(Un)Motivation Nation

Have you ever been at your desk, with a shitload of work to do – but are completely unmotivated to do any of it?  You know you have deadlines approaching, but they aren’t quite close enough to motivate you to get on it?

Yep – that’s the problem I face just about every day.

(Un)Motivation Nation

Let’s take a look at the facts.

So, I have this job-type-thing, and apparently I get paid twice a month to show up and do it.  Or something.  I’ve heard this rumor that, if I don’t actually do my job, they’ll discontinue the whole paycheck/benefits thing.  Whoever “they” are.

I think that’s bullshit.

Especially since there’s this guy who worked for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) who did no work for like 6 or 7 years, and still got paid pretty darn well.  Now keep in mind, this is sort of old news.  The article is back from 2003, but this guy is a LEGEND. 

I love the part of the article where he explains what he did day long:

“”I’ve managed to publish a couple of books, some short story fiction, a little bit of non-fiction writing…. [and] I wound up joining a health club near the office, just to sort of to break up the day.”

How cool is that?  He became a successful author and got into really good shape, and got PAID to do it.

Ahh to work for the government.

Unfortunately, I don’t work for the government….. errr directly.  I work for a government contractor, and apparently we have different rules about quality of work and output and stuff.

So, what’s my point here?  Actually, maybe the real question is, do I ever really have a point?  NO!  But since I have an adoring blog audience who are just dying to see what stupid thing I might say next, I had to come up with some bullshit to write about today. 

My first thought was:  The 12 Best Ways to Fuck Around at Work

But we all like to fuck around in different ways, so I don’t want to force you to do something you don’t want to do.

My next thought was:  The 12 Best Ways To Fuck Around at Work and Still Get Away With It

But again, I still run into the issue of defining how you do your fucking around.  I’m not a micro-manager.  I don’t care how you do something, as long as you provide me with the results I want.

And then I figured it out.  I realized where my true talents lay, and how I could help you out.  In the spirit of season of giving, I present:


The 12 Rules For Getting Away With Doing Nothing at Work


Make a Mess

  • I apologize now to those people who like to keep their desks anally neat.  Sorry, but you just don’t look like you are busy (plus, you might actually be doing real work, in which case, this post isn’t for you.  Go away!).  The point here is not to just look busy, it’s to make it look like you have a lot going on ALL the time.  I have all sorts of presentations and org charts and spreadsheets scattered all over my desk.  No one notices that they are months old.  I also make sure that I rustle through stuff at least once a day to make it look like I’m looking through things and they are important documents.  Tip:  If you have napkins at your desk, don’t keep them in a desk drawer – instead, store them under one of the piles.  This still keeps your napkins out of sight, and gives you a reason to go through your paperwork. 


  • I didn’t discover this fantabulous way of screwing around until just recently, and it’s one of the best ways to look productive while never actually doing anything.  No one questions what you are doing if you are creating a document in Word.  You see, if I’m writing a post while on WordPress, or an email in Google or AOL or Yahoo, you can tell pretty quickly what I’m doing.  Fucking around.  But Word?  Nope, no questions at all.  That’s why I write all my posts in Word, and I’ll even copy long articles or blog posts into it just to read them un-noticed.

Have Mom Dress You

  • You know the saying “dress for the job you want, not for the job you have?”  Screw that.  I don’t care what job you want, dress for the job you want people to think you are doing.  I over-dress for work every day.  Why?  No one wears a suit around here, but I’ll pretty much always wear either a jacket or a tie.  Why?  Because it makes me look very professional.  Not that I’m actually professional, but I sure do look it.  People in my office just assume I’m more important that I really am.  Plus, when I fart, they just think it’s the guy in the jeans next to me, because as we all know, people in suits never fart.

Deadline Your Poop

  • I work well to deadlines.  In the hour before a deadline, I’m always looking a little bit harried and crazy.  This is a good thing, because I look like I’m really busy.  To that end, I also create all sorts of other deadlines for myself, which are not work oriented.  As an example,  10:30am is my poop deadline every day.  I know that, if I don’t meet my deadline, the bathroom will become over-crowded.  Therefore, I’m always rushing around in the morning getting things done before 10:30am.  Things such as my blog reading, posting, and fantasy sports stats updating. 

Look the Part

  • Perception is reality.  It doesn’t matter what you are doing, as long as you look like you are really intense or in deep concentration, people will just assume that you are doing something important.  When you want to screw around, DON’T CHANGE YOUR BODY LANGUAGE.  I’m equally as intense when creating a powerpoint presentation as I am when I’m surfing ESPN.  It’s when you start leaning back in your chair and looking relaxed that you get in trouble, because people will just assume you are doing some e-browsing at Dealnews or some other fantastic shopping site.

