15 Ways to Fool Your Boss Into Thinking You're Working Hard

One of the oldest recommendations in the world of business, or as we have seen in the world of politics, is to fake it until you make it. In other words, you pretend to know what you’re doing, suggesting that you’re working hard when, in reality, you don’t know anything and you’re not doing a bit of work.

When discussing the idea of fooling your boss into thinking you’re working hard, you have to act the part and be clever, whether it’s looking frustrated, breathing really heavy, or walking around in a frantic state. Looking busy as opposed to genuinely being busy pretty much works every single time – well, as long as you actually get some work done during your tenure at the firm.

See Also: How to Get a Promotion at Work

Indeed, there are many other ways to deceive your supervisor, manager, boss or even colleagues into thinking you’re a hard worker and getting things done. What do you have to lose anyway? Absolutely nothing.

Here are 15 ways to fool your boss into thinking you are working hard:

1. Look Really Frustrated

Over the years, we have learned to be very frustrated when we want to look busy. This can consist of frowning, taking deep breaths and sighing, shaking our heads, and typing on our keyboards really hard (or killing a fly with a newspaper). However you do it, make sure it’s done with a great level of frustration. Of course, you risk having your coworkers think you have an anger problem, but oh well.

2. Bang Your Desk

Sometimes when you can’t solve a problem or your computer is on the brink of shutting down by itself, you start banging your desk. We all do this. You’re angry, upset or annoyed by how things are running today. You’re working really hard to come up with an answer to a coding problem or finishing an assignment before the deadline next week. Or are you? Banging your desk will have everyone saying to themselves: "Wow! He must really be dedicated to his work."

3. Ask a Lot of Questions

Want to waste a lot of time and have people think you’re getting down to the nitty-gritty? Then ask a lot of questions to a lot of people, both easy and intricate ones. Speak with a wide variety of people, from accounting to marketing and clerks to managers, and get their thoughts and answers on certain topics. It gives them the impression that you’re trying to be a team player and gain the insights of the entire office. The trick is to be so convincing that these very same people will eventually start getting annoyed by the constant questioning!

4. Leave Several Computer Apps Open

Whether you’re sitting at your desk or you’re on your coffee break, leave a lot of applications open on your computer like Word, Excel, a project management system, a content management system, a calculator, Adobe Acrobat, and any other applications that you would normally use to do your job. Anytime someone walks by your desk or cubicle, they’ll think that you’re the office’s greatest multitasker.

5. Gesticulate During Personal Conversations

Do you just want to spend time gabbing about nothing with your cubicle partner? One of the best ways to do this without getting caught is to gesticulate a lot during these private and personal conversations. It makes it look as if you’re talking about work and disagreeing on something. Nope! You’re just talking about how the Denver Broncos will win the Super Bowl this year.

6. Shoot Off Multiple E-mails

When you think about it, e-mails are generally a waste of time. What you’re writing in an e-mail can easily be verbalized to someone just sitting a few feet away from you or someone you could just call. Whatever. It makes you look very busy if you’re sending out a lot of e-mails. Even if you have no one to e-mail, just send yourself a couple.

7. Always Carry Something with You

As you walk around the office or stand near your desk, make sure to always have a prop in your hand. This could consist of a tablet or laptop, a folder of papers, or everybody’s favorite: the clipboard. For some reason, carrying a clipboard around makes you look ultra-busy, really important, and super professional.

8. Walk Around the Office in Panic Mode

To make people think you’re having a tough and long day at work, walk around the office in a frantic mood. As you walk around, be sure it’s fast, with your arms flailing and looking as though you don’t want to be bothered right now because you’re heading somewhere to get something important done. Being in a mode of panic helps a lot. Again, try to have a prop in your hand.

9. Don't Say a Word

From the moment you arrive at work to the moment you leave, don’t say a word; not even a peep. If a colleague tries to ask you how your day’s going, or if someone calls your name, just ignore them. Be silent throughout the entire day. Why? It suggests that you’re in a full-on work mode. No one can disturb you. Indeed, you’ll eventually become alienated at work, but if your time of sloth is more important to you, then it’s totally worth it.

10. Stare at Your Computer Screen

You’re in a moment of ponder, thinking about something extremely important. You’re staring at your computer screen looking at an Excel spreadsheet. To the outside world, you’re performing complex and important work. To you, you’re literally just staring at your computer screen waiting for time to pass. It could hurt your eyes, but who cares?

11. Have a Fake Project

If you want to spend your time doing absolutely nothing and giving the impression that you’re really busy, make up a fake project. Make sure it sounds as if it’s a clandestine project that only you are working on and that it’s truly important to the foundation of the business. Make it so vague that not even your supervisor, colleagues or even your boss know what it is.

12. Always Take Notes

When you begin your day, make sure to have a notebook and sticky notes hanging around. Why? Because you’re going to be taking notes all day long. This suggests you’re jotting down crucial information to remember later on or something to remind you about a file. What to write is up to you. Try to refrain from writing stuff like "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."

13. Transform Your Desk into a Warzone

Is your desk normally neat? Yes? Stop it! To make it seem as if you’ve been working for hours on end without a bathroom break or lunch break, make your desk look like a warzone. This can be achieved by having dozens of sheets of paper lying around, binders and folders at the corner of your desk, cups of coffee next to your monitor, and various other office-related items.

14. First to Arrive, Last to Go

This is easy enough: be the first one to arrive to the office and the last one to leave. It certainly provides the illusion you’re working hard but, in reality, you’re just fidgeting around and doing random things around the office. This can also be the time to complete some work so you can just be fuddy-duddy from 9 to 5. Don’t forget to take your coffee break in the midst of doing nothing!

15. Roll Up Your Sleeves

If you want your portrait to be one of business, then here are two easy tricks: roll up your sleeves, and start sweating. Both never fail. You’d roll up your sleeves to get work done and you’re sweating because you’re working hard. Yeah, working hard on eating the office doughnuts.

It’s truly amazing what you can do by looking busy as opposed to actually being busy. When you’re working 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, it can truly be hard to be busy. Perhaps this will change as the workplace focuses more on getting work done than just showing up and sitting at a desk going through the motions. Look at Congress; they just sit there listening to five-minute speeches on the floor.

In the meantime, just look frustrated and you’ll be fine.

Remember: you’re probably not the only person doing this. It’s quite possible that your supervisor is doing a crossword, your colleague is on Facebook, and your boss is booking his skiing trip to Aspen.

How do you fool your coworkers and boss into thinking you’re really busy? Let us know in the comments section!