Thursday, August 16, 2007

Productivity Lemonade: How do I survive in the mundane working world?

"Go on the hunch of a man whose brain is fuelled by lemons!?"

In an attempt to be more productive. Which is honestly America’s favorite word: productivity.

“We must be more productive, people should be productive, companies should be productive. We must squeeze the little ‘producers’ like the lemons that they are and get the very last drop of juice out of them before we throw away the empty, shrunken, shriveled rind of a person that is left. But only after we’ve gotten all of their working days and productivity squeezed out of them.”

So, that might be a little morbid, but…that’s sort of my current outlook on life as a newly hired member of the American workforce.

Anyways, in an attempt to become more productive, I am trying a new style of writing. That is to say, I will be dictating what is on my mind to my digital recorder. Often times I find I lose a thought before I have a chance to write it down, which I believe is the story of my life. I never have any time to write anything down. For goodness sake, I’m a writer and I don’t have any time to write things down.

I find that thoughts occur to me in the oddest places: while driving, while in the bathtub, while at work when I need to be working and not writing things for fun, while walking down the sidewalk on the way to who knows where and other various, random places. I have no control over when inspiration strikes. My muse wakes up from whatever bender she’s been on and helps me to think of something brilliant (in the loosest sense of the term).

And I think of how inspired I feel and how much I want to write or blog or just type my feelings. But the American productivity takes over and I lose any time I would use for writing doing something mundane like laundry.

Maybe I’m not a writer. I don’t write because the need flows out of me; I write because it’s work. I guess I’m afraid of losing the joy, the spark, the whole reason I like to write. Beside the fact that as a journalist I like to meet people and hear their stories, I like to write because you’re recording history, you’re recording feelings and your connecting with other human beings in a deep and meaningful way (if it’s done correctly).

Of course I’m not saying that I’m an expert, but I have read experts and I know what good writing looks like. And honestly, how can you be good at writing if you don’t practice? Or if you don’t write something and let it go out into the wide world like a baby bird and see if it will fly or plummet to the ground at a speed of 9.8 m/s2 (which is as everyone knows the speed of gravity acceleration on earth).

So, I thought why don’t I just talk about what is on my mind, transcribe said interviews with myself and upload it to my blog. **Pause for deep thought**

After a pause for deep thought (no I won’t tell you the question for the meaning of life, the universe and everything), I’ve decided to continue this blog in the same happy, upbeat way I began it: talking about productivity and work and the working world.

I wish I could say I had more positive responses. Honestly, I think I have worked quite a bit. I would like to think that my time working at my college newspaper was a pretty regular job. I would come in at 8 or 9 a.m. and work until 5 or 6 p.m. with obvious breaks for classes, interviews and food. It was a happy existence. I had the opportunity to wear T-shirts, shorts and flip-flops every day or dress medium, medium well or well done. (I tend to think that wardrobe can be rated on the same scale as a cooked beef.)

I think I had a pretty regular working schedule, and that was actually what I was striving for. So that when I assimilated into this mode that is the American working day, I would have no trouble adjusting.

I had the same type of schedule at camps, only it was more amplified. The hours were from around 7 a.m. to midnight. Insane schedules! There were plenty of breaks, but it was still really arduous work.

At the same time I think that both of these jobs were connected to something I really enjoyed, I got to hang with people I loved and I got to have fun.

I think I’m still searching for that in my new job. I’m not saying I’m required to have fun at work. But it’s a big bonus to have fun at work. So, maybe that’s my problem. I’m not having as much fun as I could.

What’s that? I can hear all of you wry, sarcastic people in the back. You’re probably thinking about the first time you were disillusioned with your 8-5 job, and trust me I’ve heard it enough from my father who likes to josh me about, “Welcome to the real world.” Still, I think that my experiences in the working world have been better than what they are right now.

There have been bright days, but on the whole I can’t same that I’m enamored with my new job, yet. It could be that I’m still in the adjustment period, and it is a BIG adjustment as everyone reminds me. I guess I’m suffering from boredom and fatigue and maybe the novelty of my job. Not in the sense of a novelty toy, but as a new thing. As the dictionary probably defines it, something new and different, something unique or something I haven’t experienced before.

The novelty of the “mundaness” of life. I don’t know. I would like to think that there’s a lot more to life than “mundanity,” as if that’s even a word. It kind of calls to mind a picture of the Vogon in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (rock on all your nerdfighters[i] out there who enjoy that). A Vogon’s life is run by rules and regulations, paperwork and set schedules that never change. On a whole that’s quite depressing. The worst part is they don’t realize how depressing it is because that’s what they’ve always done. AHHHHHHH! Please save me from that type of drone-like existence.

