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Ask HN: How much of your time at work do you spend not working?
200 points by acalderaro on April 10, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 155 comments
Let's include meetings/email as job related.

Throwaway for maximum honesty: I am pretty sure I spend at least 75% of my time "at work" not working. HN, Reddit, messing around with side projects or learning a new language or framework. This has been the case for my entire working life.

I seem to get as much done as other people (sometimes better) so part of me wonders if I'm not as unusual as I feel. Part of me wonders if I should get evaluated for ADHD, since I find it such a struggle to focus on my work. And part of me is just frustrated with myself, that theoretically I could spend like 3 good hours at work each day, get more done, and have more quality time to myself.

The best way to describe ADHD is: The TV is always on, but you don't get to choose the channel.

Some things are easy to focus on—I can sit down to program for a bit and lose track of time for 5 hours. On the other hand, if something is boring, it's mind-numbingly boring.

It was the worst while I was in school, since teachers and professors just thought, "oh, he's unmotivated" when in reality it was more along the lines of, "I'd rather cut my toenails with a rusty butter knife than write the paper." (Okay, perhaps that's a slight exaggeration.)

Anyway, if it affects your life and managing it yourself isn't working (give it an honest effort, of course) definitely speak with a doctor. While too many parents think their kids have ADHD when the kids are really just, well, kids, trying to cope with ADHD without some sort of guidance sucks. A lot. It's amazing how much more productive you can be if you get some help coping with it.

Just my $0.02.

Unrelated but I felt compelled to share a similar sentiment:

> It was the worst while I was in school, since teachers and professors just thought, "oh, he's unmotivated" when in reality it was more along the lines of, "I'd rather cut my toenails with a rusty butter knife than write the paper." (Okay, perhaps that's a slight exaggeration.)

Oh man I can relate so much. So many conversations with teachers asking why I wasn't motivated while every night I went home to program and build side projects and was singularly focused on becoming a programmer in the game industry.

The answer was of course I was motivated just not by anything they had to offer and that never went over very well.

I've never seen someone describe my education so accurately, down to:

> went home to program and build side projects and was singularly focused on becoming a programmer in the game industry

Based on my discussions with other game programmers over the years, I can conclude that it is not an uncommon story.

I feel the same but only recognise this now that I'm out of education

>"I'd rather cut my toenails with a rusty butter knife than write the paper." (Okay, perhaps that's a slight exaggeration.)

This totally describes me. The line I quoted resonates because sometimes the idea of a boring task is actually frightening to me, in the way you described. Like I get a really sick feeling about it and will do almost anything to avoid it. On the other hand I feel like I have so much going on in my head, and so much I could produce if I could only channel it properly. The TV is most definitely always on. My lack of focus and procrastination has definitely held me back in my career.

One thing I'm wary of is medicalising what might just laziness. How do I know it's not a version of "special snowflake syndrome"? Is my own inattentiveness (and inability to get over it) really so much worse than what a "normal" person experiences?

To give a parallel, I heard a podcast where Ramit Sethi was talking about "introvert porn", where he's saying there is all this stuff online about how hard life is for introverts, how extroverts don't get it, basically making people feel good about being an introvert and telling them that it's an integral part of who they are rather than something they can change. And he's saying that this is a dangerous and self-defeating trap to get into because people don't realise that social skills can be learned. All these "introverts" are just falling back onto an excuse to avoid confronting the thing that's holding them back.

If I start blaming all my problems on ADHD am I just falling into a similar trap? After all, not everyone can be successful. Maybe I'm just not successful because I'm not that good at anything, not because of a medical condition.

Possibly relevant: I am in the UK where ADHD seems to be a lot less recognised than in the USA. People here are often critical of the idea of medicating ADHD in kids (which is relatively unusual here afaik). I don't know how a British GP would react to someone asking for an adult ADHD diagnosis - I imagine it wouldn't be taken very seriously.

> The line I quoted resonates because sometimes the idea of a boring task is actually frightening to me, in the way you described. Like I get a really sick feeling about it and will do almost anything to avoid it.

This is actually an amazing insight. This tells you exactly what the root of your procrastination is. It's not laziness, because I'm sure you can apply plenty of effort in tasks where this fear isn't present. Maybe drill down a bit further on what the source of this fear might be. Were boring tasks used as punishment in your childhood?

People with eating disorders are often afraid of boring food without realizing it. The thought of a diet is scary because they'll be missing out on their favourite foods. After adopting a bland diet for a few weeks, most find their fear dissipates, and bland food can become enjoyable. Maybe try the same strategy with boring tasks? Essentially exposure therapy.

It's true that adult ADHD (and non-hyperactive ADHD, and ADHD in women) is under-recognised in the UK.

However, NICE (the National Institute for Clinical Excellence) has published guidelines about diagnosis and the short version iirc is that you're well within your rights to point out that your GP is not a specialist in this area and ask to be referred.

The bad news is there may not be anywhere locally to refer you to, so you may need to travel out of area, pay to see someone private (and then fight to have your prescription accepted and paid for by the NHS). There are more kids' specialists but they may not recognise the nuances of the adult condition.

No, I haven't done it - I've been meaning to for over a year and keep putting it off, ha ha.

Links: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/CG72 - NICE guidelines; https://aadduk.org/forum/ - AADD UK forum

Thanks very much for your comment. I hope you go and do it soon. I'd love to hear about your experiences when you do.

> If I start blaming all my problems on ADHD am I just falling into a similar trap? After all, not everyone can be successful. Maybe I'm just not successful because I'm not that good at anything, not because of a medical condition.

I think the key is to recognize there are challenges with ADHD, but also to recognize that they're not insurmountable.

I do, on occasion, blame something solely on my ADHD. But, usually I have to be self-reflective and say, Hey, while my ADHD made this task way more difficult than it needed to be, failure to finish it on time was still my fault. So, for example, I'll have to budget more time for some tasks or take small, regular breaks to keep my focus.

We fall into the trap when we absolve ourselves of responsibility. It sucks, and to some degree it feels like victim blaming, but it's life!

I may have a mild form of this. My brain often thinks of all sorts of crap, and bounces from new idea to new idea all the time without focusing too hard on any given one.

But one reason I haven't sought medication is because I'm a bit afraid that the "TV" might be turned off when under medication. That constant bouncing around of ideas is responsible for a lot of my best design ideas. I don't want that to go away.

I just need to find a fast channel to get my ideas out there. Trying to make 'products' out of all of them just keeps them from getting out there, I think.

Judging from a friend's experience in the UK, the GP may well be more useful and take you more seriously than you might think.

Public attitudes to health are often not reflected in the NHS in a variety of ways.

> "I'd rather cut my toenails with a rusty butter knife than write the paper."

> Okay, perhaps that's a slight exaggeration.

I have ADHD, this is not an exaggeration. I actually really like your example.

It's literally how it feels like.

I remember being in school and doing things like lining up my pencil with the rays of light coming from outside, and then trying to outline the shadow of my pencil with a different pen. I would spend an entire class on that instead of listening to a single word the professor said.

The worst part about it is that part of you knows the professor is sharing interesting stuff, it just that your brain tells you its boring.

I can relate to (what you wrote and also) "I'd rather cut my toenails with a rusty butter knife than write the paper", but even more "I'd rather cut my toenails with a rusty butter knife than be the kind of person that still isn't writing the paper even though it's 11pm on the day before the deadline but, oh, look, I'm still not writing the paper and now I'm actively running round the kitchen looking for butter knives as if they'd actually get me out of writing the paper, and now I'm cleaning the kitchen worktop for the first time in several months instead, and now I'm 10 pages deep on a Google search for what kind of spider I saw in the kitchen, and oh crap now it's midnight and I'm still the worthless jerk that hasn't started their paper"

I don't know if I have ADHD, though. Admittedly I wrote the above in a fairly exaggerated-ADHD way, and it's all the kind of thing I do actually do, but... no diagnosis, maybe just anxious about failure or lazy instead.

> The worst part about it is that part of you knows the professor is sharing interesting stuff, it just that your brain tells you its boring.

Yes! I remember sitting in class and hearing the professor say, "This is important and will be on the test" and continuing to daydream or fiddle with something else, even though I knew I needed to pay attention.

it's like a lack of motivation to the point of abhorring any expended effort on a task because it's _THAT_ worthless of a pursuit to you. It's like you endure pain that other people don't experience just to do normal activities if you don't find them fascinating.

> "I'd rather cut my toenails with a rusty butter knife than write the paper."

This statement really resonates with me too. Getting over the inertia to just start things that I don't really want to do is sometimes a multi-day effort, and then staying focused is hard beyond that. I've been thinking I should get evaluated, maybe I will.

I do have to ask, though, was that a Frank Reynolds toe knife reference?

Your description of ADHD is 100%, but for anyone trying to deal with this issue I would be very careful with meds prescribed from doctors, because for some of them it is mostly a big business. I was diagnosed with ADHD many years ago and prescribed with Ritalin and then an extended version of it (basically releasing throughout the whole day) and while it made me more productive, I experienced horrible jittering, crashes and I just did not feel like myself, but more like a zombie/junkie. I think it is scary that even 6-years old kids are prescribed with these pills nowadays.

pro tip: I was trying to find a natural solution, which for me is DMAE combined with fish-oil. It has basically the same effect for me in terms of productivity without the nasty side effects + you can buy it in every vitamin store. It is funny how I can almost immediately (within few days) notice when I stop taking these.

I've had similar symptoms to those caused by ADHD for quite some time now, but I'm not sure if visiting a doctor will help me much. The symptoms I've experienced are inattentiveness, boredom, lethargy, and poor time management. My question is: if I do get diagnosed by a professional, what kind of improvement can I expect from ADHD medication?

Medication is likely not the right solution for you, there are several very helpful books about Adult ADHD that you should check out that could change your life: Taking Charge of Adult ADHD, and, Is it You, Me, or Adult ADHD? great books

I don't mean to be rude, but assuming you're not a doctor (and, even if you are, he's not your patient), I don't think it's good form to give medical advice on the Internet, particularly if it's advice that's dismissive of a mainstream treatment.

My two cents, don't rule anything out. I had a SO with adult ADD and medication made a world of difference. That's just one person, though, and everybody's different. Do talk to a doctor if you feel like you might have adult ADD. It's a very real thing, and there are lots of treatment options, both pharmacologic and not.

Thanks, I'll check them out!

I was on ADHD meds from the age of 10 to 18. They helped but they had really nasty side effects (used to take 2-5 hours of lying in bed to get to sleep, everything seems super dull and its very hard to break the intense concentration which for the most part is focused on unproductive things like organising old photos instead of cleaning your room.) For a phase of my life after I stopped taking meds, I got quite depressed that I couldn't concentrate as well at uni and my first year at work and that I couldn't listen to my girlfriend at the time very well. The analogies that everyone uses here completely resonate with me, in my head was always something like "1800-GHOST-DANCE by Hella" (mathrock song.)

Now I've worked for a bit and have accepted that I'm not wired in a way that will let me be an excellent student (in the traditional sense) without hating myself I have a lot more appreciation for my strengths and weaknesses. The biggest benefits to me post meds have been getting enough sleep, exercising and meditation (even just writing stuff in my mind down) - I'd get all that in shape before I'd go to a doctor if I was you.

Thank you for the informative reply! Yes, my next course of action is to start an organized exercise regimen and try to fit in a bit of meditation every day. I'll work on that a for a few months and see what happens.

Best of luck, I recommend recording your progress which will help with accountability and makes it more interesting

Depends on the meds. I've only had a 'downer' (strattera) that made me feel almost comatose. It helped me focus a lot, definitely. But only by kinda 'blurring out' or 'graying out' the rest of the world that would otherwise grab my attention. I've been med-free since high school. However, I know some people who've taken meds and it's helped immensely.

Sorry I can't give a better answer! It's a question best left to your GP, I think.

Thank you for sharing your experience. I will definitely need to follow up with a doctor first before I can make a decision.

>"The symptoms I've experienced are... and poor time management."

I built a morning and evening routine app (Routinist) to help professionals schedule habits/goals into their days. I did not have ADHD in mind when I built it, but around 1/3 of the positive feedback I get through emails / reviews has some form "I have ADHD and this helps me".

It's more likely a problem with your environment (job) than yourself. Work isn't fun.

I never thought I'd have to create a throwaway for HN, but here I am

This is me.

On a good day, I might work for 3 hours of my 7 hour day. On a bad day, 1 hour. Somehow, I get the work done, and even get praised for it, though it's not taxing or particularly good code. I think my firm is afraid to lose me, and let me get away with too much, but that could be paranoia / imposter syndrome. That said, my productivity is on a par with others I work with (surpassing some) and I don't consider myself to be a better coder than they are.

