Image: Daria Minaeva / 123rf
Don't get us wrong, we're not encouraging you to fake your way through the work day. Get your work done then use these tricks to look busier than you actually are so everyone thinks you're swamped with work. Plus, you probably won't get arrowed for extra work too. Here are eight tips to look busy in the office. Don't do them all at once though, it might look too obvious.
Walk With Props
Always walk around the office while holding papers or files. This is so when anyone catches a peek while you're on your journey, it looks like you're heading somewhere for a discussion or meeting, instead of just to the pantry for a coffee. For extra points, walk with a sense of urgency. And, even if you're chatting with a colleague a few cubicles over about your hot date the night before, hold some papers too so it looks like you're discussing work.
Use Post-It Notes – A Lot
Scribble little notes on post-it pads and stick them all over your cubicle or computer screen. It gives the impression you have so many things to do that you have to write them all down to remind yourself. To make it look more 'authentic', change the notes every few days so that the same ones aren't there all the time, which would show you haven't 'done' any of those 'tasks'.
Eat Lunch At Your Desk
A girl's gotta eat but when you're so busy, you can't afford the luxury of stepping away from your computer to grab a meal. At least that's what it looks like to others. Brush off anyone who asks you out to lunch and get a takeaway and eat it at your desk. If you have your own cubicle or office or if your computer screen isn't visible to anyone else, go ahead and spend your lunch hour on social media or shopping online – as long as others see you clicking or typing, it'll look like you're working. If your screen can be seen by others, make sure a work document is open at all times while eating, even if you aren't actually working.
Fill Your Calendar
Block off chunks of your calendar as it makes you look very busy and therefore unavailable for any extra projects or meetings. Do be careful though if your calendar is accessible to others in your team as they might start to question who you're meeting with and want updates too.
Have A Desktop Strategy
Busy people tend to multi-task (because, you know, BUSY!) so have several windows open on your computer desktop at all times. Then, when anyone comes over to ask you a question, look frazzled as you click through the various windows to get the right information. Just make sure they are all work related, don't give the game away with a window of your favourite cat videos accidentally popping up.
It can sometimes be hard to concentrate in the office and wearing headphones is a good way to block out all the noise and do your work in peace. So put on headphones and let others think that this is what you're doing, when you're actually trying to memorise all of Ed Sheeran's lyrics before you catch his gig.
Always carry a notebook to meetings and write in it while others are talking. It doesn't matter what you're writing – your weekend plans, grocery list, recipe for your favourite chocolate cake, or all of the above. Make sure to look up every once in a while and nod, to show that you are following the conversation. Just make sure you're not expected to contribute during the meeting, or you might be caught out. Use this notebook trick at other times of the workday too, if you want to take it a step further.
Get The Right Body Language
Looking stressed is half the work. Stretch at your desk often and tell everyone how busy you are. A messy desk is the sign of a busy mind so keep it untidy. Type furiously and stare at your computer screen with furrowed brows for extra effect.