In the Chronicle yesterday, there was a nice piece about “procrastination productivity” that several of my friends posted to Facebook – about all the things you get done because they are a distraction from the real things you have to get done, and while they make you look like you are being productive, you know the truth.

Gray cat sleeping on open laptop computerI am very familiar with that tactic, but I have another one that’s even worse. Fake productivity, or “fauxductivity” as I like to think of it, is where you surround yourself with accoutrements of productivity and busyness so not only does it look like you are busy and important but you are hoping to trick your brain into acknowledging the need to get work done and then spend extra time doing it.

I am in a very importantly busy stage at work right now, and I have given in to my favorite fauxductivity trick (well, it’s less of a trick and more of an affectation): I start carrying around folders full of manuscripts, etc. at all times. Most of my purses are large enough to hold file folders for just this purpose. I take my work home with me, to the grocery store with me, to the doctors’ office, wherever I go. Because you never know when an unexpected burst of productivity might strike, and you have to be prepared!

Not once has this little trick actually resulted in getting any real work done… but hey, you never know.


105 Comments on “Fauxductivity”

  1. I’m TOTALLY borrowing your expression, if you don’t mind. Tomorrow is my last day of full-time “real world” employment (check out those air quotes — suggesting sarcasm, of course), as I’m embarking on my new full-time freelance writing career.

    Therefore, I need tips and techniques to make me feel fauxductive! 🙂

  2. katarinamatarina says:

    This is always how I am during school breaks or little trips out of town…take the books with you and then never touch them!…it’s worth a try though.

  3. obsidianfactory says:

    I wish that “fauxdactivity” always worked for me LOL I procrastinate heavily 😛

  4. I do that all the time… then I end up carrying thirty pounds of textbooks and notebooks and my computer around campus all day–and not using them.

  5. Cathy says:

    I’m guilty of the same thing. When I need to research on something for school, I open several tabs about it but would always end up in other useless websites after a while. Well, I still get things done but not earlier that I could have. Haha. Well, can’t help it. 😀

  6. Hahaha! You are one step ahead of me! I like the idea of taking your work to the grocery store, that’s so great. I also love hilarious office cat photos so thank you very much for making my Tuesday work morning with this post!

  7. timelesslady says:

    Great new word to incorporate into my own life.

  8. Luna Kadampa says:

    Oh yes, I know this one! “Fauxductivity” deserves to enter the lexicon.

    Your post also arrested me as your cat could be my cat’s twin 🙂

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

  9. Lol I love being Fauxductive 😀

  10. vivianaayre says:

    Congrats on the Fresh Press. And goodness me that reminds me of my weekend. Should have done homework, but instead I cleaned my room/apartment until three in the morning. XDDDD Good luck at getting the work done!

  11. siegretc says:

    haha. I used to use fauxductivity too, I felt like I had to trick myself and anyone who asked (or as I felt – interrogated) that I was busy with important matters. For me I think this has its roots in elementary school when mommy would yell, “Doing your homework?” from the kitchen and I would have my homework and my architectural masterpiece lego home in front of me becuase they were equally important, then yell back, “Yeah, I have it right here!”

  12. Nonstepmom says:

    Another version of this – when I worked as an exec. assistant I my job was to ensure my boss “looked busy” or to keep him busy to keep him from noticing the fauxductivity of my co-workers. Love this !

  13. patricemj says:

    OK, you get the “Nailed It” award for the day. Damn, I love fauxductivity. I’m already incorporating it into my life, why, because it is life. “She’s so fauxductive!”

  14. Kai says:

    This is so true..i can definitely admit to doing this “fauxductivity”

  15. kvolman says:

    Love the idea! I usually just play around on the internet until productivity hits me…hence why I’m here 🙂
    Love the photo by the way, my cat does the same thing 🙂

  16. D. Marshall says:

    Great term, and so true! For me, even email can be a sort of fauxductivity. I really don’t want to look at fill-in-the-blank yet, so I tell myself, “I really ought to see about any emails I have to answer first.” Thirty minutes later, I have some scheduled activity and, voila, time spent. I’ve accomplished little, if anything.

    Now that you have the term, what about the answer? What do we do when the modern world has made fauxductivity so easy?

