How to fool your boss and make out like you're busy

It's a well-known fact that walking around the office with a piece of paper in your hand always gives the impression that you are busy. Here's a few more tips to fool your boss into thinking that you're working hard.

A messy desk is always good for your personal PR. If you know that your boss is coming over to discuss an important project, it creates a great impression when you dig a document out halfway down a pile of other papers. Placing overflow documents on the floor by your desk is also a neat trick, although this could fall foul of the Health & Safety police.

Don't go around the office laughing. Your boss will only think that you're having a great time, and doing no work. Better to go around with a frown and snap at colleagues occasionally. Appearing impatient with team members also gives the impression that you are busy and have the right sense of priority. Loud and frequent sighing also helps.

Always leave the office late - except if your boss has already gone home. Save e-mails to drafts and send them out late at night, or even better, from home in the evenings or on weekends.

Never answer your phone. It gives the impression that you are just waiting for it to ring, and have nothing else to do. Always have your voice-mail activated. Always leave it at least 45 minutes before you return a call.

It's also occasionally good to come to work in the same clothes as the day before. As long as you were the last to leave the night before, and the first to arrive that morning, you can pretend that you pulled an all-nighter.

Never 'throw a sickie' - always come into the office when you are genuinely sick. Rub your eyes to make them redder, cough a lot and disappear to the toilet, giving the impression that you're throwing up. At first refuse when your boss tells you to go home, saying that you have far too much to do. But go home anyway, and then take at least the next day off.

And finally, an old chestnut. Take two jackets / coats to work. Always leave the spare one draped over your chair, thus giving the impression that you are somewhere on the premises (when, in fact, you went to the gym or home ages before).

image: © Holly Occhipinti

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