Lists Lists Lists!

  • Nothing says work like a list of things to do.  I’m ALWAYS making lists.  In fact, I’ll create a list and put nice little check boxes next to it so I know when I’ve completed them.  That said, 99% of my lists include items such as: wash underwear, buy toilet paper, renew porn subscription, etc etc.  Once I’ve completed what I need to do, I check mark it, and then cross things out.  Since I’m always in my notebook writing additional “action items” and crossing them off, it makes me look like I’m constantly being productive. 

Carry a Sweet Notebook

  • Again, perception is reality.  Since you’ll be making all sorts of lists and the like, you’ll need something extra professional to write them in.  Only amateurs use Post-It notes to remind them to do things at home.  No no no!!  Post-It notes are easily readable by anyone who walks by your desk, and you don’t want them to know that you accidentally left your underwear in the washer.   Use your notebook instead – it looks great when you are writing in it, and they are inherently private – so you don’t have to worry that anyone will open it to peek at what you are not doing.  Remember – you want to look like you are working hard at all times – so only use Post-Its for work-related items.   That said, if you don’t have any important work notes to remind yourself about – make some up!  Try “spreadsheet due at 12pm” or “Meeting at 3pm, don’t forget to finish white-paper”.   Oh, and not all notebooks are created equal – so, invest in your fuck-around-time and go buy a nice one.

Book It

  • I always have some important looking books on my desk.  I can’t say that I’ve ever read them, but it makes me look like I care.  I’ve had “A Short Etymological Dictionary Of Modern English” on my desk for about 3 months now.  Why?  Because I don’t have room for it at home, so I just keep it at work to save space.  It’s not related to anything I do,  but no one really looks at the title – they just see an important looking book with some papers on top of it.  Important books equal important person.  Important people work hard.  Sensing a trend yet?

Get Intimate

  • You need to have an intimate relationship with Alt-Tab.  Learn it.  Love it.  For PC’s, Alt-Tab switches you from one window to another instantaneously.  I always set up my Alt-Tab to switch to something very business oriented should someone come by my desk to chat.  Outlook or a Powerpoint presentation are my go-to’s.  Don’t be a fool and not be prepared – the last thing you want to do when the VP walks in is Alt-Tab from blog reading to porn.


  • I don’t know if that’s a word, but just do it.  I’m very responsive on email.  I always write back fairly quickly.  Why?  Because writing an email doesn’t really involve any work.  Of course, there might be work associated with the email, but that doesn’t mean I have to do it right away… or at all for that matter.  People like to be heard, and so I take advantage of that need.  How do I avoid doing the work now, or doing it at all?  Continue to the next rule to find out!

Don’t Be Late – Communicate

  • People don’t really care if you do work, they just want to be acknowledged.  This is a fact.  Therefore, I am never late for deadlines… I just always extend them.  And I do it in a timely fashion.  If I have a deadline that I know is coming up, and I just don’t want to do the work associated with it, I’ll send an email to my boss hours in advance.  Generally, I’ll let him know that I won’t be able to meet the deadline, and ask if he would have a problem if I pushed it to [insert preferred date/time when I don’t have 17 other blog posts to read].  99% of the time, he’ll thank me for being honest, and tell me that the new deadline is fine.  In fact, I gain credibility because I was honest and upfront.  I’ve since gained a reputation for being timely with my work, without actually ever being timely.  Nice!

Information Sharing

  • I don’t have all the answers in life (just 99.9999% of them).  Some of you are pretty smart too.  So now it’s your turn.  How do you fuck around at work and get away with it?

17 responses to “(Un)Motivation Nation

  1. Alt-Tab is my favoritest function.

    Also? I am very proud to say that I practice all of these skillz.

    Because. Yes.

    Excellent. I’m glad there are others out there!

  2. ps: My other way to dick around at work is futz in the Twenty-Something blog community and find random new music to share w/the Album Club I run there. Heh.

    Nice! Good one!

  3. i love wearing suits, and, therefore, never fart.

    but i also recommend adding proactivityness to your list. not a lot. definitely not enough to make a difference. but sometimes, just asking someone a question (only if you already know the answer because you don’t want to be surprised) — like “Have you heard anything about the thing?” — makes them think you’re engaged. you can ask via e-mail and then Alt-Tab back to the blogs

    Great point!! I will definitely use that one moving forward.

