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Down Time At Work — What Do You Do? 319

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the read-more-slashdot dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I work in IT and find fairly often that I have 'down time.' I'll usually browse the web (Slashdot) or try to find something informative or educating to read. Sometimes, I even get caught up working on my personal webpage or other project that isn't exactly work related. What does everyone else do during these times, and how much time do they spend on non-work related things while at work?"
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Down Time At Work — What Do You Do?

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  • by hbean (144582) * on Friday January 18, 2008 @05:03PM (#22100248)
    ...is a very serious sport.
  • by techpawn (969834) on Friday January 18, 2008 @05:04PM (#22100266) Journal
    What IT does with Downtime? You must be new here
  • by alta (1263) on Friday January 18, 2008 @05:05PM (#22100280) Homepage Journal
    I research things that will make my company perform better, or I educate myself so I can perform better for the company myself. Have fun working on that website while you're out of work ;)
    • by lonesome_coder (1166023) on Friday January 18, 2008 @05:19PM (#22100586)
      I could have sworn I heard somebody say something from underneath my bosses desk...

      Hmmm...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Kepesk (1093871)
      I also educate myself in methods of making the company better. I find that the financial patterns of Eve Online are quite informative, and I rely on what I learn there for my everyday work habits.
    • by GreggBz (777373)
      I bet you're fun to work with. One of those, always has a suggestion for management types.
    • by trolltalk.com (1108067) on Friday January 18, 2008 @05:42PM (#22101004) Homepage Journal

      I research things that will make my company perform better, or I educate myself so I can perform better for the company myself

      You really ARE new here.

      Besides, you are more productive if you take a break every now and then. So what you're saying is that you would rather LOOK like you're brown-nosing, while you're in fact making yourself LESS efficient, rather than taking time to talk with co-workers, etc., which improves the lines of communications in a company, and ultimately contributes more to the bottom line in terms of increased efficiencies.

      Don't forget those new TPS reports. And your 35 pieces of flair.

    • by SparkleMotion88 (1013083) on Friday January 18, 2008 @05:57PM (#22101266)
      I did that until I perfected myself and my work environment. Now I wander around the office improving other people.
    • by uhlume (597871) on Friday January 18, 2008 @07:11PM (#22102342) Homepage
      If you don't find yourself needing a few minutes of non job-related "downtime" every two or three hours to work out the mental kinks, you're probably not working that hard to begin with. Have fun congratulating yourself on your "superior work ethic" as you shuffle windows on your desktop all day, and pray your management never institutes meaningful performance metrics.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by wdhowellsr (530924)
      Oh please are you out of your mind? I asked my manager almost ten years ago about using downtime to browse the web, program or other things. You know what he said? I pay you for being available to use your skills to solve problems most people wouldn't even understand or fix. That being said, because I got the monkey off my back I designed an Intranet Website for the company that provided software distribution, remote control, and comprehensive searching with asp linked databases that eventually went nat
    • Hmm, sounds like your boss is a /. reader...
    • by empaler (130732)
      That's pretty much what I try to do as well. I've even eschewed most of my bad browsing habits. I'll play with ideas that don't really fit into the uptime, but could be a boon, and sometimes strike gold. Or fool's gold, as it were.
  • by Endymion (12816) <slashdot.org@NosPAM.thoughtnoise.net> on Friday January 18, 2008 @05:06PM (#22100302) Homepage Journal
    Talk about self-selecting for "I read web forums"...
  • Slashdot! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 18, 2008 @05:06PM (#22100310)
    A) Read Slashdot.
    B) Submit stories to Slashdot.
    C) Play video games stored on thumb drive.
    D) Avoid getting more work.

    Anything else?
    • In Soviet Russia Slashdot reads YOU!

      1. Submit story to Slashdot
      2. ???
      3. Profit!

      Seriously, I have a variety of toys to play with. Techie stuff, like GPSs and little embedded Linux computers.

