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Down Time At Work — What Do You Do?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the read-more-slashdot dept.

Businesses 319

An anonymous reader writes "I work in IT and find fairly often that I have 'down time.' I'll usually browse the web (Slashdot) or try to find something informative or educating to read. Sometimes, I even get caught up working on my personal webpage or other project that isn't exactly work related. What does everyone else do during these times, and how much time do they spend on non-work related things while at work?"

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319 comments

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Ping Pong... (5, Funny)

hbean (144582) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100248)

...is a very serious sport.

Box Folding (4, Funny)

mouse_8b (854310) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100444)

I fold pizza boxes. Also, be sure to tip your pizza deliverer well.

Slashdot? (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100826)

This really needs asking? Like when DO you post here?

Re:Slashdot? (2, Funny)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101256)

what you and other's fail to realize is... ITSATRAP!

Re:Slashdot? (3, Funny)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101408)

"IT Satrap", sounds like something from a business card.

Re:Box Folding (1)

workdeville (1166127) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101672)

I study topology in addition to working full time. I do my homework and/or read Munkres' Topology during my downtime. This is beneficial for everybody involved. Admittedly, topology isn't a work related subject. But the sharper my reasoning abilities are, the more efficient I can be in my current post.

What is this downtime thing? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22101630)

In almost 2.5 years in my current position, I don't recall more than about 10-15 minutes of downtime in a single "event". Moreover, there have been precious few of those events per week (as in, less than 5). You wouldn't survive a month in my environment....

Re:Ping Pong... (2, Interesting)

glennboulder (1220498) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101894)

Here at DELL the Jack Sass Radio Show podcast is a must listen. www.jacksassradio.com Jack has a dead on view of corporate life.

Asking slashdot? (4, Funny)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100266)

What IT does with Downtime? You must be new here

Re:Asking slashdot? (1)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100536)

maybe it was a rhetorical question? (just like this one)

Re:Asking slashdot? (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100714)

maybe it was a rhetorical question? (just like this one)

Nah, I don't think it was. And what does "rhetorical" mean?

Re:Asking slashdot? (5, Funny)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101534)

I get myself a coffee and go looking for a coworker with an imminent deadline, and have a chat, asking thing like "How was your holiday" or things like that.

Evil, I know. But it's still funny.

Well duh! (-1)

JordanL (886154) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100274)

I browse slashdot, modding everything -1 Overrated!

Re:Well duh! (1)

ZWarrior (194861) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100422)

I browse Slashdot, of course, and also other news sites. I also will work on personal stuff and read webcomics. But I don't much in the way of downtime usually so this is a rarity anyway.

Apparently this is not possible (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22100790)

Damn...tried to rate this -1 score post "Overrated" but the moderation system wouldn't let me. I guess "-1, Overrated" is not possible.

research or education (3, Funny)

alta (1263) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100280)

I research things that will make my company perform better, or I educate myself so I can perform better for the company myself. Have fun working on that website while you're out of work ;)

Re:research or education (5, Funny)

lonesome_coder (1166023) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100586)

I could have sworn I heard somebody say something from underneath my bosses desk...

Hmmm...

Re:research or education (3, Funny)

Kepesk (1093871) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100886)

I also educate myself in methods of making the company better. I find that the financial patterns of Eve Online are quite informative, and I rely on what I learn there for my everyday work habits.

Re:research or education (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22100960)

tool

Re:research or education (1)

GreggBz (777373) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100996)

I bet you're fun to work with. One of those, always has a suggestion for management types.

Re:research or education (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101192)

Or one of those people who extend meetings for hours by raising issue after issue, hashing over old questions, or asking irrelevant questions.

Re:research or education (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101746)

That sounds like me. but there is a fine line between looking stupid and not understanding what the meeting was about and attempting to be clear on what is expected. It is something we have to work at sometimes. That's why I paraphrase everything we discussed as a precondition to the question I ask.

I worked for one company and all my colleagues had a problem with that. I would mention it's name but it wouldn't matter, they are out of business now, it seems like my department was one of the few that made money though.