  4. Make a mess: I can’t keep my desk too messy, because I sit in the main reception area and it would “Look Bad.”

    Blog: I’m a big fan of using Word to write blog posts, too. I hadn’t thought about copying posts from other people in there to read, but I like how your mind works!

    How I dress: I started dressing better when they started paying me more money, even though I do less work (score!).

    You bring up some very valid points here. Yes, if you desk needs to be neat, you’ll need to find other ways to look like you are constantly busy. That said, having a note book or 2 and an extra file of pages around, won’t necessarily look messy, but will give you that “always busy” feel.

    Pay is definitely an influencer of how I dress. Haha

  5. I worked really hard for the last 6 months to get my promotion… now that I have it.. I am unmotivated to work hard because, well, I got what I wanted.. now what?

    I’m unfamiliar with the term “work hard” uhhhh is that german or something?

  6. Back when I worked with other people, among my favorite ways to ignore work would be to “Have an Off-Site.” Organize a colleague/co-conspirator or two and send an email to the effect of: Fellow Jack-Off and I are headed off-site for the next couple of hours to brainstorm about Random BullShit Project. We can be reached on our respective Mobile Phones.

    Pure brilliance. Definitely a good one.

  7. hee… i discovered the copying things to read into word (or notepad) long ago… i’ve done WaPo online chats, blogs, and fanfic !

    Nice! It sounds like you are a very advanced fuck-arounder

  8. There comes a time in every burgeoning friendship when you realize that you both poop at the same time.

    The worst part? It’s not even disturbing.

    Is there any other time to poop? I don’t think so. It’s the perfect time. You can get into office, get some quick “work” done, and by that time, my digestive system has kicked into gear and I’m ready for a break.

    So, uhh, if pooping together is the next step, I’m almost scared to find out what’s next.

  9. My desk is cluttered and I have lists everywhere. It works so well.

    I could probably use a few more books though…

    Ahh nice. I only have 1 area for lists, but I’ve been contemplating expanding to multiple ones just for visual purposes.

  10. The “Look Intense While You Do ANYTHING” is one I’ve got nailed down. It especially helps to act as if you’re multitasking at all times- I know you’re trying to talk to me, but I’m reading my computer screen at the same time, because I am SO BUSY I can’t look away even for a second other than to acknowledge your request at the end with one curt, stressed out nod, and possibly a wry smile. There is nothing to satisfactory as having people apologize for interrupting while I’m reading about Doug’s latest shart.

    Oh yes, I agree with you on this one. Theres a couple of people who drop by my office who I barely take my eyes off my screen for. You gotta be pretty special if I’m going to interupt my blog reading to talk to you. Special or have well formed boobs.

  11. I like to rat on other people who do nothing…in exchange for immunity of my own laziness.

    You are by the far the hardest working man I know. And damn good looking as well.

  12. Most of the time, there really IS nothing for me to do at my job. I celebrate the day I discovered this blogging thing!

    I try to look busy when the doctor’s around, and that includes having piles of charts on my desk – mostly looking like he’s supposed to be doing something with them. He doesn’t like to work either, so he ignores them and tells me to “carry on.”

    haha sounds like you work for a great doc, eh?

  13. I USED to read blogs at work, but now I can’t go online at all. It’s like my life is falling apart.

    To fuck around I make fun of my co workers and draw pretty pictures with highlighters.

    What’s the point of work if you can’t fuck around?

  14. When my brother used to work in the IT dept of a Chicago bank, he and the other engineers would sign out on Fridays to trouble calls at the following locations:

    Waveland and Clark
    Clark and Addison
    Addison and Sheffield
    Sheffield and Waveland.

    Somehow, no one ever checked up on them.

    What are at those locations? Bars? haha

  15. Wear a headset and pretend you’re dialed into an important phonecall. When someone walks by, contort your face like the person on the line said something stupid and then demand “but have you received buy-in from all stakeholders on your proposal?!” Management will be impressed, unfortunately your cubicle mates will think you’re a douchebag.

    I circumvent all this by working at home all the time.

    Good one! I like it! And yes, working from home is always grand. I’m doing that very thing today! Woo!

  16. This is the first time I have read your blog and I agree 100% that this is the best list for that aspiring slacker. I actually follow most of these rules at work with one special twist. I keep a legal pad and pen among the mess on my desk that I write on when people talk with me. This way I validate them and they don’t really bother me again. Oh, and I keep the IPOD hooked to the speakers at all times.

    Glad ya dropped by. Great point about validating people to make em go away!

  17. By the way, totally used the word document tip today. Boss was right there and had no clue.

    That’s why I write the blog. I’m here to help provide a better life for all the earths inhabitants

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