I spend the larger part of my day on side projects, learning new languages, trying new apps, painstakingly reorganising my local file system, reducing the size and complexity of my dropbox folders (even though I'm using less than half of my free space), reading HN, tinkering with electronics at my desk, reorganising my workspace, blogging, reading, listening to podcasts or audiobooks (I find I can't do anything that involves typing at the same time, but I can do graphics)

I have curtailed my reddit / browsing a lot, but its still more than I'd like.

Lately, I've decided that my job is not challenging me enough, and I want to leave it. And so I blame that on my lack of focus. But if I'm honest, I've always been like this. In previous jobs, in college, in school, I've always done the minimum required to get by because I have other "more important" things to do.

I'm easily distracted. I don't think I'd go so far as to say I have ADHD, but I do have trouble focussing on tasks when a computer is involved. I have a theory that this is a side-effect of the modern computing experience itself. Switching tabs and multitasking is so easy these days, with the amounnt of RAM / Bandwidth / CPU we have at our disposal, that doing several things at once is very tempting. I barely bother to close apps. I would normally have 4-5 VS windows, Android Studio, Photoshop, Sublime, etc all open at once, and while I'm not switching between them every five minutes, I might alt-tab to one by accident and lose an hour fixing some bug or trying some thing out.

There were some college projects that really captured my interest, but those were an exception.

I had this same issue until I stopped visiting Reddit completely (even in my off work hours) and gave up my addiction to news. It's amazing the difference it has made in my productivity.

I use the reddit app on my phone to fill those <10 minute gaps in my day where I would otherwise be bored, eg waiting in line, waiting for a long loading screen, etc. It's simple to pick up and put down in a moment's notice.

Assuming you did the same thing, what do you do now without it?

I carry my kindle around and try to read any chance I get. Or if there is not enough time to read, I try to do... nothing. Haha I know it may seem like a crazy concept but I have been trying to resist the urge of always looking through Instagram, Snapchat, HN, etc.

That's not to say I never do it, a lot of times I still find myself checking social accounts when I'm in line or whatever, but I try to avoid reddit entirely because of how it always manages to suck up more time than you expect and I have found it seriously feeds the addiction to content, especially news.

I've had similar success in the past. But I went back to a single monitor instead of giving up reddit entirely. Not having the distraction always present on the second screen helps.

But not HN?

Nah, I don't spend much time on HN. I just scan the front page 2-3 times a day. Plus, I gain a lot of value out of it. I would probably not be where I am in my career were it not for HN.

In "Office Space*, the guy says he spends all his time appeasing his many bosses and only gets 10 minutes of real work done in a week. At my corporate job, I spent at least two hours a day doing necessary tasks that didn't really count towards production, but would cause problems if not taken care of. I also routinely cleaned up messes left by the people being actively rewarded by management for their speed who achieved that by doing sloppy work.

I do freelance work these days. My corporate experience helps me not stress overly much about how little actual work seems to happen. There are always a bunch of tasks necessary to getting other things done that "don't count" as work.

>part of me wonders if I'm not as unusual as I feel

It's probably not as unusual as it feels


> I seem to get as much done as other people (sometimes better)

Perhaps all the other people are also as unproductive as you? ;)

Yes, that's what he said, in the second half of the sentence you quoted: "so part of me wonders if I'm not as unusual as I feel"

Or they're "productive" in a different way. There's one developer on our team who spends large portions of his day creating diagrams, documents and largely unneeded JIRA tickets. It's busy work, but since he has nothing else to do, he just creates document exhaust.

This really hits close to home for me. The first four years of my career I had the exact same sentiment. I would be able to complete my work in the first few hours of the day and just screw around after that. It was often misguided and didn't accomplish much other then learning random factoids. 15 months ago I finally brought myself to see a psychiatrist for depression, and between therapy and medication I was able to snap out of it and get on my feet again. The only thing is, while I started to love what I was doing again, I still felt no true inspiration to focus on something that wasn't truly challenging. And that turned out to be a major issue for me, and I had conversations with my therapist and she recommended I consider getting treatment for ADHD. One of my friends came by that weekend and happened to have a few extra extended release aderall, so I split it up over the two weeks between my next appointment with my psychiatrist. But I knew almost immediately after taking aderall that I likely had ADHD. I had a moment of clarity where my own thoughts didn't consume me while I worked for 30 minutes. The last time I felt that was probably a decade ago when I was still considering going to school for music performance. I've now been on medication for ADHD for a month and it's had a profound impact on my quality of life. I used to always be tired, regardless of how much sleep I got. I would find myself having difficulty in completing what should be minor tasks with any bit of precision. I was making so many little mistakes here and there that I didn't realize how much of an impact it was having on my morale.

This is a really long and roundabout way of saying, there's no reason not to go see a therapist and a psychiatrist if you feel like it's starting to impact you're quality of life. The worst thing that happens is you go to a doctor and get a comprehensive health examination to rule out any other factors or you take medication for a month that doesn't help.

> Part of me wonders if I should get evaluated for ADHD

I would highly recommend doing this, I have ADHD and knowing I wasn't crazy, and that it has a name, has helped me a lot.

does anybody have experience with neurofeedback? I've heard it works very well for ADHD, but it is a bit pricey for me and insurance doesn't cover it.

Over the first 15+ years of my career as an engineer and engineering manager, I've repeatedly surveyed colleagues and friends in engineering roles about this question. I've asked it of people I consider low-performing, all the way to folks I'd consider 10x developers.

I have never met a single software developer who, when pressed to give an honest assessment and when "working" is defined along the lines of "actively defining, coding, or debugging a feature", self-identifies as working more than 50% of the time. There are occasional stretches of 12+ hour working sessions, but they are very rare.

I'd say I've asked this of over a hundred people.

This isn't to say these people only do 4 hours of work a day. Often, peers have described how they hit a wall at work, go home, and then work on personal projects in the evening.

I've come to the conclusion that is generally impossible to do mentally intensive tasks for more than 4 continuous hours over the long term.

Thats interesting because 4 hours is exactly the limit I've seen cited by researchers as the max for highly focused work but even that much is a kind of skill that has to be developed, so a beginner might have much less concentration.

Can you give a reference for that number? Sounds intriguing...

This article also references about four hours as the limit that a creative professional can work every day:


A fascinating article, thank you for sharing!

