14 Insanely Easy Ways to Look Busy At Work (the boss will never know any different)

Being productive 100% of the workday is nearly impossible. But while distractions are inevitable, sometimes we’re simply faking it.

With 70% of the American workforce “not engaged,” it’s not surprising to see workers looking busy when they really aren’t doing any work. With summer vacations coming up, it’s even more likely we’re getting less work done.

See if you recognize these ways many of us pretend to be busy at work.

1. Walking with purpose everywhere we go…


This serves two functions: 1) We look like we have some place we urgently need to be (even if we don’t) and 2) No one will stop or bother us.

Image by: batintherain

2. Even if it’s just to the water cooler or bathroom.


If we’re not at our desks, we must working somewhere else, right?

Image by: pupismyname

3. Keeping way too many computer windows open.


Reading blogs when the boss walks in? Easily Control+Tab over to another program.

Image by: psd

4. Keeping our desks messy.


Because a cluttered desk says we’re too busy to keep it neat.

Image by: visnup

5. Cramming our calendars with meetings.


Scheduling every minute of our day makes us look unavailable for extra projects or meetings we don’t want to attend.

Image by: Mary-Lynn

6. Never clear our inboxes.


If we only had more time we could actually reply to all of these emails!

Image by: ksablan

7. Mastering the “I’m swamped” lingo and body language.


We never miss an opportunity to show and tell coworkers how busy we are.

Image by: star5112

8. Always taking notes.


While it looks like we’re taking super-detailed notes at the meeting, we’re really just mapping out our weekend.

Image by: geekcalendar

9. Always carrying binders, reports, and lots of paper.


Carrying around papers, slides, and other stuff says “I have TONS of things to look over!” For extra effect, take the pile home at the end of the workday.

Image by: lordsutch

10. Asking questions that just to make us seem interested.


We might not care about the answer, but asking questions makes it seem like we’re paying attention.

Image by: The U.S. Army

11. Eating lunch at our desks.


Working through lunch looks about the same as Facebooking through lunch.

Image by: Marshall Astor – Food Fetishist

12. Being on the phone – a lot!


We’ve gotten good at making a call sound important and business-related, even when it’s not.

Image by: mRio

13. Mastered the stressed out look.


A “long sigh” can really seal the deal.

Image by: anna gutermuth

14. Staying late.


Are we really putting in extra work? Or goofing off, making staying late necessary to meet deadlines? Hard worker or not, we’re the boss’s hero for working into the night.

Image by: robceemoz

Are you always productive at work? What do you do when you aren’t?

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  1. Workforce efficiency at its finest lol.

  2. Avatar ubersteward says:

    It’s funny how being busy became a virtue in our culture.  There is really nothing cool about being busy.

  3. Avatar Joshua Rodriguez says:

    I got a kick out of mapping out your weekend during a meeting. I’m guilty of at least 3 of your listed tips. Thanks for sharing with us Jeffrey!

  4. Avatar krantcents1 says:

    As a teacher, I cannot just float!  I have to be productive or the kids take over and you don’t want that.  It is the hardest part of teaching, you cannot relax with a crowded room of children.

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