  17. Dounia says:

    Great post (and great picture)! Definitely know how it feels… 🙂 Congrats on freshly pressed!

  18. Lakia Gordon says:

    Because you never know when an unexpected burst of productivity might strike, and you have to be prepared!– AGREED!

  19. drwebs says:

    Awesome new word. Now to find away to add it to my vocabulary 🙂

  20. Karen says:

    So that’s what they call it!

  21. This sounds eerily familiar. I’m glad to finally have a word for it–love the term “fauxductivity”!

  22. kianys says:

    Yes, I’ve been known to do that – nice to finally put a name to it. 🙂 Thanks for sharing and congrats on being f.p. 🙂

  23. Great point. Sometimes it’s good to set priorities and get the big things done first. I also love the picture, it illustrates why I leave my laptop screen at a 45 degree angle.

  24. book squeezer says:

    Gotta say I’m stealing your word, I love it! and I am determined to use it at some point 🙂

  25. shoes says:

    Ah – so that’s what it is called that I am doing. Fauxductivity, what a great concept and even better if it gets you some results. And, as shown in your picture, apparently fauxductivity can be achieved by felines as well as humans. 🙂 I love it!

  26. Oh, how I wish I could say that this sounds nothing like me. I’m the fauxductivity master. List-making is the worst. I write lists to trick myself into thinking that all my little tasks for the day will actually be completed. If it’s on a list, it must get done, right?

    • mslanak says:

      Ahh, nothing like being in the company of a fellow list maker. Does your “to do” list include items such as breathe, go to the bathroom or take a shower like mine? Lol!

  27. Fauxductivity…brilliant. And, just to clarify, I have been guilty of it all day… 😉

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  28. Hah, as a teacher, I totally understand this! Carrying large sacks of papers may not result in real productivity, but at least it tones your arms. A little. And, I see that your cat likes to help out…much like mine. Love.

  29. Haha, I do the same thing! Or I’ll put a notebook next to my novel so that people thing I’m working when I’m really just reading for fun, haha.

  30. That is exactly what brings me here oftentimes, but there is some truth to it! Once I have done a few posts, it gives me the wherewithal go after what I really need to get done. Another thing is that people are just more distracted now anyway, as they are being attacked on all sides by the media and technological advents.

    The cat is protecting you by barricading herself between you and the radiation.

  31. ukate says:

    Holy cow, I used to do that ALL the time when I was teaching. Sometimes, during my meeting class period (no class, when I was theoretically free to meet with non-existent parents), there were times when I simply could NOT face yet another stack of papers to grade. So, I’d grab my notebook and pen and start striding purposefully down the hall. My destination wasn’t nearly as important as the fact that I certainly *looked* like I was doing something of extreme import. Usually it was enough to get a little bit of exercise and then I’d be ready to face the grading again. But yeah…that’s exactly what it was – fauxductivity. Awesome post, thanks for sharing it. 🙂


  32. I have certainly tried this. Although most of the time I’m even too lazy to pretend.

  33. zenlifefrugal says:

    I totally relate to this, especially as a freelancer!

  34. Congrats on being “Freshly Pressed!” By the way I want to know, why my cat is sitting on your computer? I guess sitting on my computer is not enough for him…

  35. lindakahle says:

    97 percent of my work day can be catagorized under “Fauxductivity.”

    Also, my cats are very distracting as well.

  36. I am the queen of procrastination and a master of fauxductivity. I am doing both RIGHT NOW.

  37. I am feeling pretty fauxductive right now as I read other’s posts for inspiration for my own blog. It seems to me the cat is a great procrastination excuse: “I couldn’t work on my writing b/c my cat sat on my computer and gave me those ‘please pet me’ eyes.”

  38. Eva McCane says:

    love it! whenever i leave my office for some fauxductivity (aka, a fake meeting which really means either my hair getting done or a massage or a workout), i carry my portfolio with notes and stuff. makes me feel less guilty. thanks for sharing!

  39. TJ Johnston says:

    I love learning new words and fauxductivity just became the latest. 🙂

  40. Michael P. Bischoff says:

    This, followed by a wracking guilt for not actually accomplishing anything, followed by a redoubled commitment to work, followed by a level of inaction that could only be described as wanton and grotesque.

