run in circles

run in circles

To waste one's time and energy engaging in trivial, aimless, or futile activities; to fail to make any meaningful progress in some task or activity. I tried to get an outline drafted for my thesis, but my ideas were so jumbled in my head that I just kept running in circles. The committee just ran in circles all afternoon as they tried to agree on a solution to the budget issue.
See also: circle, run

run in circles

 
1. Lit. to run in a circular path. The horses ran in circles around the corral for their daily exercise. The children ran in circles around the tree.
2. and run around in circles Fig. to waste one's time in aimless activity. Stop running in circles and try to organize yourself so that you are more productive. I have been running around in circles over this matter for days.
See also: circle, run

run around in ˈcircles

(British English also run round in ˈcircles) (informal) be busy doing something without achieving anything important or making progress: He has a tendency to run around in circles getting more and more worked up.
See also: around, circle, run