How many hours are you productive in a work day?

2 minute read •

March 12, 2019


In a recent interview, Elon Musk let loose that he once worked a 120 hour work week – that’s mad. For normal human beings, the most common work contract is 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. That is over 90,000 hours of work in an average lifetime. And we’re all quite open with the ups and downs of the routine, looking at social media data we can see the wave of lows – Hump day, TGIF, Sunday blues.

But how many of those hours are we actually productive? A UK-based study by VoucherCloud surveyed nearly 2,000 office workers, found that 79% don’t consider themselves to be productive throughout the entire working day. On average, the survey found people thought they were productive for just two hours and 53 minutes. That’s more than five hours of every single day spent doing non-work related tasks. With a majority in agreement that we aren’t often productive throughout the whole day, perhaps it’s time to start facing facts and finding new ways to work.

Google found the number one distraction in the workplace is our ever-connected phones and particularly social media apps. But outside of just distractions, the alarming facts really emphasise a lack of job satisfaction which means for businesses low retention rates. So what is the alternative?

Time off

What about working four days a week? Across the globe, companies are trialling four day work weeks. Perpetual Guardian, a trust company based in New Zealand reported a fall in stress after testing a 32-hour work week, whilst in Britain, the TUC is advocating for a four-day week by 2100. How is all this justified? Work satisfaction, high productivity throughout the four-days of work and an increase in technology-driven automation in certain parts of people’s jobs.

Avoid work creep

While technology is great, the fast-paced nature of the modern workplace has meant that often tasks can pile up quickly. The science tells us that overworked team members are a lot less productive and stressed. Fewer tasks can mean better, targeted work and avoid a team member feeling overwhelmed by an overflowing inbox.

Reflection time

If we face the facts that the average workday is not going to include 8-hours solid doing then we can create time, and physical spaces, to focus on ourselves and our team’s personal development. Read a book, write some thoughts on how your day is going for 30-minutes to reboot.



Lauren Crystal

Scottish digital entrepreneur in Melbourne. Proud MD of Your Creative Agency, co-founder of Hassl. Contributor to The Startup.

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