How to look like you are working hard while hardly working

By Jack J. Kelly

You can work hard and spend an inordinate amount of hours toward achieving your goals, but that takes a lot of time and effort. If you are a slacker and not into the whole work thing, here are a bunch of ways to make it look like you are working extremely hard, but you’re really not.

1. Make sure to walk around the office with a grim look on your face, as if you are deep in thought about a super serious matter. If someone stops to ask how you are, politely brush them off and briskly say that you are in the middle of something urgent. Ensure that you are dressed exceptionally well and carry some files in one hand and your phone in another. Walk with steady assurance, averting eyes since you are focused on your mission. If someone is goofing off, give a sideways, sharp stare, as if you are admonishing them for wasting time.

2. Once you return from your mission to nowhere, fire up your computer and open as many tabs as possible. Position your screen so that people see you have an excel spreadsheet open, along with 30 Word documents and several internet sites. Leave the volume up and your door open, so that everyone hears the steady stream of bings of incoming emails. Nobody needs to know that you are sending them to yourself. Make sure that you are getting a ton of calls. For each call, act very animated. Stand up and gesture with your hands. Make all sorts of facial expressions. Laugh heartily at times. Others times, scowl, frown, or slam the phone down. This makes you look busy and important.

3. Don’t worry about cleaning your desk. You are way too busy for housekeeping. Maintain a messy desk strewn with papers, books, files, and other important-looking documents. They should be carefully and meticulously placed as if they are thrown about in a work frenzy.  Leave your uneaten breakfast or lunch, depending upon the time of the day, on your desk. To the casual observer, they will think that you are too busy to finish eating and don’t have a moment to clean up.

4.  Don’t pick up the phone when people call; otherwise, they will think you have nothing to do. Let it go into voicemail. Then, call people back, while at home, at 11 o’clock at night or later. Also, leave messages for people at about 5:30 am in the morning.  Please, not on their home number or cell phone because you don’t want to actually speak with them.  Of course, they won’t answer their work number at these ridiculous times, but they will be amazed that you are working at five in the morning and late at night. Sound annoyed and pissed off when you leave messages at these crazy hours, as if you sincerely expected them to pick-up the phone and work with you to solve an urgent matter.

5. Always be the first one in the office and last one to leave. It’s important to make sure that people know this by sending texts, instant messages, leaving voicemails, and sending emails, so people see that you are in the office early and staying late. Always walk by your boss’ door at these times and, hopefully, she sees you. If not, you could always leave a post-it note with a little work-related message, date, and time, on her door implicitly shaming her that you were working late or arrived early and she wasn’t there.

6.  Make loud noises while in your office, such as big sighs, excited woops, and other expressions to show that you are passionately engaged in an important project. You will also create a little envy amongst your colleagues that you seem to be getting all the cool projects to work on. Meanwhile, they don’t have to know that you are watching college hoops.

7.  Familiarize yourself with all the latest business jargon and incorporate buzzwords in your space and use them often. Try to find arcane words that others have not heard of, which forces them to ask what you mean. You can then make a deep sigh, give them a look as if they are a poor simpleton and explain terminology to them, as they are third graders.

8. Attend conferences and networking events, so that you become widely known in your field. Introduce yourself to everyone. Speak on panels. Take people out for drinks. They will assume that you are a big player and you will receive job offers. Once you are back to the office, you could then shamelessly name-drop all the important people you met with and tell the other suckers that were stuck in the office about all the new, cool developments and what your competitors are doing.

9. Stalk your manager, and manager’s manager, and other executives at your company on social media. Find out where they went to school, what sports teams they follow, where they live, what movies they like, whether they have a spouse, partner, or kids. Then, decorate your office with sports memorabilia that they like. Photoshop pictures of yourself (create a family if you don’t have one) at the same vacation spots that the executives frequent. Buy tickets to the big games of their favorite sports teams and either invite them to go or offer them the tickets for free, since you can’t  go due to a prior engagement you have with the orphanage charity that you sponsor.

10. Always have an extra jacket or article of clothing to drape on the back of your chair. Also, keep a mug of coffee ready, and have an extra pair of glasses even if you don’t need glasses. Whenever you are out of the office, leave the jacket on the chair and coffee mug on the desk, along with the glasses and keep your door wide open. While you are at the bar, everyone will think that you were summoned to an important meeting and didn’t have time to grab your coat and glasses or finish your coffee.

11. Ask your boss and associates a bunch of questions. Always keep thinking of work-related questions to pepper your boss and colleagues with. Routinely knock on your boss’ door, asking for his sage advice and opinions. Everyone will appreciate that you are seeking out their opinions and respect that you are deeply concerned in figuring out answers to tough problems at the office.

12.  Eat lunch at your desk or at least pretend to eat lunch at your desk. During lunch time, have some half-eaten sandwiches and drinks on your desk. You are so busy that you don’t have time to go outside for a nice meal, but have to eat crappy food quickly to finish all your projects.

Obviously, you pull the jacket on the back of the chair trick again and sneak out for a real meal later on in the day. For a nice touch, throw away the lunch mess and leave dinner food on your desk. Keep your door open, so anyone working late or arriving early will think that you are in the office working away.

I’d offer some more suggestions, but if you are too lazy to really work hard, there is no way you have the attention span to read anything more.

Please let me know how this strategy works out for you. If you get fired, please don’t sue me over this advice.

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