The question is hard to answer: work can be 'waiting for something to break' or 'bugfixing and problemsolving' or 'active development' or 'designing things' these are very different modes of work with different requirements for attention and involvement...

You should also ask if they feel their manager facilitates their productivity.

Could you link a research article for that? I'm interested in reading what they found

Arguably, time spent reading HN is a legitimate part of becoming/remaining a good developer. Certainly, spending time socializing with coworkers is a required part of work, many places. Spending some amount of time unwinding at the office is arguably required for mental health and therefore a functional component of remaining a worker -- does that count as working?

"Working" is an ambiguous category, it seems to me. One definition of work (call it "productivist") says that we're only working when we're literally producing something valuable. A more organizational view might hold that "work" is whatever you're socially (often implicitly) required to do to keep your job (whether measurably productive or not). And a third more holistic definition would include stuff like exercise or professional development that are not always directly "required" by anyone, but that you might go crazy without doing...

I'll be honest; I don't think using HN is anything close to what I would consider "working." At best it's marginally optimized random browsing.

While it isn't work, reading technical articles regularly on HN can be very beneficial.

In fact, the first thing I tell aspiring developers is to start reading HN on a regular basis if they already aren't. It confers a sort of broad awareness of various stacks and ecosystems over time that's hard to obtain otherwise.

Yeah, learning the culture of your profession -- with a broad awareness of different ecosystems and things -- isn't "immediately productive," but it's a simple form of professional development. (And in my opinion, enlightened employers understand that decent professional development is a really important part of the work process.)

It falls into the important but not urgent quadrant of Stephen Covey's Time Management Matrix.

Depending on what articles one is reading, this activity could fall within "sharpening the ax" (which is also beneficial for the company).

Absolutely and if keeping up with technology is not work then what it is "work"? Is it just typing out the code? What about when your IDE auto-completes your code? It's a little silly to think about it this way.

I try to keep my distractions to a minimum level but I've often encountered comments and articles on HN that have been of great benefit to my work and my clients. Things like a service I've never heard of, a library being used in a way that I haven't seen before or even just personal experiences.

Hell I even use HN to minimize distractions such as reading only the comments section about some new product Google/MS/Apple released(or is killing) just to get an idea of what's out there in the market and if it is of any use to me.

Anecdote: I found AWS had a hosted Elastic Search that had just been released. This knowledge enabled the team I led to solve a problem that was challenging my team with what was relatively a small amount of work. There is no amount of heads down work that would of attained this amount of benefit. We were not thinking about the search problem much and the one of our engineers just kept spending more and more time trying to enhance our failing custom solution.

Making sure you are informed about what other people are making is useful and is part of your job as an expert. Now if I can just find an application for the CRISPR enhanced crypto sea-monkeys that I learned about yesterday that should really help us out.

I've learned a tremendous amount from reading HN. Sure, there's lots of posts that are time wasters, but so much good information for a developer is concentrated in one place makes it valuable and useful.

Arguably, time spent reading HN is a legitimate part of becoming/remaining a good developer.

Almost spit out my Coca-Cola brand carbonated soft drink. Thanks for the laugh!

I probably spend half my time not working. I'm burnt out though. After a few years at my current position, I just don't care.

Why is this?

I've had a few promising projects languish because my manager is slow or hesitant to allocate resources. That's a bit demoralizing. When I'm on a path to production for a functioning system I get caught up in the devops meeting vortex. That's a waste of time and it takes several weeks to get any sort of resolution. In these cases my time is mostly spent looking for workarounds and not "working". I feel there are a lot of politics and favoritism in the company, and my manager (and our team) is not on the right side. It's demotivating to have your work ignored because you're not a priority. I don't know how anyone stays for more than a year.

Edit: In the first few months I worked on random on-going projects, but was quickly made lead on some new projects. It was good at first, but after about 9 months I'd say most (90%) weeks I don't put in anywhere near 40 hours of work.

The sad thing is I've always gotten a raise (double digit in two cases) and full bonus every performance cycle.

I've finally started looking for another job.

Does anyone have recommendations? I'm really looking for a company that enables their individual contributors (engineers) to actually get shit done.

Work for a startup, preferably one that is already somewhat profitable. I have worked for this type company my whole career and this "devops vortex" you speak of is a foreign concept. I run a small IT dept and we have one 30 min staff per week plus a one-on-one for each dev. And they code and solve other problems all day, and of course surf the web or socialize to break up the day too.

I'm already in talks with two well known pre-IPO startups (<500 employees). The devops vortex is a new animal to me as well. I've never had so many problems moving systems into production than I have at this company.

Edit: I've talked with many in my professional network and they describe similar meeting loads (~1 hr/week) as you do. I'd estimate I spend on average 3 hr/week in meetings. And most of these meetings don't result in action items. They're essentially pointless.

Coming from an organization where I spent > 10 hours a week on meetings, I hear you. I believe I spent more time writing emails than writing code. The code I did write was done at night after everyone left and there would be no more meetings and useless phone calls. Managed to create the most used/useful application in the organization and still nothing changed.

When it occurred to me that things are not going to change in my lifetime even with all the promises of upper management, I started creating side projects where I am in control of the full direction. When that wasn't enough, I also started looking for a new job. Joined a startup as a CTO/Lead Dev and was happier.

You're almost certainly getting a sampling bias by asking this question at ~2pm Pacific Time on a weekday.

Some days almost the entire day. I'll read, watch videos, do some tutorials. But its offset because usually when I do this it's because I'm hung up on something and it just isn't going to get solved unless the ole brain has time to do its subconscious thing.

Letting the subconscious work through a hard problem while doing something else is a truly underrated trick. Taking a shower or going for a walk also works wonderfully.

I used to take hour long lunch breaks, which I'd spend about 35mins walking to get food and finding a nice spot to sit outside, most days I done this I would come back into the office refreshed and often fix the issue I was working on shortly after coming back. But the hour-long break was always founded upon, which is why I ended up leaving. (it was also the only break I took each day, but the culture in the team I was in was to take no more than 30mins break)

30 minute breaks? Sounds unbearable! Plus knowing that you're being judged creates a pressure that doesn't help solve problems.

I've solved a bug while eating a cup of yogurt while walking around outside the office. Definitely worthwhile.

I figure out so many problems while lifting weights! With the added bonus that now I can now bench, deadlift, and squat well over 300 lbs.

Speaking as a solopreneur, I work only 3 hours a day, more like 3 x 50 minutes laps with 15 min breaks in between.

