Thanks to technology, social media and the internet, it’s easy to get distracted today. And these distractions can often lead to hours down the drain—hours that could have been spent being productive. While the digital age has brought an abundance of improvements in the ways we communicate, learn, work, entertain, it’s important not to let ourselves get too carried away. Today, the average person spends 10 hours and 24 minutes per day connected to media. And there’s slim chance all of that time is being spent efficiently.
However, digital media and technology aren’t the only things biting into our time. From an average 42 hours a year spent sitting in traffic to 53 hours a year spent complaining, people are wasting time in ways they are not even aware of. To uncover where your lost time is going, here are seven culprits.
With Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, Hulu and the abundance of digital entertainment tools and apps on the market today, traditional television seems like an ancient past-time. However, according to recent research, that’s not necessarily the case.
A 2018 report by information, data and measuring company Nielsen revealed that, on average, a person spends 3 hours and 49 minutes a day watching live television. And that adds up to a whopping 58 days every year.
From calling and texting to playing games, paying rent and shopping—smartphones have changed the way we do pretty much everything. However, that doesn’t mean you need to be spending hours of your day glued to the tiny screen.
According to a U.K. study, people between 15 and 24 years old spend an average four hours a day on their smartphones, even checking their phones every 8.6 minutes. Adults over 24 years old typically spend two hours and 49 minutes on their phones each day.
3. Social media
As a source of news, a way to keep in touch with old friends, a platform for sharing photos, social media channels have an extensive amount of uses today. While many of their features can be viewed positively, social media’s easy accessibility has driven it to becoming one of today’s biggest time wasters.
According to a study by influencer marketing agency Mediakix, the average person spends 40 minutes per day on YouTube, 35 minutes on Facebook, 25 minutes on Snapchat and 15 minutes on Instagram. That means the average person will spend more than five years of their lives on social media.
4. Video games
If you’re a gamer, it might be time to scale back on all of that time spent playing in a virtual world or digital competition. In fact, by cutting down those hours, you’ll give yourself an extra day’s worth of time that could be spent more productively. Recent research finds that gamers typically spend six hours a week playing, whether that’s on television, desktop or smartphone.
Meetings, which are meant to be engines of productivity in the workplace, all too often end up being the opposite. What could be discussed in 20 minutes often turns into an hour-long overstaffed meeting with bored participants, repetitive topics and ultimately, wasted time.
In one study, 67 percent of participants agreed that most meetings are “failures.” In the United States alone, an average 25 million meetings take place everyday, with over $37 billion spent on unproductive meetings every year. According to Harvard Business Review, executives and managers spend an average 23 hours a week in meetings.
It’s easy to lose track of time when scrolling through Facebook’s News Feed or watching Instagram Stories. Unlike these sneaky time wasters, when sitting in traffic, you can actually feel your time being wasted. Sadly, a solution is hard to find.
According to research, the average commuters spends 42 hours a year sitting in traffic. Of course, the case is even worse for Los Angeles commuters who spend 102 hours in congestion every year.
If you want to tack on some extra hours of productivity to your year, then it might be time to cut the whining. Research conducted in the U.K. found that a person spends eight minutes and 46 seconds a day complaining. While that may not sound like much, it does add up. By the end of the year, that’s a whopping 53 hours of lost time.
Rose is a writer and artist living in New York City. She writes for magazines, startups and websites, including Entrepreneur Magazine, Frontrunner Magazine, Homepolish and more.