spin one's wheels

spin (one's) wheels

To waste one's time or energy idly or frivolously; to neither progress nor regress, but remain in a fixed, neutral position. They kept me on to manage what's left of this division, but to be honest, I've just been spinning my wheels here for the last couple of years. We haven't been able to do anything new until more funding comes in, so the project is just spinning its wheels for the moment.
See also: spin, wheel

spin one's wheels

Expend effort with no result, as in We're just spinning our wheels here while management tries to make up its mind. This idiom, with its image of a vehicle in snow or sand that spins its wheels but cannot move, dates from the mid-1900s.
See also: spin, wheel