Also each lap is dedicated to one activity, first is manufacturing where I work on my project (the actual coding part), second is traffic (this is the dreaded marketing/outreach part) and finally is the optimization part (seo, increasing conversion rates, improving design, etc).

I've seen that the diversity of this work prevents you from getting bored and also is very good for your sites because if you keep working on just coding your sites seldom make any money.

The 3 hours limit is because after that i can happily watch tv, spend time with my family or just work on my other hobbies besides computers guilt free.

P.s. When you try to do as much work as you can, i believe you still only get 3 hours of work done - yet you feel guilty of not doing enough which causes unhappiness.

Sorry is this is rude but how do you make a living only working 3 hours a day? Are you products already established?

No it isn't rude at all. Yes, some sites are already established but I also launch at least one new site every month to add to my income.

3 hours is a lot of work if done without distraction. I think the key is to make your work more mechanical and less creative.

I have a system that I have perfected over the years which helps me do this[1]. It's like a stupid step by step list where each item links to a document which is another stupid step by step list that I follow like a "Robot" for these 3 hours. When you do it this way, it makes it quite easy and 3 hours daily is more than enough to launch a small to medium size project in a month (I think there are less than 200 items in total and about 50% of it you can easily outsource).

[1] http://i.imgur.com/i1oBM2t.png

I've had some success with that approach and am considering adopting it as my "goto" approach (over my current approach, Trello, for which I just stare at all the cards on the board and panic at how much I have to do).

When a deadline is coming up, I take a 10 minute "organization break" and list the actual, concrete steps that need to be mechanically performed in order to complete the task. I think the problem is that my mind tends to get hung up on abstract task descriptions and I start overanalyzing. For instance, "Design welcome page" will turn into a wasted day of messing around with colors, fonts, and layout positioning. On the other hand, "Add X, Y, Z to prototype welcome page" is a much more concrete task and it defines completion so that I can move on to the next task on the list.

(Btw, you could turn your nested-robotic-link-list into a quick webapp that I bet would get a decent number of users.)

That's great - mind sharing the other tabs as well? :)

I sit in a cubicle and I update bank software. I'd say in a given week I probably only do about fifteen minutes of real, actual, work.

I would go crazy in less than 6 weeks. Simply for the fact that I have to be present, but with nothing to do.

I had a job like that for a while and would work on project Euler problems just to pass the time. It was maddening.

I've been an employee for like 20% of my career and a the rest I've been a freelancer.

I never worked more than 4 hours (of real work a day). There's the occasional super productive day where I have done over 8 hours of productive work, but that's the exception, not the rule.

I usually work around 3-4 hours of productive work daily. Heck I'd even say 20%-30% of that time is not even productive (meetings, emails and necessary yet unproductive things).

When I worked for companies doing 9 to 5, I wasted a looot of time doing nothing: reddit, fb, and stuff. I also recognize that I need that distraction to do some real productive work.

I'm very fast and productive when it comes to actual work, but if I don't get the procrastination time then I just become a blurry mess of a brain and take 10 times longer to do the same things.

I think procrastination time is also important and necessary.

I just completed a course on Coursera (Learning How to Learn - https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn/). One of things mentioned is that our brain has a focused and diffused mode and both are needed for us to learn.

So, I guess, something similar happens when we are working. You need both focus time but also a down time to achieve things. Of course, too much procrastination is also not a good thing.

How do you bill? Are you project based? Are you only billing 4 hours a day?


60% or more :(

But there are SOME DAYS that I work 150%! ("in the flow")

So how to achieve flow consistently?

One of the few things that works for me is to get started working first thing in the morning: no news, no HN, until 10am, etc. When I can do this, I know I'll have a productive day.

Does this cause a productive mental state, or is it merely a symptom of it? I suspect it's causal (based off what I know of brain chemistry), but I could definitely be wrong on that part. Like, "get assigned bullshit work, can't focus on it because it's bullshit, end up on HN" is definitely also a plausible story to me.

Pre-, during, or post-burnout?

the real question

I'd like to see where people are from if they're replying to this thread. I wonder how cultural norms affect effectiveness (do Americans work less at work because of the work-oriented culture which requires them to stay at work longer for no reason?)

I work in the USA and i would say I'm about 30-40% productive, maybe less. My productivity is strongly related to the density of meetings throughout the day: My productivity killers are relatively short gaps between meetings (<45m) during which i am completely unable to focus because of the anticipation that i will soon be completely distracted. So if I have three 1hr meetings with 45minutes gaps between them, my daily productivity plummets to nearly 0. Open office plan also doesn't help with staying focused.

> do Americans work less at work because of the work-oriented culture which requires them to stay at work longer for no reason?

I don't think US workplace culture is extreme in that regard. I usually look at East Asian work culture when it comes truly weird workplace norms and traditions.

My family lived in Japan for a short period, and my father told me that he and his colleagues had to wait for their boss to leave every night before they could leave work. Now that's extreme.

(Throwaway for honesty)

Significantly less now that I work remotely, on my own schedule, and at a reasonable company. I get 6+ hours a day of real work in, usually more, but try not to overdo it. (For awhile I was becoming a bit workaholic without the boundary between work and not-work, spending 10+ hours at it.) I take breaks and do spend a little time on HN or Stack Exchange to clear my head, but I don't do Reddit, webcomics, facebook, or any random sites during work. That's my relax after work stuff, done on a different PC. So in terms of productivity, I'd say around 75-85% work, 15-25% slack most days.

I previously worked an 8:30-5:30 where management measured productivity by the butts-in-seats metric, scheduled a lot of meetings, and was quite anal about punctuality. I was lucky to get 4 hours of serious work in most days (between all the interruptions, bureaucratic stuff, and having to work based on my manager's sleep schedule). Sometimes I ended up doing more work at home at night than I did while 'at work'. Maybe 50% productivity, often less.

Before that I worked at a 9-5 where we had to record our time per task so specifically that we even had a task to enter the time spent filling out the timesheet. I could have done better there about focusing on solving problems and improving business if I wasn't constantly distracted by the clock ticking and all the estimating and meetings about estimates and deadlines and timesheets. Maybe 50% productivity.

Hm. Given an average week, probably on average 35% of my day is not working. Average being a reasonably interesting bug and/or project to sink my teeth into. Somedays I'll work 10 hours. Others I'll work 4 to 6.