Re:research or education (3, Insightful)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101004)

I research things that will make my company perform better, or I educate myself so I can perform better for the company myself

You really ARE new here.

Besides, you are more productive if you take a break every now and then. So what you're saying is that you would rather LOOK like you're brown-nosing, while you're in fact making yourself LESS efficient, rather than taking time to talk with co-workers, etc., which improves the lines of communications in a company, and ultimately contributes more to the bottom line in terms of increased efficiencies.

Don't forget those new TPS reports. And your 35 pieces of flair.

Re:research or education (0)

magical_mystery_meat (1042950) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101908)

While I understand the spirit of what you're saying, I'm not the least bit interested in my co-workers personal lives and I'm not a good enough actor to do anything but insult their intelligence if I try to talk to them about them.

The only thing I want from my co-workers is to work well together and that shouldn't require anything more than professional respect, not knowing their kids' names or what they like to do on the weekends.

Re:research or education (5, Funny)

SparkleMotion88 (1013083) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101266)

I did that until I perfected myself and my work environment. Now I wander around the office improving other people.

Re:research or education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22101964)

Uh, ... ...so, ... do you consider posting to Slashdot here, at 1:05 PM, part of your... ...research efforts?

Are these discussions [slashdot.org] education efforts, ... ...perhaps?

You ask on slashdot? (3, Insightful)

Endymion (12816) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100302)

Talk about self-selecting for "I read web forums"...

Slashdot! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22100310)

A) Read Slashdot.
B) Submit stories to Slashdot.
C) Play video games stored on thumb drive.
D) Avoid getting more work.

Anything else?

In Soviet Russia (1)

spaceyhackerlady (462530) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100568)

In Soviet Russia Slashdot reads YOU!

1. Submit story to Slashdot
2. ???
3. Profit!

Seriously, I have a variety of toys to play with. Techie stuff, like GPSs and little embedded Linux computers.

...laura

Isn't it obvious? (2, Funny)

TheBrutalTruth (890948) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100338)

I read and post on Slashdot, you dolt!

Re:Isn't it obvious? (3, Funny)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100532)

I read and post on Slashdot, you dolt!
No, that's what you do during regular work time.

enjoyment for the mind... (1)

pig-power (1069288) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100368)

read a book for fun. whether fiction or non, whatever it is that takes you away from the day-to-day BS.

Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22100416)

pr0n

obligatory bash.org quote (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22100426)


#258908 +(12416)- [X]

  : If they only realized 90% of the overtime they pay me is only cause i like staying here playing with Kazaa when the bandwidth picks up after hours.
  : If any of my employees did that they'd be fired instantly.
  : Where u work?
  : I'm the CTO at LowerMyBills.com
*** Ben174 (BenWright@TeraPro33-41.LowerMyBills.com) Quit (Leaving)

Documentation (5, Insightful)

bensode (203634) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100434)

Documentation documentation documentation and more documentation. I always bitch I never have enough time for documentation and then I find myself trolling /.

It's not the most fun thing to do but it certainly something that can always keep you busy and you can never have too much of it as long as it is well written AND well organized.

What is this "down time" you speak of? (4, Interesting)

6350' (936630) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100438)

I honestly can't imagine what it would be like to have a job where if what's immediately in front of me is blocked, then I am blocked from working. I battle to keep my workweek hour-count at something reasonable, and have never once lacked for (way too much) to do. Tool isn't working? No worries, I've got a huge list of things to do using other tools. Hardware problem? I've got an extra box. Power failure in my wing? Sounds good: Ive got loads of people I need to meet with to hash out problems and sync up with. Fire alarm goes off in the building? I'll hang out in the parking lot with my coworkers and have some impromptu talks on things I'm working on (thank god this happens less often now that we have heat sensing, instead of smoke sensing, fire alarms).

The idea of having a job where a blocking problem means its time to browse websites, or percieving that my job would allow for that, is totally foreign to me. Seriously - are you honestly saying that in these situations that there is literally *nothing* work related for you to do?