      ...laura

  • I read and post on Slashdot, you dolt!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 18, 2008 @05:12PM (#22100426)

    #258908 +(12416)- [X]

      : If they only realized 90% of the overtime they pay me is only cause i like staying here playing with Kazaa when the bandwidth picks up after hours.
      : If any of my employees did that they'd be fired instantly.
      : Where u work?
      : I'm the CTO at LowerMyBills.com
    *** Ben174 (BenWright@TeraPro33-41.LowerMyBills.com) Quit (Leaving)
  • Documentation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bensode (203634) on Friday January 18, 2008 @05:12PM (#22100434)
    Documentation documentation documentation and more documentation. I always bitch I never have enough time for documentation and then I find myself trolling /.

    It's not the most fun thing to do but it certainly something that can always keep you busy and you can never have too much of it as long as it is well written AND well organized.
    • Re:Documentation (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheLazySci-FiAuthor (1089561) <thelazyscifiauthor@gmail.com> on Friday January 18, 2008 @07:44PM (#22102742) Homepage Journal
      An ounce of documentation is worth a pound of analysis.

      This is my mantra. I recently took-over network administration after a sudden firing of the sole administrator. I arrived at work to folders and folders of random word, excel and text files from 3 different predecessors.

      Those before me had that philosophy of "it's what I know that makes me valuable".

      For me, I'm an adherent to the notion of "it's not what I know, but what I can do."

      I've found that documentation has allowed me to do so much more. I don't have to waste the mental cycles to bring-up older knowledge or to reconstruct some installation procedure from months past.

      Friends of mine say that my excessive documentation is a liability: "they can just fire you and a monkey could read your notes and do your job."

      If only that were true - imagine how successful I would be if I had a reputation for eliminating uneeded IT jobs. The bright-side has turned-out to be the fact that most IT jobs can't actually be eliminated so easily - because they are roles and not jobs. Thus, documentation and knowledge-dumping has no negative repercussions that I've noticed.

      The only drawback to Documentation is the time, but with a wiki it's very easy to take 5 minutes here, 1 minute or 30 seconds there and the occasional hour spent looking at random articles for rectification, updates and corroboration.
  • by 6350' (936630) on Friday January 18, 2008 @05:12PM (#22100438)
    I honestly can't imagine what it would be like to have a job where if what's immediately in front of me is blocked, then I am blocked from working. I battle to keep my workweek hour-count at something reasonable, and have never once lacked for (way too much) to do. Tool isn't working? No worries, I've got a huge list of things to do using other tools. Hardware problem? I've got an extra box. Power failure in my wing? Sounds good: Ive got loads of people I need to meet with to hash out problems and sync up with. Fire alarm goes off in the building? I'll hang out in the parking lot with my coworkers and have some impromptu talks on things I'm working on (thank god this happens less often now that we have heat sensing, instead of smoke sensing, fire alarms).

    The idea of having a job where a blocking problem means its time to browse websites, or percieving that my job would allow for that, is totally foreign to me. Seriously - are you honestly saying that in these situations that there is literally *nothing* work related for you to do?

    (for those noting the time of day that I'm posting this response, I'm on vacation right now :P )
    • by lymond01 (314120) on Friday January 18, 2008 @05:47PM (#22101084)
      You should read "Downtime as a Conscious Choice" by Lloyd Dobbler.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by schmiddy (599730)
        You have a link to this book? Does it even exist? I don't pull up anything on Amazon or Google with that title or Author. How did this get modded so highly?
    • I honestly can't imagine what it would be like to have a job where if what's immediately in front of me is blocked, then I am blocked from working. I battle to keep my workweek hour-count at something reasonable, and have never once lacked for (way too much) to do. Tool isn't working? No worries, I've got a huge list of things to do using other tools. Hardware problem? I've got an extra box. Power failure in my wing? Sounds good: Ive got loads of people I need to meet with to hash out problems and sync up w
    • I honestly can't imagine what it would be like to have a job where if what's immediately in front of me is blocked, then I am blocked from working.

      Try having to do Cell programming on a PS/3, and working at a place where anything "game"-related is blocked by the web filter. Your lack of imagination would be quickly remedied; trust me.

    • by turgid (580780)

      Just after graduating from University, I ended up back in Aberdeen, Scotland, living with my parents while I was looking for a career to start. I took a couple of short-term contracting jobs.

      The first one was working with an IT company that had been kind enough to employ me during my summer holidays while I was a student. I worked hard, and they kept asking me back.

