Look, we’ve all been there. There’s a big project you’ve got to finish; or there’s a report you need to draft; or maybe it’s just Wednesday evening and your boss is reminding you that you haven’t written an article for the website today. Whatever the problem, whatever work you’re avoiding, we’ve got your back. So here are five things you can try when avoiding work.

5. Go For A Walk

Exercise de-stresses, helps unclutter the mind, keeps you healthy and (unless you work somewhere strange and your job comes along with you as you move) it also gets you away from your desk for a while. That’s why going for a walk can be a great way to avoid work for a bit a time to yourself.

Now we’ll be the first to admit that you can’t always just get up and leave whenever you want to (trust us, we’ve tried – they’ve got cameras everywhere here) but there are ways to fit taking a quick walk into the average working environment. You could grab a mug and go to make a quick cup of tea or coffee. It won’t give you a massive break from the desk but a short break is better than nothing.

Just don’t be gone for too long, otherwise this could be your fate!

It’s even better if you suddenly happen to find something essential is missing from the break room, so you need to go to the other break room on the other side of the building just to get your drink.

If this isn’t an option, grab a few files; an armful or reports; or just some general paperwork and walk around the building for a while. If anyone asks what you’re doing, just say you’re taking a report to someone; or maybe “just checking up on something with John”. There’s always a John. It’s a plan with no drawbacks. Well, not unless the person asking you what you’re doing is John, of course. You’re on your own if that happens.

4. Declutter Your Computer

Computers get cluttered, it’s so annoying. Cluttered computers slow down and become unresponsive; because although your hard drive might still have a load of space free on it, it’s never enough space for the operating system. Those pesky OS thingies always want as much free space as they can get, and they go on strike if they can’t get enough. It’s very frustrating.

That’s why it’s essential to your being able to work properly and at maximum efficiency if you occasionally take the time to declutter your computer – and there’s no time like the present! So grab that mouse, mash that keyboard and drag all those old files that you don’t need any more into a recycling bin. You’ll be amazed at how much stuff you’ve got saved on your hard drive that you don’t need, never look at and probably have never used.

Once that’s done, you’ll be free to get on with other tasks in a far more efficient manner because your computer won’t be chugging along like it’s a relic from the Eighties. Which means you’ll be far quicker when you come to…

3. Catch-Up On Correspondence

Okay, we admit it, we went and made a cup of tea in the middle of writing this article so we completely forgot that we had a load of emails to reply to today. No doubt you’ve done the same. Well, it’s time to remedy that problem!

Reading through emails, sorting them into folders based on subject, or relevance, or whatever and then collating them into an order of importance takes time – time that you could waste right now, if you want to avoid doing any real work! So get to it.

If you’re lucky enough to not have any emails to deal with right now, there’s always a way to solve that problem, too: write some! There has to be someone you’ve been meaning to catch up with somewhere. Maybe they’re a guy you met at a conference and you were promising yourself you’d get in touch with for a future project? Maybe there’s someone in accounting that you need to talk to about a pay dispute? Maybe your Aunt hasn’t been in touch for a while and you need to make sure she’s doing okay? Send an email! Send ten! It won’t look creepy!

Actually, no. It will look creepy. Super creepy. Send those emails anyway, it beats doing real work.

2. Read The Reports You’ve Been Avoiding

Okay, now your computer is running at tip-top efficiency, you’re all caught up on your emails and you’ve been for a walk, what next? Well there’s got to be a report or a memo or something that you haven’t read, right? Time to read it.

Those health and safety updates can be super boring but they aren’t as bad as doing real work, so give them a read. That latest quarterly update on the company’s financial situation? It’s an absolute snooze-fest, but even that’s better than actually getting on with what you’re paid to do. Read that thing, read it from cover to cover!

Once you’re read everything, we’ll bet you’ve got some thoughts on what you’ve just read. Maybe you’ve even got some questions and you’d like some clarification on something? That’s great! Send some emails about it. You’ll waste a bit more time and you’ll also look like you’re looking out for the company’s best interests, too. Now you’re slacking with efficiency!

1. Just Do The Damn Work

So it’s come to this. All the reports are read, you’ve been and made yourself yet another cup of tea and there are no more emails to deal with. You’ve got your computer running as fast as it’s ever going to run (because let’s face it, these bargain basement work computers are never going to be as quick as even a moderately-speedy home gaming rig, or even your little cousin’s laptop for their homework). You’ve reached the end, there’s no more slacking to be done. It’s time to actually do the work.

We all knew this was coming; it can’t be avoided forever. Even the best of us have to actually sit down and grind out a living now and then. Take it like a grown-up, buckle up and get to it. Half-ass it if you think you can get away with it but make sure you just scrape by with enough done to not get yourself in trouble, then slink out at the end of the working day.

You’ve had a hard day here, my friend, but at least it’s over. Now you get a few hours off before it’s time for bed and then you get to do it all over again. Isn’t the modern world fantastic?


Zoë Kirk-Robinson is a cartoonist and comedian who writes every day because she thinks it keeps her sane. Her latest book, All Over the House: Book Three, is out now.