Goofing off at work

To what extent is goofing off at work sinful?

Example: I have one last project to do before there is nothing else for me to do. I can:

A: Take an excessive time doing the project until my shift is up. It doesn’t take me 2 hours to reconcile the daily company electronic transactions, but, with difficulty, I might be able to slow it down to that.

B: Take the normal 15 minutes to do the project, double check everything, and spend the rest of the time goofing off online.

The outcome will be the same either way. All of my work is finished.

A would make me want to rip my hair out and B is what I usually do.

Let your supervisor know that you have completed all of your tasks for today, and ask if there is something else you can assist with (like maybe something a co-worker is doing that might take longer than expected).

Does this happen a lot? If so, ask for more work to do, before they decide that you haven’t got enough to do, and lay you off instead.

And stop posting on forums. Oops.

That would be some good advice, if I had a supervisor. Actually my “boss” is the owner of the stores in town (I’m #2) and take care of my share of executive decisions. I do have some slow days, and I have days where there isn’t enough time for me to complete everything. I’ve approached him in the past about doing some additional work and he pretty much doesn’t think I have time for anything else, and if he were to add on additional work during one of my normally hectic days, I wouldn’t be able to do it and it would be better allocated to an employee who can consistently deal with said workload.

I guess technically I am still working, just idle. If someone calls with an issue I deal with it, if an outside sales person needs something I deal with it, if an inventory issue arises I’ll handle it. Same with various issues on an hour-by-hour basis I guess. I am available for these things during my hours, I just feel not-quite-right about goofing off online while on standby I guess.

I wouldn’t goof off. I’ll bet if you check diligently there is something that needs to be done or, if not, something that can be done better with the extra time.

I think it depends on the nature of your arrangement with your employer. If your employer expects you to be applying yourself to company business between the hours of X and Y, then goofing off during those hours amounts to the theft of time from your employer.

However, if your employer permits you to do whatever you want as long as you’re by the telephone and have completed a set number of tasks, then I would say goofing off is not a problem.


Wouldn’t being available to take care of business during the hours of X and Y constitute applying myself towards company business? I only have a certain number of objective tasks that I complete during the day, which could take anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours per task. So my day could actually take either 10 hours or 4 hours to complete my responsibilities, depending on if someone messed up the credit card machine or not. My thing is: as long as I’ve completed my responsibilities, what’s the harm? I’ve fulfilled my expectations.

I think what matters is what your employer is entitled to expect based on your employment arrangement. We are obligated by Church teaching to faithfully perform our contracts and promises. If your employer is not getting out of you what he’s entitled to expect, then (I don’t know how else to say this and don’t mean to be accusatory) you’re cheating him.


I can rest assured that he is. Thank you for your insight, I was just a little concerned that I was out of line with my boredom time at work. But when you look at the context of my arrangement, I don’t think it would be a problem.

Do you think this would constitute grave matter in light of a different context?

I don’t know. That’s above my pay grade. :shrug:


Heh, my job mandates that I cruise the net or goof off.

Right. You can always clean something, tidy something up, write up a report on something that happened today or during the past week, or write an agenda for something that’s happening next week, or do some relationship-building with clients.

There is almost never “nothing” to do. :slight_smile:

I think I can see what 'goofing off" might mean from all the preceding discussion; just to be sure what IS "GOOFING OFF"? :confused:

It is being at your place of work, and doing something else (like, say, surfing the Internet), but not doing the work that you are paid to be doing.

If a person has completed all of the assigned tasks, and is in fact being paid to be available to answer the phones and greet any customers who may happen to come in, then it’s probably safe enough to goof off, but if a person is being paid to be productive for a set period of time, then they need to ask for more work to do, or else ask to clock out and go home, rather than goof off.

I struggle with the same thing - I have never been able to stay busy at a job. I think one point of context is what the job expects (supervisors, etc.). One is if you are hourly or salary. I think if you are hourly and completely bored you, unfortunately, either need to find something to do or go home because you are costing your company money. If you are salary, then there is more an expectation of you being hired to a do a job, and if the job is done…well…it’s not as bad…

On the other hand, feelings of guilt show us (and me especially) that something is not right…you don’t feel right doing nothing at work. I agree that something can always be done and you can talk to the boss.

But I’m still interested to know, until then, what do you do? I have a desk job. I’m relatively new, and so they still haven’t pushed everything to me that they should. I am INCREDIBLY bored most day! (and have been all my life, because one problem is that I just work faster than most peopl). They took the internet away from us as a company, so I couldn’t goof off even if I wanted to. I tried to pray the rosary during lent (knowing, of course, that if I was interrupted I was to work!). But, seriously, I spend most of my time spacing out at my desk because there’s nothing to do.

I hate the idea that a situation like that is somehow cheating my boss when I’m the one feeling neglected by the people who hired me. Not a big motivator to work hard, and I also bounce between choices A and B.

This is why I strongly prefer to work on salary, with the promise that I will never ask for overtime pay. That way, I’m free to work when there’s work to be done, without my boss worrying that he’s going to owe me overtime, and free to take off when there’s nothing to do, because he always knows that I’ll be there for him when he needs me to be. :slight_smile:

I tend to be a self-starter, anyway. It’s been a long time since I’ve needed anyone to give me a “to do” list. Usually, I know what I need to do, and when it needs to be done. As long as my boss sees that my goals are being completed and I’m showing up for meetings, he doesn’t care how long I take to do things, or whether I’m taking time off in the middle of the day, after completing all of that day’s tasks.

I keep a diary of everything that I do, and I hand it in at every pay period, so he is well aware of all of my accomplishments. :smiley:

I am the office manager for all of the stores in town. I’d rather not get too specific on the name and locations of where I work for privacy reasons, but I only report to the owner of the chains.

It was a very hectic job a few years ago until I turned things around with the company and now it’s so efficient I’m twiddling my thumbs.

                                      ***          Can you knit?***

Thank you. In my Navy days we called it ‘skulking’, though usually pronounced ‘skulling’.

or C
find something else worthwhile to do
or D
tell your supervisor the task only takes so long because you have found a way to be more productive with less errors, and ask for more responsibility
consider C or D only if you view this as a stepping stone to advancement in a career, not as a job

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit