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How I Knew I Wanted to Leave my Cubicle Job

Gabrielle Garrett
July 8, 2019
1 Comment

When I looked up the definition of a cubicle, here’s what I found:

“A cubicle’s purpose is to isolate office workers and managers from the sights and noises of an open workspace so that they may concentrate with fewer distractions. Cubicles are composed of modular elements such as walls, work surfaces, overhead bins, drawers, and shelving, which can be configured depending on the user’s needs.”

I mean, what’s more YUCK than that?

I trust that if you’re reading this blog on some level you’re ready to jump out of your “manufactured without distractions cube” and into something more thrilling… maybe something with a window, perhaps?

Yet, when we decide to even begin to do the research of making a change, it’s very easy to convince ourselves that this is just a thing we “might” do. Not to mention, the process of changing your life can make you feel like the rug is being yanked from under you. Security is tricky, especially when it comes to how you make your money. Because of these reasons and more, before I tell you how to escape your four walls, I want to discuss with you WHY this leap is imperative for your health, happiness and for the world.

If you take your time and absorb the reasons why you might not want to work in your cube, it’s my belief that as we discuss practical go-get-’em tips, you have will have the zest to follow through and actually make your dreams come true this time.

Let’s start with a little quiz. You can answer Yes/No in your head, or in the margins of this page, or in your favorite notebook.

  1. Is the work you do on a day to day basis meaningful? 
    1. Is it meaningful to you personally? (Noone is listening, be honest) 
  2. Do you respond to over 40 emails a day?
    1. Do any of them merit significant 2 hour response times? (I’ll answer this one for you… No!)
  3. Will what you’re working towards right now matter in 10 years?
  4. Are you trying to climb the corporate ladder?
  5. If someone gave you a check for $200,000 – would you change jobs?

Eye-opening, huh?

A study by Ergotron found that nearly 70 percent of full-time American workers hate sitting, yet 86 percent do it all day, every day. That’s just SITTING! I’m sure if Ergotron also asked full-time workers if they hated their jobs – they’d have a whole lot of interesting data to compile.

CareerBuilder got a little closer, finding that nearly 3 in 5 workers (59 percent) believe the traditional 9-to-5 work day is a thing of the past. Leaving me to wonder, what happens from 9-5, as forty-five percent of workers in the study said  they complete work outside of office hours; and 49 percent say they check or answer emails when they leave work. 

No wonder we feel burned out!

At my first job, I once strolled back from an office break around 11 A.M., As I slid into the office, not exactly incognito, wearing disposable pedicure flip flops from the nail salon. I trotted into my cubicle, feeling a little brighter from my break; but still nowhere close to mentally ready to work. I had spent the entire time I was on my break worrying about returning to my cubicle within the allotted 60 minute per day break time.(#BreakGuilt)

As I returned on the 79 minute mark, flustered, I slid the transparent cube door shut. I sat down and prepared to take notes on another unimportant call. (Notes which I was sure no one really read.) 

In this moment, my boss popped by, “Pedicure flip flops? Where’d you go?” she questioned.

“Oh here we go, Adrienne*!” I casually thought to myself, instead I replied,  “Oh, I went to get my nails done because I have a call from 12-1, so I figured I’d jet out early for my break,” I awkwardly responded, as if all of those details were imperative.

“So, you took a break at 10:00 am?” she confirmed.

“Yeah, that’s what I said, DID I STUTTER?!.” I wanted to reply, but instead I just paused. I learned once if you pause for eight seconds, the other person will solve their own problem.

And, she did. 

Adrienne went on to explain our breaks were only allotted from the 12-1 timeframe. In essence, the boss explained I did not, and would not in the future have the flexibility to choose when I would break.

This taught me a few things:

  1. To leave pedicure flip flops in my car from now on
  2. My boss was a blonde know-it-all nosy asshole
  3. Personal errands (“self-care” style) were not OK at 10:30 am, but, maternity appointments were fine at all hours. (Note: I’m sure those are hard to get and being pregnant is not an adventure I’ve been kicked out of. But, I’m just sayin’ ladies with bellies RULED that department.)
  4. I wasn’t really cut out for this type of work environment.

Getting pedicures mid-morning might seem like the silliest reason to want to leave your job. You might think I’m nuts and my boss had 100% reason to put me in my place. And, you’re probably right but that’s not the point of this story. 

The point of this pedicure moment is that I learned how my brain worked that otherwise un-noteworthy office day.

My brain requires breaks to be at my most creative self. Sometimes I can work for 6 hours straight, sometimes I can only work in 25 minute increments. Other times, I might need to go get a juice, then a coffee… and plan a cocktail date to inspire myself to wrap up my work.

In an office where rules reign and 8:00 A.M. start times mean running red lights and skipping the Chick-fil-A breakfast line…I was doomed to fail.

But, of course, I had to learn that lesson 50 ways before I really left my lover…


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PS: Loved this blog? You'll love my book, 50 ways to magic! Click here to read.

One comment on “How I Knew I Wanted to Leave my Cubicle Job”

  1. How to Schedule Your Day for Creativity and Productivity (Guest Post by Gabi Garrett) – E-Partners Marketing says:

    […] it. Creating a routine was a unique challenge for me as part of the reason I left the office, or “Cube Land” as I lovingly call it, was to combat the monotony and schedule-y feeling of the 9-5. I had to accept […]

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