(for those noting the time of day that I'm posting this response, I'm on vacation right now :P )

Re:What is this "down time" you speak of? (4, Informative)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101084)

You should read "Downtime as a Conscious Choice" by Lloyd Dobbler.

Try doing a PHD (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101166)

I honestly can't imagine what it would be like to have a job where if what's immediately in front of me is blocked, then I am blocked from working. I battle to keep my workweek hour-count at something reasonable, and have never once lacked for (way too much) to do. Tool isn't working? No worries, I've got a huge list of things to do using other tools. Hardware problem? I've got an extra box. Power failure in my wing? Sounds good: Ive got loads of people I need to meet with to hash out problems and sync up with. Fire alarm goes off in the building? I'll hang out in the parking lot with my coworkers and have some impromptu talks on things I'm working on (thank god this happens less often now that we have heat sensing, instead of smoke sensing, fire alarms).


Ha! no downtime? try doing a PhD and you will find plenty of "downtime". I learnt the meaning of the word "procrastinate" in the middle of my PhD. It was fine because that way I could refute when someone said "but you do not know what you are doing!". I also remember that some other PhD students (here in the UK) did not know the meaning of procrastinate. Of course, I learnt it in PhD Comics...

Builds. (1)

Besna (1175279) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101206)

Biggest I can think of. Also, any "on call" job will have down-time.

Re:Builds. (1)

ak3ldama (554026) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101450)

Tell me about it, I went to install the latest Windows SDK only to find out I had to first uninstall the previous one. Here goes a couple hours. Time to find a book.

Re:What is this "down time" you speak of? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22101318)

Talk about whipped...

Re:What is this "down time" you speak of? (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101456)

I honestly can't imagine what it would be like to have a job where if what's immediately in front of me is blocked, then I am blocked from working.

Try having to do Cell programming on a PS/3, and working at a place where anything "game"-related is blocked by the web filter. Your lack of imagination would be quickly remedied; trust me.

Re:What is this "down time" you speak of? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22101500)

Why not? Some employers and managers only want people to 'do a job' not work for the company.

I once quit a job because I was bored to tears for lack of things to do. Every time I started working on a project I was told not to do it for one reason or another. My favorite excuse was 'security'. I wasn't allowed to fix the bugs in a pre-existing Access database application that only my department used because of 'security' concerns despite the fact that I was trusted with read (and for some reason write) access to every database and file on the network. I ended up taking all kinds of jobs away from departments that were swamped with too much work (since I'd have to wait for them to do the work anyway) and didn't dare tell anyone for fear that I'd be told to stop doing the work. Ironically, the same employer would have fired me on the spot if they caught using the internet to so much as check some personal webmail.

By Neruos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22101668)

I have to agree with (6350' (936630)) completely. If your in a position where your work hours are not PMP related or project based and you do a flat 9-5. As a IT manager, if you have more then hour of 'downtime' where your not doing anything job related, I would start a process of giving you more work or dividing your work up amoung other areas and move you to a different area, or get rid of you.

Read Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22100446)

What else?

Hmmm (4, Funny)

tgd (2822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100456)

I read Digg.

(and wonder how moderators will interpret posts on /.)...

Re:Hmmm (2, Interesting)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101978)

I read Wikipedia. Before I know it, I've got 200 tabs open to various subjects. Fun way to kill downtime and learn new things.

This. (3, Funny)

techstar25 (556988) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100480)

I do this.

Re:This. (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100576)

This.

Re:This. (1)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101104)

Warning- the link in the parent poster's signature will break your heart.

And for all you who don't have display signatures turned on, here it is: Please help foster pets in need of medical care! [bcaaofnj.org] . For once, not a myminicity link!

Re:This. (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101344)

Actually, I meant that I read Slashdot, like the GP.

Re:This. (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101708)

that

Improve Something (1)

minusthink (218231) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100494)

Well, I try to do the same thing I do with any downtime. I try to create or improve something. Usually I'll end up configuring vim or writing some shell script to automate a task. It's not directly business related, but it makes me a better potential hire, thus a better (already hired) employee.