Unlike most people, if I finish my work in 5 hours, I go home. If I'm not going to be working, I'd rather not be working at home. I've never had any complaints about work quality or throughput. I have had one complaint about not being seen in the office.

[edit] clarified the 35% bucket

How do you assess "finished my work"? Unless you are working on tickets that might stop coming in is really hard to be "out of work", specially in projects.

I ask this because I see a lot of people saying the same but there's always more work to do, being testing something that should be working, fixing bugs, refactoring that old piece of junk you left behind due to times constraints, etc.

For me, it starts during sprint planning. I know what work is going into the sprint, and what work is being assigned to me (we don't run sprints in the natural way of grabbing the next card that's free. I disagree with it, but it is what it is). So I plan out what I need to do on a day-to-day basis to finish that amount of work. For a normal sprint (i.e executing on plans and agreed upon designs) I try to plan the day to be ~6 hours of coding work a day. Sometimes my estimates are long and I finish in 4 or 5 hours. Could I start on the next card? Absolutely. And if I finish all my work early, I'll pull something from the backlog.

But in general, I find it more sustainable to just go home after I finish in 5 hours because I know there are going to be times that I work 10 or 12 hours (or a Saturday). Also, for me, depending on the next card, it might take an hour or so to get going at the end of a day. So I'm now at 7 to 8 hours which is when I normally leave. Was that hour or two wasted? No. I retain the knowledge till the next day. But again for me, I've found that coming in and starting a new task fresh reduces that one or two hours to less and gives me a singular focus for the day.

If I finish in 2 or 3 hours, I always move on to the next task. That would be silly to go home after 2 hours (most days).

I adapt this style for wherever I work. It has worked for me at start ups as well as BigCo.

[Update] For the side things (refactoring messy code, flakey tests, automating a tedious process, etc.) - I create cards/tasks for them and get them into the sprint.

I know this makes me sound like a "terrible" employee. But it allows me to give my best on a more sustainable basis. And if it is something that truly needs to be done in a month, I'll work those 10 or 12 hour 7 day work weeks...

How do your coworkers feel about you only being a few hours at the office?

They probably make snide remarks because they don't understand that someone executing according to plan, consistently over several years and projects, working 5 hours per day, is more valuable than someone working 8 hours in a less organized manner and sometimes missing deadlines.

It sounds like you're only allocated to one project at a time, correct?

In many big corps it's common to be on four or five projects at any one time. Finishing one discrete piece of work is only a signal for the next project manager to appear at my desk and demand that I get working on his piece of work.

And I can see his perspective, he doesn't particularly care if i was super-productive that day on Project-A when he's managing Project-B and there are still hours left in the working day.

I have recently gone freelance/self-employed and I have quickly missed the reality of being able to not have to question if I'm actually getting work done every minute of the day. The truth is, I can't do brain-intensive work for more than maybe 5 or 6 hours.

I worked for myself for about a decade (web dev) and always considered getting 6 billable hours in a good day.

as much as keeping the pipe full and working for organizations that...have such internal problems they have to hire contractors does kinda suck.

working when you feel like you can contribute, billing exactly those hours, and filling the rest of your time with activities of your choice feels very honest and liberating.

if i feel like i can't get things done because of the environment then i don't work, and i don't bill. if i finish a job and they have no more work for me then i say, thanks, keep me in mind, let me know if you have any problems.

not really a capitalist, but the transactional nature removes all the festering emotional complications. and you can be a lot more straightforward about where things are broken.

I have a follow up question: For the time that you spend "not working" would you prefer to "work"?

For me the answer is "absolutely!!!". Reading through some of the responses, it really seems that people are mixed. Either their "non-working" time is spent with side projects/training or they have become demotivated by problems with the work flow on their team.

For me the latter is by far the biggest problem. I was just thinking the other day that, as programmers, we need a kind of statement that indicates what we expect from the organisations we are in.

To be honest, I really want to work instead of write stuff on HN, so I'll leave this as an exercise to the interested. As an example, I think it is reasonable to expect to be able to spend whole days writing code (which means that someone else has to go to the meetings, and someone else has to clarify requirements, and someone else has to prioritise). There should be some clear resolution of differences of opinion (whether that be in technical direction, or whatever) -- a programmer shouldn't have to spend time arguing. A programmer should expect to have spaces both for interacting with groups of people and for quiet contemplation. I sure there are other (and better) ideas, but that's what I have off the cuff.

I got sick of feeling like I am wasting my life away at work not working, so I submitted my resignation. Time to get on doing my own things so I don't feel I'm wasting my little yet precious time alive. After a few meetings, I am not quitting yet. I have been re-classed from salary to hourly and I will be able to have fewer and more flexible "hours" so that I can get out and do my own thing and side projects (which require business hour meetings/calls/etc).

Reading this thread has made me feel a whole lot better about myself. Been struggling with burnout and have been working on side projects a good 50% of the time while I overestimate projects to give me larger buffers. I just don't give a fuck anymore. I thought I was alone.

(Yes, I know it's wrong and I want to be more productive, but I hate the work I do and I hate the culture here. So I want to start my own thing.)

Developer here. Going by my time Rescuetime logs, 62.5% of my time is spent outside of the IDE or any other work related application. I do not enjoy this work and spend a lot of time walking around/thinking about the problem/surfing non work sites.

Thinking about the problem is working.

I spent 60-70% of my time not working because even though I'm working with interesting technology, it's stuff that won't get used by almost anyway, my peers don't seem interested, my manager is absent and the requirements are all over the place (symptom of nobody caring, whatever is done is okay as long as it impresses, for some random definition of "impresses)...

... so it needs to be done to check an item in a list but nobody cares. If nobody cares, I don't care either, which makes me think I'm wasting my time, which leads to depression, feeling burnt out, procrastinating even more, etc.

Unfortunately I'm paid hourly and remotely, so while getting settled, checking an email or two, getting coffee, etc are all things I would do as part of a normal workday, I don't tend to log those hours or get paid for any of it

I spend around 90% of my time at work doing real work. There are often days where that number is nearly 100%. At past jobs that number was closer to 50-60%, but I've moved into a lead role (Marketing Director) where slacking means getting buried. I don't mind it one bit, either. I'm helping to steer the company and that's very rewarding, even if it is a lot of work.

I record my time pretty religiously. 5 hours seems to be a standard "working day" of actually solid in the flow (face buried in a screen) work, assuming I'm sat at a desk for 7/8.

