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I am 10 months into a job where the lack of a future is pretty clear. Team is struggling, hiring is struggling, and the division is snarled in bureaucracy from above.

Basically how do you slack off without being fired for slacking off? The obvious activities where I can be sloppy are code review but what else can a dev typically get away with for 6-8 months? I just want to avoid being fired. I can go as low as that standard.

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The best thing to do in a go-nowhere job that you've decided not to leave is ... a good job. Not a great job. Not a hundred-hour-a-week, eat-breathe-bleed the company job, but a good job.

To be specific:

  • take advantage of every scrap of training you can get. If they have a subscription to something online, take all the relevant courses you can find. If they'll send you to a conference, go to the conference. Attend local user group meetings in the evenings. (These skills will improve your resume when you do go, and the networking will be helpful then too.)
  • pay attention to what things don't get done without good management making people do them. If you think they're useful, do them yourself. Put some time into thinking about how you could encourage other people to do those things too. This might be code review, it might be documentation, it might be going back and refactoring working code so that it makes sense to the next person. Learn why you (and possibly other people) resist doing these things, and think about what it will be like in a team where everyone does those things.
  • work on understanding what you want in your next job and what you don't. What was in the job description, or the interviews, that translates to what you're experiencing now? What could you have asked that would have revealed this situation?
  • try to stay cheerful and do well at the things you're doing. They aren't likely to fire you if they're having trouble hiring, so as long as you're writing the new code or fixing the bugs or going to the weekly meeting, and people like you, you'll have a little safe space to do your learning and growing. When you're asked to do something, do it and do it well without complaining. Don't get all meta about how your team is terrible or management sucks or you really need three more team mates. Just do a good job at what you have been asked to do. This is easier than you might think once you have no skin in the game; you're not waiting for a promotion, you don't care if they fire you, you're out of there in however many months you need to wait to consider it no longer job hopping.
  • when you have a horrible day, write it up (not on your work computer, wait till you get home) as a lesson learned. Why did things go so bad? What would a good team lead have done to prevent that? What would management need to be like for it to be safe for you to warn them about days like that before they start? What can you say about yourself that is good from that day -- that you reacted quickly, that you worked hard and stayed late, that you thought creatively and solved the problem, that you supported your team when they were upset? Write that down. You'll be putting those sorts of sentences on your resume later.

Just treat each day, each assignment, each week as a chance to learn and grow stronger while being paid. A chance to build a killer resume even on this stony ground. A chance to become a better [whatever you are] so that when you do go out to look for a new job, you're not a battered-down worn-out tired shadow of your former self who can't land a new job. Keep your energy up and remember what you're working towards.

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Why would you want to slack off?

In current situation, as you describe it, you are going to look for a new job anyway

I would suggest, do your job as required and start circulating your resume stating your current position as a term project ;)

P.S. Slacking off is adictive, if you start it will be hard to stop at a new position.

Also, time drags so slowly when you have nothing to do :)

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    I have no motivation and am not going to fight it. I can get 2-3 hours of work done in a day so I want to load shed any extra work beyond that.
    – Lumpy
    Jun 8, 2021 at 19:32
  • 3
    @Lumpy What if they have no motivation to pay you and don't fight that? Would you continue to show up to work under those circumstances? If not, why should they pay you a full-time salary to effectively do part-time work? Jun 8, 2021 at 20:57
  • @EJoshuaS-ReinstateMonica it would not be wise of them to do so, but they also pay the same salary for wildly different productivity levels. I want the lowest possible productivity for the same pay.
    – Lumpy
    Jun 8, 2021 at 21:11
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What makes you think slacking off is going to help you out? Also what makes you think that you still won't be fired for slacking off regardless of how much you slack off? Do you plan on listing your time at this company on your resume? Because if so then you best start doing your job if you want a favorable reference from anyone there. People always remember the slackers. There's no harm actually doing your job even if you plan on leaving. Just because the job sucks doesn't mean you have to as well.

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  • Slacking helps me because I can make myself work for 2-3 hours a day fairly easily, even if I do not care. I am just load shedding anything beyond that.
    – Lumpy
    Jun 8, 2021 at 19:31
  • You may think it helps you but it's hurting the company that signs your paychecks. And your team may be struggling but you can bet they will know who to blame if they start getting any additional heat.
    – JMERICKS
    Jun 8, 2021 at 20:18
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Some points,

  • "Team is struggling, hiring is struggling, and the division is snarled in bureaucracy from above."

This is as exciting as saying "the sun rose today."

All jobs have suck elements.

If you are "young and innocent" enough that you think you can resolve this by changing jobs ... I'm very jealous of how young you are :)

  • You've almost reached 12 months. It's totally normal and unsurprising for programmers to mnove on after 12 months. It's a non-issue. Wait a couple months and get a new job.

  • Work exactly 40 hours a week, take your pay, and go home.

  • When you are about to leave a company, ask firmly for a pay rise. Always, always ask for a rise if you're about to dump them. (What can they do - fire you?)

Again, overwhelmingly all jobs suck. Take care not to be under an illusion that changing jobs will fix the suck.

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Could you just quietly leave as opposed to trying to cruise through this?

I work on a development team as a lead and my goal is to be sure that everyone is motivated and willing to participate. Those who aren't...usually don't stay very long.

Since you don't seem to want to stick around, just...leave. Don't drag down the rest of the team with your obvious and apparent disinterest in the environment.

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  • I want to stick around long enough to not be seen as a job hopper as I only spent a year in my prior role.
    – Lumpy
    Jun 8, 2021 at 19:20
  • @Lumpy: It's better to defend those assertions rather than try to mitigate against them by doing nothing. I usually look at someone who has 5 roles in less than 10 years as a job hopper, but if they can justify why they did that (e.g. they were a contractor or they were stuck in poor working environments) then that's preferable.
    – Makoto
    Jun 8, 2021 at 19:23
  • All of that to say @Lumpy ...you are a job hopper. But that's not a negative thing if you can justify it better than simply "you didn't like it there".
    – Makoto
    Jun 8, 2021 at 19:41
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I suggest not slacking off - it's wrong and it can only hurt you. As long as you're continuing to accept a salary from the company, you should do the job that they're paying you to do.

There's a lot more to building your resume than just being at a company for the requisite amount of time. If all you did is fill an empty seat the time you were there, that will become apparent in any halfway decent interview process (not to mention the fact that you won't have any accomplishments to list on your resume). Would you hire someone who hasn't accomplished anything at all in the last 8 months, or who started slacking off as soon as they decided that they didn't like the job anymore?

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