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Goofing Off is Good for the Soul

As a typical Gen Xer, I’m a firm believer that goofing off can provide amazing benefits. I’m sure Boomers and Traditionalists would disagree with me, but it cracks me up how some Boomers and Traditionalists don’t realize how much they goof off themselves! Standing around the “water cooler” chatting is certainly the equivalent of Facebooking, twittering, texting, e-mailing or instant messaging.

However, generations (in the workplace and in every day life) see things differently which we’re all learning.

I definitely keep strict time limits on my work personal e-mail and Internet usage – and I don’t endorse spending very much time at the office actually not working. We’re in a recession friends, our jobs are really important. If you have one, you better do whatever you can to keep it.

However, we all need a breather no matter how long or short our work day is. I don’t think the powers that be want to see our heads pressed against our computer screens and our fingers glued to our keyboards all day long. And I’m pretty sure they want us to take bathroom breaks and even stretch every now and then. But we also need small mental breaks. I know that these lapses of reality certainly make me more creative and boost my energy.

Here are the top 10 ways I like to goof off while I’m at work:

  1. Facebook
  2. Sending a funny e-mail to a friend
  3. Playing with a toy from my 1980s toy basket
  4. Staring off into space
  5. Prank calling my co-workers in the Orlando office
  6. Writing a to-do list
  7. Wandering over to the official Candy Keeper’s office for a treat
  8. Looking something random up on
  9. Sending a text message
  10. And, and

Warning! Warning! Warning! I do not practice more than one or two of these things per day and your goofing off should last no longer than three minutes. If you spend any more time than that you’re entering into the Slacker Zone and you are doing yourself, and your company a disservice.

These activities should also not be using up much of your co-workers’ time and should not be disruptive. It is of the utmost importance to keep your goofing off on the down low. Otherwise, you’ll be known as The Loser in the office who bothers other employees and who is wasting the company’s valuable time, and you might be the first person on the chopping block if your company has to downsize.

Writing is a huge part of what I do, and I know for a fact that my brain and my fingers must be in alignment to produce a piece. I can’t sit down at a keyboard and knock an article out right away. I need time to plan and to think. I reserve that right, and if I say so myself, I think it pays off.

I also welcome distractions from others if they don’t take up too much time. If somebody walks by my desk and says something funny or plays a joke on me, I find that inspiring.

Every time, my co-worker, Mike, comes in town from the Orlando office, he does something silly to my desk and office supplies. Mike’s favorite trick is to put tape on my receiver and it really does take me a while to figure out why I can not get a dial tone. And he likes to hide my stapler and tape. However, last time I was at the Orlando office, I took all of the gumballs out of his Darth Vader gumball machine and filled it with paperclips and hid the gumballs. Come on, that is funny!

My co-worker, Joel, has an obsession with changing the daily quote on my quote board to something completely absurd. He likes to replace letters and mix words around. The funniest part is that he tries so hard to do it without me noticing and I always catch him. I find it hilarious when I see that Joel has melded a Shakespeare quote with Snoop Dogg lyrics.

Some people might find work silliness annoying and obnoxious, and actually I do, too when people take it too far. However, I almost shudder to think how dull life would be (personally and professionally) if there wasn’t a little leeway to have fun. When you think about it, that’s basically what life is about … working hard, and finding little moments to make it all worthwhile.

><(("> Mandy Stark

Mandy is a ><(("> Friend of Catch Your Limit, a marketing firm with offices in Tallahassee, Florida and Richmond, Virginia. To contact Mandy email her at or to learn more about Catch Your Limit, visit

Posted in Fun, Organizational Culture.


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