That said, if I'm rolling and happy it can be way more, if I'm tired/struggling to hit the flow/not creative - way less. I can get an awful lot done in a day (or few days) if I push, but doing that long term becomes counter productive.

On a regular day, I'll also get a bunch of smaller 'work' done, but it's mostly the admin-y stuff. Sales, email, help, calls, networking. Sometimes that can be my whole day - I suppose it depends how important those things are at the time (sales!) as to how much they're considered 'work'.

Edit: Just to add, decent headphones are a godsend.

In all honesty, I try to stay full throttle at work.

Important breaks I do take: Coffee walk (unfortunately on some busy days I simply can't make it out), Quick chats with the team, and Pomodoro-timed walks to stretch/ease the mind.

I usually eat lunch at my desk, which annoys me, because I always want to socialize and be better at that. I don't find it easy to do this since the days are so busy.

I'm a product manager, so I spend much of my days in meetings that are a mix of working sessions, scoping exercises, communications with external clients, and team-focused meetings.

On the days I don't have any meetings (they do exist), I zone out and get some work done. Lately I've been focusing on the DevOps for our team.

It really depends on the day. Sometimes I've got basically nothing to do whereas other times I'm overloaded and there basically isn't a moment I'm not. It's hard to figure an average.

Working from home. Last month I tracked 270h on my Mac workstation: 190 hours (70%) were productive, 24h (9%) neutral tools, and 56h (21%) distracting (mostly chats with friends).

I also spend 1-2 hours a day on my "leisure laptop" (for example reading HN from there but also some useful RSS feeds). So it feels like 65% would be a correct productivity score.

Tracked with https://qotoqot.com/qbserve/ of course, most of the productive time was spent on its development and marketing. :]

Also use that app. But because of single machine for job and everything else my stats is around 45-50% productive, another ~10% neutral.

Busy day = only when I go to the toilet

Quiet day = maybe half my time

Most of my days are busy; if I'm not busy with my main work then I'll be busy making the more mundane aspects of my job disappear into the background.

edit: formatting

It depends on how talkative my coworkers are that day.

Probably 25% on the average day. Occasionally 0%. There are entire days that I'll spend working on nothing but side projects, but our company is getting big so no one notices or cares. Sometimes I work from home just so I don't have to do anything other than be around for a couple meetings.

The bigger we get the more lawyers and compliance people we ad, and the less noticeable it is that I'm not doing shit.

I find this brutal honestly hilarious

I use RescueTime. Productive time is about 90% each month.

The reality is that 100% of my time, if meetings are included, is productive (excluding minimal breaks).

I feel sorry for the people trying to run businesses with all of these employees not working.

I'm a QA engineer. The most experienced QA engineer on a 3-person team (the other two have either more experience with testing but less with development, or vice-versa). I have waaaaay too much to do to get away with not working.

I do empathise with those for whom maintaining a high level of productivity is impossible because of how demanding their work is. I'm fortunate that I have so many different tasks to perform that if I don't have the energy to concentrate on something demanding, I can switch to something fairly basic.

I'm also fortunate in that, for me, problem solving activities are almost always energising. So if I feel like I'm getting burnt out I can dive into one of the tricky but non-urgent problems I hadn't got around to yet.

I consider myself rather productive compared to most devs I've worked with. On a good day, I spend 75% of my day "working". On a normal day, it's closer to 50/50. I'm a tech manager, though, so the "good" days are when I'm really busy all day long, and the "normal" days are when I spend most of my time coding. Like others have said, it's really difficult to do more than 4 hours of solid coding in a day, particularly if you're interrupted frequently like I am.

That said, I don't necessarily care that much about the hours my employees work, so long as they meet the deadlines and are reasonably productive. I have a good idea of how long a task takes, so if they take too much longer than that, we'll have a chat. Otherwise, I just want to make sure they're happy and not burnt out and staying as productive as possible.

Do you count meetings as "work", or as "not work"? (I don't spend much times in meetings at my current job, thankfully, so it doesn't change the question for me.)

Honestly, my best guess is 50%, or close. I still get my work done as fast as everyone else, though. No complaints on performance reviews.

Eh, let's assume that it's work in that you're not able to just freely browse HN or work on a side project. What would your % be then?

Definitely depends on the day.. some days I'm working the entire shift, other days I get paid to just sit here and work on my side projects. I work for for a project-based department and with that comes deadlines that could mean I have to be done within 3-6 hours which can be stressful.

While our company goes with the rest of the world, I wish the company would consider 10 hour days 4 days a week, with half the department working in the earlier part of the week, and the other half working the later half of the week instead of all of us working the traditional 8 hour days 5 days a week.

So I make the best of it and enjoy those days where I do mostly nothing the entire time. But I'm never not doing anything.. I build web apps and run a popular website, so I'm always kept busy.

I recently started my first full time job associated with my career. I'd say I spend between 65-80% either doing my work or something related to it such as training or reading documentation (which take up about 20% of my time at the moment).

According to RescueTime, I spend around 83% of my screen time on "productive" things. My total screen time averages about 25 hours / week, whereas my at-work time is roughly closer to double that. I'd say that 67% of my off-screen at-work time is "productive" meetings and the other third is things like lunch, walks, etc.

Putting this all together, I spend 37.5 hours / week productively and 12.5 hours / week at work slacking off (or doing human things like eating and pooping). So call it 75% productive time.

I generally enjoy my job. I've counted writing this post / assembling this data as "not productive" time.

It is an interesting question which, in my opinion, hinges entirely on a fairly puritanical notion of 'work.'

One of my 'problems' is that I can't "not work" in the sense of a laborer who is no longer building widgets. As a person who is asked to solve complex problems with a high degree of dimensionality inside of an arbitrarily constrained solution space, much of the 'work' I do consists of turning the problem over and over in my head while I explore the solution space.

A good example of this was an early review I got at Intel by my manager (a really solid EE type guy). He added some criticism of my time management (considered a 'ding' in the vernacular) for a embedded compiler/assembler/driver thing I wrote as part of the evaluation of a graphics processor. He said I had 'sand bagged' the time estimate.

When I asked him to describe that a bit more he explained that I had told him it would take 6 months to do, and it was 2 weeks late, and I had spent 5 months "goofing off and not working" and then about 6 weeks doing the work. So my estimate should really have been '8 weeks' and if I had started on time it would have been done two weeks earlier than that.