  41. csroth3 says:

    Why is my cat on your laptop? She’s usually on my lap when I’m on my desktop.

  42. kailee100 says:

    I don’t know what you’re talking about….::returns to typing, appearing furiously fauxductive…on Facebook::

  43. I’m so guilty of this!

    I pretty much always cart around a notebook or a textbook with me, but I rarely open it. I figure that I can read them while I have idle time, but then I end up with a text book propped open unread on my lap while I text or check my email on my phone…

  44. I work from home myself and productivity is a constant battle, especially when working in pajamas is such a temptation. I just blogged about similar thoughts! And, I LOVE the cat–I have a gray cat of my own who is the worst for productivity.

  45. Fauxductivity is a great word, and I’m certainly prone to it. Sometimes I surround myself with empty coffee cups so I can pretend that I’m an exhausted investigative journalist on the verge of a big break. This actually works, although 60% of the time it’s because I have actually drunk all of the coffee.

  46. jinxer11 says:

    I like the cat.

  47. Mendaxxx says:

    And what is the relevance of the picture of a cat sitting on the laptop with fauxductivity?

  48. wedoprinting says:

    This is so me…& my CAT!!

  49. Brandi Harrigan says:

    Ah, the brutal truth of fauxductivity! I am doing it as I write this, in fact (as others have also admitted). Lol, I left my laptop open last night because I was playing music as I slept and when I got up this morning, oh my goodness!! One of my cats must have been doing what your’s is in the pic because there were all sorts of things going on that I didn’t do. Huh. Maybe that’s how I somehow got an email alert from AT&T that I’d gone over their “monthly allotment” of something like 150g!! Now, when my phone alerts me when I get near a mere 2g and that’s never happened, I have no idea what it would take to accumulate that kind of data!! Wow… unless that’s all from being fauxductive too, which is entirely possible 🙂
    Love the post and congrats on freshly pressed 🙂
    Love & Light

  50. realanonymousgirl2011 says:

    I do the same thing. I carry a bag with things I need to do just in case I get a moment to work on it. I’m beginning to think I just look like a bag lady.

  51. allie says:

    All very funny and I love the lapcat computer. Fauxductivity: In college, I would redo my class notes – in multiple colors with illustrations, etc – pretending that they needed to be better organized before I could actually start studying. Dumb but made me feel good. Temporarily alas. Cheers

  52. Brenda K says:

    Fauxductivity – LOVE it! My thoughts about the Procrastination Productivity: I’m usually so totally overwhelmed by the wretched, time-consuming big stuff I hate doing, and the piddly little stuff still needs to be done (routine household chores, etc.), that if I actually do it at all, then I can feel that I still managed to accomplish something. The serious fauxductivity kicks in when I’m absolutely too burned out to produce one more iota of output, so I’ll sit there with a cat or two on my lap while diddling around on the internet (facebook, blog, etc.) with one hand on one computer and a computer game with the other hand on the other computer 😉

  53. I have not carried things with me, but perhaps I should try it. I sometimes find myself with time to spare in public places (usually waiting for an appointment), and I have nothing productive to do during those periods. For me, it might turn into actual productivity!

  54. We all do this. When my job get slow I just walk around to look productive.

    On another note please give me some feed back I’m SUPER new to this:

  55. matthewhyde says:

    Um… Does sorting emails into new file folders count as fauxductivity?!

    (Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!)

  56. I liked “fauxductivity” – it reminds me of another term we use sometimes when working in Excel – “bullsheet”.

  57. kennieb says:

    I had two cats. One enjoyed sitting on the keyboard when the computer was not in use and the other liked to sit on my lap while I would try to type. He would swat at my hands and arms while I was typing. The photo reminds me so much of trying to get work done while enjoying their company.

  58. nearlynormalized says:

    I am quoting a latina friend of mine…”White mans disease”….I asked for the meaning of her observation, she replied, “You have too much time on your hands, so you phuque with your minds as we are trying to survive, there is little time for that.” It made sense at the time.

  59. Nel says:

    And here I was thinking that I’m the only one who carries all her notes around just in case the “genius idea” lightning hits.

  60. beareats says:

    Totally get it. I bring a stack of work home telling myself I’ll do it after dinner. Of course it never gets done and I just bring it right back into office again the next day. Good workout for the shoulders, though.

  61. Meow!Meow! 🙂
    Good word added to vocabulary!

  62. joahnadiyosa says:

    Haha! I can totally relate with this “fauxductivity”. When I’m in the office, I can’t really put my brain to work, especially when my boss is around. So i resort to staying over time in the office until I am the only one left. But truth is, i get scared and finish nothing at all still. Ha! But anyways, am trying to put this trick off my list now. It just don’t work for me.

    Great post, BTW!

  63. Tamsin Harriman says:

    I had to comment on this for two reasons…

    1. I totally get the whole “fauxductivity” thing…. I’ve been known to do that, and the “procrastination productivity” thing from time to time… That one’s the story of my life. I can be awesomely productive without getting much done! 🙂

    2. That cat looks just like the cats I grew up with! Is that your cat?

  64. ed10k399 says:

    I like the picture of the cat. Where’s the mouse?

  65. gaycarboys says:

    Oh for the days when paper no longer exists:) BTW your pussy cat reminds me of one of my favourite cats. Sir Sydney Kat. He was a moocher he would steal any food that wasn’t nailed down including that which was still frozen after being taken from the freezer. The enterprising puss had a secret spot when the food was allowed to come to temperature before being scoffed.

  66. Poet Whale Poetry says:

    Ah, so that’s what those folders are following me.
    Thank you, wonderful post

  67. Jenieros says:

    Mind if I also use fauxductivity? This is so spot-on! I also bring work at home, only to sleep on them. Haha

  68. […] still waiting to get my sewing machine, I’m desperately trying be productive and not fauxductive. I’ve set myself a target to create something everyday, so yesterday when it had got to 2pm I […]

  69. Great expression and very funny. Muscle building carting all the goods around tho’. Makes me get agitated just thinking about the number of times I used to do this. And all to the detriment of the folders/files/books etc. I found that sorting out said bag/car seat/carton and refiling the items got me back in the groove (at least for a short time) – releasing all that dammed up energy and purpose.
    Thanks for the expression

  70. wisewoman21 says:

    Your post resonnates with my current struggle (well, the story of my life, actually…).

    In a fierce effort to fight procrastination for good, I embarked on a 30-Day Challenge in September to finish some of my long-unfinished projects. I managed with a few but failed with others, so the battle is not over yet…

    This month I’m trying, among others, to work on my self-discipline and document the process in form of a daily blog. I stumbled on day 3 of this 21-Day Challenge but not giving up:)

    Good luck to all of you trying to be seriously productive.

  71. Laura Bevans says:

    Love this! I am definately a culprit of ‘fauxductivity’. Infact my brother asked me only last week why, after finishing Uni, and not having any essays to write, do I continue to carry round a notebook, folder and pen at all times (in the car, when visiting home, when going to the beach or the park) when I’ve got nothing to have to do anymore. I told him it was for my blog. if I carry all my creative belongings then I’ll feel like I’ve achieved something…..even if I haven’t even opened it……like you say, you never know when productivity might strike!

    Fauxductivity to the max!

  72. Neil Witzig says:

    I brought my class reading assignments with me when I went horseback riding in the Andes Mountains last Saturday. Hey! You never know! Maybe the horse would slow down and I could whip out the reading. …No. But it did rain, flooding my backpack and destroying the reading packet. Works out alright I guess.

  73. singlegirlmodernworld says:

    This phrase represents my life to a t. The days that I am productive I’m astounded because most days are filled part with to do lists about making to do lists, and making piles of things that I’ll eventually file later.

    Love the blog!

  74. viewsfromsue says:

    I am sadly guilty of this too…. I actually do touch the stuff once in awhile, but it’s 95% don’t pick it up, versus 5% pick it up, maybe!!

    I love the photo. It looks like my cat and what she tries to do with my laptop! I feel like a flipping football player with elbows up and blocking, trying to keep her off of it!

