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Like a Virgin: Work

There was a time when I’d quit a job every year. It wasn’t a planned renewal, but it sure helped me freshen up my career when it felt stale. Of course, one can do that sort of thing for a while, but the longer you jump around the less chance you have of really building career (and think of how often you have to update your resume).

So before you get overwhelmed by all the things that feel insurmountable, try getting your mind and machine in shape to deal with all the tasks on your plate. You’re not on your own: There are countless books, essays and Web sites devoted to your success. And if your job still sucks after all your self-improvement, you can always quit—just do it with class.


Increase your productivity by reading blogs (yes, blogs) You’re going to do it anyway, so why not have your procrastinating Web surfing time work for you? No, not by joining a pyramid scheme. Web sites like 43 Folders and Lifehacker are full of pointers and freeware to make your work life more efficient. Folder’s Inbox Zero helps you get your e-mail stream squeaky clean in under 20 minutes, and devise strategies for keeping it that way. (Hint: “delete, delete, delete.”) Lifehacker points you to haiku productivity, and if that Zen path doesn’t prove fruitful, there’s always a crude Microsoft timer to get your ass in gear. Lastly, don’t underestimate how having the perfect iTunes equalizer setting can help your projects practically finish themselves.


Join the cult of David Allen If the blogs don’t make you a super-employee, David Allen will. Twenty pages into Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, you might be inspired to put down the book and make all those calls you’ve been putting off. If it only takes a couple minutes, then it falls under his Two-Minute Rule: If it takes less than 120 seconds to handle (phone call, e-mail, bill paying), do it now so your brain can be freed to deal with more important tasks later on. Might was well just buy the book now. It only takes two minutes.


Charm the jorts off your office’s IT team The IT guys claim they’re busy, but when you walk into their office, they’re playing World of Warcraft and inhaling Cool Ranch Doritos. Lazy bastards? Yes. Permission to throw a fit? No. Making enemies in the IT department will only get you grief. Fortunately, IT guys are usually pretty easy to please. First, read this article in the Wall Street Journal, which gives tons of tips about how to improve your relations with the office geek. Next, print it out and tape it to your cubicle—not just so that you can follow all the instructions, but also so they know you’re trying. Third, if you really want to charm them, learn their language; the Family Guy Wikiquote page is an excellent place to start.


Throw your Blackberry in the fountain, Devil-Wears-Prada–style Sometimes it’s not your bad attitude, or your passive-aggressive asides, or your impatience with the IT department that’s ruining your life. Sometimes you’re in the wrong job. It’s happened to all of us, and when it does, it’s OK to move on. Make your search for a new job less grueling with a meta-search engine—Indeed and PageBites are two of the best—that will trawl the job boards for you, bringing together the best listings from Monster, CareerBuilder, and a gazillion other sites. And when you do leave, make sure you do it with class. has lots of advice for finding yourself a brand-spanking new job this year without making an office full of enemies in the process.

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