You’ll do 590 actual hours of work in 2016

You Will Barely Work 600 Hours in 2015

If you’re American, you probably classify yourself as a workaholic, or think “the work never ends” (because you often answer your e-mail on weekends or at nights). This is admittedly all a small part of “The Busy Trap,” which in turn very few people can reconcile with “Being Happy.” But even if you’re a 12-hour/day warrior all the time, the sheer reality is that there’s about 2,000 working hours in a given year for most jobs. That’s the base, though. That’s where things start from. It’s actually lower than that. 

Via McKinsey, you might be spending 28 percent of your time answering e-mail. That’s 560 hours out of 2,000. (By some accounts, that 560 hours figure is too low.) If you spend 12 hours per week in meetings (which is low for some people), that’s another 600 hours per year. At this juncture, you’ve gone from 2,000 hours to 840 hours — and you haven’t really done any actual work. You’ve just answered e-mails and sat in meetings.

Now let’s say you spend 1 hour per day doing stuff like reading news articles, personal e-mails, Facebook, whatever else — which is honestly fine, because your brain needs a break — and now that 840 has become 590.

So think about this: you have about 590 hours of legitimate, actual work that you’re going to do in 2016, give or take — and this is whether you’re someone who leaves at 5pm every day or someone that thinks they’re a 24/7 grinder. The number is around 590 in each case. If you think of yourself at work about 240-250 days this year, that’s about 2.36 hours of legitimate work per day.

Ignore how massively ineffective that sounds, and instead think about it like this:

2.36 hours a day to be legitimately effective and be doing work, in all honesty.

How are you going to spend it?

Ted Bauer


  1. Any time I see articles like this, I can’t help but think…so? People give lots of lip service to tasks, saying they’re sooo busy. Inevitably, some things will fall through the cracks — but we usually complete the most important things anyway, so if it’s a real priority, chances are it will get done.

    To those who are higher on the food chain, simply answering email(s) can be a big deal. Decision makers usually hold the purse strings and can change the velocity of projects simply by indecision or rejection. So, giving permission(s) along the way, by say, answering email, can have a cascading effect that has major repercussions.

    I wish we had a more “European” view of work in the U.S., in which people wouldn’t be so inclined to wear their work on their sleeves…constantly competing for who works the hardest or who’s the busiest. A person’s job is so engrained in their identity, unfortunately.

    • Steve — just wanted to say how great it is that you continue to comment on my articles here and there. I really do appreciate that, especially because your views are well thought-out and contextually relevant. Thank you so much; I hope in 2015, we can continue to interact.

      • Thanks, Ted! I enjoy reading your articles very much. Your honesty and insights are very refreshing. Keep it up!

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