If I say I'm working on my laptop, most people think I'm working from home. While I'm doing stuff like checking emails and paying bills or preparing some documents that are not work related. How do you respond to this clearly and concisely so they don't think you are "working".

  • 2
    What do you want to convey? "Just doing some stuff" is technically accurate and can pass muster in casual conversation.
    – Mary
    Commented Apr 9 at 3:27
  • 1
    I think the implication is that you're responding to coworkers, but this isn't clear. Your response might vary depending on who you're talking to (a family member? Someone who called on the phone?) Commented Apr 9 at 15:53
  • If you're in the office doing personal activities and your boss says "What are you doing?" then the correct response may well be to apologise, close your non-work activities, and get back to work. On the other hand "nothing much" will often be used for a nosy co-worker.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Apr 10 at 14:25

3 Answers 3


How do you respond to this clearly and concisely?

If you are checking emails, say you are checking emails.

If you are paying bills, say you are paying bills.

If you are preparing some documents, say you are preparing some documents.

That is somewhat clear and concise to me. If you want to be clearer, you can always give more details.

If you want to be more concise, you can say less. I myself count some of those examples as a work or a chore; so, say you are working is still valid.

However, you can always say you are doing some stuff or you are busy in case you do not want to give away any information.


That depends on how much information you want to give. And how much the person asking is likely to want to know.

If my wife asks what I'm doing, I'll give on at least somewhat specific answer, like, "I'm paying bills" or "I'm playing a game" or whatever. I may follow up with further relevant information, like, "Our electric bill was pretty high this month" or whatever.

If a stranger asked, I'd probably just say, "I'm working." If some salesman who came to my door asks me what I'm doing, it's none of his business and I'm not going to give him a lot of information.

Somewhere in the middle, if a friend asked, for example, I'd probably say "I'm paying bills" or "I'm working on some personal business."

You say you want to make clear you're doing personal business and not work for your employer. Why? Depending on who's asking, I may well think it's none of their business and if they misunderstand, so what?


I'm doing stuff on my laptop.

This doesn't carry the implication that you are doing paid work, and is informal enough to indicate that you probably aren't. It does imply that you have some kind of task, rather than just aimlessly scrolling through media, but not necessarily.

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