      I was sent out to a client's site to do a PeeCee/hardware audit that two previous employees had failed to complete, and the customer was angry

    • I honestly can't imagine what it would be like to have a job where if what's immediately in front of me is blocked, then I am blocked from working. I battle to keep my workweek hour-count at something reasonable, and have never once lacked for (way too much) to do.

      Agreed.

      If I'm not actually working for a client and fixing something that is broken I've got a huge backlog of stuff that ought to be done, but I haven't had time for yet. There's always work to be done on our own in-house systems... Plenty of u

  • Hmmm (Score:4, Funny)

    by tgd (2822) on Friday January 18, 2008 @05:13PM (#22100456)
    I read Digg.

    (and wonder how moderators will interpret posts on /.)...
  • This. (Score:4, Funny)

    by techstar25 (556988) <techstar25 AT cfl DOT rr DOT com> on Friday January 18, 2008 @05:14PM (#22100480) Homepage Journal
    I do this.
  • and other BS work that the PHB's push on workers most people just like taking long bathroom / smoke / bakes to get out of it others just space out at there desks it looks like they are working and the PHB's just pass by there desks.
  • browse WoW forums, check out slashdot, and if my supervisor is around I pop in certification training CD's that I download off mininova. I've gotten 3 certifications this way... nothing quite like getting paid to become a more valuble (and better paid) employee :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 18, 2008 @05:19PM (#22100590)
    That's right, I go take a three hour shit (at a minimum). I bring some reading material and I challenge myself to see how long I can stay in there before my I lose all feeling in my legs and have to leave.

    It's better than surfing the web or doing personal stuff at your desk because you could never be fired for taking too long to shit; that would be discrimination.
    • by icepick72 (834363)
      Plus you don't have to wipe because after 3 hours (minimum) it's dried to your bottom and doesn't stink anymore.
    • If that's true, you (and your kind) may actually be the phantom shitter (what with having nothing better to do and time to waste). By this I mean those who are anally agile enough to deposit a semi-solid mass on the backside of the interior of a toilet bowl that doesn't get washed away by normal flushing.

      I've seen this phenomenon on a few occasions and have never been sure if it was a religious thing, a college prank intended to send the message "I am here", some sort of weirdly-oriented sphincter or evid
  • If you use the David Allen "Getting Things Done" [wikipedia.org] system (I thought all IT professionals had read that book), then you just open up your @Work, @Anywhere, @Phone, @Online, @Computer lists and pick something out of there. You can't seriously have NOTHING to do, can you?

    I would think that having nothing to do is like winning world of warcraft.
    • by empaler (130732)
      2008-01-14: I buy the (abridged) audio book from Audible.
      2008-01-15: The unabridged edt. is released, at the same price for me (one subscriber credit)
  • Downtime? Ack! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    By "downtime", I assume you mean "run out of things to read on slashdot". I generally head to the water cooler/coffee maker to observe others engaged in "conversation". I never participate, as I am still learning the concept of social interaction using oral communication.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Mike89 (1006497)

      I never participate, as I am still learning the concept of social interaction using oral communication.
      I love the fact this is moderated interesting.
  • by Zarhan (415465) on Friday January 18, 2008 @05:25PM (#22100738)
    If I need a short break from work, I'll just wander to our cafeteria and do a round of bowling on the Wii at the corner, and after 10 mins go back.

        If there is no work available, such as projects on hold due to waiting for somebody else (tech support, delivery, steering board decision, project member on vacation, whatever), I'll check if there's some low-priority stuff that I might do. Usually there isn't.

        Otherwise, I'll just head home. My contract says I must 7,5 hours per day - on average. Not that I must stay at office 7,5h pretending to be working when there's nothing to do. Of course, it also means that I occasionally do the 10-12 hours/day crunch through weekends when stuff finally gets moving - but you didn't ask what I do on "uptime", did you?-). (And yes, I keep tab on the hours - if I get more than +40 hours on my flextime account I either get paid the 200% overtime bonus (has never happened, they haven't needed me THAT much) or stop right there).

        (Yes, our project management could use refinement - usual situation that there are 5 projects on hold and the next week all five of them start up simultaneously - but that's another issue. Personally I'm comfortable with this - once you get into the "rhythm", it's much easier to just go on with the flow and do an "all-nighter"-style session - and once stuff is done, you can again have a few 2-hour workdays which consists of lunch, checking e-mails and do nothing more than say "hi" to buddies...)

