That’s Just Dumb

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This weekend time, a lot happened. Time rolled forward (which means that daylight lasts longer), April Fools Day passed, and it’s raining, so spring is officially here. On one hand, the changing seasons bring a big ole’ sigh of relief, especially when you live in the Midwest where winter seems to last forever. On the other hand distractions multiply in a more temperate climate, so you’d best be on your guard. Today’s ‘Net savvy companies are not only monitoring their employees’ e-mails, but they’re also monitoring what employees look at on the Internet. Spring brings many benefits, but that doesn’t mean you should lose your damn mind just because it’s warm out. Career development is a year-round gig. Here are a few tips to help you beat Spring office fever.


Limit Internet surfing. If you find yourself spending longer than you should Googling potential vacation spots or just surfing the Internet in general, be warned. If you get fired for inappropriately using the Internet, a.k.a reading because there was a picture of Pamela Anderson Lee on the homepage, that’s just dumb. To avoid having to explain to your elderly parent, significant other, good friend or child that the reason you’re suddenly sitting at home collecting unemployment and looking depressed is because you were fired for something stupid, restrict Internet pleasure time to before the work day begins, your lunch hour and after work. If you slip, fine yourself something like your morning coffee. If you don’t drink coffee, fine yourself your morning pastry. If you don’t eat pastry, start immediately. I’m kidding. Just fine yourself something that you value as a tangible incentive to act appropriately. Reward your good behavior as such. If you don’t surf outside your appointed, acceptable times, treat yourself to something small and healthy or just pat yourself on the back. Another deterrent to surfing excessively would be explaining that situation to a potential employer. How far do you think an interview will go after honesty (a.k.a fear of being caught in a lie) compels you to admit that you were let go from your last position because of inappropriate Internet use? I can practically see the expressions on your would-be bosses face. All of them say, without words, “Dumbass.” Good night.


Limit staring out the window. This one is a tough one for me. I’m on the 35th floor with a clear, floor-to-ceiling view of downtown and the lake. But I have to force myself to look away. It helps that I work in an open-air cubicle environment where not only can my coworkers and boss can stroll by at any moment and catch me loafing, but the president of the company has occasionally had the need to visit my desk. The thought of being caught by any of the aforementioned heads is enough to keep my eyes firmly buttoned to my computer. But in case I slip one day I have a valid excuse ready: I’m resting my eyes, which is actually advisable to avoid eye strain from continual computer operation.


Avoid taking long lunches. Sometimes long lunches happen, and not just because you’re outside frolicking like a kid in an ever-widening patch of sunlight. Sometimes lines are long and service is slow when you’re running lunchtime errands, or you had a new and consequently inefficient waitress in a restaurant. But there’s an easy solution. Call when you’re going to be late. Give your supervisor an approximate return time and then offer to make up the late minutes after work or by taking a shorter lunch the next day, etc. It takes only a few seconds to call and tell someone you’re going to be late, but it can go a long way to create good will, preserve your professional at-work demeanor and convey the message that you understand the value of your employers’ time, and don’t plan to stiff the company of a single second.

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