run around in circles

run (a)round in circles

To waste one's time and energy engaging in trivial, aimless, or futile activities. I tried to get an outline drafted for my thesis, but my ideas were so jumbled in my head that I just kept running round in circles. The committee spent all afternoon trying to come up with a new PR proposal, but they ran around in circles the whole time.
See also: circle, run

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 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

run around in circles, to

To proceed indecisively or aimlessly; a fruitless endeavor. This American colloquialism dates from the first half of the twentieth century. Patricia Wentworth wrote (Pursuit of a Parcel, 1942), “He had been rushing around in circles.” See also go around in circles.
See also: around, run