Back To Career News

10 Ways to Waste Away the Day at Work (Yay!) [infographic]


Is it five o’clock yet? When you hate your job, the only thing you’re focused on is the countdown to when you can get the heck out of there. Here are 10 workplace time wasters to help fill up your day and get you on your way.

wasting time at work

(Photo Credit: Rennett Stowe/Flickr)

1. Socializing – No matter where your final destination in the office may be, you’re bound to make a pit-stop at a friend’s desk to chat it up a bit and waste a few good minutes. Although socializing isn’t at the top of the list, 14 percent of employees surveyed did say that talking with coworkers was their number one time waster, according to the infographic below.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

2. Social Networking – As the data below shows, “77 percent of workers who have a Facebook account use it during work,” spending approximately two hours on the social networking site. Nowadays, your life is, literally, in the palm of your hand (in the form of a mobile device), so checking your social accounts has become easier than ever. Some companies have gone so far as to prohibit cell phones during work hours because of the distraction they cause, even penalizing employees that are seen checking or talking on their phones. 

3. Surfing the Net – If the internet is available to you during work hours, then it’s good for the taking. Right? Wrong. Surfing the web for pleasure was the number one time waster, according to the infographic, with 64 percent of workers admitting they visited “non-work related websites every day during work hours.”

4. Job Hunting – “Worst Employee of the Month” award goes to the guy using the company computer to look for another job. Really? Yes, really, as the infographic indicates that 46 percent of the employees surveyed said they spend company hours (and dollars) seeking out other job opportunities. Tisk, tisk.

5. Meetings – In a 2005 study, The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that “unnecessary meetings cost U.S. businesses roughly $37 billion each year,” then add that figure to the 47 percent of employees that say their workday is wasted by attending too many meetings. If you’re really dreading the day, then schedule meetings like there’s no tomorrow – heck, schedule a meeting to schedule a meeting.

6. Personal Needs – Whether you’re making a doctor’s appointment or running errands off-site, these are great ways to waste away the hours and get you that much closer to closing time. However, not many employers are agreeable with their employees conducting personal errands on company time, so this task is a bit harder to get away with than the others.

7. Unforeseen Problems – Something is bound to go wrong when technology and people who hate their jobs are mixed together on a daily basis, which is why 37 percent of workers state that their workday is wasted fixing other people’s mistakes, while 11 percent blame it on computer issues.

8. Communication – Playing phone- or email-tag is not fun when you’re up against a deadline or quota. According to the infographic below, “74 minutes a day are wasted trying to contact customers or colleagues,” and 36 percent of a person’s day is wasted trying to gather key information from others. It’s not surprise that nothing gets done at work when everyone’s time is spent on a game of “you’re it!”

9. Distractions – Employees reported that some of their biggest wastes of time during the workday came from dealing with annoying coworkers, constant disruptions by others, and performing unproductive busy work. So, if there’s ever a need to waste an hour or two before the dismissal bell rings, then head over to a co-worker’s desk and ask to shadow her while she performs a task you’re unfamiliar with. It may be pointless, but at least you’re not sitting at your desk watching the time move like molasses.

10. Daydreaming – As the great John Lennon once sang, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” Indeed you’re not, Mr. Lennon because, according to the data below, 23 percent of surveyed employees indicated that they daydreamed due to pure boredom.

Biggest Workplace Time Wasters

Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

(Infographic Source: Yast/

If you are guilty of being a habitual “time-waster” at work, then it’s time to find a new job. The common denominator with all ten points listed above is that the professional committing these workplace crimes isn’t being engaged or challenged enough in his career. Watching the clock isn’t what you want your career to be about, so find a profession that utilizes your talents, sparks your interest, and challenges you on a daily basis.

Tell Us What You Think

What other ways have you found to effectively (and discretely) waste time at work? Share your secrets with our Twitter community or in the comments section below.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
Read more from Leah

Leave a Reply

Notify of
What Am I Worth?

What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing.