Seven Ways to Look Busier and Keep the Axe from Falling On Your Head

Estimated reading time: 1 mins

Many of us are nervous about the future – are there job cuts around the corner? Well here are seven ways to appear busier! Don’t be at the top of the list of people in for the chop.

  1. Roll your sleeves up. And I mean this literally. Sleeves rolled up sends a message that ‘I am busy working’. If you don’t normally wear sleeves, wear them and roll them up.
  2. Visit, make calls, but don’t email. I’ve discussed the curse of email before – it’s overused. In these times it’s even more important to generate presence, so unless you really positively have to use email, then get up off your butt and see people face to face, or make telephone calls.
  3. Be away from your desk as much as you can (by doing something useful). This will create the (genuine) perception that you’re busy and active. People who sit at their desks all day on email don’t.
  4. Initiate discussion and meetings on strategic subjects. Funding for future projects maybe under scrutiny, but that doesn’t mean you can’t talk about them. Initiating the discussion yourself proves your interest and commitment, and it looks like you’re active across a number of fronts.
  5. Clear that backlog of deferred tasks. Clear out the activities that have been at the bottom of your pile. Closing work counts – make a song and dance about them.
  6. Provide an update on recent progress and activities. We don’t make enough about work in progress. If folks don’t know what is happening, they can assume nothing is happening. So update stakeholders regularly on progress to avoid this perception creeping in.
  7. Generate ideas. Having a steady stream of new ideas gives you a soapbox to stand on and show others that you’re still in the game.
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About the author /

Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.


  1. Mark McClure

    btw – What’s the feminine equivalent of sleeves rolled up? 😉

    Anyway, here’s #8 for your list: “Walk Faster”. Amazing how many people noticed when my walking gait increased from what they had logged subconsciously about my previous ambling rate (I did test this by the way).

    Now what I haven’t conclusively tested is does walking faster imply you are busier than before!

  2. simonstapleton

    @Mark – Excellent suggestion! Yes walk faster works, many of the senior folks I’ve worked for in the past (come to think about it) have commented on people who walk faster as ‘obviously working harder’!


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