Are You Wasting Time at Work?

Recent studies are proving what I’ve been saying the past ten years: the biggest time management mistake you make is not realizing how much time you waste. Instead of getting some real work done, here’s what’s happening.

Sporting News just revealed the results of a study about the possibility that sports is contributing to a decline in office productivity. [Among heavy enthusiasts, 45% either agreed completely or mostly with the statement “they probably spend too much time at work reading or thinking about sports,” while 74% indicated “they often talk about last night’s game with co-workers.” If their team is playing a late game, 79% of heavy enthusiasts said they will “stay up to watch it” and 67% indicated they regularly check sports web sites during the workday.] Now here is the kicker! Heavy sports enthusiasts spend on average over 31 hours a week following sports.

This is absolutely ridiculous. If you have achieved every goal you’ve set for yourself and have retired to live out the rest of your life doing absolutely nothing, then OK. But if you haven’t, let me be clear. You are spending 31 hours a week of your precious and limited time on this earth watching people who, early-on, set goals for themselves and struck out to live their dreams.
What have you done for yourself lately? Taken any classes lately?

There’s more.

In a personal productivity study of 38,000 people in 200 countries, Microsoft found that one third of employees’ time is spent unproductively.

According to a survey by America Online and, the average worker admits to wasting at least 2.09 hours per 8-hour workday. And can you believe that calculated that employers spend $759 billion per year on salaries for which real work was expected, but not actually performed.

What are People Doing Instead of Working?

The list of what people are doing instead of working is not a surprise and includes: personal Internet use, socializing with co-workers about sports and more, personal phone calls, instant messaging, running personal errands, planning personal events, running side businesses (on the cell phone), and more.

Another study found that 25% of the US work force reads blogs during business hours, and 75% of those blogs have absolutely nothing to do with work. In fact, the average amount of time people spend reading blogs during the week is 3.5 hours (you can read my blog because it’s about business and working smarter).

Years ago, studies proved that disorganization costs workers one to two hours a day…time lost from digging through piles looking for something. If you add the time it takes to backtrack to get something you forgot, helping other people find what they need, and looking for files on your computer, add another hour or two.

On the Other Hand
According to a study conducted by Life magazine, close to half of Americans (46%) take work home with them. Another study showed how email overload made people work an extra hour a day, either at work or when they get home.

This is crazy. On the one hand, you’re wasting time. Then on the other, you’re eating into your family time. Going forward this year, make a commitment to reduce the hours you spend at the office and reduce the amount of work you take home.

I understand that you’ll have to handle some personal business during the workday, but just don’t let it consume too much time. Make the commitment to put in a good, solid day’s work, stay focused on what’s important, and figure out ways to work smarter. You’ll get more done, and I guarantee you’ll be happier.

P.S. Use the calculator in the right sidebar to determine how much free time you have after doing all the things that MUST be done.


Peggy Duncan, personal productivity expert

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