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Procrastination: A £345 billion problem

Procrastination costs the UK economy a staggering £345 billion each year, with £1.3bn worth of time wasted every day by people daydreaming, shopping online, texting or taking cigarette breaks.

A new survey says workers in the UK spend almost three hours of their working day procrastinating, with the average person wasting £10,605 of their employer’s money every year.

The workers feeling the least urgency are in the environmental and agricultural industries, where each employee wastes four hours and 15 minutes, on average. The sector came top of the list for time spent on snacking, clock watching and surfing the internet.

It was closely followed by the performing arts industry, where people procrastinate for just eight minutes less a day. However, the arts comes top for the most activities, including daydreaming, toilet breaks, cigarette breaks, online shopping and personal calls.

A study of employees in 28 different broad fields of work in the UK economy determined how long they each spend on 15 common work-delaying activities daily.

The information was then used to create the Procrastination Calculator, which measures how much of someone’s salary is effectively wasted on menial daily tasks throughout the year and a typical working lifetime.

It revealed that, while the UK’s 33 million workers on average waste 175 minutes of their days, people in some industries are much more easily distracted.

The industries where employees, on average, spend the most time procrastinating each day are:

  • Environment and agriculture – 4 hours 15 minutes
  • Performing arts – 4 hours 7 minutes
  • Marketing and advertising – 3 hours 54 minutes
  • Business, consulting and management – 3 hours 40 minutes
  • Energy and utilities – 3 hours 35 minutes

In comparison, the most efficient employees work in publishing and journalism, who procrastinate for less than two hours, the majority of which is spent on making tea and coffee. This was followed by teachers and social care workers.

The Procrastination Calculator allows people to enter their own salary and how long they typically spend on each of the 15 procrastination activities, to find out how much of their boss’s money is spent on them each year. It also makes the time more real by showing the equivalent tasks that could be completed in that time.

To try it out, click here: