Busy Working or Hardly Working? Tips for Getting Paid To Do Nothing

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By Charlotte Young

We all go through times when we feel burn out and we just need a vacation. Too bad we’ve already gone through all that time-off. Here’s Plan B: Forbes.com offers solutions for how to sit at work and do nothing, but still get paid, and possibly even promoted. Not that we’re advocating that you consistently avoid doing your work.

According to Eric Abrahamson, a specialist in leadership and organizational problem solving and a professor at Columbia Business School, people that manage to do nothing at work while masquerading as a wonderful, hard-working employee are the “Michelangelos of work avoidance.”

If you’re going to be a Michelangelo of work avoidance, the first thing you must remember is that this type of employee always seems friendly and kind. Forbes gives the example of a colleague named “June,” who was always exceedingly pleasant, but could always be found in the bathroom talking or applying make-up. One person who sat next to her in the office speculated she only did about two hours worth of work a day. Not only did she stay in her position for over ten years, the only reason why she was laid off was because her job had been replaced by technology.

In addition to a positive and friendly attitude, one must remain “out of sight, out of mind.” Abrahamson details that if people don’t see you, they can’t thing about giving you work. In order to accomplish this, he recommends arriving at work at different, unpredictable times of the day. You can also set up your schedule that involves a frequent change of location or try to work from home.

If none of those schemes work, try keeping your voicemail full. When people call they’ll think you’re so busy with work, you have absolutely no time to delete your message. It’ll also ensure that your boss and colleagues, who see how busy you work, won’t leave you messages detailing work tasks.

Next on the list is distorting the time it takes to complete a job. For instance, if you have a specific task that is yours alone to complete, no one else knows exactly how long it actually takes to finish it. Perhaps it only takes five minutes; perhaps it takes a few hours…who knows?

There’s also a trick called “cyberloafing.” By programming your email to send messages early in the morning, you give the appearance that you’ve been up late working on a project. Or keep tabs up, so that while you’re reading another article on Madame Noire, it only takes a second to pull up an Excel spreadsheet.

If all else fails, get a partner. Abrahamson says that an alliance will make it appear you and your colleague are both working hard. When the boss suggests that Jackie can do an assignment, Debby says that Jackie is already busy with two other projects. When the boss is wondering where Debby is, Jackie says that she’s out on a lunch meeting with a client.

Again, all of these tricks are not to advocate slacking off on your job. Still complete those files and send out that document. But when you feel that you can take no more, every now and then, try to take a break and relax from the rigorous environment of the office.

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