10 things to do when you don’t feel like working (Management Level)

September 5, 2007, 3:02 PM UTC

  1. sloth1.jpg Manage by Walking Around: This technique, invented as a fad in the 1980s, involves the acquistion of coffee and perambulation around the workplace. It was originally intended solely for managers, who would leave their desks and disappear for an indeterminate amount of time, getting up close and personal with people instead of shooting memos at them right and left. It was, after several years, revealed for what it really was – a means of goofing off – and retired as an acceptable management technique, then forgotten. That organization amnesia makes it once again available to all who aren’t running a machine for a living as a way to get out of their cubicle or office and give the appearance of working.
  2. Download software updates: this may incapacitate your desktop while displaying a message stating that certain arcane procedures are in process. While that’s going on, you can Manage by Walking Around.
  3. Call an impromptu meeting. This is most effective for middle managers who have a couple of people reporting to them. Go down the hall. Pop in unexpectedly on a few people. Call them together. Have them address you about things in progress. All that is required of you is nodding. Note: Nodding does NOT mean nodding off. Stay frosty and alert.
  4. Take a nap. This is most effective in the afternoons, when the warp and weft and organizational life starts to get unravelled. Guys who nap in the mornings are often noticed, and not in a good way.
  5. Have a meeting out of the office. I often find, when things really get funky in my head, that a meeting out of the office at the local DVD store is most effective. They have a basement that is out of the reach of electronic equipment.
  6. Go visit the executive floor. Bring a cup of coffee. Walk around the area reserved for executives. Guess what. Many of them don’t feel like working qua working either. What you may not know is that at the uppermost regions of a corporation there is no distinction between “talking” and “working”. That means if you get somebody altitudinous into a conversation of any sort, you are now both judged to be working! And not only working, ladies and gentlemen, working on something important enough to be discussed on that floor. Nicely done.
  7. Arrange lunch/dinner/drinks. This is not very hard labor, and it involves something important: making an appointment for a future business interface. In some industries — show business for example — such forms of planning are between 40% and (among the most successful) 95% of their daily activity. 
  8. Have lunch/dinner/drinks: I’m not forgetting about breakfast, either. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day in terms of goofing off. A true, practiced breakfaster is the consummate corporate bulls**t artist. These guys invented the entire concept of the “power breakfast” to dignify their indolent, expensive face-stuffing. You can extend their magnificent achievement into all potential visits to the trough that may take place during your waking day. “He’s at lunch,” is perhaps one of the most unassailable explanations for somebody not knowing what you’re up to. Use it.
  9. Close your door. It is often very helpful to get some research material of some kind, the bigger the better, and then leave instructions that you are “behind closed doors” and “not to be disturbed” by anybody except the chairman or someone with a large, gift-wrapped box. Managers have to digest all kinds of research, often in silence and private, so they can, you know, think. You could be doing that, right?
  10. Work on your blog. What? You don’t have one? Where have you been? Mars?
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