How to Look Productive (Even When You Are Not)

If you are a procrastinator (like me) and are lucky enough to be a housewife (or sole person home all day), you may find yourself with about ten minutes before hubby gets home and not a thing to show for having been home all day…after all, those video games were very entertaining all day and it’s only now, as he’s driving home, that you realize how lazy you actually are. While you know the truth, let’s try a few things to make it seem like you were busy and productive all day long.

  • Make the bed. Seriously, it makes the room feel so much cleaner and with a nice comforter, it only takes about two minutes to do.
  • Make piles -laundry piles or dishes piles. Put them in the hamper or dishwasher
  • Clear the counters. Quickly wipe the crumbs into your hand or the sink or even onto the floor. Put dishes in the dishwasher or stack nicely to the side of the sink
  • Have a fresh scent in the house – whether through candles, wax warmers, diffusers, or good food on the stove, making the house smell fresh tricks the brain into thinking it’s actually cleaner than it is. I prefer wax warmers myself.
  • Get out of your pajamas. Preferably throw on something a bit nicer (something you might have gone out with friends or to the store in) but try to look like you weren’t in your pjs eating chips and losing your 50th game of Mario Maker when he started home. Brush your teeth if you’re greeting someone with a kiss.
  • Take out the trash or any trash and recycling near overflowing. It’s quick it’s easy, it makes it smell cleaner, and who knows when you did it.
  • Throw their favorite drink in the fridge or freezer so it’s cold when they get home (or start a fresh pot of coffee or tea for them).
  • Turn off the tv. Turn off your computer games, your Netflix, possibly even your computer. If they see the tv/computer on, they’re going to see more of the mess because they’ll assume you’ve done nothing all day. It may be true, but shut off the electronics for the fifteen minutes he gets home and he’ll think they’ve been off for longer.


The things above can be done in about 10-15 minutes and should ideally be worked on throughout the day (but we’re procrastinators trying to look productive, right?). If you’ve got extra time and are still feeling productive why not try some of these quick fixes. (In any order, or order of importance to him, don’t waste your precious procrastinating energy on things that won’t have an impact.)

  • Dishes – do the ones that can’t go in the dishwasher. Run the dishwasher if the dinner stuff won’t be able to go in it. Put away dishes that are in the dry rack.
  • Along with the dishes (or separately for all I care) wipe down the counters with a sponge and make the sink look clean. Clean up any major spills on the stove or have them soaking to deal with later on.
  • Start dinner. If you are cooking when he comes in, he’s more likely to forgive a mess…especially if dinner is almost ready and he’s hungry. Even if it’s  just spaghetti, cooking will seem productive. It has the added benefit of the kitchen mess now seeming like a part of your dinner preparations and it’s okay you haven’t gotten there yet, because it looks like you just made the mess.
  • Sweep. Sweep the kitchen, bathroom (the one he uses), and the entry area. Extra extra points for vacuuming (but let’s face it, if you vacuum, you’re no longer a procrastinator, you actually are doing your stuff).
  • Declutter. Take ten minutes to declutter key surfaces focusing on the rooms your partner spends the most time in – the living room for tv and console games, the desks for computer games, and the bedroom nightstands and bathroom counter (not all bathroom counters, just the ones they use). Bonus points for cleaning up some of your area, especially if he’ll see it.
  • Fold and put away laundry. -I don’t mind this one, but I don’t have kids, so it’s easy. Ideally, have a load running in the dryer -seems like you’ve been working at it for a while.
  • Start and make progress on that thing you said you were going to do today. (And find a reason why it was more difficult than expected *wink wink*).

Most of these things can be done in under an hour but look for the best bang for your buck…I mean time.

The key is to look like you worked all day, or to have them come home and catch you *still* working on stuff. Go ahead and try it.

(The best policy is not to procrastinate and to get your chores and errands done early. These methods will probably only work for two or three sloth days before he notices all the other things not getting done. So use these on those sloth days, but then spend a day or two doing what you’re supposed to do).

(Also, I’m not advocating lying to your partner. I usually tell M how lazy I’ve been. The point is the house doesn’t look like I was lazy.)

What are some ways you fake being productive?

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