Surviving and thriving in your first cubicle job

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Cubicles are the infamous bane of ideal workplaces — most of us don’t dream about plonking down at a small enclosed desk from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but it’s one of the evils of work life. 

That being said, it’s likely that you’ll work a cubicle job at least once in your life, so it’s best to be prepared. Between sprucing up the dull gray walls and remembering to breathe in some fresh air every once in a while, here are a few tips and tricks to help you survive cubicle life.

Decorate within reason

Leave the fairy lights at home, but bring some photos, artwork and maybe a small desk plant. You’re going to be spending a lot of time at this desk, so you might as well make it feel as much like your own space as you can. Adding photos of friends and family can also remind you of what you can look forward to once you’re off work.

Photos of yourself during some of your best moments can also help to remind you of what you’re working for. Like Homer Simpson, remember who you’re doing this for — you’re doing it for you.

Make friends

There’s probably at least one cubicle next to yours — why not start a little chat every now and then? It’s best to be on good terms with the person you’re destined to sit beside every day, if only so you have a friend to complain with when the microwave inevitably starts smelling like fish.

Adding to that, though, it’s just a good idea to be on good terms with as many people as you can. Of course, if someone’s mean then disregard trying to get on good terms with them, but it’s best to not start drama in the workplace. It might seem funny in “The Office,” but your boss is not Michael Scott, and it won’t be fun. 

Go outside

Lunch break is the most obvious choice. Even if you packed your own food, don’t eat at your desk if you can help it. This is one of the only slivers of time you’ll get to go outside and breathe in some fresh air, so it’s best to make the most of it. 

That being said, if it’s nowhere near lunchtime, a five-minute walk never hurts. Five minutes is hardly a lot of time to be “wasting,” and it’s best to get out as much pent up energy as you can before you have to stay sitting for a few more hours. 

Get a (quiet) fidget toy

Stress balls are fairly popular in office environments, but fidget toys are a good way to keep at least one hand active while reading over paperwork at your desk. Releasing your energy in increments while at your desk is a great way to tie yourself over when you can’t take a short walk and are feeling restless.

A quiet fidget toy is recommended so the noise doesn’t disturb your neighbors. You don’t want to annoy anyone with the sound of a pen clicking, and there are plenty of little things you can do that are relatively silent to get out some energy. 

Listen to a good playlist

Of course, it’s a good idea to listen to music if it helps you focus while working. Instead of just listening to music, though, you should go the extra step and find a radio station or build a playlist of continuous music. Having a never-ending loop of work music will help get you in the mood for productivity, and a possible playlist can be found on page four of this issue.

People work better to different genres of music. I know that I personally prefer some electro-swing or lo-fi hip hop while working, but nostalgic or classical music are both common playlists to compile. Putting together a playlist of songs you already think of as workable will save you time as well as keep you from skipping over songs you might want to focus on more, since these would require brainpower and time that you can’t dedicate while on the office grind. 

Not every job will have you sitting in an enclosed space, and not all of these tips are viable for every workspace. Finding your footing in a new workspace boils down to figuring out what works for you and what’s allowed within the constraints of your office. Just remember to put your well-being first.

Sakura Cannestra is the managing editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @SakuCannestra.