Tag Archives: survival tips

Office Survival Tip: Recovering From a Long, Unplanned Abscence

17 Feb

Office Survival Tip: Recovering From a Long, Unplanned Absence

The best way to recover from a long, unplanned absence from work, life, or blogging is to briefly explain yourself to your boss/significant others/readers, let them know when things’ll be back to normal, and then continue on as though nothing happened.

My absence was partially due to non-blog related issues, and mostly due to a work/life/blog/art/chores/family balance that needed to be worked out. But Sharkables should be back to normal sometime next week (complete with illustrations!).

As some of you may have noticed, I attempted to remodel my homepage this morning. As some of you may also have noticed, my remodeling skills are close to nil. Unfortunately WordPress doesn’t seem to have a “Revert to previous, superior design” button, so whoopsie. Sorry to my resident blog designer for leaving a path of blog design destruction in my wake. Sorry to my readers for having to deal with a confusing and visually unappetizing layout. Well actually, it should probably be more like sorry for my laziness, because I’m not motivated enough to actually go and fix said crappy layout right now.

Anywho, I have some exciting new ideas for Sharkables. These exciting new ideas were the main impetus for attempting said blog redesign. So thank you brain for your charming mix of creative ideas paired with lack of follow-through.

Exciting Idea Number 1: I plan to start writing Sharkables again, which I think is an excellent move in the right direction, although I will probably slow down my posts to only 1 per week.

Exciting Idea Number 2: I’d like to start offering limited runs of signed, numbered (and potentially framed!) prints of my Sharkables illustrations on high-quality cardstock. I’m interested in seeing if anyone is interested in having an exclusive piece of Sharkable memorabilia for their displaying pleasure. I hear they make excellent gifts for obscure holidays (Boss’s day, eh?) and retirement parties. They can also really snazz up a bland looking cubicle or home office! The amount of interest I get will set my prices and print length. I’m thinking $50 per signed, numbered print, and limiting to 10 prints per illustration. And once their gone their gone for that illustration. Of course I’m always open to suggestions! Too high, too low, more/fewer prints, etc. I’m interested in hearing anyone’s ideas. I’ll be following up with another page giving the “deets” (cool speak for details) in the future. I also had the exciting idea for a calendar, but I may have to wait another 10 months for that opportunity to roll around again.

Exciting Idea Number 3: In related news, I’m posting a link to my Personal Art website BostWork.com. I’ve been keeping the two separate, but sometimes I get cross inquiries about my blog and my online portfolio. In addition to drawing shark cartoons, I also paint and do other semi-artsy things. Besides, you can go there and see the original illustrations that inspired my blog, which is potentially entertaining.

So thanks everyone for your patience. And on a brighter note I have an exciting new post planned for next week on lunch breaks! Exciting!


Office Survival Tip: Dealing with the Thermostat

3 Jan

Office Survival Tip: Dealing with the Thermostat

That title may be a tad deceiving. When reading it, you should regard the word “Dealing” as more like “enduring the almost unbearable conditions brought on by the thermostat regulator” than “dealing with the responsibility of handling the office thermostat”. Unless you ARE the person who regulates the thermostat, then lucky you! I doubt it though. I always imagined the thermostat being overseen by some BigWig at the very top of the building, where all the heat rises so he always feels the need to make it colder. The VP of Climate Control probably.

Anyways, office seasons aren’t like outdoorsy seasons, in that instead of natural cycles of progressing warmth and cold as we move from winter to summer and back again, office temperatures remain at a steady, uncomfortable state marked by brief, biannual periods of intense discomfort when changing of the seasons require a switch between A/C and heat.

Therefore to survive in this strange, homeostatic environment we must first take note of the specifics of its temperature. It’s important to not be deceived into believing the outside weather bears any real influence on the indoor climate. Just because you have to start wearing sweaters outside in November doesn’t mean they’re any help whatsoever inside in November. Therefore, surviving the office thermostat really just involves coming to terms with whatever temperature zone the VP of Climate Control has designated shall reign for eternity, and then preparing for it daily.

This can be done in many ways. If your office is too cold, stash an outer layer at your desk . Feel free to swap it out an any time though. This will ensure that your clothing gets washed and you don’t become “that guy who always wears the Outdoor World jacket”.

If your office is too hot…I don’t know, I’ve never encountered this one. Maybe drink lots of iced tea. Emphasis on the iced. Or get one of those cheap-o spritzy fans. You know, the ones they sell at Disney World on excruciatingly hot days for $20 because you’re desperate and it has a picture of Tinkerbelle on it.

Also, layers can be helpful in both instances, either for putting on or removing. Try not to go too far in either case though.