It's ridiculous to be expected to concentrate on one project for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. So I don't hold myself to that expectation. I work in spurts, and so far my employers have been very happy with me. That includes working on personal projects and the like.

In balance, I often think about work outside of work. I've thought up many designs outside office hours, and would have implemented them, if I wasn't hourly.

But apparently right now I'm reading slashdot.

TPS Reports (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100496)

and other BS work that the PHB's push on workers most people just like taking long bathroom / smoke / bakes to get out of it others just space out at there desks it looks like they are working and the PHB's just pass by there desks.

I... (1)

scubamage (727538) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100546)

browse WoW forums, check out slashdot, and if my supervisor is around I pop in certification training CD's that I download off mininova. I've gotten 3 certifications this way... nothing quite like getting paid to become a more valuble (and better paid) employee :)

Working right now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22100574)

Fr1st Ps0t

I visit my other cubical... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22100590)

That's right, I go take a three hour shit (at a minimum). I bring some reading material and I challenge myself to see how long I can stay in there before my I lose all feeling in my legs and have to leave.

It's better than surfing the web or doing personal stuff at your desk because you could never be fired for taking too long to shit; that would be discrimination.

Re:I visit my other cubical... (1)

jdjbuffalo (318589) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101808)

That is until they install a camera in your favorite stall to figure out why the hell you're taking so long...

Re:I visit my other cubical... (1)

icepick72 (834363) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101954)

Plus you don't have to wipe because after 3 hours (minimum) it's dried to your bottom and doesn't stink anymore.

Use GTD (1)

RobinH (124750) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100616)

If you use the David Allen "Getting Things Done" [wikipedia.org] system (I thought all IT professionals had read that book), then you just open up your @Work, @Anywhere, @Phone, @Online, @Computer lists and pick something out of there. You can't seriously have NOTHING to do, can you?

I would think that having nothing to do is like winning world of warcraft.

Re:Use GTD (1)

empaler (130732) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100900)

2008-01-14: I buy the (abridged) audio book from Audible.
2008-01-15: The unabridged edt. is released, at the same price for me (one subscriber credit)

What is this "Downtime" you speak of? (1)

elwin_windleaf (643442) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100622)

I'm a web developer at a medium-sized (county) municipality, and I don't encounter too much downtime. However, when it does happen, I usually try and brush up on the latest security news (Slashdot counts!), check server logs, clean out unused files from the web directory, etc. to keep me busy. They're all little things, none too terribly important, but it helps to keep things running smoothly. I try and keep personal stuff to a minimum, since I'm being paid with tax dollars, and will eventually have to pay for any of my 'goofing off' with my own taxes. I'd like to think other civil servants think the same way!

Duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22100632)

I'm here aren't I?

Downtime? Ack! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22100690)

By "downtime", I assume you mean "run out of things to read on slashdot". I generally head to the water cooler/coffee maker to observe others engaged in "conversation". I never participate, as I am still learning the concept of social interaction using oral communication.

I go home. Employer calls it "flextime". (4, Interesting)

Zarhan (415465) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100738)

If I need a short break from work, I'll just wander to our cafeteria and do a round of bowling on the Wii at the corner, and after 10 mins go back.

    If there is no work available, such as projects on hold due to waiting for somebody else (tech support, delivery, steering board decision, project member on vacation, whatever), I'll check if there's some low-priority stuff that I might do. Usually there isn't.

    Otherwise, I'll just head home. My contract says I must 7,5 hours per day - on average. Not that I must stay at office 7,5h pretending to be working when there's nothing to do. Of course, it also means that I occasionally do the 10-12 hours/day crunch through weekends when stuff finally gets moving - but you didn't ask what I do on "uptime", did you?-). (And yes, I keep tab on the hours - if I get more than +40 hours on my flextime account I either get paid the 200% overtime bonus (has never happened, they haven't needed me THAT much) or stop right there).

