Work sucks more on a Monday.
Works sucks a ridiculous amount more after a vacation.
But do you know when work sucks the most? It’s after a senseless and incomprehensible tragedy.
ISIS. Mother Nature. Lone Wolf, asshole. Whatever.
There’s nothing like a shitstorm to cast a fleeting light on your own mortality. And of course the life and death of those you love.
Because at the end of the day, how important is the work we do? We might like to believe it’s important. Heck, maybe 1 out of 1000 of you is doing something that makes a difference in the world. But the harsh reality is that your work doesn’t matter. It doesn’t define you and it most definitely does not impact the world in some comforting and positive way. Those 40 hours a week you are spending in corporate prison are essentially thrown in the trash. Sorry, it hurts to read but it’s true.
So when people die, and we find ourselves distracted and anxious and sacred or super-duper complacent, how do we tune it out and get back to our unimportant jobs?
Shut Down the Endless Stream of Content
Pray. Donate. Do whatever you have to feel better about the tragic event. But then put it behind you. Do not get caught up in the endless news cycle. A choppy video of someone running for their life will not add anything positive to your own existence. Your coworkers’ platitudes, while frustrating to endure, are merely a coping mechanism. There is no shame in telling your cubemates that you’d rather not talk about anything so negative and return to the work at hand.
Throw Yourself Into the Abyss
If “professional” sports were originally invented by rudimentary governments to control and distract the masses, can’t the same be said for work? Let your mundane and trivial career be the ultimate distraction. Sharpen those pencils; re-write those lists; target Inbox Zero. Whatever the task, do it with 100% effort. It’s all bullsh*t, but in this moment, it’s valuable bullsh*t.
Stop the Horror in Its Tracks
When thoughts of the tragedy pop into your head, beat them away with though stopping, a technique where you interrupt your thoughts to remove the problematic thought or image. YMMV.
Use Your Vacation Time to Help
Stop thinking. Stop talking. Use the vacation days that you will probably end up squandering to go to the scene of the crime. Donate time; blood. Shut the f*ck up and go make a difference. You certainly won’t impact the world from that desk.
The choice is yours. Let your brain run wild while you pretend to do meaningless work or write a memo to the CEO that the parking lot security is too lax. Your best course of action? Throw yourself into something. Anything. Even if it’s your totally and completely unimportant job.