Essentially, we're never slacking off
How much time do you reckon you waste at work?
Consider those seconds that turn to minutes sucked in to a YouTube hole, obsessively monitoring the latest Twitter spat, making tea after tea, thinking about your hair (and how it would look in braids). Thinking about food, eating food. Buying kitchen tiles. Doing some fantasy house shopping on Right Move. It must all add up, right?
A group of economists — Michael Burda, Kaie Genadek, and Daniel Hamermersh — had asked themselves this same question and set out to discover just how much time people waste at work. The team’s paper (published in a new National Bureau of Economic Research) highlights some surprising findings. The bottom line is, we are much more focused and efficient than we tend to give ourselves credit for.
The self-reported American Time Use Survey found that on average workers spend 34 minutes not working per day. That’s no time at all, right?
The rub is, as with any self-reported study it has limitations (bias and other uninetional recording inaccuracies). The economists agreed that this initial figure was low, so they removed all the people who claimed not to spend any time at all slacking off (essentially, because they thought they were fibbing). This bumped the figure up to 50 minutes per day.
It’s still a modest minute count. Less than a lunch hour! However, the case may be that we’re all just slacking off a lot more now than we were a few years ago. This data was collected between 2003 and 2012 – capturing a good chunk of the recession.
Science of Us reports that the economists have an explanation for this reported laser-focus in the workplace: ‘recessions make slacking off more of a luxury than during a “normal” economy, as worker jobs hang in the balance and are at risk of being axed’.
Either way, it seems it’s time to banish any guilt we’re carrying about wasting the hours we’re paid for. Our brains need space to breath and do their creative thing. Sometimes 20 minutes at the watercooler is time very well spent.
Via Science of Us