10 Ways to Fool Your Boss into Thinking You’re Working Hard

Slacking off at Work

Are you like most people? Do you want to aimlessly float through life collecting your paycheck and living for the weekend? If you have no desire to become a linchpin, but you still want to fool your boss into thinking you’re working hard so you can obtain that elusive raise and/or promotion then these 10 tips will set you in the right direction.

1.) Send E-mails at Ridiculous Hours

Right before you go to bed send out one of those e-mails where all you did was casually look over a document and announce that “It’s good to go.” Make sure you CC someone else so they know how late you’re working too. If your office uses Outlook you can use the delay delivery feature to send stuff at 5:30am and on Sunday afternoons.

2.) Turn Your Desk into a War Zone

It is a clear indication that you’re working on multiple projects if you have stuff scattered all over your desk. Printouts, binders, folders, notebooks. Stack it all high. Put some excel spreadsheets on top. Everyone knows poring over excel is intense.

3.) Outsource Everything to Co-Workers

This is a key one because at some point something has to actually get done. Get a candy bowl, buy them lunch/drinks — basically do whatever you need to do to get them to like you and then persuade them to “help” (see: do) you with your work. Most of the time you should take all the credit, but throw them a bone sometimes and they’ll feel appreciated enough to help you next time you need it.

4.) Schedule Tons of Meetings

Most people think that if you’re in meetings you’re working and progress is being made. Most people haven’t read this book. Peter Drucker says meetings are a concession to deficient organization. We either meet or work. We can’t do both at the same time. Until your boss realizes that most meetings are worthless keep your calendar full of them.

5.) List Off All The Things You’re Working On

Most companies have status meetings where you alert everyone on the projects you’re working on. Don’t just announce the most impactful projects or the things that have changed since the last meeting. List every single thing you’re working on. Don’t just stop at tactics either. Let them know you e-mailed so-and-so and are awaiting a follow up. Really up the ante and make sure your to-do list spans multiple pages.

6.) Say “Uh huh” and “I Like That Idea” Loudly in Meetings

Visibility is key to proving you’re working hard. Don’t sit there quietly in meetings and not say anything. Processing all the information in order to fill a gap with a valuable contribution is a waste of valuable time. Make your voice heard. Nod a lot, and say “Uh huh” like you’re really engaged. Agreeing with someone else works well and stating the obvious, provided it won’t be contested by someone smarter than you is also a great strategy.

7.) Carry a Folder, Binder or Laptop Everywhere

Maybe you’re going to Target to get the latest Hunger Games book, but if you look like you’re going to a meeting or to someone else’s office they’ll never know. Bonus points for perusing the document as you walk down the hall towards your phony destination.

8.) Always Leave the Office Last

I know this is counter-intuitive to your desire to slack off, but this is the best way to guilt your boss into giving you a raise or a promotion. Play on Facebook, read a magazine or make personal phone calls when most people start leaving. Once everyone is gone, wait a few minutes and then leverage rule #1 by sending off a few obligatory e-mails. If your boss and/or co-workers follow you on Facebook go one step further and announce you’re finally leaving after an exciting day at the office.

9.) Learn Fancy Industry Jargon

You don’t have to actually know what you’re talking about, but if it sounds like you do everyone will be impressed. Get a few trade pubs, scour a couple of blogs and commit to learning a few nonsense words every week. Flowery language with no real substance makes you look super smart and we all know that smart people work hard.

10.) Act Really Stressed and Make Sure Everyone Knows

Audible sighs, massaging your own temples and announcing you have no more capacity to anyone who will listen are fool-proof tactics. Also, make sure you drink lots of caffeine, act frazzled and occasionally toss a few sheets of paper or yell at the printer. Work creates stress so the the more stressed you are, the harder you’re working. It’s a proven theorem.

I’ll be completely honest. In a lot of organizations shit like this probably does work, at least for awhile. (The skeptic in me says it works more often than it should, for longer than it should, in more organizations than you would suspect).

But I hope that it doesn’t work in your office. In good companies you’re not fooling anyone. Not your boss and certainly not your co-workers, who will typically keep quiet hoping leadership will notice until you step on their head in an attempt to ascend the corporate ladder.

So keep leveraging these tactics at your own discretion, but I hope you don’t find yourself in a high-profile position where you have to step up your game. Rest assured I’ll be rooting for you to fail.

Do you know anyone in your office that employs these tactics? Does leadership notice?

Photo Credit: Slyworking2


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  • Uh huh.

    I like this idea.


  • Guest

    Liked this article. I am not a slacker but I had a coworker who was.
    I worked part time (~85%) but really worked 100% of the time I was at work, and still had to work from home sometimes to meet deadlines. Of course, I was not paid for the work time at home.
    And guess who got all the promotions and increases? The ones who were at the office long hours but doing nothing or when they were working, they were doing a crappy job… But I guess they could present it in a better way than I could ever do. 
    And guess who got laid off because part time? Yours truly…


  • Guest

    it’s very funnnnnnny!!!! but, not to gooooood at all…


  • Guest

    I think some of my colleagues have already read this article … 😛

    In point 8) you might like to add “…even if you are the last to arrive in the morning”


  • Sophie

    This article could have been written for a co-worker I used to work in a public school. She did all these things especially the loud sighs and rubbing temples at senior management meetings exclaiming how hard she had been working.Funny thing is she ended up promoted and got on the Honor Board which she plastered all over face book. Sickening.