dungeons and disk drives

transforming your desk from drab to fab

This summer, I participated in a month-and-a-half-long internship with an international law firm. Overall, I had a fantastic experience, and I got to meet a range of interesting people. However, having only finished my first year of college, I wasn’t qualified to do much, and as a result there were times I found myself incredibly bored.

 In those moments of idleness, my over-thinking brain began to analyze everything, from how I felt in the moment to whether this job was really for me. If you know me, you know that I am an intense, outgoing person. I’m an actor, a dancer, and a shower-singer; I talk nonstop to anyone about everything; I literally skip down the street; I’m that extremely bright, chirpy, and annoying person who screams “GOOD MORNING” at you while you’re still grumpy at 9 a.m.

 Sitting behind a giant wooden desk facing an archaic desktop computer, I started to feel a little bit caged. I realized that though I loved the work (e.g. bringing justice to a company who’d been cheated by another), I wasn’t a fan of sitting until my derrière went numb. Chances are you too will find yourself behind a desk at some point in your life, so if you’re someone with a giant personality, an active imagination, and an abnormal amount of restless energy like me, you might want to consider ways to keep your desk from becoming your dungeon.

 This summer, I found myself taking two approaches to do just this. First, I tried to keep awake by being busy. Second, I found ways to relax and recharge.

 Below, you will find some pointers:

  1. RUN AROUND AND BOTHER EVERYONE. The moment I found myself sitting, sighing, and nearly crying out of boredom this summer, I decided to make quick rounds of the office to ask if I could be of service to anyone. If you do this, even if your colleagues end up giving you pretty demeaning tasks, at least they see your face and get to know you, which might lead to them trusting you with bigger, more interesting tasks later on.

  2. BRING A NOTEPAD. This can be either physical or electronic–the important thing is that you have an outlet for creativity. If you like to draw, spend your free time sketching. When sitting down aimlessly, your mind can wander, so instead of letting it get to the frustrating place of “what am I doing with my life,” sketch a scene, character, person, outfit, or whatever else is on your mind. If, like me, you are incapable of drawing, turn to writing instead. Write a thought catalog, diary, article, or story, and put your active imagination to good use. Trust me, even if it’s not “real work,” it looks a lot better than just drumming your fingers on your desk, or scrolling zombie-like through your Instagram feed.

  3. MAKE EXCITING LUNCH PLANS. Conversely, if you have a really busy day wherein you are trapped behind your desk with a 30-page translation due before lunch, make sure that you have something exciting to look forward. For example, if you are in a familiar city, plan lunches with old friends so that can look forward to trading gossip and stories. If you are a nostalgic history buff like me, make a list of non-mainstream historical places you can walk to and explore. Otherwise, try out different food places because there is nothing more exciting to look forward to than an interesting and flavorful meal.

  4. BRING YOUR HEADPHONES. There will be days when, after hours of sitting, reading, and typing, you will want to tear your hair out. If you are not in a rush, take five to ten minutes to put down your work and plug in. I’ve found that putting on an inspiring playlist wakes me up and helps me recharge. If you are a dancer, listen to a song that you know the choreography to. You might get a couple of strange looks when you mark moves absentmindedly, but hey, who cares? And even if you’re not a music person, maybe watching a funny video on BuzzFeed is what you need to energize. Don’t feel guilty for not working when you should be. Just remember that these breaks are not slacking off – they are a way of recharging so that you can be more awake and do a better job.

 These are some things I did to make sure that I didn’t waste a moment drowning in dark thoughts or overeating the chocolate chip cookies in the office kitchen. These methods might work for you, and they might not. Not everyone likes creative outlets like music and sketching, but the main purpose of this article is to convince you that there are many simple ways you can make a day more exciting for yourself. The most important thing is that you don’t waste your time and energy being bored, or scrolling through your social media accounts depressing yourself because of the fun-looking pictures of your friends in Santorini or Ibiza.

 Whatever you did last summer, you had an opportunity to learn, and you’re here now, so why dwell in your feelings of FOMO? Perhaps now, on idle days, you can get up and try to engage with people in your office. It will both give off a better impression of you as a worker and make you more excited about your environment. And on days where work gets too much and you feel like a caged phoenix, step out of your cage for consistent and strictly timed breaks.

Above all, no matter who you are, try to keep your imagination going. If your job means something to you, try to do it your way. If, however, you really can’t stand it, don’t do it to please or impress your parents/partner/cat. Remember that your creativity, your outgoing personality, and your passionate nature are all gifts that will someday take you where you belong.