10 biggest time killers at work

The Web, the conference room, and the water cooler are among the distractions office workers face

Working in an office can be nice (especially when there's free cake or pizza), but a lot of the time spent there can be a huge time killer in terms of productivity. To raise awareness of all of the time we're wasting, OfficeTime.net has released its annual "Top 10 Time Killers" list, based on a survey of 600 small-business owners, freelancers, and other professionals. Results are ranked based on the percentage of people spending between 1-2 hours on each activity.

Getting caught up in bureaucracy / red tape

Like the guy from "Office Space" who had to make sure that there was a cover sheet for his TPS Reports, our time is being wasted with office red tape. In the survey, 8 percent spend between 1-2 hours each day with office bureaucracy.

Talking on a phone or texting

Smartphones have enabled us to be more productive, but for 10 percent of those surveyed (1 in 10 spending more than 2 hours a day with their phone), the smartphone is a big time killer.

Social networking

Imagine how much time we're spending seeing updates from friends and co-workers on the food they've been eating, the vacations they're taking, or (shudder) their latest political rant. For 11 percent of those surveyed, social networking is taking up 1-2 hours per day.

Travel time / commuting

Before we even get to work we're wasting time -- 13 percent of those surveyed are spending 1-2 hours of their day either stuck in a car or riding a train to work. This certainly can make the case for more "work at home" programs (although we'd probably waste the time on other endeavors on this list).

Non-business conversations

Whether it's standing around the water cooler or coffee machine gabbing with co-workers, or that guy from accounting who wants to tell you about his weekend on the Cape, working in an office means dealing with non-business conversations. In fact, 16 percent of those surveyed deal with this between 1-2 hours per day. Only 3 percent of respondents could say that they don't spend any time in water cooler conversations.


You've heard the adage: "The only thing that comes out of meetings is people." For 18 percent of the respondents, this is even more painful -- they spend 1-2 hours per day sitting around a conference table listening to someone else.


Luckily for you, the viewer of this slideshow, I did not fall into the trap of saying, "I'll finish this slideshow later." Fully 19 percent of survey respondents procrastinate at least an hour per day. It's a wonder they were able to finish the survey.

Watching TV

While most of us don't have TV at work, we do have sites like YouTube and other Internet video that can take up the workday. However, 26 percent of those surveyed did say they spent between 1-2 hours a day watching TV, and 16 percent admitted to watching more than 2 hours per day of TV. Let's be honest, the DVR isn't going to clean itself up.

Surfing the Internet

In the survey, 27 percent of those surveyed said they spend 1-2 hours per day on the Web, and 8 out of 10 said they spend up to two hours either browsing or shopping on various Web pages.


The biggest time-killer, coming in at 33 percent of those surveyed (again, spending between 1-2 hours per day), is email. In fact, this was the only activity that 0 percent of respondents said they spend no time on at all.