM on April 25, 2006

My entire experience has changed though by performing office pranks--there are many ideas on the net. If your workplace will tolerate some minor shenegans, I would try it.

Please don't do this. An office 'prankster' can turn a just-about-tolerable workplace into a vodka-on-the-cornflakes situation. The world doesn't need another Colin Hunt.

As to the original question, I'll agree with those who are suggesting that you should get a hobby. Sadly, I know how lacking such advice can seem.
posted by veedubya at 2:13 AM on April 26, 2006

When Prozac first came on the market, one of my substance-experimentalist friends (who was not at all depressed) tried taking it for a while just to see what would happen. He stopped after becoming freaked out about really having begun to enjoy his hideous tedious job. So there's that option. But it will also change the way you relate to people close to you, which they may or may not find acceptable. You, of course, will have no worries :^)
posted by flabdablet at 4:42 AM on April 26, 2006

rmhsinc: Australia isn't exactly a "small island".

I feel for you. Ironically I'm moving to Australia soon (Brisbane) for uni, but it's more of an obligation than anything else. I too was in a rather boring job (final day is day after tomorrow yay!) and I spent most of my downtime on other projects.

It'll get better eventually. As someone said, use that job you love as something to look forward to. (That's what I'm using for uni). And good luck!
posted by divabat at 2:58 PM on April 26, 2006

I was in a similar situation. Like someone else said, I had to "keep my eye on the prize" to keep my sanity. I had to tell myself DAILY that this job wasn't my life or who I am and that it was just a stepping stone.

You're going for multimedia (that's what I do) - that's perfect for an easy job with downtime. Be creative - work on websites, sketch, paint (any art programs on your computer?), read art forums if you can surf the web.
posted by JimBobNoPants at 7:15 AM on April 27, 2006

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