How to be unproductive

2 min readMay 2, 2024
Eyeglasses near crumpled paper
Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

Productivity is determined by how quickly a person completes a task while maintaining a level of quality. For example, if one employee takes 20 minutes to write a report while another takes 2 hours, one can argue that the faster employee is more productive. But what if the faster employee makes 20 times more mistakes than the slower employee? Then the employer needs to reassess who’s the most productive.

Tasks are essentially units of work, and work can be broken into 2 phases:

  1. Planning
  2. Implementation

Thus, to be productive, one needs to expedite both phases. On the other hand, to be unproductive, one needs to sabotage both phases.


In the planning phase, the Five Ws are used to understand what’s the work and how it’s going to be done.

Hence, to sabotage this phase, one needs to make the planning of work as complex and delayed as possible. For instance:

  • Set up long and unnecessary meetings with as many attendees as possible. (Bonus points if they’re unnecessary participants.)
  • Never talk about key issues and always go off tangent.
  • Don’t make decisions and obfuscate requirements.
  • Focus on trivial details and make a raucous about them.
  • Force approvals to go up the bureaucratic chain.
  • Spread fear and toxicity within the working environment.

You can find more examples in “Simple Sabotage Field Manual” under General Interference with Organizations and Production.


In the implementation stage, you’re executing the work based on the plan. As a result, you have more agency and influence on how to sabotage this phase.

Here are some examples:

  • Procrastinate and work as slowly as possible.
  • Misunderstand orders and deliver low quality work with mistakes.
  • Give incorrect estimates of effort.
  • Never make deadlines and always ask for more time.
  • Do the low priority tasks before the high priority ones.
  • Create interruptions and extra work for your manager and colleagues. Steal and waste their time.
  • Be someone difficult to work with.
  • Share incorrect information with your coworkers.

You can find more examples in “Simple Sabotage Field Manual” under Office Workers and Employees.