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Life of an Office Ninja: Grin & Bear It

Today is a crap day: You’re feeling sick as a dog but don’t want to waste a sick day. Your boss is demanding the moon in two hours, and you have no contact at NASA to get it. Plus you still need to track those lunch orders. It’s a bad day. We’ve all been there, and we all feel your pain. We also know the struggles of dealing with the bad day while being the most visible person in the office. God forbid “Office Mom” have an off day, or resting bitch face, amirite? Here are some tried and true tips for getting through the bad days (WITHOUT telling your boss where they can put their stapler).

Cut back on the projects:

When the day is too much for you and you just can’t muster a smile, or one more request is going to make your head explode, it’s time to cut back on something. Push a couple of projects to later in the week, delegate small tasks to the intern your office inevitably has, or use one of the following excellent excuses to buy yourself some more time:

  • Hey- Let’s put this on the backburner for a moment, while I gain a little more bandwidth to handle it…
  • I’m taking care of some low hanging fruit, but I will get to that when I have more time to dedicate to it…
  • Can we table this discussion until we’ve got the bandwidth? Additionally, we need to make sure all the key stakeholders are available.
  • I’ve got a couple fires to put out, but I’ll get that to you asap…

Any of these tried and true phrases will get you at least a couple more days.

No Talking

Smile, but don’t make conversation:

At times the simple task of of making small-talk is too much. This is hard because people want to talk to you – heck, talking to people is sort of your job; but once in a while the act of saying “Happy hump day! It’s almost Friday!!” makes you want to stab yourself in the eye – so avoid it. Keep your phone handy, so you can avoid making eye contact; type furiously, as though you are working on a huge task that you need answers to.  And make sure you perfect the ‘I’m too busy to talk’ smile- it consists of large eyes, highly raised eyebrows, and a head nod, then quickly looking down and getting back to business.

Put on your OCD cap:

Sometimes when you’re having a bad day you just don’t want to be at your desk; go get away from it. Clean something!

  • Reorganize the office supply cabinet
  • Take an inventory of the kitchen supplies and amount of beer in the fridge
  • Clean out the sink and load the dishwasher
  • Organize the weird miscellaneous bookcase that holds random things brought in by the staff: games, books, and… is that a toy xylophone?
  • Locate all the missing whiteboard markers
  • Clean out the fridge (insert shudders here)

These are often the tasks we put off the longest, because, well, they suck, BUT getting away from your desk, moving, and checking off these tasks from your ever growing to-do list will leave you with a real sense of accomplishment, and actually make your day feel a little less stressed. **You get bonus point and a beer if you accomplish all those tasks without posting a new passive aggressive meme asking people to clean up after themselves.

Grin & Bear It - OfficeNinjas

Go “Heads Down”:

If you really feel like you can’t muster even the smallest smiles or “hellos,” go heads down. If you’ve got a laptop, stick a post it note on your monitor that says “Heads Down on a project- in X room if you need me;” This a) tells people that you’re extremely busy and important b) shows people that you still care, and they can seek you out if needed (no one will) and c) lets you hide on a bean bag chair somewhere when you can catch up on your Pinterest or Buzzfeed, or Youtube without anyone seeing you. You work hard. You deserve it.

Hopefully it’s helpful to know that we all have bad days. Being “front of the house” makes bad days a million times harder, and it’s ok to distance yourself when it happens. Remember to breath and take a step back before you snap at someone. When in doubt: close your eyes, count to ten, and think about what you’re ordering at happy hour.

What are your tricks for grinning and bearing it on those not-so-sunny days?


  1. I treat myself to a Starbucks coffee, keep my head down, and honestly admit my faults.

    1. Starbucks always seems to help any situation :) And honesty, especially with oneself, is always the best policy!

  2. Excellent ideas! I will definitely use one of these suggestions the next time the office chatterbox stands at my desk for 30 minutes talking about something that I am too busy to lend any thought to.

  3. Taking my lunch break at a local park helps. Taking a walk through the facilty – carrying a folder or some other item to make it look like I am going somewhere on purpose.

  4. Sometimes I order or pick up flowers and display them near my desk!

  5. Bravo; well stated. You obviously have been sitting in my office! There are many days when, if I get one more request, even chcolate won’t help. Great graphics and great tips to help keep me from using the sledge hammer that sits on my shelf.

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