I’m trying to figure out what the solution is, but I can’t. Maybe it’s giving up and being assimilated into the borg that is American working life or maybe there are other alternatives. This is something to explore in the future. If you have any suggestions please let me know.

This is Sarah-Jane signing off: sayonara, ciao, good night.
Transcribed from a 9:49 min. interview.

[i]: Nerdfighter is the official name for the viewers of the Brotherhood 2.0 v-log on YouTube.Or the name of a nerd who knows kung fu or other fighting skill.


Anonymous said...

"Welcome to the real world". This is the most assine phrase in our collective english language. It;s like someone pouring salt into an open wound. Yeah we know life is tough and it's not fun and games all the time but still people who say that; well, hell it's like kicking someone who has just found out their favorite pet died.

And as far as work, joy, boredom, and all that goes together; remember this, it's your first job right out of college. We all think we know what we want and we're ready to go grab the bull by the horns and be as amazing as we know we can be. And then it happens, the realization that maybe what we knew, what we studied, and those big mapped out life plans we had; well you know that isn't what God had planned out for you.
But you have a job, and it pays the bills, and yeah it may not be the best job in the world, but take joy in it. Take joy in the things you love in your job, and learn to love (or at least tolerate) the things you dislike about the job.

Rose-colered glasses always come off.

But, even among the worst of jobs joy can be had. Believe me, I know this better than most.

And there is that perfect job out there, and its not mundane, but it may not be what you dreamed it would be.

And until then add more sugar to you lemonade, it'll still taste better.

Sarah-Jane said...

Thanks for the advice! Do I know you?

Anonymous said...

Yes, you know me quite well-MRM

Anonymous said...

Actually, MRM, you called "Welcome to the real world" an asinine (not assine) phrase and then wrote "Welcome to the real world, but make the best of it" in paragraph form. It all comes out about the same.
And honestly - THE most asinine phrase "in our collective english language." I can think of thirty or forty worse phrases from "Everybody does it" to "Today is the first day of the rest of your life."

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

You are a fruitcake with itchy feet... just like me. Always striving to find excitement in everything, always looking for the glimpse of a chance to excel and leave others in the dust.

Remember this... a job is a job. Sure, it is great to enjoy your career, but could it be that you are searching for fulfillment of another variety?

What's that? Tick, tick, tick...

Do I hear a biological clock ticking? Could it be that SJ might be ready for the boy that sends her heart rapidly pulsating through her lonely breasts, ready for the pitter-patter of little SJ feet?

What? You never know. I could be on to something.

Anonymous said...

First of all, Sarah Jane, your writing is always a great read. It's never boring or repetitive, and always has that sort of awkward fun thrown in for the hell of it. Also, there are things to love at every job. Even when I worked the graveyard shift at IHOP (eewww...shudder) I enjoyed it. This might be due more to my relentless happy-go-lucky attitude more than the fact that every job has good points, but I enjoyed it. The people around you will always be co-workers, but they can still become friends. And at any job there are always perks of some sort...

Sarah-Jane said...

First off --Matt, you are insane.

--Big Sweet,thanks for the advice. I'm sorry you are still living with my ex-fiance.

Anonymous said...

Insanity is often wisdom that people just don't want to hear. The rest of the time it's just mindless dribble.-MRM

lil' sis said...

Drawing on my fine command of the English language, I said nothing.

Okay, I will say something. Surprised as I am with the extremely forward comment on my sister's breasts rapidly pulsating for a young man's attention...*cough* I think there could be some substance to the point. You are looking for some other fufillment....NOT necessarily of a sexual or lovey-dovey nature but just plain fun. And when you start something new and are forced into an altogether different pattern of life (especially with significantly older employees) oftentimes it's hard to find the "fun" in things. Especially when you see aged coworkers who seem burdened by their not-so-fun adult lives and are subconciously equilivating that to your future....NOOOO!

I'm guessing that after you settle in completely and adjust to this "adult-world" and realize that you will soooo not become one of those sad souls who sigh endlessly under their redundant workloads and "mundane" ;) tasks...I think the small joys will start to appear in little places and an overall feeling of satisfaction will visit you in the workplace:). And if things don't seem to improve after awhile try and make a concious effort to have a better outlook on it.

When life gives you lemons, ask for a refund.

lil' sis said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Menefee said...

Just you so know I was not the biological clock comment person-MRM

Sarah-Jane said...

My co-worker who has read this blog would like to point out that she is not "aged." My sister has also humbly apologized to any other co-workers who may read this entry.

She is, after all, only 17 years old. Everyone is aged to her. Even me.