8 Creative Ways to Slack Off at Work Without Being Noticed

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Shame on you. Think of all those poor job seekers who can’t even get an interview, and here you are, with a job, reading articles about how to slack off! It’s okay, though, I do realize it isn’t your fault - the eight hour day just isn’t really that effective any more and you want to be able to mess around when you’re done with your work. It can be our little secret.

See Also: 8 Things to do When You're Bored at Work

Whether you’re looking for tips on pretending to be busy, bypassing the IT department’s cruel monitoring, or how you’re overlooking the usefulness of your very own self, this article is for you. Not that I’m condoning slacking off, but no one works a completely honest forty hours a week... do they? If you’d like to tell me that’s unfair generalization, please do so in the comments.

So, here goes. Creative ways to get away with slacking off:

1. Use the Time You're Given

Remember that annoying know it all at school who always finished tasks in half the time the teacher allowed? And then went ahead and declared to the teacher that he was done and the teacher couldn’t but interrupt your doodling and move on? Every time you finish a task earlier than you need to - assuming you won’t be rewarded for finishing early, in which case you should make a point of shouting to the world that you’re done - you’re being that child, and the only person you’re hurting is yourself.

If your superior expects a task to take forty minutes and they’re for some reason wrong and you don’t really need that long to get the job done, ignore that and go ahead and allow yourself forty minutes. Don’t spend ten minutes getting it done and thirty messing about, but break up those ten minutes and give yourself a few minutes to slack off after each individual part of the task. Of course, what you should really do is tell them the truth, but you’re not here looking for a guilt trip, so let’s move on.

2. Look Involved by Asking Questions

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This one comes with a tip of its own: be careful what questions you ask, as you don’t want to annoy anyone or look incompetent. However, asking the right questions - detailed, complex ones - looks like you’re really getting into what you’re supposed to be doing, and no one could possibly imagine that the minutes you spend "working" are actually being spent creating a list of questions.

You could even take this a step further by asking a question that your neighbour won’t know. When they snap at you and say "Why don’t you go ask the [other department] team?" you can answer with a happy "okay!" and get some time away from your desk.

3. Have a Decoy Desktop

Closing all your windows and only having your desktop on display gives away that you aren’t doing anything. Take a printscreen of your computer while you’re actually busy and then save it as your desktop background. Instant busy-ness! Of course, you might want to update it every now and then, but what’s a few seconds now when it’ll save you hours in the long run.

Another alternative is to install something and take a printscreen of the "installing" screen to set as your background when you want to wander off. It isn’t your fault the vital program you need in order to get on with your work is taking forever to install, why shouldn’t you go off for a break?

If you’re willing to try something more technical, there’s AutoHotKey. This programme allows you to select which random button will minimize or maximize your browser, or bring up a programme. This is cool because if you sense your boss lurking about you can hit that random button and you’ll instantly look busy.

4. Don't Talk to Your Partner in Crime, Meet With Them

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Do you have a friend who often comes to you as their go-to person for having a nice long chat? Minimize the risk of anyone hearing that you’re talking about the game last weekend and book a conference room: take something in there with you, whether it’s a computer or some documents, remember not to look too comfortable (no feet on the desk!) and everyone will assume you’re having an important work conversation. 

If you’re the one who has to go to them, then make sure you have an actual reason for going round to them (should anyone stop you and ask). Additionally, remember to leave your desk looking like you were busy working on something before you came across the urgent issue that sent you running to your friend.

Be wary of always using the same friend, however: constantly going to the same person, especially if there isn’t some legitimate reason for you to need to talk to them during the day, means that someone will eventually catch on.

5. Drink Lots of Water

A water or a coffee cup on your desk - whether it’s actually empty or full - can also make you look busy. As well as being a useful prop for your desk, that glass or cup can also be used to go to the water cooler or coffee machine, where you’re likely to have plenty of opportunities to start up conversations with people and avoid getting back to work. You can never be accused of drinking too much water, it’s healthy!

And then, what happens when you drink a lot? Lots of trips to the bathroom!

6. Use Yourself

Who will never give away that you aren’t actually doing anything? That’s right, you! Don’t underestimate the value of simply using yourself and making it look like it’s other people who are requesting your wisdom. How? Try these ideas:

  • Make your personal calls in a conference room. Anyone going past and seeing you in a conference room on a conference room phone is automatically going to assume it’s something important, and would never imagine that you’re actually making a dentist appointment.
  • Use your cell phone to call your work phone. You probably shouldn’t have long conversations with yourself, but make it sound important with a few murmurs of "of course", "you’re so right" and "I’ll get right on that" and no one will think twice about whether or not there’s actually anyone on the other end.
  • Send mail to yourself. Think about it: first you receive it, then you try and work out who it’s from and what it is, then you open it, read it, act on it and send back a response. That’s a good couple of hours right there. And of course for the sake of your colleagues you can be frustrated that the person that supposedly sent you mail didn’t email you in the first place. Of course, you’ll want to be careful with this to avoid anyone seeing you putting mail to yourself in the mail cart.

7. Get Around the IT restrictions

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Cursed IT departments, trying to keep the network safe from viruses and help everyone stay focused on work when you want to use the internet to waste time! Luckily, there are a few workarounds:

  • Play games... in Excel. That’s right, there are special versions of games that need no other program but the Microsoft Excel that is 99.9 percent sure to be on your computer. Be wary of the IT guys noticing the rapid increase in usage, especially if you don’t need it, but if you happen to be an accountant or working in data entry, then it’s perfect.
  • Reddit Wrapper. Love Reddit? Don’t want anyone to realize you’re on it? Reddit Wrapper "wraps" Reddit into a form in which it’s acceptable to use, such as making it look like Outlook if you spend a lot of time working with emails.
  • Can’t install Candy Crush? If you’re using Chrome, Vysor is for you: it allows you to control your android device from your comptuer, so not only can you play your favourite game but you’ll be doing it on a nice big screen! You should make sure that you’ve either muted your computer or put on your headphones first, though.

Assuming you can use your browser freely, take advantage of being able to change the size to minimize it into the reply section of an email, use incognito browsing and enable Reader Mode, which strips websites of their flashiness and makes them less obvious.

8. Use Your Computer

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There are a number of things you can do with your computer to either make it harder for people to see what you’re doing or to alert you to an approaching boss. Here are some of them:

  • Lower the brightness. The lower the brightness, the harder it is for people to make out what’s on the screen; of course, if you can’t even see it, then you’ve taken this too far.
  • Invest in a privacy filter. These prevent people from being able to see it from certain angles or distances; if they need to literally be on top of you, then all that’s left for you to do is make sure you aren’t so absorbed in whatever you’re doing that you fail to notice them.
  • Attach a mirror to the side of the computer, or put it on the desk, if you can. Try not to use it to keep staring at yourself, but to see if anyone is behind you without having to be obvious about turning around.
  • Use chat software to set up an "alert chain" between you and your accomplices, making it everyone’s responsibility to announce when a supervisor is on the prowl.

The most important thing to remember is that it’s less important how you slack off, and more important that you make sure you don’t get caught. Time it right and you could even find a place to go off to for a sneaky nap. The best use of your time however, might be to start looking for another job if you are so bored in your current one. While it might be nice to get paid for not doing much, wouldn’t you feel much more fulfilled in a proper job where you’re properly challenged?

What are you favourite methods? Do you have any advice for not getting caught doing any of these things? Let us know in the comments section below.