Office Survival Tip: Doodling

12 Dec

As my laptop is currently in a state of non-animation, I bring you MS Paint-ables! I hope you enjoy this MS Paint monstrosity in lieu of the normal illustrations while I continue to come to terms with the idea of replacing my no-longer-trusty computer friend.

Office Survival Tip: Doodling

Part of office life is dealing with long, intermittent bouts of tedium. These can arise in the forms of meetings, telecoms, or waiting after hours for your boss/customer/supplier to call/email/fax you something of dubious importance. There are several ways to deal with these bouts of mind-famine. Sorting paperclips, shuffling papers, doodling, and playing Klondike on your BlackBerry are all viable options. Or you can focus on the feeling of your soul slowly being sucked dry by your speckled beige cubicle walls. Out of all of these enthralling options my favorite is doodling.

The best part about doodling is that you don’t have to be particularly skilled to do it. It’s like the drawing equivalent of dancing in front of your closet mirror in your underwear, only you can do it during meetings. How liberating! Just kind of let your mind go and let your pen do what it wants. If it only wants to do rudimentary squiggles at first, it’s cool, you can pass them off as snakes or worms. Stick with it! Soon enough you’ll progress to wonky circles and lopsided stars. Keep moving forward, and eventually, if you’re lucky, anthropomorphic sharks.

Your boss may not appreciate your new-found meeting hobby, but don’t let it get you down. True genius is rarely fully realized at the time of its creation. If you still feel the need to justify your budding talent to your boss, I think I heard a statistic once that Doodlers actually pay more attention when they’re allowed to doodle freely. As a Doodler I feel this statistic may be complete horse-crap, but I guess I do pay a lot more attention to the paper in front of me when I’m doodling on it. So throw it out there and say the study was backed up by lots of scientific research and published in an academic journal. I’m sure it probably was.

Who knows, maybe your PowerPoint slide doodles will somehow stir your creative muse and inspire you to start blogging or something.


Office Survival Tip: Party Planning

7 Dec

Office Survival Tip: Party Planning

Office parties are a fundamental aspect of office life, if only because they help relieve the monotony of the day-to-day grind. They can arise for a variety of reasons, depending on the festive inclinations of your boss and co-workers. Holidays, retirement, birthdays, and obscure business milestones are all great reasons to throw an office party.

It is vital that your dedicated office party-planner actually be, well, dedicated. However, if you find yourself the designated party planner and don’t feel dedicated, don’t panic! Follow the below steps and everyone should be awkwardly congregating over warm-ish pizza and sodas in no time.

First you need either supplies, or money to pay for supplies. Wrangling the entire division to contribute $5 or bring Styrofoam cups is a harrowing task, akin to herding cats. Probably the most effective way to get results is to bombard everyone’s inbox with reminder emails (high priority), and if you’re feeling especially task-master-esque, flagged with follow-up reminder alarms. This is the electronic equivalent to walking into everyone’s cubicle or office and tapping them on the shoulder repeatedly, only without all the unnecessary walking around.

If you’re a spreadsheet person, get excited. Party planning is a great excuse to whip up one of your completely extraneous Excel creations. You can even color code the supply list to match the occasion! What fun! Also, be sure to make your spreadsheet an excessively large file and include it in your email spam to the rest of the office. That way it will clog up everyone’s inbox and ensure they have to address the party email in some way, shape, or form, hopefully by contributing to your party cause.  

Now you’re in the home stretch. You just have to order the food, and maybe send out a few more reminder emails, just to be safe, and you should be good to go. Congrats you party planner you! Go ahead and add it to your internal resume if you want. Only snazzy it up a little bit, something like “Experienced coordinating large groups to ensure festive results” will do.

Office Survival Tip: Setting Priorities

2 Dec

Office Survival Tip: Setting Priorities

Usually people set their work priorities according to whatever they think their job requirements entail. Unless you’re an Under Achiever; then your priorities follow whatever your current whim is (napping, crosswording, drawing cartoons of your coworkers as sharks, etc). 

Everyone is going to have a different idea of what your priorities should be. That’s because everyone believes your priorities should support their own priorities. Which is rubbish. Unless they’re your boss. Then it’s reality.

This will probably lead you to do some very unproductive things. Like spending inordinate amounts of time jazzing up PowerPoint presentations, or regularly condensing everything you’re working on into short, easy to understand sentences so your boss can reiterate it to his higher ups. 

This is a reality of Office Life: your bosses priorities > your perceived job priorities

I say perceived job priorities because any outstanding boss will tell you his priorities ARE your priorities, you just haven’t perceived them that way yet. I know this is getting a little heavy but bear with me. 

