The average person goes through ten jobs in his or her lifetime, with most of these positions failing to be “dream jobs.” For many, one of these ten positions might have been in high school, selling ice cream at the Mall. Another might have been an in-between-semesters summer job filing for a Car Dealership. Somewhere between jobs three or four in the series is where people start getting into more career-oriented work, with the dreaded “Entry-level.”
“Entry-level” is Latin for “Enter boredom,” or by another definition “Pertaining to that which is simple in design, limited in capability, and doesn’t cost much to employ.”
“Entry-level” also has the implication of being a stepping stone to a better job down the road. Often as the first rung on the “corporate ladder,” an entry-level job gives you experience, builds a name and reputation, and also acts as something else to list on your resume. However, because you are at the bottom working your way up, entry-level work can often be taxing and mind-blowingly dull. It might feel like prison, as you watch the hours tick by, thinking of things you could be doing and begging for quitting time to come and pardon you like a Governor. Before you volunteer for lethal injection and turn in your resignation, there are ways to spice up your work day and maintain your position until a better career opportunity comes along down the road.
Here are ways to beat office Entry-level boredom:
1. Online radio.
Chances are nowadays you cannot have a job without a computer. If your entry-level job involves a lot of tasking data entry, then you might need some background noise to drown out the voice in your head saying, “I’m sooo bored. I’m sooo bored.”
There is a plethora of online radio stations and music search engines. Have an itch to listen to Huey Lewis and the News’ “Workin’ for a Livin'”? All you need to do is go to justhearit.com and type it in the search bar and results will come up in seconds. You can even build an “I hate work” playlist to include Loverboy’s “Working for the Weekend.” XM radio is also a good source (even though it costs to listen to the stations). There are plenty of genres and styles for everybody, from old school country on The Roadhouse to 80’s Glam Bands on Hair Nation.
2. As Nell Carter says, “Gimme a Break!”.
Sometimes as soon as you drop your things on your desk you immediately long for the comfort of your car, bed, or anywhere but there. You realize you have eight long hours ahead of you and you want to pull a wet noodle on the floor like you did when you pouted as a kid.
Instead of becoming the talk of the water cooler with your name placed in the “How long will he last before they take him away in a straight jacket?” pool, give yourself two breaks (other than lunch) to look forward to throughout the day. Place one in the first half of your work day, then lunch, and then set a second break about two hours before quitting time. The break can involve anything. It could be a mind-numbing game of Snood on the computer, a relaxing smoke break while reading the paper, a little Debbie Snack pick-me-up, or even a traditional afternoon tea break (a personal favorite). It just has to be something you can look forward to.
3. Ask other departments if they need any help.
If you work in entry-level Customer Service, sometimes you’re just waiting for people to call. If it’s a particularly slow day for you, it might not be so slow for another department. Ask if they might have something for you to do. Working with another department gives you a chance to meet new people; plus, you might find a department you’d like to work for eventually! In addition, from the boss’s point of view, this makes you look like a multi-tasker who’s eager to take on more responsibilities (and possibly advancement).
4. Make lists for tasks.
If your workload is rather overwhelming, prioritize everything in a list, from daily and weekly tasks to monthly goals. Make it a game where you can see how much you can get done in a day. If you meet a goal, set it higher next time and try to break that hurdle.
5. Utilize the free Internet.
If you’re in between tasks and have some down time, use Internet at your disposal (it’s free after all). Catch up with friends via a quick email. Look up local events and concerts for the weekend. You can even use the Internet to enhance your position. Research articles that pertain to your job, something that might be of use to your department. And if you REALLY hate your job, you can pretend to be looking for a couch on Craigslist when you’re really looking for another desk jockey position (just make sure no one is watching).
6. Practice your typing skills with a typing program.
Not only will typing practice make you look like you have looming deadlines and work ahead of you, it will also sharpen your computer skills. It might not be World of Warcraft, but it’s definitely a lot more exciting than staring at the wall and waiting for the end of the world to come. When it comes to work, live by the motto, “Jesus is coming. Look busy.”
7. Cleanse your aura.
Create a desktop area that calms you, makes you feel creative and constructive. Whether it has pictures of you at your favorite beach or your favorite significant other, sometimes little visuals like this can trigger positive vibes to get you through your work day. A calendar of your favorite sports team’s schedule can also be encouraging (as it reminds you of the game you’re going to next week). You spend 40 hours (+) of your life a week at work. You probably spend more time there than you do in your own house. Why not make it a little more homey? The plus side is you don’t have to pay rent.
If you work at a place you detest for a few months with no future opportunities of advancement or change, you might want to consider finding something else, anything else that will make you happier (although in touch economic times, most people are lucky to even have a job). But if career changes appear to be on the horizon at your entry-level job, stick it out. While “entry-level” is often synonymous with the mundane and basic, it also holds connotations of a vehicle — getting you where you’d like to go. Think of it as your first turn on your GPS.