Stat Watch: The Upside of Downtime
A staggering 89 percent of people report wasting time at work according to a 2014 Salary.com survey, a 20 percent increase from the previous year.
Time wasted at work, referred to as “downtime,” is defined as time spent on non-work-related tasks, such as browsing websites like Google, Facebook or Amazon. Although employers expect their employees to be productive from clock-in to clockout, downtime may actually have a positive impact on production.
In fact, 53 percent of Salary.com’s study respondents say they waste time because they think short breaks can boost their productivity. This is similar to the theory behind the “Pomodoro Technique,” a time management method based on the idea that short breaks can improve mental agility. Workers leveraging the Pomodoro Technique use timers to break tasks down into intervals that are typically 25 minutes in length and separated by short, 5-minute breaks. The approach helps employees not only break up larger projects into smaller, more manageable tasks, but also rewards hard work with brief periods of downtime.
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In addition to addressing the issue of time wasted at work, Salary.com’s survey also shed light on the most and least productive times of the week. According to the data, workers are most productive on Tuesday mornings and least productive on Friday and Monday afternoons, indicating that employers may want to set deadlines for the middle of the week to benefit from employees’ increased focus.