Magazine article Personnel Journal

Solitaire and Other Loafing Skills

Magazine article Personnel Journal

Solitaire and Other Loafing Skills

Article excerpt

If we've done our jobs right, others in the company can handle the most obvious time-wasting. That leaves the more complicated tasks-defining jobs and productivity -to us.

Did you know that it's possible to play Solitaire on your computer and to conceal it from your boss? I didn't, until I learned it at a training class. Of course, I wasn't there to learn how to loaf with confidence. I was there to learn how to add tables and footnotes to my documents and other features of Microsoft Word(TM). But the knowledge about Solitaire was so universal among my classmates-and there such obvious pride in the knowledge-that I thought perhaps I had overlooked a class in the course catalog.

The conversation was fascinating. These students-most of them administrative assistants-were simply thrilled that they could present a busy, productive demeanor to the boss and yet be goofing off. First I wondered how anyone in today's workforce had time to be goofing off, surreptitiously or otherwise. But the longer I listened, the more I realized that the issue wasn't as straightforward as I first had assumed.

Some of these people occasionally played Solitaire on what were rightfully their breaks. Others played a game or two once in a while to clear their minds or help them work through momentary writer's blocks. In all cases, they were terrified of a boss seeing what they were doing and punishing them for it.

It didn't take long for me to figure out that Solitaire was not the issue. These employees were working long hours. They were stressed. They had few breaks in the routine. And they believed they were in environments that were totally intolerant of any downtime at all.

There are a couple of simple approaches to this issue. One is to decide that employees will loaf a limited amount of time each day and just accept it, deciding not to waste management time monitoring and enforcing. …

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