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Do You Waste Two Hours Every Workday?

This article was written by in Career and Work. 12 comments.


This was a cross-cubicle conversation topic earlier this week. Salary.com apparently has time enough to waste which allowed them to complete the 2007 Wasting Time Survey.

Across all workers, 1.7 hours of an 8.5 hour workday is wasted on tasks like arranging doctor’s appointments, socializing with co-workers, and using the Internet for personal purposes. As age increases, less time is spent on these personal tasks.

In this year’s survey, 20- to 29-year-olds said they waste an average of 2.1 hours per day. The amount of idle time drops off as employees grow older, with the 30-39 age group reporting 1.9 hours of the day wasted and 40- to 49-year-olds reporting 1.4 hours.

“Older employees tend to have a very strong work ethic,” said Bill Coleman, Salary.com’s chief compensation officer. Coleman added that more seasoned workers understand certain humdrum office tasks, like all-day meetings, have value that may not be readily apparent.

I don’t think it’s a matter of work ethic. In general, older employees have more workplace responsibilities than younger. With that job responsibility comes more work-related tasks to accomplish in the day.

While 13.9 percent said they slack off because their hours are too long, large segments also reported that they don’t have enough work to do (17.7 percent) or their work isn’t challenging enough (11.1 percent).

The last two points sound like good reasons to go to management and ask for more work or more challenging work. That’s a good career move.

When hours are long and more than a typical 9-to-5 workday is expected, it must also be expected that employees need to find time to balance their personal life. If you take your work home as many people do, the company must provide some leeway for taking home-related tasks to the office.

Additionally, socializing with co-workers has a huge positive effect on team morale and overall productivity. If you are able to enjoy the company of the people with whom you interact day in and day out, you will be motivated to work harder.

That being said, it is possible to waste too much time on socialization.

How does your workplace compare with the average 1.7 hours of “wasted” time?

Published or updated August 3, 2007. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Nofie

Definitely agree. I spend 60-90 mins daily to read blogs and websites. Some were worth to read, but the rest are junk and only wasting my time.

PS: Nice site you have. I have subscribed it.

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avatar Modern Worker

Given how lazy many workers are these days, I’m surprised it wasn’t more than two hours being wasted.

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avatar Brian

Not having enough work to do and not being challenged are, in my opinion, side effects of employers catering to their average employee for that position.

For instance, if an employer has a team of low level analysts, they try to make sure the average person in that position does not quit from overload. They assume the top performers will ask for more work and eventually get them promoted.

It is so important if you are in that ~30% of people who don’t have enough work to do or are not challenged to go to your boss and ask for more work or a raise. This is especially true at lower levels when you are started in the same position as others regardless of work ethic.

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avatar The Happy Rock

2 hours might be an understatement from what I see. I have seen studies that show it is much more than that 3 hours or so.

A lot of people waste time, because they are allowed to waste time. Not enough expectation is put forth from management.

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avatar Ron

Hmmm I’m reading this blog at work…there’s 10 minutes.

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avatar Barb

For some people, there’s a lot of variance in how much time is wasted. I might have days or even weeks where I fool around for a couple of hours, over the course of the day, just because at that time, I don’t have tons of work. Then I’ll go through weeks where I barely goof off and have to take work home. Right now is a quiet time, and I enjoy it, because I know I’ll be in a crunch soon enough.

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