The Work Day Broken Down

From Melanie Curtin over at Inc: the average amount of productive work that happens at work is lower than you think.

Research suggests that in an eight-hour day, the average worker is only productive for two hours and 53 minutes.

That’s right–you’re probably only productive for around three hours a day.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American works 8.8 hours every day. Yet a study of nearly 2,000 full-time office workers revealed that most people aren’t working for most of the time they’re at work.

Melanie Curtin

What really made me laugh is that when the “missing” time is broken down, it’s not even including stuff that is unproductive but still technically work, like being stuck in often endless meetings that often don’t really matter for half the people in them. It’s literally just other random cruft like socializing, reading news sites, et cetera. (This article reminded me of a conversation I had with an old boss. During a 1:1, I was lamenting that I felt like I should be making better use of my time. He pointed out that if you were productive for even 5.5 hours on average, you were frankly a top performer. Something I continue to try and bear in mind when I’m feeling bad about the occasional unproductive day.)

Obviously, you should make the most of the productive time you actually manage to get! But also, maybe don’t beat yourself up too much when you end up having an off day.

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