        Now, this model works for me. For someone with a family a more stable 9-5 mode might be more preferable. For me with my 15 minute commute it's just about perfect (means that if there's a meeting from 9-10 am and another at 3-4 pm and nothing else to do, I can stop by at home). Also my employer trusts me and my coworkers - on my first day at job, my then-manager said "we have a trusting environment in here - if you want to punch in or out for tracking the hours, go ahead, but we don't require it.".

        My comment is focused on the downtime, as stated in the question. There's plenty of uptime to go around :)
    • This is pretty much the situation for me, I work as a consultant, so have time on the bench in between projects. I'm not about to bust a gut on admin, reading up on things and generally playing with our technology to find something new we can do with it. So I will pitch up at either 7 or 10 to avoid the traffic and leave about 6 hours later. This makes up for all that time I spend on planes and in airport going to clients, working late or early to get stuff done etc. Plus when I am at home I have my laptop

  • Down Time? (Score:5, Funny)

    by gfxguy (98788) on Friday January 18, 2008 @05:26PM (#22100744)
    What do you do with down time?

    Down what?

    Down time.

    What time?

    Down time.

    What what?
  • by mikkelm (1000451)
    It depends, of course. If I have a lot of downtime, I find myself doing something related to work in one way or another. If we're just talking about the fifteen minutes you sometimes get in an otherwise hectic workday, I relax read the sites I usually read on my free time. Great for maintaining your sanity, not so great if it happens to be the only time during the day your supervisor checks in to see how you're doing with y on project x.
  • by doyoulikeworms (1094003) on Friday January 18, 2008 @05:48PM (#22101088)
    I'll just start doing whatever gets modded highest here.
  • by Chuck Milam (1998) on Friday January 18, 2008 @05:52PM (#22101174) Homepage
    I find I rarely run completely out of work-related tasks, but I can understand sometimes needing to unplug from strictly-related work to reset the brain. When I need some "brain reset" time, I try to read up on something that at least tangentially relates to work, for example, I've been meaning to learn more about Ruby on Rails and some other newer (at least to this old guy) technologies.

    I feel the more I learn and the more current I stay, the more valuable I am to my employer (and myself/future employers). Plus, if anyone were to ask, I can honestly say "I'm researching some possible implementations of the new [insert project name] system."

    I should point out that this kind of pure guilt-free downtime is rare. You can always be updating that documentation *groan* or working on that nagging system with the logfile that always fills up the disk that you've been meaning to fix for months now...
  • by hurfy (735314)
    Install Windows updates

    Err..wait, you didn't want what creates the downtime?

    I'll have to agree on the self-selecting comment :)
    Besides online forums? Buying sf books on ebay perhaps, usually my last hour which is 5-6pm and usually noone left :)
  • by alandd (243817) on Friday January 18, 2008 @05:58PM (#22101280)
    If I have enough down time to get wrapped up in my own personal projects, I better start looking for another job. Positions with full-time pay and part-time work get out-sourced or eliminated, I'd expect.

    Besides, while I don't like having way too much to do, being busy providing value to your employer and yourself is more rewarding than being paid to be paid.

    Sounds like you don't like the down time or feel guilty about it. Go find another job or create a better one where you are.
  • Empire helps... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CormacJ (64984) <`cormac' `at' `boris-natasha.org'> on Friday January 18, 2008 @06:06PM (#22101380) Homepage Journal
    I find that Empire [wikipedia.org] helps any downtime that I may have. Of course the big problem is trying to make sure that it doesn't eat into the time when I really should be working...
  • by leuk_he (194174) on Friday January 18, 2008 @06:08PM (#22101394) Homepage Journal
    Until the coffemachine breaks. That means panic.

    Other than that it is just slow response from the system.
  • by PotatoHead (12771) <<gro.keegnepo> <ta> <guod>> on Friday January 18, 2008 @06:17PM (#22101550) Homepage Journal
    Research and Development.

    Always it's this.

    Things don't reach a state of running very well without people thinking about how to get there. Your downtime is a chance to explore an idea, setup test environments, write scripts to nail annoying and recurring problems, work on your budget justification, yes --surf some /., etc...

