You can't manage your manager. You can't boss around your boss. And you certainly can't make working with your workmates work. Let's face it, friend – you are simply not in control of your work life. But don't give up. With determination and focus, there is something you can dominate.
That's right – you can conquer your desk.
Oh, it won't be easy. You can expect your desk to fiercely fight back and – you know your desk – it won't give up until it has tried every last trick in the book, like hiding from you under stacks of meaningless memos and ridiculous reports, or flooding itself with spilled cups of coffee that ooze into your keyboard and drip down into your Ferragamos.
Still, don't give up. Follow the following strategic steps and, eventually, when all hope is gone, your desk will concede.
How will you accomplish this amazing victory? With the help of Lindsay Holmes, a columnist for “The Third Metric,” a section of “The Huffington Post” dedicated to “Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power.” (I'm not exactly sure what there is beyond money and power, but whatever the heck it is, regularly reading “The Third Metric” will definitely give you more of it.)
If you don't think that conquering your desk is important, Holmes immediately lets you know how wrong you are. “You may have your work routine down to a science,” she writes, “from where you prefer to grab some quiet space to the exact time you take your lunch break. But there's one very important element you may be forgetting when it comes to success in the office: your desk.”
Of course, if where you prefer to “grab some quiet space” is under your desk, where you have stashed your blankie and your binky, the need to conquer is doubly important. But even if you are a responsible employee, who takes their naps in a responsible way, by slipping into the coat closet and sleeping on the boss's faux lynx toggle coat, you will certainly want to take control of your workspace; especially if, as Holmes insists, it will “influence overall productivity and creativity.”
Speaking of which, Holmes suggests that “staring at the color green can make you more creative.” This is true. But you don't have to paint your office wall. Just paper the wall that's right in your eye line with Benjamins. (The most effective green does come from hundreds, but, considering your salary, you probably will be using Washingtons.) Now, just think of all these nice bills going bye–bye, because you can't think of a decent new idea. If that doesn't stimulate your creativity, nothing will.
“Live plants in a work environment help productivity” is another step to desk domination. It would also help productivity if there were live human beings in your work environment, but since you're stuck with zombies, do the best you can.
Holmes advises that you keep “feet fully supported and flat on the floor [or a foot rest if you can't reach.]” I don't know how you feel about this tip, but to me it sounds like a lightly disguised slam on your height, or lack thereof. You can't help it if you can't touch the floor when sitting at your desk. You were a six–foot–five–inch powerhouse of competence and confidence when you started. It's only after decades of bad bosses that you've been worn down to a nubbin of servility.
Your “monitor/laptop should be at eye level,” is another part of the desk offensive,” and you should “set laptop on a stand if you have to.” Personally, I have nailed my laptop to the ceiling, so I can be eye level while lying on the floor. It is not only very relaxing, but I feel really safe knowing that Kim Kardashian is looking down on me.
And don't forget your ears. The desk experts are OK with music, but warn “it may decrease performance on cognitive–demanding tasks.” That's a serious problem. If Sia and Psy are going to keep you from your most cognitive demanding task – deciding what to have for lunch – better hit “mute.”
“Avoid eye strain by cleaning your monitor” is Holmes' final tip, but I'm against it. If you clean your monitor you may actually see what you are working on, and that's going to be so depressing, you'll want to chop your desk up into kindling and set it on fire.
If that doesn't make your desk say “uncle,” give up.
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at firstname.lastname@example.org.