Beginners guide to artful dodging and wily wasting

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 January, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 January, 2002, 12:00am

Chief executives do it, middle managers do it, even government secretaries do it.

Wasting time at work is an art form.

The secret is to steadily chip away at the hours of your working day.

Disappearing for hours on end will only get you caught and fired.

Practitioners find ways to eat up the time but still appear productive.

Aficionados are the colleagues that you least suspect. The Golden Rule is that each futile act only adds up to a few seconds but seconds add up to minutes and minutes make hours.

Remember - the alternative to employment is unemployment and unemployment doesn't pay the bills. It is better to be productively unemployed at work.

Here are some tips:

Drink Lots of Water: Water, tea and coffee make you urinate quicker and more often than other drinks. No one can blame you for normal bodily functions. It is unlikely that a boss will yell at you for taking a leak. Once in the bathroom, take your time. Lai See would even suggest that men take up the feminine habit of sitting during all trips to the toilet. Remember men, urinals were designed for speed. Don't be robbed of those precious extra seconds of pulling down your trousers and pulling them back up again.

Remember - a well-planned trip to the bathroom can eat up between 30 seconds to six minutes per trip.

The Computer: If ever there was a piece of time-saving technology so perfectly suited to wasting office time it is the desktop PC. Load your computer with unnecessary programs that make your machine run slower. While you are waiting for the PC to process information sit back and relax.

If the boss questions you just say: 'Damn computers.'

He'll laugh and agree and say something akin to: 'Seems as if we use to get more work done without them.'

Agree with him and he'll walk away never suspecting that you aren't doing anything. Roughly wastes 42 minutes a day.

Naps: Lots of people want to take naps at work. However, this is very dangerous and should only be attempted by the most seasoned napper.

Fill a coffee mug, find a low traffic area in the office and spill the contents of the mug on the floor. Lay down on the floor face first with your coffee mug laying on the spill. The purpose is to make it look like you fell, passed out or tripped on something. After you place yourself in position, go to sleep. If someone finds you, they'll rush to your aid. Have an excuse ready. Say you fell, passed out or tripped on something.

Never repeat this exercise in the same location and do not do it too often. This technique will be less effective if you snore. If you snore while you sleep its tougher to pass off sleep as unconsciousness. Naps can buy you anywhere from 10 minutes to several hours depending on where you take the nap.

Office Conversations: Enter business conversations around the office that are taking place in the open. You don't have to participate very much in the conversation. The important thing is to be there physically. Just nod your head a few times. Beware that others in the conversation may turn out to be serial time wasters such as yourself and be prepared for awkward silences. Also be ready with a quick exit line in case someone asks you a question.

One good response that can buy time is: 'I'm sorry, I was thinking about how we are going to manage to do everything on time and still stay on budget.'

They'll either repeat the question or continue without your input. If they do the latter, you might want to excuse yourself and move on back to your desk. Can waste between 23 minutes to two hours.

Meetings: Go to every meeting that is appropriate for you to attend. Everyone knows meetings are a colossal waste of time, so use them.

You would be surprised at how many people miss the opportunity at wasting time by ducking out of, or avoiding meetings.

Once you are in the meeting, it's all about you. You can plan your weekend, think about the wildlife programme you watched the night before, or fantasise about gorgeous Georgina/George in accounts.

According to official studies, the average meeting takes 42 minutes and meetings happen an average of two to three times a week. It can waste up to eight hours a week. That's one whole day or a good night's sleep.

Just be careful and don't get caught.

Happy skiving.