    Ongoing investment in these things pays off. You are surprised less, plan better, and leverage your people, hardware and software better.

    Don't worry, you won't get all the way there. Software update cockups, user error, and entropy in general will keep you busy. But, having done these things, the real downtime you get after that is rock solid! Listen to a few mp3's, surf /., read about some new tech, etc... you will have earned it.

  • But honestly: You have downtime in an IT related job? WTF is that? How about automizing your workflow or that of your team? If your downtime amounts to reasonable slices of time talk to your boss about which processes you should look into to speed things up. Learn a new PL, check out neat new technologies and products that could help you, your team or your company. Train interns and get them on the right path and away from the dark side of the force (Windows & Closed Source).
    Downtime - there is no such
  • by sasha328 (203458) on Friday January 18, 2008 @06:28PM (#22101736) Homepage
    I used to work for HP at a large outsource customer's site. I looked after a select group of users. After a few months, myself and another guy, managed to get everything so down pat, that requests for assistance dropped dramatically, and our quality of service was pretty high. The manager was happy.
    He basically let us do anything we wanted, preferably to educate ourselves or help other team members, as long as our requests for help or special projects were attended to first, which we always did. Reading teh internet because boring after a while, because you can do all that in an hour, then you run out of things of interest to read.

    I learned and managed to introduce Linux into the environment. We also developed a sophisticated network interrogation tool to gather infomration about a user's environement, applications and PC status: basically about 3 of us worked out that if we have enough information, most of the time we can fix a user's PC remotely, or do preventative maintenance prior to problems occuring. All this was done via Windows scripts which dumped data into a central folder, then another perl guru in our trio did some parsing of the reports and populated a database. This database was visible on a web site searcheable by host name. It was so useful and successful, that word reached the upper echelons of the company. We did not charge the customer anythign for this. It was all to help us do our jobs quicker. Pretty much two or three times a week we'd go out for a 2-hour lunch, and the boss sometimes joined us. On quiet days we used to even play networked games, and before the manager's responsibilities grew drastically, he used to join in.

    After six years, the contract was terminated, and so the team got disbanded. That was the sad thing, the team as a whole, I later found out, was number one in terms of SLAs and customer satisfaction in the whole Asia Pacific region. It also had the lowest ratio of admin to technical staff at about 1 to 20 or so. The average in AP was about 1 to 5 and for some customers it was close to 1 to 1.

    On a side note, when word reached the top of the management chain about the tools we've developed, they tried to make us stop using it because it threatened the potential sale of a "management" tool that they were trying to sell to the customer.

    Back on topic, it all depends on what your manager can tolerate. A good manager would let you do whatever as long as your work comes first.
  • by Bigbutt (65939) on Friday January 18, 2008 @06:31PM (#22101786) Homepage Journal
    Since I was hired to help understand the systems better, I spend a lot of time poking around and seeing what's what. Generally I find more work (like drives that have been complaining for 2 years).

    I also document and help others on the team document their knowledge.

    There's nothing worse than wanting to advance in the company and not being able to because you're the only one that knows the super secret way everything works together (or you're hit by a bus :) ).

    I do a lot of reading as well. Slashdot being one but I also have a subscription to Safari so I can keep up on books without having to overload my library.

    But I also pop out to hobby forums or read non-work related text. I have pdfs of most of my RPG books so I can have it open in the background and poke around in there. I also work on my web site from time to time. Since it's somewhat technical anyway, I can generally get away with it although I try not to be too obvious about it :)

    [John]
  • Real work. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ledow (319597) on Friday January 18, 2008 @06:32PM (#22101800) Homepage
    Downtime is for those projects that nobody will officially let you start, nobody "wants" and nobody will pay you to implement. Then, when you spend all that downtime putting it in, you pretend that you did it in your own time alongside your normal work, and people suddenly discover that all the projects that they considered a waste of time become something that they can't live without.

    At least, that's how it's worked everywhere I've ever been employed.

    For example, in a Windows-only school at which the only person who'd ever heard of Linux (the IT manager) treated mention of it like some kind of first word from a child ("Oh, you use Linux. That's cute. Tell me when you make something 'useful' out of it."), I had a few hours of downtime. Found a spare "obsolete" PC. Found a couple of network cards. Was tired of the "Linux being nothing more than a toy" digs.