    (Yes, our project management could use refinement - usual situation that there are 5 projects on hold and the next week all five of them start up simultaneously - but that's another issue. Personally I'm comfortable with this - once you get into the "rhythm", it's much easier to just go on with the flow and do an "all-nighter"-style session - and once stuff is done, you can again have a few 2-hour workdays which consists of lunch, checking e-mails and do nothing more than say "hi" to buddies...)

    Now, this model works for me. For someone with a family a more stable 9-5 mode might be more preferable. For me with my 15 minute commute it's just about perfect (means that if there's a meeting from 9-10 am and another at 3-4 pm and nothing else to do, I can stop by at home). Also my employer trusts me and my coworkers - on my first day at job, my then-manager said "we have a trusting environment in here - if you want to punch in or out for tracking the hours, go ahead, but we don't require it.".

    My comment is focused on the downtime, as stated in the question. There's plenty of uptime to go around :)

Re:I go home. Employer calls it "flextime". (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22101476)

Wow don't you have the most perfect job. Tell me, has Cindy and Bobby reached puberty yet? How is that astro turf lawn treating you? Is Alice still cleaning your house?

Re:I go home. Employer calls it "flextime". (1)

MyGirlFriendsBroken (599031) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101556)

This is pretty much the situation for me, I work as a consultant, so have time on the bench in between projects. I'm not about to bust a gut on admin, reading up on things and generally playing with our technology to find something new we can do with it. So I will pitch up at either 7 or 10 to avoid the traffic and leave about 6 hours later. This makes up for all that time I spend on planes and in airport going to clients, working late or early to get stuff done etc. Plus when I am at home I have my laptop on VPN for standard working hours so i still respond to email and MSN.

At the end of the day, it depends on the trust between you and your employer. I give a load extra to them when needed, so I take it easy when there is no harm in it.

Down Time? (4, Funny)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100744)

What do you do with down time?

Down what?

Down time.

What time?

Down time.

What what?

I'll ask slashdot what they do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22100794)

I spend my free time asking other people what they do in their free time.

I CRy (1)

unablepostAC (1044474) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100926)

I Cry, and pray to the computers gods, that once down time is over, things get back normal.

Well (1)

mikkelm (1000451) | more than 6 years ago | (#22100936)

It depends, of course. If I have a lot of downtime, I find myself doing something related to work in one way or another. If we're just talking about the fifteen minutes you sometimes get in an otherwise hectic workday, I relax read the sites I usually read on my free time. Great for maintaining your sanity, not so great if it happens to be the only time during the day your supervisor checks in to see how you're doing with y on project x.

spam slashdot!!!!!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22100942)

Spam slashdot with links to myminicity and gay porno. Like this: http://niggerolipis.myminicity.com/ [myminicity.com]

Gadgets Gadgets Gadgets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22101024)

For the unsupervised - Palm Pilots and Pocket PC's are awesome for reading (get materials from Gutenberg or textfiles.com or where ever) and you can do some light gaming on them. Emulation can happen, too. From there, Game Boys or PSP's rule for the semi-serious gaming, or you can get an LCD screen to attach to your XBox, Gamecube, or PlayStation variant. Of course, an MP3 player droning in the background over some re purposed computer speakers is a must (the radio plays commercials and fucks with my chi).

I can't decide.... (5, Funny)

doyoulikeworms (1094003) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101088)

I'll just start doing whatever gets modded highest here.

I sympathize (2, Interesting)

aron1231 (895831) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101138)

I too have occasional downtime. The nature of IT is a lot like being on call - they only need you when there's a problem (aka "request"). If you do your job well, there's few problems, and they're solved quickly, which only leads to increased downtime.

I use this time to improve myself as much as possible. This can be through research, reading, testing, organizing, documenting, standardizing... etc... work related or not. As long as you're achieving some form of progress, and aren't negligent in your duties, there's little for your employer to gripe about. That is, unless he/she's a total headcase.

On a side note, it has always amazed me how, as an employee, there is little incentive to be your best. The more you do, and the quicker and better you do it, the more they give you. Now, SUPPOSEDLY, such people should be promoted/compensated. But there are only so many positions to be promoted to, and lots of eager people waiting for them. Few who work in such a fashion actually receive just compensation; this results in resentfulness and laziness. If everyone were payed on a performance basis, that would be great... but too often hard workers are taken advantage of by our broken form of hourly wage/salaried work.

