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50 Ways To Look Busy At Work When There's Nothing To Do

Just in time for Labor Day Weekend comes a new Bureau of Labor Statistics report that reveals more than one-third of Americans who lost their jobs between 2009-2011 lost said jobs because there wasn't enough work to do. Hey buddy, do you have a project you can spare?

In the Great Recession, the demand for projects has been greater than the supply. According to BLS, 30% of the 6.1 million long-term employed who lost their jobs between 2009-2011 did so because their job position or shift disappeared; 31% lost their jobs because the plant or company closed or moved; and 40% lost or left their jobs due to "insufficient work," otherwise known as "I guess I'll look for something to re-file."

Which begs the question we're not really asking: How do you look busy at work when there's nothing to do?

Busy hands are happy hands, so let's talk about busy work! The possibilities of the modern workplace are endless, really, but let's just focus on 50 of them. Without further ado, here are 50 ways to look busy at work when there's nothing to do:

Surf the Internet. Read a book on your Nook, Kindle or iPad. Do all little bit of online banking. Do a little bit of online shopping. Walk around the office looking like you're on your way to somewhere important. Walk back to your desk looking like you were just somewhere important.

Send email. Read email. Clear out your junk mail file. Actually read junk mails. Start a "reply all" thread that upsets a co-worker who hates being included in unending "reply all" thread messages. Hit "reply all" by mistake. Spend the whole afternoon apologizing for hitting "reply all."

Instant message your co-worker to say how bored you are. Bring said co-worker a cup of coffee and complain about how bored you are in person.

Take credit for a co-worker's project, the one you think you should have been assigned. Look out the window. Look in your desk. Overlook an important detail. Get looked past for a promotion. Gossip about your co-workers. Overhear their gossip about you.

Make personal calls. Take personal calls. Eat another doughnut. Make plans to exercise. Cancel plans to exercise because you're too busy.

Sharpen your pencils. Look for a new pen in the storage supply closet. Make a mess in the break room. Listen to someone complain about the messy break room.

Look at the clock and ponder how it can only be 5 minutes later than the last time you looked. Look at clock again 5 minutes later. Fill your garbage can. Empty your garbage can. Take out the recycling. Order take out to make more recycling. Create a document. Create an emergency.

Plan your weekend. Change your weekend plans. File invoices. File your nails. Request a "status update" on something that you're barely involved with these days. Hit the vending machine (not literally, though).

Listen to music. Download music. Say you'll "be right there" a lot. Say "I can't take that call, please send it to voice mail" a lot. Count your voice mails. Count your unopened emails. Flirt with a co-worker. Hide from your boss. Check the score. Even the score.

Take a smoke break. Fight a co-worker's fire with fire. Take a catnap. Dog your co-workers with boring stories about your kids or your dog. Watch cute cat videos. Watch someone else watch cute cat videos.

Call a client you know is out of the office. Drive across town to drop off something to someone you know is not there. Pretend to make new cold calls. Look for new cold cuts to steal from the office fridge. Pull a prank. Push a rumor. Lift an idea. Drop the ball. Pick up the pieces.

Actually, I think I've listed way more than 50 ways to look busy at work, but keeping busy in this economy can be a struggle and we could always use some new ideas. Or you can do what you've been hired to do and actually get some work done. Oh wait, there isn't enough work to do, which was the entire reason for this post in the first place. Scratch that idea.


  1. you mean like reading this blog, which I found after looking for information on how to hold "not useless and incredibly boring information-sharing meetings?" I'm still looking, by the way.

    I like this blog. Thanks for keeping me entertained this fine Friday afternoon. :)

  2. i am almost a year late to this post, but perhaps that is because i have been busy at work until lately! but seriously, i work for a law firm and if the partners cannot generate enough work to keep staff busy, i must find something to occupy the 8 hours per day i am required to be physically present!

  3. Now this blog is hilarious.Glad i was "busy" reading it

  4. Awesome tips you have here. This will not just boost the office productivity but also the relationship among employees as well. I'm sure this'll be helpful for Ayala land offices. Thanks for sharing!


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