How do people who take frequent smoke breaks ever get anything done?

The window behind me is near a door where people congregate to smoke. I see the same people coming back many times throughout the day, lingering for what seems sometimes like 20 or even 30 minutes. I swear, some of these folks seem to be out there 8 or more times a day.

Meanwhile, I get up occasionally to get more water or a cup of coffee and I’m back at my desk within two minutes, tops. OK, unless I have to brew a fresh pot of coffee and then I wait just long enough to swap my mug for the carafe under the drip while it’s brewing, just to save time. (And of course, there’s the five minutes I’m spending writing this message.)

I’m not saying people shouldn’t take breaks, and I’m not saying I’m not a little more rushed lately than I wish I had to be, but 8 breaks of 20 minutes each? Dude, that’s pretty luxurious. And I still want to know how they manage to get anything done.

Smoke breaks at work

29 thoughts on “Smoke breaks at work

  • December 4, 2003 at 2:08 am
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    Whenever I’m in the office, I feel the same way about chat breaks. I sometimes chase my boss out of my “office” (aka the conference room; I work there) because he likes to chat with me but I can’t work and talk at the same time. Other people are constantly chatting, too.

    Makes me feel less guilty for wasting time here. 🙂

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  • December 4, 2003 at 2:22 am
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    Sometimes I think I waste a lot of time working at home. But then I remember just how often I was interrupted for chat breaks. There were some guys in my office who could kill an entire day. I’m not usually the kind of person to speak up and kick them out, especially since I was often working in a room with other people all taking these chat breaks at a different time.

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  • December 4, 2003 at 2:24 am
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    When I was still working, I took doctor ordered walks and rest breaks at least every two hours. I tried to incorporate errands into them and errand-running *was* part of my job (though one which could sometimes be delegated–which I did on days I simply could not walk that far), so I was pretty good at coordinating this stuff. One of my bosses took me to task over it one day and I explained (a) he knew about this when he hired me full-time and acknowleged that this was a reasonable accomodation; (b) I wasn’t *wasting* time–I was doing *work* on these “breaks”, something my doctor explicitly told me *not* to do; (c) I was still at my desk or doing office-stuff in the office far more than the 40% of the office staff who were smokers.

    He left me alone for awhile, but I quit when the third year of spring commencement hell was looming and they still hadn’t hired any extra part-timers to take the slack off me (something every single one of my predecessors had), nor had they taken any steps to prevent people near my desk from spraying perfume and lysol ALL DAY LONG. I was too sick. I quit.

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  • December 4, 2003 at 2:31 am
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    I’ve had jobs like that, and I’ve also worked for companies where the smokers had started taking their lunch break in 3 10-minute breaks throughout the day (well, night, I worked overnights) and the company came down on them for *that* and said they could only smoke on their lunch break.

    Which, to me, seems fair. I don’t get to randomly take a ten minute break every hour or two just to wander around, or check email, or anything else, so why should smokers?

    We get a 15 minute break in the morning, and a 15 minute break in the afternoon, and a 30 minute lunch where I am now, and I think that would accomodate smokers just fine, except that, well, there aren’t any. Which is nice.

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  • December 4, 2003 at 2:32 am
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    It makes me wonder how they manage to keep their jobs.

    Most of my ‘extra’ stuff during the work day (like right now) is downtime.

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  • December 4, 2003 at 2:57 am
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    I sit on the end of an isle of cubes, which means a lot of traffic. Through out the day, people tend to congregate at my cube and talk to either me or each other. As much as I love the friendship and chat time, I get annoyed if I’m trying to work. Let alone of if my boss walks by at that point in the day when everyone is standing there.

    I’m going to request to be moved when/if Bldg3 and Bldg1 developers converge.

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  • December 4, 2003 at 3:15 am
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    Where do you sit anyway? Next time I need a break, I should wander over and bug you.

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  • December 4, 2003 at 3:15 am
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    Hey, are you local now?

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  • December 4, 2003 at 3:18 am
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    I can’t even count how many times I’ve threatened to take up smoking just so I could waste half of my day outside smoking instead of working.
    Of course, I surf the internet instead of smoke, so we’ll see who’s healthier in the end 😉

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  • December 4, 2003 at 3:23 am
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    Yeah, that’s sort of how I do it, too. When I come across something I need to talk to other people about, if they’re in my general vicinity I’ll get up and walk over to talk to them face-to-face. It’s more pleasant, the communication tends to be more clear, I spare my wrists from having to type email, I get exercise, and it feels like I’m taking a break even when I’m getting work done.

    Unfortunately, this campus is rather large and I work with people across the organization, so it wouldn’t be practical to do that every time I had issues to discuss (half my day would be spent going between buildings), but for talking with the folks nearby, it’s great.

