How to get the most from your dull job
There are some jobs you never forget, not because they are the most exhilarating or purpose-driven, but because they provided what you needed at a specific time in your life. When I managed a Public Storage property, it was pretty dull. I had a monthly routine to follow, scripted guest interactions, and long hours of quiet time when nobody would come into the office. It paid more than minimum wage, but less than a living wage.
Whenever I think about my past work experience, this small blue collar job stands out with some of my fondest memories. Why? I put all of who I was into the mundane and used autonomy to my advantage.
1. I did all my work within the first two hours.
The property was mostly dead. We didn’t have a lot of traffic. So, within the first two hours I would get everything done around the entire property. I would run the lock checks, call the delinquent tenants, stock inventory, and clean the property. I knew all my reservations for the day, so I had plenty of time to plan.
2. With my free time I was able to study, read books, and do homework.
I spent three and a half years of my college experience at that full-time operation. Every piece of literature I had to read was read in my office. I have a vivid memory of reading Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure there because I would act out the parts. I wrote every essay on the company PC, worked out all of my math problems, and completed every research project.
3. I got to meditate, read the bible, and talk about my faith
While I was working at this job, I attended a Catholic retreat that changed my perspective on life. My entire spiritual journey began to unravel as I was able to pray for 30 solid minutes in silent meditation. I read the entire bible from front to cover and journaled about the connections between the old and new testament. I listened to Catholic podcasts and was able to speak openly to my co-workers who were either unaffiliated with religion or non-catholic. I prayed with new colleagues and even strangers. I made such good friends through this process that they started coming to our young adult group and one of them became a part of my wedding court. And ultimately, one of the tenants helped secure my next job as a Youth Minister.
4. I was able to write and journal
One of the most important aspects of my life is witing. I struggle to get it done consistently nowadays while raising a family, but back then I was writing every day. I poured my feelings into notebook after notebook like I’ve never been able to do before. I wrote several short films, which won a few awards, during this period.
Frank, this sounds like you were taking advantage of the company. How do you justify this, especially as a Catholic?
I prioritized my job first and foremost. I wouldn’t use any of my free time unless all of my job responsibilities were completed. I never got upset at customers who came in unannounced for boxes or to just look at spaces. I never took it personally when I was challenged for sticking to company policies. I took on new challenges, such as becoming the district trainer for new hires (which would become the first-fruits of my career in Learning & Development) And as a result, my property was a consistent top performer. As a matter of fact, my location was in the top 5% of the company as a whole(PS 25707). I was awarded the Circle of Excellence by corporate and even oversaw the construction of a brand new facility on our grounds.
I realize that not every job is like this one. I was fortunate enough to be able to have this opportunity, but I was also struggling to make ends meet. My car broke down at this time and I had to try and scrap money together for 6 months to buy another one. My friends would drive me to work and my girlfriend would pick me up. I had to walk to the bank to drop off the deposit from the night before. It wasn’t all perfection, but everytime I look back on it, the memories are extremely positive.
No matter what boring job you have, it is in your power to bring your own uniqueness to the roll. Maybe you won’t have all the free time that I was offered, but you may work with colleagues that you get to inspire. You may be able to take on new roles to challenge yourself. You might even be able to use your own creativity to make the job more fun and engaging.
Take advantage of the dull job, infusing it with your life. Don’t slack off and fall short of expectations, but use what you have.
Here is a fun commercial from Spain that discusses the same topic in a heartfelt way!