  75. minlit says:

    Why did it take so long for someone to name it!! Surely all the fauxductive time you spent in the build up to its discovery has now paid off? There is, in my opinion, no such thing as a waste of time. Except possibly facebook. And ironing.

  76. sewerrat says:

    I don’t think the cat cares whether or not he looks productive …

    just my 2 cents lol

  77. earthdog1958 says:

    I have been extremely fauxductive this morning. I made 6 lists of things I hoped to accomplish on this day off, then made a cup of tea and went back to bed. Oh, well, the day is yet young and anything else I might naccomplish will be as gravy.

  78. graciehart1 says:

    Not only does carrying around folders make you look busy, it also makes you look important. I like the cat sitting on the laptop. It’s like he’s telling you to take a break.

  79. ameliaflorencesimmons says:

    Oh good God. I’ve long been renowned for constantly making ‘to do’ lists, reordering my desk, doing various little tasks so people always go ‘you’re always so BUSY’. Yeah. Fauxductivity is my best friend.

    I am hanging my head in shame (and companionship…)

  80. Abby Larson says:

    I experienced a bout of “fauxductivity” yesterday while attempting to study for my Biology midterm and my PE exam. Needless to say, my main attention stealer is the internet. Facebook, wordpress, and other various websites always seem to say “Pretty please come and look at me! You don’t need to learn about nematodes!” And I always listen! But that comes around and bites me in the butt when I get a question on my test that says “Explain and draw the life cycle of a freshwater mussel.” My response, “Uhhhhh…………………?” HAHA

    Congrats on FP!

  81. rita rivera says:

    What I’d like to know is how much inspiration do you receive from your cohort on the keyboard? If inspiration is needed in administration and research, that is. – rita

  82. ameliaflorencesimmons says:

    Maybe we should all just embrace it? Or, even better, come up with some huge difficult project that means we have to finish all the other smaller ones? And, let’s not overlook all the positive fauxductivity. I mean, yesterday, I was supposed to be toggling my blog. What happened instead? I decided to build my own website. So….sometimes it’s good. Misguided, but good!

  83. karyl33 says:

    funny! i do this too!

  84. sarahnsh says:

    I feel like I’m this way with reading books lately… I bring them with, put them next to me, but I don’t end up reading them. I was good though, I was able to bring my sketchbook with me and use it on my last trip instead of it just sitting in my bag, so you may have something there with this fauxductivity!

  85. Picture me shaking my head…I used to bring my work home on Friday in tote bags and hang them on the chair, then load them back in the car on Monday, untouched…I am now unemployed and have all these projects started in various stages…not to mention a manuscript of my own…great post!

  86. Livelaughandloving life! says:

    I love kitties! My cats do that all the time:)

  87. newsy1 says:

    I used to bring a briefcase on vacation with tons of stories to edit on vacation. I worked at a newspaper and was always trying to do things in advance. It never worked and I never opened the case. great post and love the new word.

  88. Fauxductivity… Nice… I carry my work all day, I may have a great idea!!! We never know when an idea comes…

  89. foodvixennyc says:

    I love the photo of your cat lying on your laptop keyboard. Funny thing, I know exactly what you mean, I carry my computer with me everywhere I go, along with two different books to read, a notebook, and my purse. Being a New Yorker, the only real benefit I get from it, is great exercise!! Rarely use it until I get home. 🙂

  90. I had to try to read your post a few times because I kept getting distracted by the picture of the cat!

  91. I’m going to need to get a massage soon, or a new set of shoulders due to my “fleaxductivity” habits. Uggh! At least I am trying.

  92. mslanak says:

    So funny…I was just talking to my daughter about this “phenomenon” that she claims she learned from me. Lol, silly child!

  93. iamjoe says:

    LOL! I think I might be guilty of this “fauxductivity” sometimes. Oops!

  94. haha I think I should start doing that,,,except in my case, this would mean dragging my laptop wherever I go. Love the cat photo btw! 🙂

  95. vcwald says:

    Ah, the well-known phenomenon of “Alternative Virtuous Behavior” such as doing the dishes and cleaning the mini-blinds (slat by slat, of course) rather than working on your dissertation.

    Now that I think about it, it’s amazing anything ever gets done!

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