10 things to do when your job is really boring

Sometimes, your job is really boring. And I’m not talking about a couple of hours or a day, I’m taking about weeks and even months of boredom. This can be due to several reasons: the project is delayed, the client has not really made up his mind, the budget has not been approved yet, the compliance team is still checking that the JDK 1.3 can be installed, let’s prototype all the MVC frameworks first… But the most common reason is political issues: everybody is waiting for a decision maker to do his job, take a decision. In the meantime, what can you do:

  1. Change the situation: the first thing to do is to try to change the situation. Make things go faster, talk to the right people, send emails explaining how this situation could be improved… In one word, be constructive. Most of the time, this is completely utopist because you don’t have the power to make things move on.
  2. Shorten your days: if you can, shorten your painful days. Arrive at 10:30am at the office, have a nice long lunch with your bored colleagues and leave at 4:30pm. Cut the morning and the afternoon with coffee breaks.
  3. Work on something interesting: there is nothing better than feeling useful, so, work on something you like: your own project or be part of an open source one (plenty to do on sourceforge). To make things easier, buy a portable hard drive (2.5 inches, USB 2.0), install your preferred IDE, MySQL, Tomcat or whatever on it, plug it in at work, at home, and work on whatever you like… but work or you will get a nervous break-down.
  4. Learn something new: On your portable hard drive you can install new stuff to play with like Ruby and Ruby on Rails.
  5. Re-learn something old: Sometimes it’s good to re-learn stuff that you’ve experimented years ago. You usually have a different eye on things (what about reading the GOF Design Patterns ?)
  6. Read: there are plenty of free eBooks nowadays, just sit comfortably in front of your pc, and read something interesting.
  7. Improve your tool box: look for plugins that will make your life easier, install them, reject the useless ones and keep the others (recently I’ve installed some Firefox extensions).
  8. Chat with your friends: If you have friends who are as bored as you, send them emails (Gmail is good for that) or chat with them
  9. Write a blog about 2006 predictions : like everybody, let us now what you thing will happen in 2006 (the best I read was Sun would buy Microsoft)
  10. Quit: if this boring job lasts too long, quit. Create some alerts on Monster and other web sites, see what’s happening in the market, go to some job interviews, and make the jump.

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