    In three hours (including install, configuration and a lot of testing) I implemented a caching, transparent proxy/filter which to this day is still filtering the Internet (with zero configuration changes either on the clients, servers or any other devices) for over a thousand users without anybody noticing any difference and saving the school in question several thousand pounds on buying their own filtering appliance (from the prices we were quoted). I implemented it in an afternoon and it went into full live service when school finished that day and is still there churning away. It's zero-maintenance (unless someone wants a particular website blocked, in which case they just stick its name into a plain text file), "invisible" to the network users so, unlike some of the other network equipment, the kids don't try to "hack" it and even if they do only the squid port actually does anything.

    It's never been rebooted, never caused a problem, is the only thing standing between the kids and the nasty side of the Internet, is now the de facto and only Internet filtering within the school and if it ever "breaks" it has a Cat5-coupler taped to it with instructions - couple the "In" Ethernet cable to the "Out" cable and, without doing anything else, you bypass the filter without anyone noticing more than a seconds downtime. Obviously, it's in a secured cabinet so that only the IT manager can do that, but the demonstration of "now we're filtered, *click*, now we're not, *click*, now you're running off my proxy, *click*, now it's all back how it was before today, *click*"... was enough to silence the Linux-critic once and for all.

    Then there's the school running a Jabber IM system that they "would never use". Then there's the school running the PHP helpdesk for which they had no use. Then there's the one whose IT department are running their own recording CCTV computer which nobody but the IT department know about, which emails them movies of any movement in the IT office overnight or when nobody is supposed to be in - it's already caught several "wanderers" who just happened to walk through the locked IT office when they had no need to and "just looked" at the pile of laptops hidden away. That system later got re-used to record classes for approximately £500 less per camera then our usual CCTV supplier.

    All the best projects are done when you let the people who know how just let loose with their own ideas and not worry about whether the end product will be useful. Downtime is perfect for this and turns the most boring moments into the most interesting, especially if you have a large IT team who can all "show off" to each other.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by CaptScarlet22 (585291)
      I've been with the same company for over 12 years now and about 7 years ago I did about the same thing with LAMP. The Web Database applications are still being used today and are continued to be improved as we speak.

      However my zest to be the best isn't there anymore. In fact I hate this fucking company now. And do you know why?

      No matter how much time you spent at work doing work, or spending nights and weekends doing work from home. In the end the company doesn't give a flying fuck! They will cast you ri
    • Downtime is for those projects that nobody will officially let you start, nobody "wants" and nobody will pay you to implement. Then, when you spend all that downtime putting it in, you pretend that you did it in your own time alongside your normal work, and people suddenly discover that all the projects that they considered a waste of time become something that they can't live without.

      Exactly. Some of the most useful stuff I've done wasn't actually billable.

      All day long, while you're doing "real work", you

    • Yup, once upon a time about 15 years ago, I found myself living in a strange town, with no connections... so I hired on to one of the IT consultant shops, where I got about $18 and the agency was getting about $45. Ordinarily I was a developer, but in this case I found my self in "operations" for a big bloated company that hadn't even implemented the program that needed sys admins yet.

      Not one to sit on my butt, I found stuff to do that was at least related to sys admin work, even if the machines weren't i

  • In my last job, I was the second highest-ranked person in the building (Exec Row was across the street). If I closed my door, no one bothered me. Except for the first highest-ranked person, so if someone knocked on my door, I knew who it was.

    Most of the time, when I closed my door it was to get work done, undisturbed.

    But sometimes, I closed my door to eat, nap, or occassionally even rub one out.

    (Sounds good, until you realize that when you're the second-highest ranked, there's not much room to rise. I left there to go work at a place where some upward mobility remained. And even the VPs work in cubicles here.)

    /still looking for a place to go rub one out, occasionally

    • Excuse me, but this is worker bee chat! We all know the boss has nothing better to do than play with his wanker. :P
  • Negative reinforcement sucks but after taking crappy jobs and leaving IT several years ago it made me realize how lucky I had it.

    Whenever I goof off at school or work I just think "well I am sure OfficeMax or that amusement park I used to work for picking up trash at 5:30am needs my help. Maybe I should give them a call ..". It motives me to appreciate my boss and work to make sure I stay where I am and give them my best even if its not ideal. There are lots of crappy things you can be doing for lit
  • I write stupid scripts to help me increase the amount of time I don't have use to do something.

