For most of us in a business setting, the morning starts with a cup of coffee, checking e-mails, and perhaps grabbing a second cup of coffee.

Throw a business meeting in there, followed by grabbing a cup of water, stopping by a coworker’s office to say hello, and checking your email again. Perhaps you surf the Internet for a few minutes, or maybe you’re even brave enough to check your social media and ‘like’ a few Facebook posts. Meanwhile, you receive a few texts, grab another cup of water, and wait for lunch to roll around. 

While this might sound a bit extreme, the average worker spends at least 34 minutes each day doing such activities, according to Mental Floss. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, this number rises to 50 minutes after disregarding those who claim they waste zero hours per day.

Perhaps this is why some Swedish companies have reduced their workdays to six hours: more time at work might equal more time wasted. 

For those of us who wish to excel in the workplace, prove a solid work ethic, and be productive, these numbers might be alarming. Many employees would deny that they waste a half hour to an hour at work, yet the numbers show otherwise.

The key to productivity, however, is balance.


Proving efficiency, loyalty, and work ethic require commitment to the job, but this does not equate to starving oneself, ignoring all office conversation, abstaining from coffee, or ignoring what might be an urgent phone call. In fact, it is nearly impossible to sit at a desk for eight hours without taking a quick walk to the kitchen or asking a coworker how the family is doing. For the purpose of sanity, these things can be quite helpful.

Furthermore, studies have shown that employees are more productive when they are energized and awake. A quick walk around the office might actually increase efficiency. 

On the other hand, taking advantage of the employer by purposely prolonging the conversation, shopping online, or sitting on Facebook will not prove your worth in the workplace. As with most things, balance is key.