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16 Ways To Look Busy At Work So You Don't Get Told Off: Retail Edition

A guide to keeping your job.

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1. Walk fast.

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Walking across the store floor quickly implies that you have a fuckload to do; too much to be dawdling around like some bored person who's just trying to kill time. Also a benefit? Getting a lot of steps in. Hit that 10K goal!

2. Hold a clipboard.

Holding a clipboard makes you look efficient as fuck. Fact. If you hold a clipboard you will look like you're on top of a long-ass list of tasks that you will accomplish, even if that list in your mind actually consists of "waiting for lunch" and "avoiding responsibilities".

3. Pretend to be looking for something.

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If you peer carefully at shelves or racks, under displays, or out the back, your boss will assume that you're trying to track something down for a customer even if there aren't any in the store.

4. Ask your boss if they've seen one of your co-workers.

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Let's be clear, delivery is everything here. If you sound like you're just looking for them to chat about your weekend plans, they'll be onto you quick smart. However, if you sound like you need to ask them a ~very important work-related question~, that is A+ deception, my friends. You can even add that lie into your question, like "hey Dave, have you seen Benji? I need to ask his opinion on how I'm going to merch the front of the store." See? That's some legit shit. Then, just stand and have a banter at the front of the store for like 20 minutes. Boom. You're 20 minutes closer to lunch, and you're welcome xoxo.

5. Be fidgety, all the time.


Fidgety people look busy. Fact. If you want to portray the illusion of being busy, tap you fingers, tap pens, constantly look around as though you should be on the other side of the store, fixing something that needs your attention right away.

6. Sigh as if there aren't enough hours in the day.

Busy people never have enough hours in the day, and they hate it. If you want to look busy and be convincing about it, throw an exaggerated, exasperated sigh out within earshot of your co-workers about once an hour so they know how hard you're working and how much you wish you could be doing more, if only there were more time.

7. Pick things up.

Pick stock up, pick papers up, pick pens up. Literally just pick up objects. Picking up an object suggests you're going to do something with said object. Maybe you'll write a list, maybe you'll put some stock out, maybe you'll complete a very important memo. Either way, the possibilities are endless and you'll look busy as fuck.

8. Carry a small pile of items across the store.


In the same vein as picking things up, carrying things across the store is crucial for maintaining the illusion of being busy. You will look extra busy when you're in motion, and then you can put them down, pick up another small pile of items, and do the same thing in reverse.

9. Literally always be carrying something.

Again, this is similar to #8, but really, it cannot be stressed enough how imperative it is to always be holding or carrying something. Carrying something implies a purpose, so your boss will be far less likely to question your actions.

10. Place items down, very deliberately.

Even if you think no one is watching, remember that there are security cameras and you never know who could be watching. Place items down with the drama of "yes, this is it. This is your home and you belong here, item!" ...even if it is 100% not the right place. If it's not, you can always pick it up and carry it back across the store later.

11. Make "tut-tut" noises as if you are mildly displeased.

Tut-tutting is an A+ way to show that something is mildly askew, and gives your boss the impression that you know the high standards that are expected, that you're disappointed to see something isn't living up to expectation, and gives the illusion that you will fix said discrepancy at your earliest convenience. If only you weren't so busy, ya know?

12. Hide.

Here's a pro-tip, you guys. If no one can see you, no one can know that you're not doing any work. It's imperative, however, that you remember what we talked about earlier: cameras. Hide. In. A. Blind. Zone. People. You have been warned.

13. Reorganise something totally mundane, like a box of stickers.

That GIF? That's your boss, being impressed by the excellent and thorough job that you're doing. A+ work, buddy, keep it up.

14. Get deeply involved in a conversation with a customer.

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Now, this may surprise you, but this actually, technically, sort of counts as working. But here's the thing. You don't have to talk to them about work. Talk to them about their weekend, ask them about their interests, find out all the minuscule details of their lives, just make sure you keep that conversation going for literally as long as humanly possible. Then, if your boss asks you why you spent so long with the customer, sigh in an exaggerated manner and be like "I know, right? They just kept talking!"

15. Write things down.

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Pro-tip: if you're always making notes, you will always look busy. Even if you're writing a grocery list, always be writing.

16. Leave to-do lists all over the store.


After you've written a list of every conceivable task that you could accomplish, cross a few things off, and then leave it somewhere. It helps if you've actually accomplished those tasks, but tbh it's mostly for show so it's not imperative. Make another list. Leave it somewhere else. Then, go around and ask people if they've seen your to-do list. You can't possibly accomplish anything until you find it, you see? Stretch out the search for as long as humanly possible. If they find one list, tell them you're looking for the other one, etc etc etc. Repeat as necessary.

And there you have it. You'll never be told off again.