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20 extremely creative things people do to make them look busy at work

These 20 ways could potentially help you look busy the next time you are in the office. 

20 extremely creative things people do to make them look busy at work
Cover Image Source: Male cleaner mopping in office atrium. (Getty Images/ Zero Creatives)

If you have worked in an office, you would know how mundane things get around there. Everyone is busily typing, sending emails and floating in and out of meetings, while some are just trying to look busy. If everything in you stiffened up while reading the last line, it means you are guilty and it is okay. Yes, work is important as it pays your bills, but some days you just don't want to work. Maybe you are pulling a 'bare minimum Monday,' or you feel lazy to do much of anything, but whatever the reason is, you are not committing a crime by pretending to look busy. Many do it and get away with it. 

This does give you a feeling of déjà vu. When you were in school and had a test and you didn't know the answer, you would merely put up a front of being concentrated while, in reality, you would be busy awaiting your friend to help you. It is the same thing, but it's just that you are a little older now. We've all done this and this is common knowledge. Not that you are looking for creative new ways to seem busy at work, but we have shortlisted some go-to ways to "look busy" when you feel like taking it easy. Shared on a viral thread on Reddit, these 20 ways could potentially help you the next time you are in the office. 

1. Keep those tabs ready

My coworkers don't really know computers like I do, and since my job is 90% on the computer, I just load up 3 or 4 explorer windows over a random Excel spreadsheet, and stare intently at it.-u/GrilledStuffedDragon

2. Just look frustrated

Squint at your computer screen, shake your head, let out an occasional sigh, and have a bunch of papers on your desk you can rifle through periodically. You don't want to look so frustrated that you might need some help, but if you do this right, everybody will think you're already too busy with something to be bothered." -u/J-Dizzle42

3. Hold something and walk around

When I was in the culinary field, anytime I wanted a short break, I'd just grab a random container and walk around with it. No one bothers you if you do haha. As for my current office gig, I recently started writing fan fiction with word or notepad during free time. Anyone who glances over at me sees me pounding away on the keyboard so they think I'm busy as f**k. In reality I'm writing away about people getting their a*s kicked or fighting monsters. -u/Mysticbooka

4. Scurry from one corner to another

If you work in a big enough building, just put something important-looking in one hand (papers, a clipboard works perfectly, etc) and scurry intensely from one random place to the next. As long as you're holding something official (change it up) and hurrying semi-urgently from place to place, you can go like this right up to your yearly review. - u/Congenital0ptimist

5. Read things

Find something to read that they can’t tell isn’t work if they don’t look too close. Like did you know the script of The Truman Show is online somewhere? That was a fun day. -u/Jenslosingit

6. Sends emails to yourself

I have a steady flow of work these days, but when I first started, my position was brand new. But yeah those first few months were rough, so I started emailing myself really long articles and short stories. I'd then either just read them straight from email, or I'd past them into an Excel/Word/Publisher document. -u/Meltedlaundry


7. Dial random numbers

In a call center, I’d dial a number I knew would not connect. The line registered as busy so my ‘busy on a call’ stats were always very high. Just had to remember to cover the phone light with something if I walked away to make a coffee. -u/CheeryCherryCheeky

8. Can't talk, too busy

Before my desk job days, when I was in retail/guest service, the equivalent was just power walking nowhere in particular with a slight scowl. It obviously meant I had somewhere important to be and shouldn’t be bothered. - u/Givethatagoodsniff


9. Use Microsoft Excel

I open up Excel and type random work words into the cells (ex: overtime, PTO, budget) I don't even know how to work Excel, but the higher ups appreciate all the work I'm doing lol. -u/Daejane

10. Just scan your surroundings every now and then 

Well I'm not an office worker but I'll share my go-to move anyway. I work as a restaurant manager and when I can't find something to do I'll walk with a steady pace to the back room (the back side of the restaurant where we still seat customers) and kinda just... Survey for a sec. Make it look like I'm actually gathering info for a big top or something. -u/glockos


11. Grab some office tools

I’m a cleaner/janitor in a warehouse complex, and sometimes I would just grab a broom or a bucket and walk around. I could walk laps around the place for hours without doing anything if I wanted. -u/82recluse82

12. Click away

Just click stuff. We have a system on our PC, I just go from this page to that, pretending to read stuff, click, click, click, very busy. -u/Ajshdkjasdh


13. Scribble on your notebook

I recently got a writing prompts notebook that makes me look like I’m writing things in a regular notebook but I’m actually answering random questions like “what was your dream as a kid? Would you be that now” or “what are your three favorite items in your living room?” Shit keeps me busy for quite some time and looks like I’m designing an advertisement. -u/Bbeachbbaby

14. Leave a little later

Stay five minutes late. Leave a cup of coffee and half a bagel on your desk when you leave so that no matter how early someone comes in the next day it looks like you have already been there. -u/Bluecheetos


15. Do something oddly productive

 I have a long, colorful spreadsheet with a lot of numbers and red and green bits in it that I open and scowl at when I'm done with everything, but don't feel like talking to my coworker. It's just my bookshelf. Categorized by publication year, format, genre, and language. -u/itsFlycatcher

16. Stay on that media

I'm a social media manager, so I can just browse through Instagram and pretend I'm looking for inspiration, influencers, or the competition. -u/deleted


17. Take a training course

Open up various tools for system monitoring and look at them. If something went tits up we'd get an email so I don't really need to do that, but it looks busy and maybe I'll notice something important. Otherwise I take some training courses or something. Most aren't very good but it's fuel for my self evaluation come mid year. -u/TetrisCannibal


18. Look at work-related tools

I'm a machinist but I have a desk so, not an office worker but this applies to me. I will browse MSC or McMaster-Carr and look at tools if a manager is around. When they ask what I am doing I reply with "spending company money". -u/Sirhc978

19. Read the Truman script?

Find something to read that they can’t tell isn’t work if they don’t look close. Like did you know the script of the Truman show is online somewhere? That was a fun day. - u/Jenslosingit

20. Engineering maps

Some of the work I do involves engineering maps. Pull up a complicated-looking map, put on headphones with audiobook, let my eyes glaze over for an hour or 2 looking at the map. People walk by and assume I'm trying to do some sort of complicated logistics/planning in my head. In reality I'm on book 12 of the Dresden Files. -u/FedRishFlueBish

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