Wednesday, October 5, 2011

6 Ways to Make it Look Like You're Working When You're Really Not

There you are – at work. You don’t want to be at work. You don’t want to do work stuff. You’re fantasizing about being fanned by a topless individual on a beach while drinking something out of a coconut that tastes like sugar but makes your insides feel like a speakeasy.

But there’s no escape for you and no exotic vacation on the horizon.

So I’m here to help. The solution to the “I don’t want to be at work!!” problem is to make your physical body remain at your work station while your mental self floats away to an alternate universe where jobs don’t exist and people are actually happy.

Here are 6 ways to make it look like you’re working when you’re really not.

#6. Check Facebook with a serious face.

I have not performed any survey or relevant statistical analysis, but I am willing to guess that at this very second, 456,234,371 individuals are checking Facebook while at work. The secret to making it look like you’re working – when you’re really checking Facebook – is to do it with a serious face. I don’t care if you’re looking at pictures of your baby niece with birthday cake smeared all over her face, or pictures of your college roommate getting thrown into a pool during their wedding reception – don’t laugh. Don’t smile. Better yet, squint your eyes a little, because you’re really focusing on your job. (The same is applicable for Twitter and other social media outlets.)

#5. Keep a notepad open on your desktop.

Maybe you have a snitch of a co-worker or boss who likes to do frequent walk-bys. Here’s the key to looking like you’re working: keep a notepad (or word document) open on your desktop. As soon as a coworker is within ear-range, type as fast as you can in the notepad. Don’t bother typing real words or forming sentences – you’re going for the illusion of “busy” here.

Something to keep in mind is that it looks painstakingly obvious when someone rounds the corner and you lurch for your mouse to click on something that looks “more productive.” This is where using the alt+tab function will save you. Hold down the alt key while tapping the tab key and you can navigate between programs without having your hands leave the keyboard. You’re welcome.

#4. Have an excel file open. Always.

Most jobs nowadays require some type of excel file. Whether you’re using it for mathematical purposes or just making an organized list or schedule, excel is a mainstay. Having an excel file up makes you look all the more impressive and is a great “work task” to have up on your screen – especially if you have a boss who likes to make unannounced, over-the-shoulder visits.

Of course, make sure it’s not just a blank excel sheet. That’s suspicious. Again, use your alt+tab skills to navigate to your excel page in an instant.

#3 Make a list.

This list needs to be old school, with real pen and paper. Keep a piece of paper and a pen just in front of your keyboard. Let’s say you’re watching that thing on ebay that ends in twelve minutes and your boss pops in – change your screen, grab the pen, and focus on that piece of paper.

Your boss will ask, “What are you working on?”

You: “Oh, I’m making a list right now.”

Boss: “A list for what?”

You: “I just feel like I’m juggling a lot of things right now and I’m trying to write a to-do list by order of priority.”

Boss: “What is it that you’re so worried about?”

You: “I really feel too bogged down to say one thing. I just need a minute to sort my thoughts.”

Your boss, most likely, won’t argue with that. You’re free to go back to ebay and rethink your minimum bid.

#2 Visit your favorite news websites, IMDB, ESPN, whatever.

Everyone reads online articles while sitting at their desk. The secret is to read your articles in “Print View.” If your boss, or snitch coworker, sneaks up on you and they see nothing but flashing Netflix ads, they’ll know something is up. That’s the magic of Print View. It takes away all of the advertisements and you’re left with a big block of text to read which is far less incriminating.

#1 Schedule a meeting with your coworker friend.

Juuussstt about everyone has that ONE friend in their office that they bitch to and might actually elevate to “friend” status. Schedule an in-office meeting. Make sure you bundle up lots of papers and you look really busy. Then discuss all the inappropriate things you want to talk about and how much you cried during The Biggest Loser the night before.

The trick is always and again, no smiling, no laughing, and give a 100% “I’m really working super duper hard” poker face.