Keeping Myself Entertained

I really like my job, and I work hard at it, but there are times that it’s not hard work. For the past several months, I have been using Captivate to prepare online tutorials about how to use internal Web applications. This is like creating a huge Powerpoint presentation that turns into a movie. Basically, I record myself performing the tasks. That recording is spliced into hundreds of slides, and I go back in and add captions to each slide explaining the task. Then I add audio. It’s actually kind of fun and one of my favorite projects to do at work, but it doesn’t require a lot of mental application. Mostly, it requires a really good eye for detail and the ability to plan ahead.

So what do I do while I’m working on these projects to keep myself entertained? YouTube, podcasts, and audiobooks.

I started out watching past seasons of America’s Next Top Model on YouTube. I have now seen every season, including America, Britain, Canada, and Australia. Then it was Project Runway. Now I’ve discovered that I can keep up with Days of Our Lives on YouTube. It had been years since I’d seen it, so I was confused for the first couple of episodes. Did you know they got rid of Dr. Marlena Evans and John Black? Tragic. But Sami is still around, and Lucas is in rehab (or something) and EJ is still there (one of my favorite new additions), but best of all, Teresa, Ethan and Luis from the much missed (by me) soap Passions have now joined the cast of Days. You see, reality tv and soaps are perfect background fodder for while you’re working on something else. They require very little thought or attention.

A couple of years ago, I discovered the joy of podcasts. So now every Monday I look forward to This American Life and Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me. I’ve also been listening to RadioLab and Mark Kermode’s movie reviews. Each month, there’s a New Yorker Fiction podcast.

And that led into audiobooks. I started off with Harry Potter and listened to all seven. Those provided entertainment for weeks and the days simply flew by. Since then, I have listened to:

  1. The Chronicles of Narnia
  2. Sabriel (a really great, young adult fantasy book by Garth Nix)
  3. The Twilight series (they were so painful to listen to on audio because you can’t skim)
  4. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (I accidentally had this on shuffle once, and it was so confusing!)
  5. The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell
  6. The Time Traveler’s Wife
  7. Pride & Prejudice & Zombies (it’s actually pretty funny)
  8. Scarlett (the sequel to Gone with the Wind, and better than I remembered)
  9. Started to listen to Rhett Butler’s People, but it was so horrible I turned it off. And remember, I listened to Twilight and The Time Traveler’s Wife, so I’m not picky.
  10. Gone with the Wind (I really love this book)

I will warn you that one of the dangers of listening to audiobooks in your cubicle is that you have to keep your weeping and laughing to yourself. This can be challenging. I know that listening to books isn’t quite the same as reading them, but listing all of those out makes me feel a little better about the half-read Great Expectations sitting on my nightstand.

I’m open to other suggestions for good audiobooks or podcasts if anyone has any. I finished Gone with the Wind last week and haven’t come up with anything new yet.



  1. senja · October 27, 2009

    so awesome!! 🙂
    there was a dry streak at work during this summer and that’s where i kept myself entertained with my ipod, watching/listening to Entourage, and all other shows which were on.

  2. Jenn · October 30, 2009

    Just finished reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Quite fun! I love audiobooks…Kyle just downloaded Dracula in celebration of Halloween.

  3. kelliebuelo · November 2, 2009

    You are awesome. I think you should listen to “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell.” Then you can tell me how you managed to avoiding hurling in your cubicle. :p

    Such a great idea- wish I could have an iPod in my office. You forgot to mention how you email me 3 page emails, and read my 3 page replies, to occupy yourself.

  4. Pingback: what I’ve been listening to (part 1) «

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