If you think about it, your perceived job description probably includes all kinds of inane, pointless tasks. Therefore, when you align your priorities with your boss’s priorities, it’s really just a matter of swapping one stupid task with another.  So! Next time your boss asks you to create a color coded map of the empty cubicles in your office, just smile, accept it, and remind him that means you probably won’t get to sorting your supplier location list by degrees of longitude this week.

Author’s Note: I really struggled with this illustration because part of me vaguely remembers, in the back of my mind, that sharks might not have eyelids. Therefore I had a very hard time drawing one napping with his beady little eyes closed. I tried it with his eyes open, but it just didn’t give off “sleep” vibes (even when I added Zzzz’s). Originally I was going to post the picture and hope no one called me out, but my neurosis got the best of me and I had to say something. The whole thing is silly though, I don’t know why my sharks having eyelids bothers me but them walking around wearing little office shirts is perfectly acceptable.

Office Survival Tip: Technical Difficulties

30 Nov

Office Survival Tip: Technical Difficulties

Technical difficulties are the bain of inept electronic users everywhere. They can occur at any time, but are most likely to rear their ugly heads 6.5 minutes before something important is due. This gives you just enough time to panic, but not quite enough to actually do anything constructive about it.

When faced with a technical difficulty, there are several options for dealing:

1.       Walk away and leave the problem for someone else to deal with. (Note: This is an effective tactic for communal electronics, like the printer. This is not an effective tactic for personal electronics, like your PC.)

2.       Plug and unplug it repeatedly until its fixed, you get tired, or the whole thing just up and dies

3.       Call Tech Support

If you got with option #3 be forewarned, the common cubicle worker and Tech Support have vastly different concepts of urgency. If it’s an “emergency” expect support sometime tomorrow. If it’s “not an emergency” expect support sometime next month. Consider this principle before calling in a support request.

And if you want to avoid technical failures happening in the first place, an effective tactic is to try not to care too much. Electronics can smell deadline panic like dogs can smell fear, and will implode if you get within a 10 foot radius with an urgent task.  Thus technical failure can occur anywhere, from your desk PC to the dreaded copier, or if you’ve amassed enough negative energy, the elevator. Of course not caring too much also has the added benefit that if your computer implodes 6.5 minutes before a deadline…you won’t care too much.

Office Survival Tip: Dealing with Embarrassing Moments

28 Nov

Office Survival Tip: Dealing with Embarrassing Moments

We’ve all had awkward moments, and while some of us are more accident prone than others, embarrassing moments are a painful social phenomenon that everyone can relate to.

The absolute worst way to handle any embarrassing moment is to pretend it didn’t happen. While I admire your dedication to your powers of self-persuasion, no one else is fooled into believing you didn’t just eat it on the stairs when you oh so cleverly hop up and keep walking like nothing happened.

No, you need to approach embarrassing moments head on. I know it sounds cheesy, but the best way to take the social sting out of any embarrassing situation is to start it off by laughing yourself.  I think this is a hard one for some people, but if it makes you feel better, if this is an issue for you, you’re probably going to keep getting pounded by traumatically embarrassing events until you learn the lesson. And even then, you’ll still probably continue to be subject to horrifyingly socially awkward situations, you’ll just care less. That probably doesn’t make you feel any better.

The same holds true if you’re an observer of an awkward moment. You may think you’re being polite by pretending not to notice, but in reality it makes the whole situation roughly 10x more awkward. Everyone knows you didn’t just “fail to notice” Tim toppling his office chair during a staff meeting, and shuffling your notes around while you wait for him to get up isn’t a convincing act. Meanwhile Tim, who is now lying on his back on the conference room floor, probably isn’t mollified by everyone’s sympathetic and awkward silence either.

Really, whenever you observe an awkward situation, do everyone a favor and just laugh. Laughing benefits everyone involved: you for getting a kick out of someone being embarrassed, everyone else who now feels like it’s ok to laugh as well, and for the Embarassee for being front and center in a valuable exercise on how to laugh at their own unfortunate situation.

Of course as with anything, practice moderation. Reminding Tim once of the time he bailed out of his chair during a meeting is funny and promotes humility. But don’t be surprised if reminding Tim daily of his embarrassing moment eventually result in bodily injury to yourself.

Holiday Survival Tip: Thanksgiving

24 Nov


Happy Thanksgiving!

Remember to count your blessings today, like the fact that you get to pack a turkey and stuffing sandwich and a slice of pumpkin pie in your lunchbox on Monday. Or that from now until December 25th it is socially acceptable to listen to Christmas music exclusively, and at least one radio station in your area will be devoted to letting you do so. Or that tomorrow is the best day of the year if waking up before the butt crack of dawn to wait outside in long lines is your thing.

