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OFFICE LIFE: FROM 9-5, 5 DAYS A WEEK

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As I walk through the Borneo jungle, I hear some rustling sounds above. I look up and see my friend Mario swinging high above through the leafy trees.

“Hey there, what’s new?” I say to him as he gently swings down. I hand him a glass of orange juice.

“Nothing much. Is there any pulp in this? You know how I’m not a fan of pulp” he says.

He takes a sip, winks at me, and then proceeds to make an obnoxious beeping sound.

“Um, can you please stop that? That’s really loud and annoying” I say.

BEEP, BEEP, BEEP!

Mario doesn’t respond. As I watch him carefully, he slowly morphs from a monkey into a blurry Ikea dresser.

“What! Where did Mario go? Why was I even speaking to a monkey? What on earth is happening?”

Smack.

The alarm clock stops wailing.

Right.

I’m not in the Borneo jungle. I’m in my downtown apartment. And it’s Monday morning.

Time to start getting ready for the office we all know and love!

Office Life 7:00 am

Roll over. Reach for iPhone. Skim through the internet while my eyelids slowly start to peel open. Head towards the washroom. Emerge from washroom looking somewhat human.

Go to the kitchen. Pray there’s something to throw together for a decent lunch.

Peer inside the fridge. See massive amounts of leftover bean chili.  

“Yes! Good thing I meal planned. Win #1!”

Look at the clock.

“Is that actually the time? Already?”

Start frantically throwing things into my bag. Catch a glimpse of an old smoothie container from Friday.

“Ew gross.”

Throw container into the sink. Vow to wash it later.

Run to my room and peer into my closet. Reach for the standard black cardigan, blousy top, and black pants.

Look in the mirror, pat my hair down, put on a little blush. Smile! I’m good to go.

My walk to work is 40 minutes on a good day. Today feels like a podcast day so I’m listening to random facts on soda.

Finally get to work. Smile and say hello to everyone. Quickly exchange a few “How was your weekend? It was good, how was yours?”

Check email.

“Okay, 15 emails seem manageable so far. Hopefully, I don’t get too much more throughout the day. Wishful thinking?”

Get an instant message from my co-worker Stephanie. She sits in the cubicle behind me. You know, the other half of Modern Flourish.

“Is it oatmeal time?”

“I’m ready now.”

“Ready.” I type back.

We head towards the kitchen, put on the kettle, and start to assemble our oatmeal.

Stephanie fills me in on updates about her crazy neighbor’s dog. I also learn that this Wednesday there is going to be a “Hawaiian Theme ” party on the 3rd floor.

You know what this means…free food! Win #2!

Office Life 10:00 am

Return to desk and check over to-do list for the day. Refresh email. Add a few more items to my to-do list.

“But wait, I just need to quickly check the internet. The news doesn’t count as wasted time, I need to know what’s happening around the world!”

Open up some work looking documents with crazy numbers to hide my news in case someone walks by (who doesn’t do this?). I also need to hide my 5 G-chat conversations.

I scan the headlines. Something important looking about a pipeline approval, another about an announcement from the Finance Minister with a picture of people in suits, another about some character named Trump.

After reading about how a woman from Singapore dyed her pet dogs to look like pandas, it’s definitely time to start some real work.

Like a real grown up.

Work, work, work.

Check, check, check.

Feels good to get things done. Especially checking things off on my to-do list with my newest green gel pen. The ink is just so smooth. Win #3!

Office Life 11:00 am

Refresh email again.

“Argh, now there’s more 4 more things to add to my list.”

The list never ends. It’s like I’m playing a game of Tetris and my job is to constantly clear the blocks, just to make room for new stuff.

“I feel like I have a conference call today. I should probably check when that is.”

Check calendar.

“Now. The conference call is right now, Vanessa!”

I frantically search through all my emails to find the conference number, call the number, and sit through a few minutes of awkward silence while Samantha, the organizer tells everyone to hang on while she’s trying to load her monthly minute report on her computer.

I instinctively reach for my phone to text a friend about sushi plans tonight.

After 45 minutes or so, the call starts to wrap up.

“Okay, so does anyone have anything else to add? If not, thanks for your time everyone,” says Samantha.

“Thanks so much and good by—

Everyone already hung up and I’m left talking into the void.

“How come no one says goodbye anymore?”

Office Life 12:30 pm

My stomach starts to growl. Could it be noon already?

It is! Ah, lunch time, the highlight of my day, as long as I have something edible to eat, which today, I thankfully do. Win #4!

“Ew, what is that smell from the microwave? A combination of sardines and cheese?”

Reluctantly, I heat up my meal in the same microwave. I’m hoping that the previous food molecules won’t attach themselves to my delicious and precious chili.

Get back to my desk, check out what my coworkers are eating, and smugly show off my chili. I eat at my desk today, only because I plan on taking a quick walk outside to clear my head later.

Checking and refreshing emails again.

“Vanessa will gladly help you out with this project,” my boss writes to a coworker.  

Alright then! I guess I’m part of another project now.

Add the details to my to-do list.

Office Life 2:00 pm

The minutes and hours go by at the office at their own pace. Periodic breaks to the kitchen with my coworkers get me through the afternoon. It’s also nice to unglue myself from my chair once in awhile.

We chat about random things: that creepy Black Mirror episode, the wild night out my coworker’s friend’s sister had on the weekend, the latest health craze on social media etc.

Going back to my desk afterward always feels better. It’s nice to have a social connection with the people you work with and see literally every, single, day. Win #5!

I look up at the clock. It’s almost home time!

Must answer these emails before I leave. Must focus from now until the end of the day for freedom.

Office Life 4:00 pm

Just when I decide to start working, I get caught up in that vicious tea/ washroom cycle. I go to the washroom about 4 times during the hour.

“Okay Vanessa, get it together, girl. Listen to your carefully curated 90’s hip-hop playlist to get you into the groove. Trust Dr. Dre, he will help you get things done.”

Work, work, work.

Check, check, check.

“Hey, I wonder what’s happening on the internet?”

“Fight the urge to go on the internet!”

Work, work, work.

And I’m done! It feels fantastic to exit the 10 different browsers and files opened up on my computer screen. Even more so to check off everything on my list like I’m an elementary school teacher marking a child’s homework. Win #6!

I open the doors to the outside world.

HOOOONK! HONK HONK HONK!

The downtown rush hour traffic is at full speed. Which means that nothing is moving. And then I begin my journey back home, thinking about my upcoming sushi meal and listening to the rest of my podcast on soda. Bet you didn’t know that without food coloring, Coke would be green…

What are some of your office routines? Anyone else sometimes feels like they’re on autopilot at the office?

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2 Comments

  1. Marcia Loughman Marcia Loughman

    Thanks for these ideas. I really like your point about enjoying the social connection with people at work. I’m going to make an effort to do that more. My old office used to a Wednesday afternoon coffee break where someone would bring snacks. Apparently in Sweden its called a ‘fika.’

    • Modern Flourish Modern Flourish

      Thanks! Let us know how it goes! I’m sure your office will be receptive to the idea of a break, especially if snacks are involved!
      -Stephanie

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