Make it work-related--if only tangentially... (2, Informative)

Chuck Milam (1998) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101174)

I find I rarely run completely out of work-related tasks, but I can understand sometimes needing to unplug from strictly-related work to reset the brain. When I need some "brain reset" time, I try to read up on something that at least tangentially relates to work, for example, I've been meaning to learn more about Ruby on Rails and some other newer (at least to this old guy) technologies.

I feel the more I learn and the more current I stay, the more valuable I am to my employer (and myself/future employers). Plus, if anyone were to ask, I can honestly say "I'm researching some possible implementations of the new [insert project name] system."

I should point out that this kind of pure guilt-free downtime is rare. You can always be updating that documentation *groan* or working on that nagging system with the logfile that always fills up the disk that you've been meaning to fix for months now...

life going away (1)

SupremeDiety (658660) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101190)

I blog about how work is completely wasting my time and their money. underexploited.

easy (1)

hurfy (735314) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101218)

Install Windows updates

Err..wait, you didn't want what creates the downtime?

I'll have to agree on the self-selecting comment :)
Besides online forums? Buying sf books on ebay perhaps, usually my last hour which is 5-6pm and usually noone left :)

Look for another job (4, Insightful)

alandd (243817) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101280)

If I have enough down time to get wrapped up in my own personal projects, I better start looking for another job. Positions with full-time pay and part-time work get out-sourced or eliminated, I'd expect.

Besides, while I don't like having way too much to do, being busy providing value to your employer and yourself is more rewarding than being paid to be paid.

Sounds like you don't like the down time or feel guilty about it. Go find another job or create a better one where you are.

Empire helps... (2, Interesting)

CormacJ (64984) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101380)

I find that Empire [wikipedia.org] helps any downtime that I may have. Of course the big problem is trying to make sure that it doesn't eat into the time when I really should be working...

There is no downtime. (3, Funny)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101394)

Until the coffemachine breaks. That means panic.

Other than that it is just slow response from the system.

Reboot (1)

GungaDan (195739) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101494)

Usually that clears up the downtime. When it doesn't, and most of the time when it does, I drink.

What downtime?? (1)

MrM (169109) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101498)

What's "downtime"???

I'm in IT and our shop has NO downtime. We're all busy. In fact, we could clone ourselves, hire the clones (send in the clones?), and we *might* be close to getting all the projects done that the business wants us to do.

Ping pong?

Must be nice... :)

Reverse Downtime. (1)

Toon Moene (883988) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101540)

How about "reverse downtime". I.e., you work on your workstation at home using a secure ssh tunnel, because the stuff in the work place leaves much to be desired ?

How about disk space (my case: 60 Gbyte vs 20 Gbyte; was 2 Gbyte until a month ago).

AMD 64 processor instead of this lame 32-bit stuff we have to make do with.

Bah.

down time?!?! (1)

mwebbsc (980654) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101544)

What's down time?!?!

You are new. I'll help you out! (4, Insightful)

PotatoHead (12771) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101550)

Research and Development.

Always it's this.

Things don't reach a state of running very well without people thinking about how to get there. Your downtime is a chance to explore an idea, setup test environments, write scripts to nail annoying and recurring problems, work on your budget justification, yes --surf some /., etc...

Ongoing investment in these things pays off. You are surprised less, plan better, and leverage your people, hardware and software better.

Don't worry, you won't get all the way there. Software update cockups, user error, and entropy in general will keep you busy. But, having done these things, the real downtime you get after that is rock solid! Listen to a few mp3's, surf /., read about some new tech, etc... you will have earned it.