Or you know, that whole food, family, friends, and football thing is pretty cool too.

Personally, I am thankful to WordPress for plucking my little blog out of obscurity and Freshly Pressing it. But more importantly, I want to give thanks to everyone who has read, liked, commented, followed, tweeted, or generally enjoyed Sharkables. In return, I plan to provide you with many more survival tips, office adventures, and other random (but invaluable!) aids for letting office life be easy.

 So enjoy your Turkey Day! May you consume large amounts of whatever your traditional foods are, and lapse into a blissful, tryptophan-induced coma.

Office Survival Tip: Carpooling

16 Nov

Office Survival Tip: Carpooling

Carpooling can be a great way to save money and provide a fresh excuse for your chronic lateness. However, picking out a quality carpool requires careful planning and foresight. Much like dating and marriage; don’t rush into committed carpool relationship until you’ve spent some time assessing the situation and feel confident you can lock yourself in a small automobile with someone for several hours a week without wanting to drive your head through the passenger widow.

Once you have some potential carpool candidates picked out, you’ll want to pose some questions on their personalities and driving habits before moving forward. Depending on the strength of your social skills you may be able to flow these questions naturally into a conversation. Or, if tact isn’t your thing, just bring a clipboard and rattle them off like a census worker, whichever works for you.

5 Questions for Determining If Your Potential Carpool Is a Good Fit

  1. What kind of car do you drive? This may sound snobbish at first, but just wait until your new carpool buddies pull up in a Mini Cooper. Hope leg room isn’t your thing. Should’ve called pre-emptive shotgun.
  2. Who’s your favorite band? This may sound like trivial way to qualify a carpool, but imagine how you’re going to feel after sitting through the soundtrack to Rent for the twentieth time. If that actually sounds enjoyable to you insert whatever musical artist makes your ears bleed instead, and afterwards take a moment to consider how much it will suck for everyone else riding in the car on the day you get to pick the music.
  3. When do you like to wake up? If you’re not an early riser, spending your morning commute with Mr. Sunshine will be an exercise in misery. Instead try to locate someone who has an equal amount of hatred for mornings so you can drive to work in silent, companionable misery.
  4. What’s your driving record like? 30 minutes of fearing for your life isn’t going to do anything to lower your work-related stress level.  This is going to be a hard one for you tactful people to weave into conversation without some awkwardness, but I have faith in your creativity and social skills. For you clipboard people, continue as usual.
  5. Does anyone else carpool with you? If the answer is yes, hunt them down and repeat questions 1-5.

Once you’ve finished surveying you should have a meaty list on the personal habits of your potential carpoolers. Use this list to make a judgment call on their carpooling worth and either move forward or rinse and repeat.

And remember, the golden rule of relationships applies here as well: in order to have a good carpool you need to be a good carpooler. So don’t forget to ask yourself the above questions as well. You may discover that you’re a very annoying person, but at least that might resolve why you’ve failed to find anyone to carpool with so far.

Office Survival Tip: Tend a Plant

14 Nov

Office Survival Tip: Tend a Plant

Tending plants is a great way to stay motivated at work. Nothing cures a case of office claustrophobia like seeing your oxygen-producing friend thrive under your watchful care. Think of how zen-ful those Buddhist monks in documentaries look, snipping away at their little bonsai trees. Now imagine the same monks dressed in button-down shirts and khakis, surrounded by cubicles, under the glow of soft fluorescent lighting, tending their little desk plants. Well that could be you! Who knows, you might even be inspired to get one of those tiny sand gardens too and rake it every day.

Don’t go overboard though. Remember, this is an office, not a florist. It is generally not appreciated if your plant-hoard starts creeping over your cubicle wall and intruding into your coworkers’ space like some kind of office kudzu.

A word of caution on this one though. I would not suggest plant tending to anyone with a “black thumb”. Slowly watching your beloved new friend wither and die under your inept care tends to have negative effects on your psyche.*

*Note: I have had many, many unsuccessful attempts at plant tending, and thusly given it up. My last tragedy occurred when after several weeks under my incompetent care, I noticed my new plant was looking a tad brown and leafless, so I put it by the window hoping the sun would work its whole chlorophyll-sunlight nature-magic on it. Unfortunately someone took that  lifesaving gesture as me just being too lazy to walk my dead plant all the way to the trash can and decided to deposit it there for me. The worst though, was a tiny plant in one of those hanging glass water pots that I brought to work one day but then forgot to take out of my car. By the time I remembered and ran out to get it, it was too late.  It was mid-August and I guess plants don’t come back from being boiled alive. I still feel terrible about that one, but I take it as a sign from the cubicle gods I’m just not meant to be a plant tender.