20 Ways We All Love To Procrastinate At Work


Sometimes the standard procrastination techniques like staring out the window or looking at everything on the Internet just aren’t enough. These are the times when lies and deceit are called for; these are the times when we plumb our utmost depths of creativity to find out what we’re really made of and just how far we’ll go in order to avoid doing actual work. Most of the time, those depths involve food and pointless questions.

1. Attempting to make the perfect cup of coffee or tea.

You let everyone know that this is a combination of ritual and scientific undertaking, and under no circumstances can you be disturbed. For the next 20 to 30 minutes, the kitchen is your sanctuary; you’ll measure, grind, measure some more, brew, steep, sweeten, sip and stir until you have achieved the absolute perfect combination of flavor, temperature and strength. And if it happens to take longer than half an hour, that’s a sacrifice you’ll just have to make. For science. For humanity. For the good of us all.

2. Adding up the amount of your paycheck you get to keep.


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Then adding up how much you’d actually be making if you got to keep it all. Then complaining bitterly to everyone within a 50-foot radius.

3. Looking up random locations on Wikipedia.

You daydream about what it would be like to live in Guam or Alaska, then start to get really specific and look up every single mid-size city in the tri-state area. You’re an expert on the culture, history and major roads of every small coastal Oregon town, and you just recently discovered that Minneapolis is the 14th-largest metropolitan area in the U.S.

4. Pretending you’re not texting.

You find creative ways to casually hold your phone so that it’s easy to type but also doesn’t look like you have it in your hand on purpose; maybe you were just checking the time and forgot to put it down or something. You’re also an expert on hiding it with only 2 seconds of warning time.

5. “Reorganizing” your drawers.

You couldn’t possibly work until you know that your draw space is maximized. Drawers must be clean and divided into perfectly spaced compartments containing everything you might need throughout the course of a day, such as sticky notes, extra pens, pencils, snacks, spare change, emergency socks and lots of markers and highlighters. An organized drawer is the mark of a productive worker!

6. Cleaning your office or cubicle.

Once you’re done with the drawers, it’s time for everything else. How can you be expected to concentrate when there’s dust on the cabinets and an empty roll of tape sitting right there in front of you? It’s perfectly acceptable for you to drag out all the cleaning products and start standing on chairs to dust nooks and crannies that have never before seen the light of day; it’s also understood that you won’t rest until all your tape, staples, thumbtacks and other supplies have been replenished.

7. Asking someone about their vacation.

It’s polite to do so, and etiquette also dictates that you must look at every single one of their vacation photos. No one can stop you, because that would be rude; you asked to see these photos, so now you need a full hour to examine them thoroughly.

8. Pretending that you need to ask someone something.

You always make sure this person is as far away as possible so it takes a long time to walk there and walk back.

9. Asking someone what they’re up to.


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A standard small-talk question can lead to at least 45 minutes of conversation if you find the right topic. This tactic is generally foolproof, because chances are that whoever you’re talking to doesn’t want to work, either, so your combined efforts will provide the fuel needed to make this rocket take off.

10. Taking way longer than you really need to.

You know that doing your work in the amount of time it would actually take you would only result in being assigned more work and eventually cracking under the pressure. It’s better for everyone if you relax and pretend you need twice the time to do things.

11. Feigning concern over small details.

“Times New Roman is a classic, yes … but do you really think it’s right for this? Is 12-point font just too clichéd? And while we’re brainstorming, what are your thoughts on margin size?”

12. Adding and subtracting items from coworkers’ desks.

They might eventually notice that their stapler is gone, but how long will it take them? And more importantly, will they ever notice the orange you put in their drawer, and if so, will they start to question their own sanity because they don’t remember putting it there?

13. Taking holiday decorating more seriously than you have ever taken anything.

This is a time for celebration, damn it, and you will make the best decorations this office has ever seen. Never mind that there’s work to be done — if it’s Thanksgiving, you must make at least a dozen colored hand turkeys, and once Thanksgiving is over, it’s time to immediately put up an elaborate display of lights. You don’t actually decorate your own house, but you’ll decorate the office if it means doing something other than working. You’ll decorate it for days!

14. Spending three hours finding a new desktop background.

Your work environment is very important to you, and must be both mentally stimulating and emotionally soothing. You explain to people that you don’t want to spend hours downloading National Geographic photos — you need to.

15. Creating fake events.


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Creating fake yearbook superlatives is also acceptable, but if you really want to waste some productive time, get politics involved! Pretend you’re running for office and start canvassing your co-workers with campaign materials. Fake office events require a lot of dedication and vision, but when you approach them with a can-do attitude, hours of time can be wasted. Come up with insane ideas like telling people you’re running for Comptroller of the Second Floor District and then make door-to-door visits in which you explain your pro-telecommuting, anti-fax-machine platform and hand out complimentary stationary that you created with the Microsoft Paint program.

16. Keeping a running tally of all tics; taking bets if necessary.

Do you sit near a chronic throat-clearer, or perhaps someone who almost always answers the phone exactly the same way? Savvy employees know that instead of letting these little habits drive you crazy, the best way to cope is to start keeping track of everything and initiate a betting pool.

17. Making up buzzwords …

… and use real words incorrectly. Sending someone an email saying that you’d love to obviate the actionability of this project and create a real pivot point paradigm for pre-user revenue engagement results in at least half an hour of time wasted while they figure out how to respond politely to any of the words you just used.

18. Going on obsessive, generally pointless missions.

Someone needs to replace the paper towels in the bathroom; that someone could be you! You, and only you, can track down whoever is in charge of bathroom supplies and deliver this important message, then deliver the precious paper towels.

19. Pretending you’re really into birds.

You bought a bird-watching guide as a prop so that when someone catches you staring out the window, you can say things like, “Ah, yes; I thought that was a yellow-throated warbler! And look — there’s a tufted titmouse! Do you know much about birds?”

20. Helping with problems you have no idea how to solve.

You’re always helpful and willing to contribute to issues that you know you don’t have a prayer of resolving. You suggest solutions that you’re certain won’t work so you can then look perplexed and wonder why that didn’t work. Oh, well — maybe next time you’ll figure it out!