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Job Hunting
In Work
Thinking About Quitting

Killing Time before you Leave your Job


An afternoon of unbroken tedium stretches before you. What novelty your favourite websites had has worn off; nobody is replying to your plaintive emails; nobody is prepared to reconvene in the nearest pub. You, however, newly-liberated by the promise of walking out of their for the final time in a few weeks, are brimming with energy. But what to do? When I felt bored in my last job, when there was a lack of pressing work to do, I decided to explore the company's premises. My security card gave me unlimited access to every part of the site and considering I worked for a big satellite broadcaster, they had some pretty interesting shit to see and do. There were cavernous matt black studios, bustling news rooms, control centres that bristled with plasma screens, a clanking, whirring robotic videotape library, endless editing suites. It was all cool and I had been only vaguely aware of what my firm was made of until I decided to have a look with my own eyes

So, if you're stuck for something to do, advise that you go for a snoop around. Things to be on the look out for:

Good luck! Remember, they can only summarily dismiss you if you find something you shouldn't.

Write a short play or novella using only the contents of your Inbox

Take a look at the hundreds and thousands of emails you have received during your time with the company. Familiarise yourself with the ebb and flow, the cut and thrust, and the ducking and diving that has characterised your contact with others. Is there anything juicy in there? Are there any budding scandals, heated rows, death threats, conspiracies or steamy assignations? Could the contents of your inbox, your outbox and your deleted box be cross-pollinated in such an entertaining way that a thirteen-part television drama is one day delivered into the world? In most cases, the answer is no, but it can be a close approximation to fun spending time going over old emails. Only attempt if you're really bored though - this is pretty much a last resort. However, it gives the appearance that you might be working on or looking for something and could make you millions if your story is syndicated globally.

Browse. Shamelessly.

No doubt you're bombarded by recommendations for websites by friends, colleagues, mailing lists and newspapers all the time. We think we've found some enduring examples of great websites which will keep you occupied, one way or another for hours on end.

Metafilter - This can be a useful source of inspiration and sometimes kickstarts even the dullest of Wednesday mornings. Over 7,000 subscribers post links which they hope will be entertaining , informative or controversial . On a good you'll find yourself forwarding links to those you really, really care about. You can comment on a link, read other comments or just spend your time commenting on their comments. Nobody seems to care. Having done this you can impress everyone, including (of course) your next employer, by being au fait with weblogs, or 'blogs' for short.

Yamaha Papercraft - for those with plenty of time to spare. You'll need generous supplies of glue, a pair of scissors and a high resolution colour printer. This site provides templates for a range of paper models - marvel at the coelacanth, gorilla and elephant; acquire bone-scarring papercuts while struggling to complete models of the Yamaha XJR-1300, YZF-R1 and VMAX bikes. We haven't attempted any of these models here at, we're just too busy, but we would admire and respect anyone who decides to try.

Isketch - the sine qua non of online time-wasting. Competitive doodling, online pictionary, flippant chat with other contestants. This is your chance to shine in the hectic world of realtime, Internet-enabled bad drawing. Stress Relief - our very own selection of time-wasting, boredom-quashing links. We seem to have missed out on that page. We also stupidly omitted Leisuretown . Sorry!

Inveigle yourself into everyone's affections

This is for the lowest of the low, but caters for everyone. Spend your notice period writing whole chapters in your colleagues and bosses' good books with your wheedling generosity, sunny disposition and helpful attitude. The phrase you should be most familiar with: "Anybody want a cup of tea and/or coffee?". In fact make everybody tea, all the time. And what's the point of all this, you may ask? You'll be wanting to walk away from that job clutching an armful of DVDs, minidisc players, cards full of emotional or witty epigrams , offers of marriage, bathroom products and fine chocolates. No ass is out of bounds in this kissing contest.

Do some work

In our long and fruitful careers we've learnt one lesson which stands out from all others when the subject of killing time at work comes up. The tempus really fugits when you're engaging your mind to its full professional potential. Unless your work itself is intrinsically tedious and repetitious, there is often real enjoyment to be had in an unbroken stretch of doing what you do best. The hours spin by as early morning gallops into lunch, and then canters through the afternoon before setting off with nostrils flaring down the home straight towards home time. If it was always like this, blissfully free of interruptions and irrelevant demands, we'd probably be content to stay in the same job forever.