Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Finer Points of Down Time

So, if you're the receptionist at a walk-in business, and you have sat dutifully at your desk for about 95 minutes without a phone ring or in-person visit, what would you do:

(keep in mind: your desk is positioned in such a manner as no coworker/boss can "sneak up" on you from behind, and any incoming clients have to open two doors to enter the office, so you can hear them in adequate time to return to proper work posture before they see you)

A: Continue staring at your online appointment calendar like it is going to break out into an interpretive dance to entertain you as long as it is definitively convinced that it has your complete and undivided attention;

B: Minimize the online calendar and pull up some online video games to play with the sound muted;

C: Read a magazine discreetly;

D: Read a novel discreetly;

E: Close your eyes, watch your inner eye paramecium swim around your eyeballs, and relax.

See, there are merits to each:

A: If anyone peeks into your office, you look poised to work, if a little bit zombie-fied.

B: Okay, there's no real merit to this ... but the sound is muted. Choose a game like a crossword puzzle or scrabble-like game, and unless someone specifically looks at your monitor it just sounds like you're typing. One word at a time. With a short break between words. Because you're just that diligent, you proof your work as you go along.

C: If you're going to read, this effectively communicates "I am not intimately involved with what I am reading. Have no concerns that you are interrupting me. I live to work."

D: Perhaps creates the appearance of a greater commitment to what you are reading -- but on the flip side it does suggest a higher intelligence level than just catching up on Brangelina's breakfast menu.

E: Uh. It's relaxing. Inherent merit.

Over the course of the last three months, I have dabbled with all of the above. I like to mix it up. That way no one can ever say "Everytime I look in when you don't have work to do, you are [insert activity]." I feel it is my duty. During these times, they have nothing to do either. The least I can do is give them something to investigate.

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