I'm a freelancer. I have no downtime. (1)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101564)

But honestly: You have downtime in an IT related job? WTF is that? How about automizing your workflow or that of your team? If your downtime amounts to reasonable slices of time talk to your boss about which processes you should look into to speed things up. Learn a new PL, check out neat new technologies and products that could help you, your team or your company. Train interns and get them on the right path and away from the dark side of the force (Windows & Closed Source).
Downtime - there is no such thing. And if it only is that you train yourself for a broadened set of work-related skills.

I always... (1)

CaptScarlet22 (585291) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101592)

Play WOW of course!!!! How do you think got all that rep! At home? With a Wife? No way in hell!!!

Re:I always... (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101910)

Not if its your wife who is hooked on wow.

I am sick of that game and all she does is play it.

Troll... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22101644)

Feed me!

what do you do? (1)

Amocat (1210616) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101688)

Most of the time I put my head down and cry...

get to work! (-1, Troll)

CCDork (733118) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101712)

What a slacker! You guys are all the reason that people like me get frustrated when our infrastructure sucks and doesn't live up to system requirements. Get to !@#$%^ work. If I ever found myself without work items on a project then my company is not going to make it. Find something to do. Make something better. Go above and beyond. If you are reasonly skilled in IT then you know there is always something to improve, optimize, etc. This is the first article I have ever responded to because it makes me so sick. "Down time" is not what made America great. You make me sick.

It depends on the manager (4, Interesting)

sasha328 (203458) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101736)

I used to work for HP at a large outsource customer's site. I looked after a select group of users. After a few months, myself and another guy, managed to get everything so down pat, that requests for assistance dropped dramatically, and our quality of service was pretty high. The manager was happy.
He basically let us do anything we wanted, preferably to educate ourselves or help other team members, as long as our requests for help or special projects were attended to first, which we always did. Reading teh internet because boring after a while, because you can do all that in an hour, then you run out of things of interest to read.

I learned and managed to introduce Linux into the environment. We also developed a sophisticated network interrogation tool to gather infomration about a user's environement, applications and PC status: basically about 3 of us worked out that if we have enough information, most of the time we can fix a user's PC remotely, or do preventative maintenance prior to problems occuring. All this was done via Windows scripts which dumped data into a central folder, then another perl guru in our trio did some parsing of the reports and populated a database. This database was visible on a web site searcheable by host name. It was so useful and successful, that word reached the upper echelons of the company. We did not charge the customer anythign for this. It was all to help us do our jobs quicker. Pretty much two or three times a week we'd go out for a 2-hour lunch, and the boss sometimes joined us. On quiet days we used to even play networked games, and before the manager's responsibilities grew drastically, he used to join in.

After six years, the contract was terminated, and so the team got disbanded. That was the sad thing, the team as a whole, I later found out, was number one in terms of SLAs and customer satisfaction in the whole Asia Pacific region. It also had the lowest ratio of admin to technical staff at about 1 to 20 or so. The average in AP was about 1 to 5 and for some customers it was close to 1 to 1.

On a side note, when word reached the top of the management chain about the tools we've developed, they tried to make us stop using it because it threatened the potential sale of a "management" tool that they were trying to sell to the customer.

Back on topic, it all depends on what your manager can tolerate. A good manager would let you do whatever as long as your work comes first.

R&D, Study, Document (2, Insightful)

Bigbutt (65939) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101786)

Since I was hired to help understand the systems better, I spend a lot of time poking around and seeing what's what. Generally I find more work (like drives that have been complaining for 2 years).

I also document and help others on the team document their knowledge.

There's nothing worse than wanting to advance in the company and not being able to because you're the only one that knows the super secret way everything works together (or you're hit by a bus :) ).

I do a lot of reading as well. Slashdot being one but I also have a subscription to Safari so I can keep up on books without having to overload my library.

But I also pop out to hobby forums or read non-work related text. I have pdfs of most of my RPG books so I can have it open in the background and poke around in there. I also work on my web site from time to time. Since it's somewhat technical anyway, I can generally get away with it although I try not to be too obvious about it :)

[John]

Podcasts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22101792)

I load my 16 gig IPOD Touch up with 100-200 podcasts, both video and audio and head to the can. I could watch video podcasts all day in the crapper.