    I would have included my top-n script, which shows the top N instances of values learned via STDIN
    complete with last-seen timer, but perl code doesn't pass the lameness filter.
  • Rock Band! (Score:3, Funny)

    by DdJ (10790) on Friday January 18, 2008 @06:56PM (#22102148) Homepage Journal
    Heh. My employers are great. We've got a lounge with a big 1080i plasma screen and a 5.1 surround system. It's got an XBox 360 hooked up to it, and two "Xplorer"-model Guitar Hero guitars.

    When more than one of us has downtime at the same time, we actually play "Rock Band"! There's no room for the drum kit, but we routinely have three people playing at the same time. The addition of vocals (compared to the Guitar Hero series) means we actually get a lot more of the ladies at our office to participate. (Though sometimes they force me to try and sing "Roxanne".)

    (God, I love my job sometimes.)
  • I'm usually writing and editing my short stories during the downtimes. The hours before and after lunch go by really fast. I just wish I was writing full time instead of writing during my full time job, nights and weekends.
  • Here's the problem (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DragonTHC (208439) <Dragon@NoSPAM.gamerslastwill.com> on Friday January 18, 2008 @07:52PM (#22102834) Homepage Journal
    At most places, if you have down time, management thinks 1 of 2 things: 1.) You're job is too easy and you need more work, or 2.) you're not working at all and you get yelled at.

    During down time, try to look busy.

    I used to work for a guy who was the president of the company, and thought of himself as a sort of royalty.
    I was a Unix/windows admin/helpdesk/database admin/tech support.

    I would come in at 10:30 and finish my daily workload around 3:30 including daily projects he would give on a whim, such as "design this database for me".
    Usually, I would stick around until 6:00 to finish up extra projects he asked me to do.

    He thought because I was coming in at 10:30, I was cheating him out of work. He then made me punch a time clock just to punish me.

    Any time after finishing tasks, I had to look busy, he really thought I wasn't working hard enough.

    Since it was a medical billing company, he started asking me to fill in my down time by doing data processing.

    What a tool. Goes to show you, down time can really be rough.
  • I don't work in IT, but somebody always mentions Nethack http://www.nethack.org/ [nethack.org]in the comments of these kinds of stories. They often also mention that you can always tell your boss it's a "vi training tool" (if you use vi-keys, which I don't even though I do use vim) Might as well do it myself.

  • I kid you not, there was a man in our department who would take his laptop into the bathroom.

    I'll let you imagine from there.

    Because I know what he looks like and it makes me vomit a little. In my mouth.

  • write incendiary comments on slashdot and try to skirt that fine line between insightful and flamebait during what little downtime I have :)
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Friday January 18, 2008 @08:59PM (#22103578)
    I've worked for a lot of failing companies. I'm not management so I didn't have anything to do with the failures. Usually what will happen is the work volume slacks off but they can't get rid of me because I know important things so it'll limp along like that for a bit before deteriorating finances force a layoff.

    During the normal workday, it's always nice to check the news for a few minutes between tasks. When a company is in the death spiral, it's tempting to do nothing but. But that's the time when study becomes the most important. With the last couple of death spirals I've been in, I've self-studied to the point of being able to land the next job with the skills I picked up while on the clock. If the company isn't wanting to pay for new kit or approve new systems, there's still plenty of skills that can be picked up via simulation or installing the packages on VMware.

    If I'm honest with myself, I have to admit I was on the lax side with the self-study. I picked up my skills and got my next job after the layoff but I could have advanced the time table a bit. But I'm in a better position than other co-workers I've been with who have let their depression with the job turn into paralysis and then the layoff comes out of the blue and they have no prospects, no current skills.

    So yes, there is the temptation to goof off during downtime but you're not cheating the company -- they'll fuck and chuck without a second thought, you owe them nothing -- but you will cheat yourself. In this economy, you should keep one eye on your current job and one eye on what you plan to do next after you get laid off from this one. If your current job has you working with hot shit technology, no worries. If you end up in a tech ghetto with skills that won't be applicable on the general market, make the time to self-study.

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