Are You Pretending To Be Busy?

Are You Pretending To Be Busy?

cartoon from

We all do it on occasion. Sometimes we fool even ourselves, we're so good at pretending to be busy — and independent consultants are especially vulnerable.

It can be a form of procrastination (as in the illustration above). Or perhaps we just can't find the muse that day — the brain juices simply aren't flowing for some reason. Sometimes we feel a little guilty if we don't have enough client work, and busying ourselves with non-essential tasks helps fill the void.

If you find yourself losing track of time as you mosey aimlessly around the Web, ask yourself: could I take a walk? Endulge in a guilty pleasure? Pick up the phone and call an old friend? Getting away from the computer can be the best way to jump start your productivity.

Just remember: there is no glory in working for the sake of working. Take time for some amusement, and you'll be more efficient when you have actual work to do. So have fun out there!

What do you do when you find yourself pretending to be busy? Any tips for clearing the cobwebs?

This post was originally published in 2009. Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

Written By Kellye Crane
Kellye Crane is the founder of Solo PR Pro, which provides the tools, education, advocacy and community resources needed for indies to succeed and grow. She's a veteran and award-winning communicator with more than 20 years of experience - 19 of them solo.


  1. This is a great post for a Friday Kellye. A friend and I call this “cleaning our sock drawer” as we find ourselves wandering aimlessly and not accomplishing much. I believe sometimes when this happens, it’s our brain’s way of telling us we need a short break. Calling a friend and changing one’s perspective will often break that spell. Happy Friday and weekend to you.

  2. Ah, the deadlines is the PR pro’s friend. Without them, it’s so easy to fall victim to aimless “work.” I do try to set mini deadlines as much as I can to keep me motivated. A little list of “what must get done today” helps.

    I’ll clean the kitchen or take the dogs to the beach for a restart most often, but a quick call, as you and Mary mentioned, is a great way. Even just a quick walk to the mailbox or any other outside activity is good. Yes, step away from the computer! 🙂


  3. @Mary- “Cleaning the sock drawer” would certainly qualify as an unnecessary activity! Good point about our brains telling us when we need a break — I think you’re exactly right.

    @Jen- Who would have thought that deadlines are our friend? Well said, and glad you brought up mini-deadlines, which are an excellent approach. By the way, I’m sure we all wish we could take a jaunt to the beach as a break, lucky duck! 🙂

  4. Kellye,
    I’m reading this post on my first day back at work after a week-long vacation. This was my first vacation of any length in more than a year and I realized just how much I needed it to be refreshed and productive today. Work time often becomes idle time when we don’t build in personal time for ourselves. Just because we’re independent professionals and have the flexibility to perform tasks on a Saturday night doesn’t mean we should.
    I love the “cleaning the sock drawer” analogy!

  5. Does Friday afternoon beer count? 😉

    I think it’s important to take time out, especially if you’re a lone worker or consultant. Sure, we get cool interactions with each other online to help pass the time away, but is this healthy for you?

    Keep active, both mind and body – it can only help you with your work in the long run.

    (I take my two dogs to the park – this current weather is too good to ignore!).

    Danny Brown’s last blog post..Why Your Numbers Game is BS

  6. @Alison- Good for you for taking an unplugged vacation. Good to hear it was refreshing — hopefully you’ll inspire others (including me!).

    @Danny- Excellent point about the need to stay active and healthy. I think it was Freudian that I forgot to mention that. 😉

  7. Kellye, I had to laugh when I pulled this up in my reader! Who me, pretending to be busy? Never! LOL! When I am burnt out and in need of a break but feel guilty so stay in front of my computer wasting time, email is my drug of choice. 🙂 I can work a delete key like nobody’s business and call it work..until I realize it would be better to just leave the office, and regroup. Now if I could train myself to just do that I’d save myself lots of angst!

    Karen Swim’s last blog post..No Time For Fishing

  8. Pretty cool post. I just came across your site and wanted to say
    that I’ve really liked browsing your blog posts. Anyway
    I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

  9. @Karen- As usual, you have a way with words! This post was inspired by my own struggles — like you, I could do a better job of stepping away from the computer from time to time. Let’s all vow to keep each other honest on this one.

  10. I laughed when I found this and had to tweet it! Although I am not an independent consultant I have often considered it but your post only reaffirms that I would definitely be distracted by thinking of such an overwhelming task as being totally on my own. At work now, since I am online and “plugged in” no matter where I am, I often find that I just have to get out of the office, take a walk or cross the street to chat to a friendly co-worker. Mostly I find I just need to feel the breeze or the sunshine to get my day back on track.

    Great post.