Real work. (5, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101800)

Downtime is for those projects that nobody will officially let you start, nobody "wants" and nobody will pay you to implement. Then, when you spend all that downtime putting it in, you pretend that you did it in your own time alongside your normal work, and people suddenly discover that all the projects that they considered a waste of time become something that they can't live without.

At least, that's how it's worked everywhere I've ever been employed.

For example, in a Windows-only school at which the only person who'd ever heard of Linux (the IT manager) treated mention of it like some kind of first word from a child ("Oh, you use Linux. That's cute. Tell me when you make something 'useful' out of it."), I had a few hours of downtime. Found a spare "obsolete" PC. Found a couple of network cards. Was tired of the "Linux being nothing more than a toy" digs.

In three hours (including install, configuration and a lot of testing) I implemented a caching, transparent proxy/filter which to this day is still filtering the Internet (with zero configuration changes either on the clients, servers or any other devices) for over a thousand users without anybody noticing any difference and saving the school in question several thousand pounds on buying their own filtering appliance (from the prices we were quoted). I implemented it in an afternoon and it went into full live service when school finished that day and is still there churning away. It's zero-maintenance (unless someone wants a particular website blocked, in which case they just stick its name into a plain text file), "invisible" to the network users so, unlike some of the other network equipment, the kids don't try to "hack" it and even if they do only the squid port actually does anything.

It's never been rebooted, never caused a problem, is the only thing standing between the kids and the nasty side of the Internet, is now the de facto and only Internet filtering within the school and if it ever "breaks" it has a Cat5-coupler taped to it with instructions - couple the "In" Ethernet cable to the "Out" cable and, without doing anything else, you bypass the filter without anyone noticing more than a seconds downtime. Obviously, it's in a secured cabinet so that only the IT manager can do that, but the demonstration of "now we're filtered, *click*, now we're not, *click*, now you're running off my proxy, *click*, now it's all back how it was before today, *click*"... was enough to silence the Linux-critic once and for all.

Then there's the school running a Jabber IM system that they "would never use". Then there's the school running the PHP helpdesk for which they had no use. Then there's the one whose IT department are running their own recording CCTV computer which nobody but the IT department know about, which emails them movies of any movement in the IT office overnight or when nobody is supposed to be in - it's already caught several "wanderers" who just happened to walk through the locked IT office when they had no need to and "just looked" at the pile of laptops hidden away. That system later got re-used to record classes for approximately £500 less per camera then our usual CCTV supplier.

All the best projects are done when you let the people who know how just let loose with their own ideas and not worry about whether the end product will be useful. Downtime is perfect for this and turns the most boring moments into the most interesting, especially if you have a large IT team who can all "show off" to each other.

Down time? (0)

Pope (17780) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101806)

What's that?

When you're the Boss... (2)

bughunter (10093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101850)

In my last job, I was the second highest-ranked person in the building (Exec Row was across the street). If I closed my door, no one bothered me. Except for the first highest-ranked person, so if someone knocked on my door, I knew who it was.

Most of the time, when I closed my door it was to get work done, undisturbed.

But sometimes, I closed my door to eat, nap, or occassionally even rub one out.

(Sounds good, until you realize that when you're the second-highest ranked, there's not much room to rise. I left there to go work at a place where some upward mobility remained. And even the VPs work in cubicles here.)

/still looking for a place to go rub one out, occasionally

Think about the alternative if your fired (1, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 6 years ago | (#22101872)

Negative reinforcement sucks but after taking crappy jobs and leaving IT several years ago it made me realize how lucky I had it.

  Whenever I goof off at school or work I just think "well I am sure OfficeMax or that amusement park I used to work for picking up trash at 5:30am needs my help. Maybe I should give them a call ..". It motives me to appreciate my boss and work to make sure I stay where I am and give them my best even if its not ideal. There are lots of crappy things you can be doing for little pay which is true even with a college degree.

Perhaps your job is not ideal which is why you keep daydreaming? Or your unchallenged? Then you need to accept more responsibilities at work or try something different elsewhere? Life is too short.
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