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  • December 4, 2003 at 3:24 am
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    Yup and I brought some Coonie coffee with me. Better come get some before its all gone *laughs*

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  • December 4, 2003 at 4:06 am
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    I’m game for cawffee when you are. 🙂

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  • December 4, 2003 at 4:12 am
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    I used to smoke and worked for the health department. I took three smoke breaks a day…one in the morning, one at lunch and one in the afternoon and I always made sure to be back within ten minutes. One of my co-workers once jumped on me about taking breaks and I explained that California law requires two fifteen minute breaks and one lunch hour(or half hour depending on your hours) and that they could take breaks too.
    I don’t think I was slacking off at all. And even today…now that I don’t smoke, I would still probably take those two breaks and get a snack or take a walk.
    Those breaks are your right by law (at least here in CA)to be used. So many people seem afraid to use them though and I wonder why.
    hugs to you.

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  • December 4, 2003 at 4:22 am
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    It sounds like you weren’t slacking off, and neither is anyone who takes a reasonable amount of breaks for a reasonable length of time. It’s the people who seem to be taking breaks more often than they work that annoy me.

    Hugs right backatcha. 🙂

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  • December 4, 2003 at 4:24 am
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    When I was an operations manager at a hotel, I always used to get called to cover various posts so people could take smoke breaks. It used to frustrate me, because I never had time in my day to break for lunch or some days, pee! But I was supposed to find time go cover the front desk, or valet, or bell stand? A HUGE number of people in the hotel industry smoke. I jokingly said I’d take it up, so I could get breaks in my day.

    The office I work in now is very chatty. I have a quad cube pod all by myself, next to an empty pod of 6. People pretty much leave me alone. Its nice. I get lots done.

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  • December 4, 2003 at 4:42 am
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    As much as I would like that, I doubt you’re willing to make a trip to bldg3… just for a break. hehe

    bldg 3-2nd floor East side..
    cube is near the glass wall.. it’s the only one w/ the light fluorescent lights above unplugged..

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  • December 4, 2003 at 5:05 am
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    Why don’t you come by some time this weekend?

    Do you have kids?

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  • December 4, 2003 at 6:28 am
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    Just . He’s older than I am but he’s still very much a kid. 🙂

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  • December 4, 2003 at 6:33 am
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    Oh. Yeah, probably not for a break. But I’m in that building occasionally, so I’ll try to remember to come by and bug you next time. 🙂

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  • December 4, 2003 at 8:49 am
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    At the last place I worked before going back to school, it seemed like one whole department spent nearly half their days outside smoking on our loading dock. One woman in particular seemed to literally be outside smoking more than she was inside working.

    Of course, that company went from nearly 100 employees to under 25 now. I imagine everybody who does still have a job is so busy that breaks are rare these days.

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  • December 4, 2003 at 10:56 am
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    Cool. Bring him too!

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  • December 4, 2003 at 1:52 pm
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    … but 8 breaks of 20 minutes each?

    This never used to bother me until about a month ago when one such smoker who I thought of as a friend gave me shit on my way in one day about wanting my hours because I got to come in at 9:15 instead of 8:30. As much as it’s none of her business, I assured her I would be there long after she was gone for the day and that she definitely wouldn’t want my hours. Now it seems I see her outside smoking at least 8 times a day and it annoys the hell outta me.

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  • December 5, 2003 at 2:03 am
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    Depends on the type of work. I used to take breaks downstairs because two of the funtionals took cig breaks there and I could ask them questions – so was almost a mini-meeting. otherwise I woudl take them when I would get in a ‘must think on this’ situation.

    Now I read livejournal instead.

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  • December 5, 2003 at 5:19 am
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    Yeah, I did work in one company where nearly everyone was a smoker and so, to get anything done, I would frequently have to step out onto the “smoking balcony” and meet with people who were already having mini-meetings with the other smokers. I found that very annoying as I had recently quit smoking and it was more exposure to cigarettes than I really needed.

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  • December 5, 2003 at 5:53 am
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    Yeah, that prejudice a lot of people have against later working hours is weird. Why would those who start work later necessarily be working fewer hours?

    I used to get it a lot, but now I’ve switched to early hours, and I’m often here later than anyone else anyway. Ah, the joys of this project.

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  • December 6, 2003 at 4:56 am
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    That’d be fun, but I’m so slammed with work that I don’t think I could do anything before the new year. Maybe then?

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  • December 6, 2003 at 12:01 pm
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    I’m sure we’ll be here

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  • December 13, 2003 at 1:29 am
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    Incidentally, my email addy is kate at honeybowtie dot com if you’d like to mail me and we can iron out some details. Hope we can sort out a visit!

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  • December 16, 2003 at 1:24 pm
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    It depends on the job. Probably half my job (programmer) is simply figuring stuff out (analysis, if you want to be high-falootin’) — either what’s going on in an existing system, or how a new system should work. There have been several times when I’ve spent two hours on a particular problem, got frustrated, went outside (alone) for a clove cigarette, and had the problem solved before I was done.

    That really only works off-hours, though.

    Reply

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