What Are Ten Ways Being Unproductive Can Become Important To Work Success?

I want to start off with a personal quote:


“When you are working, you are getting paid to do two things: to be productive and to be unproductive.” -Michael J. Fite

Keep this in mind when you are figuring out what a true workday is all about.

You may look at my quote and wonder why would I say such a thing?  I will get into the heart of the matter and explain my rationale to you in the questions below.

How much of a break does a person get out of a workday?

In order to understand this question, we must establish three facts thanks to Melanie Curtin of Inc.com:

  1. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the average American works 8.8 hours (8 hours and 48 minutes) a workday.

  2. Of those 8.8 hours, a person is productive for 2 hours and 53 minutes per workday, which equates to just 32% daily efficiency at work.

  3. The top ten non productive items on the on the list, which totals 4 hours and 8 minutes, include the following:

    • Reading news websites – 1 hour 5 min

    • Checking social media – 44 min

    • Discussing non-work-related things with coworkers – 40 min

    • Searching for new jobs – 26 min

    • Taking smoke breaks – 23 min

    • Making calls to partners/ friends – 18 min

    • Making hot drinks – 17 min

    • Texting or instant messaging – 14 min

    • Eating snacks – 8 min

    • Making food in office – 7 min

To sum up the point here, of the average workday of 8 hours and 48 minutes, the average American worker spends 5 hours and 55 minutes being unproductive. You may not believe the information from answering this question, but the next question will reveal even more unbelievable information.


How much can you earn being unproductive in a workday?

In order to understand this questions, we need to establish an important number, thanks to Trading Economics:

  • As of September 2017, the average wage is $22.23 per hour.

If you multiply the wage into our productive and unproductive numbers, here is what you get paid daily:

  • For 2 hours and 53 minutes of productive work, you will earn $64.10 per workday on average.

  • For 5 hours and 55 minutes of unproductive work, you will earn $131.53 per workday on average.

To sum up the point here, you are likely to get paid more to be unproductive versus being productive at work.


Being that you are getting pay more to be unproductive, the next question can help you see the ways that you can make it beneficial to you and the workplace.

What are ten ways being unproductive can become important to work success?

Granted, no employer or supervisor wants to hear that they are paying more for an employee to be unproductive than productive, but there are some benefits to being unproductive that could pay off in the long run. Using the top ten non productive items from earlier, here is how each one can prove to be important:

  1. Reading news websites.

    • Reading the news gives an employee valuable information on what is going on in the world in order to be informed.
    • Such information can prove to be valuable in educating the workplace on current affairs and trends going on in the world.
  2. Checking social media.

    • Social media sites help keep co-workers connected and create opportunities to network with people whom can be helpful.
    • Checking social media sites can be valuable in gathering information about and from co-workers that can prove to be valuable to a company.
  3. Discussing non-work-related things with coworkers.

    • Discussing non-work-related things with coworkers is a very good way to take a mental break from the routine of work-work-work.
    • Talking about non-work-related things allows for co-workers to know each other on a personal level beyond the workplace.
  4. Searching for new jobs.

    • Although an employer does not want to see this, but allowing a person to search for a new job benefits the employee because they are looking for something else fulfilling.
    • This is also beneficial to the employer because they will eventually not have to worry about a person who does not want to be there once they move on.
  5. Taking smoke breaks.

    • Smoke breaks serve as a stress reliever and break from the daily grind.
    • Smoke breaks are also a great opportunity to network and make friends at work.
  6. Making calls to partners/ friends.

    • Making calls periodically to partners/friends can help calm and relax a person when stressed out at work.
    • Calling a partner/friend can help a co-worker make sense of what of what is going on at work.
  7. Making hot drinks.

    • Whether it is coffee or tea, having that warm drink is a great way to start the workday off right for an employee or employer.
    • Making that hot drink can also soothe and relax a relax a person so that they can be productive.
  8. Texting or instant messaging.

    • Texting and  instant messaging allows for co-workers to communicate from a distance without having to leave their work area constantly.
    • When co-workers text and instant message, they can relay information quicker than they could with a phone call.
  9. Eating snacks.

    • Eating snacks can help a co-worker work through the day without really taking a true lunch break.
    • Eating snacks can also help prevent a co-worker from being cranky due to hunger.
  10. Making food in office.

    • Making food in the office can save a co-worker time from having to leave the office to go on their lunch break.
    • Making food in the office can be a good way for co-workers to share and network with one another.

These 10 unproductive things add flavor and variety to a workday that would lend itself towards being boring and uninspiring.


Let’s remember that being unproductive may be unintentional and costly, but the benefits do have the intent to make the workplace a better place for everyone.

In the question section, I want you to give some serious thought to the questions above. In addition, I have three questions that I want you to give thought to. Feel free to comment and share your answers and comments below.

  1. Do you feel that you are using your unproductive time at work wisely?

  2. How do you make good use of your unproductive time at work?

  3. How has your unproductive time benefited your work environment?

Your answers and insight can help yourself and other people understand how can being unproductive can benefit a work environment for the better.





I am a husband, father, life coach, motivator, and sailor wrapped into one guy with one mission in mind: To bring you the motivation and inspiration one post at a time!

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