Author Topic: Coping strategies for extreme boredom at work  (Read 6075 times)

Thegoblinchief

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Coping strategies for extreme boredom at work
« on: October 25, 2014, 06:26:15 AM »
Background: been working PT (down to 14 hrs/week now) in commissioned retail for 9 years at this point. I'll be quitting this job in 6-9 months to go full-time SAHD, but in the meantime I'm miserable every hour I'm there.

1. Don't really want to try and find a new job, because my long-term average is $18/hr, and good days (like last Sunday) work out to as high as $35/hr. Really hard to find that for the limited hours. I'm also close enough to the end, I just want to 'run out the clock' so to speak.

2. It's retail, so when idle you have basically two options: pretend to work, or stand there. That's about it. Unlike conventional retail, Christmas is our slow season, so it's only going to get worse. This year to date the money has been fine, but the traffic is so sporadic that I feel like a caged animal pacing mindlessly around.

Any suggestions? I can pop on a computer from time to time, but I really do have to be out on the sales floor 95% of the time, so unlike an office worker, I can't learn new things on the sly if I can complete my work in less than the mandatory hours.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Coping strategies for extreme boredom at work
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2014, 07:12:21 AM »
That's a hard one. You could start teaching the goblins Spanish r Latin, then you could spend your work hours mentally translating nursery rhymes or whatever else you have memorized.

sarah8001

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Re: Coping strategies for extreme boredom at work
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2014, 07:26:17 AM »
I had a job like that once (I still have a boring  job with not enough work, but now I can surf the net :p) and I would tell myself stories in my head. I started just imagining what might happen next when I finished a book I really liked, and then started writing my own stories in my head. I can build a pretty intricate imaginary world in my head now. I imagine a plot line, and act out the important scenes in my head. I also can spend hours coming up with the backstory and lore. It's not really practical, but it can be extremely entertaining, if you have an active imagination. I also spend a lot of time when I'm bored pretending to have conversations with people I admire or look up to, trying to figure out what they would say about my choices or my ideas. Or think about lofty ideas like the defintion of evil (to understand completely is to forgive completely...) or if altruism is possible.

Weedy Acres

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Re: Coping strategies for extreme boredom at work
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2014, 07:29:08 AM »
A few years ago, I worked a short stint (2 months) on strike duty at a manufacturing plant.  12-hour shifts of loading various sized chunks of metal on the front end of a furnace conveyor.  Sometimes it was moving fast and I could barely keep up, and other times I could practically take naps in between conveyor moves.  Here are some things I did to pass the slow times.  Like you, computer stuff not an option.
1.  Cleaned.  I obtained some degreaser and some rags and wiped down equipment and piping.  Found a couple small leaks in the gas line as a result.  :-)  And gave me a sense of accomplishment.
2.  Exercised.  We had buckets of aluminum pucks used for spacers, and I'd use them to do squats, tricep presses, etc.
3.  Did mental exercises.  I had a clipboard where I tracked multiple productivity measures.  Times for each row of metal chunks I put on, times for the crew downstream to do die changes.  I'd estimate how far down the production schedule we'd get, based on the product mix. 

Now, I understand that manufacturing is not retail.  But you might be able to adapt some of these categories to a situation where a customer could walk in at any time.  What kind of retail operation is this? 
Cleaning:  If it's clothing, you can go through the racks and make sure everything's organized in the right sizes.  If it's cars, you can polish the water spots off the windows.
Excercise:  If it's something where you can see customers coming before they enter the store (i.e., strip mall vs. indoor mall), then you could sneak in some squats or yoga balance poses. 
Mental exercise:  Track the rate that customers come in the store and graph the ebbs and flows.  Keep track of history and attempt to predict how many people will come in during the next 30 minutes.  Track them by gender or height or weight to add factors to make it interesting.

Have fun. :-)

Cheddar Stacker

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Re: Coping strategies for extreme boredom at work
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2014, 07:35:12 AM »
Kegel exercises?

I'm guessing you don't have fun co-workers to goof around with, because that will cure just about any boredom.

Maybe invent a game to play with co-worker x. First one to point out 25 "fill in the blanks" wins $1 or something. Fill in the blanks could be things like jorts, mullets, sweatpants with juicy or pink on the ass, tattoos, mismatched couples, mall walkers, whatever.

Cheddar Stacker

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Re: Coping strategies for extreme boredom at work
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2014, 07:39:21 AM »
Can you listen to a podcast on the sly?

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Coping strategies for extreme boredom at work
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2014, 07:49:53 AM »
I had a job like that once (I still have a boring  job with not enough work, but now I can surf the net :p) and I would tell myself stories in my head. I started just imagining what might happen next when I finished a book I really liked, and then started writing my own stories in my head. I can build a pretty intricate imaginary world in my head now. I imagine a plot line, and act out the important scenes in my head. I also can spend hours coming up with the backstory and lore. It's not really practical, but it can be extremely entertaining, if you have an active imagination. I also spend a lot of time when I'm bored pretending to have conversations with people I admire or look up to, trying to figure out what they would say about my choices or my ideas. Or think about lofty ideas like the defintion of evil (to understand completely is to forgive completely...) or if altruism is possible.

I've been getting the writing itch again, so this might just work. Thanks! :)

Can you listen to a podcast on the sly?

I wish! I have no time for podcasts right now.

senecando

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Re: Coping strategies for extreme boredom at work
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2014, 08:07:52 AM »
I worked at Sbux for a while, and when it was slow I had a similar problem. Sometimes I'd sneak a look at my phone, read a sentence or two of Marcus Aurelius, and then think about that for a few minutes. Or I'd read some during a break and turn it over for the next hour or so.

GuitarStv

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Re: Coping strategies for extreme boredom at work
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2014, 08:23:41 AM »
Get a secret service style earbud and listen to books on tape surreptitiously.

greenmimama

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Re: Coping strategies for extreme boredom at work
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2014, 08:54:01 AM »
Can you carry around a clipboard on the sales floor? You could write the old fashioned way, lots of time to flesh out characters and write different endings?

Paul der Krake

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Re: Coping strategies for extreme boredom at work
« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2014, 09:24:51 AM »
If you have a coworker willing to learn, you can play blindfold chess.

Lauran75

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Re: Coping strategies for extreme boredom at work
« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2014, 02:36:52 PM »
I have a somewhat similar problem, only I do have access to a computer. I work at an office answering the phone, filling orders, and making sales at the window. There are times it is insanely busy. And then there is much more time where there are no calls, no one at the window, no orders to fill, everything is clean as a whistle ...

I have been surfing CNN (being careful about what links I click) but even that only takes up so much time. I have thought about maybe writing out book ideas - because anyone walking by would think I was working on an actual project. I'd much rather be *actually* busy doing something for the company ... but there's only so much time I can sit and stare off into space ...

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Coping strategies for extreme boredom at work
« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2014, 06:18:43 PM »
Writing definitely was the trick. Huge mood boost being creative, and I actually like the direction I took with a story I've been trying to start for a while now. I wrote 700 words just in little scraps of downtime. Not bad!

VirginiaBob

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Re: Coping strategies for extreme boredom at work
« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2014, 06:33:33 PM »
Work on expanding your side business while on the clock?  Lol!

vagon

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Re: Coping strategies for extreme boredom at work
« Reply #14 on: October 25, 2014, 07:39:11 PM »
What not do your job at a more interesting level?

In other words, start learning about what works in retail sales.

Split test your approaches to customers, see what works and what doesn't.
Rearrange goods on shelves/mannequins whatever to see how that affects sales.
Do some competitive analysis.
Ask your boss/manager to get involved in understanding the accounting behind it.
If he doesnt who cares? Start using industry mark-up rules of thumb to figure out profit margins
Take your own tally of sales, factor in your wage ask other store owners or clerks what rent is like.
Figure out the whole business model...

Lots of things to do :)

gopackgo2

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Re: Coping strategies for extreme boredom at work
« Reply #15 on: October 26, 2014, 12:09:32 PM »
Can you try meditation?  There are several methods for "walking meditation."

Alternatively, maybe try Dr. Andrew Weil's breathing exercises?

http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/VDR00112/The-4-7-8-Breath-Benefits-and-Demonstration.html

former player

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Re: Coping strategies for extreme boredom at work
« Reply #16 on: October 26, 2014, 12:28:21 PM »
I've learnt a fair amount of poetry off by heart - at least an hour's worth.  In down moments (waiting for the train, for the bus, for other people, for whatever) I go through a poem or three in my head.

sleepyguy

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Re: Coping strategies for extreme boredom at work
« Reply #17 on: October 26, 2014, 12:44:24 PM »
I would say have a wireless earpiece and listen to podcast audiobooks or whatever you want.