I thought about that for a long time. And explained to him the for five months I had no idea what the best way to write the software was, and in that five months I had learned about 8 different technologies that all came together into the final solution. I had to learn how to write device drivers in Xenix, how to map I/O space memory into the kernel, design a language which was human understandable and could be compiled into the odd little RISC instruction set of the Graphics chip. And until I had figured out all of that precursor information, I didn't have a clue how it would be written, but then after figuring out that information actually writing the code was fairly mechanical.

In this one case the problem was that hardware has so many great milestones you can call out, parts captured, schematics done, netlists verified, layout started, design rule verification, first films, films checked, first boards, boards checked, first assembly. Bringup in stages 1, 2, and 3 etc. All along the way there are pleasant milestones to say "this is done" now on to the next thing.

But software is never like that for building something that nobody has ever built before. And it is even rarely like that when you have the same software but you are building it on a different system. The linkages, the entanglement between the system and the software (and now the network and the services) makes each new implementation its own special snowflake, with its own kinds of problems.

Have you ever woken up and "knew" the solution to a tricky software issue? Or had an idea for a change to an existing system that might make it better? That happens to me all the time when I'm designing stuff. And a case could be made that I'm working even when I'm asleep! Not because I'm sitting there typing in lines of code but because I'm going through the solution space, somewhere in my subconscious, looking for clues to places that hold better answers than the answer that is currently checked into the git repository.

As a result I tend to measure my own productivity by 'solutions over unit time' versus 'hours typing into employer owned equipment'. It still bites me from time to time when a supervisor needs a constant stream of 'still flying' type status messages to feel comfortable.

Interesting. So despite the apparent success, your manager put on paper that you were "goofing off and not working"? Did he mention that verbally one or two times beforehand? How did you react?

Once things hit paper, I generally start interviewing. Not sure whether that was right. But looking back over my career, I usually should have left earlier rather than later in those cases.

It was verbal vs on paper. What was in the review was that I needed to improve my time management. And oddly enough I left for Sun Microsystems not to long after that, but not strictly because of the review, rather it was that I preferred a work culture that understood what programmers did in addition to understanding what EEs did.

And for what its worth, I took it to mean that I wasn't communicating how I was spending my time well enough and suggested ways that would work for both of us. I expect that had I stayed at Intel it would have been fine.

I've a hard time communicating what I'm doing in that "research" phase.

During standups, most people are reporting concrete tasks that got done and I feel a bit embarrassed to say I spent the whole day trying something out that's remotely related to the final product but was interesting for the ideas.

It's stressful to have to report those things, I feel like I have to justify them, what's my train of thought, etc, and a 1-minute update has to turn into an essay. Not really sure how to improve on that.

During your time at Intel did you have to report on your work quite frequently?

Intel was my first exposure to "management by objective" and "key results". And yes, there were weekly reviews of your progress. Every quarter, a set of objectives and under each objective key results, and then weekly you reported on how you were doing with respect to those.

I think the key to your stress is either that you aren't clear in your head what you're trying to figure out, or your trying to figure out things that aren't actually relevant. In my life what I have done is to do get very very disciplined about what I'm to understand and how that will relate to the final goal. Not surprisingly that is different as a manager than it is as an individual contributor.

If I were your manager, and you came to me with this (and I would hope your relationship with your manager is good enough that you could talk to them about it) I would start with three questions;

1) What parts of your assignment are you completely confident you can build/write?

2) What parts are you unsure of how to build?

3) What things that you are unsure about are between you and building the things you know you can build?

Perhaps you can imagine how the conversation goes after you answer those questions. But lets say for this hypothetical that you were unsure if you could build a database fast enough to respond in time to meet the response requirements of the product.

At that point we'd talk about what steps you could take to understand what sort of performance to expect out of a database, what variables had the biggest impact on that performance, and which databases were designed to be fast. And you and I would agree that you would spend this sprint perhaps developing your understanding of database performance. So at the stand up I'd expect you summarize and article you read, a set of benchmarks you set up, a set of test tables you created in the existing system, or maybe the top 5 blogs/books/videos you've found on analyzing database performance. At the retro I'd want to know what sources gave you the most information for the time invested, what were the time wasters, if you were more or less confident about the database choice and its performance and maybe how you had, or would, quantify your understanding with something objective.

From your perspective you would probably have spent the time 'surfing the web' to find out various sources of information or perhaps prototyping some things on AWS or on a local server.

If instead you came back and said, "I really don't know anything more about databases yet but I learned Rust, and got stuff running in the new Angular release and updated my server to the latest Ubuntu and read a book on containers. Then we're going to have a different talk :-)

That's really very useful, thanks a lot.

Depends what you mean by work? I'm reading an article on Async with C#, that's not coding but is work.

I watch some videos on latest tech, thats work too....

Only thing that matters is if have I completed tasks in my sprint or are there any critical issues

Reasonably ~5 hours of coding, maybe sometimes less on days with a lot of meetings.

Rest of time on HN, reading, or admin type stuff (planning, ticket & branch management), and of course meetings

I have my days where literally ZERO gets done. On days like that, if I can put together a PR with two lines of code, it's a win.

However, most days, probably 4.5 out of 5 on average, I am super productive, taking very few breaks aside from lunch.

In a typical day I probably get 5-6 hours of solid work done. But there is a downside too.

In order to achieve this, I sometimes skip meetings and ignore requests from other people.

I am considered a high performer and seem to be an anomaly to most people.

99% of my 5 hour day. Because I discovered I can't usually stay in flow mode for more than 5 hours, so I get in the office around 12pm and leave around 5.30pm

So that's your working time?

Yes. When I sit at the desk I start working and time tracking and I don't slack off till I leave, except maybe to browse some music on Spotify to keep me concentrated.

When I was spending 9 hours/day as an employee, I'd be slacking off a cumulative 2/3 hours every day.

Does depend on what you call "working". I deem the time I spent on tech sites like HN as working. So does my boss. He similarly considers the time I spend at the odd tech conference working. There are good reasons for this - I drive change around here, and most of that change originates from exposure to ideas from those sources.

If you could that (and I do), I'd say at least 75% of my time is spent working.

Depends how you want to define work.

I think of stuff that is beneficial to the company in one way or another like 95% of the time.

Re structuring thoughts, digesting ideas.... talking to others to understand how they think.

But if someone that did not know me came and looked at what i did during work hours and did not get to ask questions to me. I would assume they would think that i only worked 20-25% of the time.

Things are not always what they seem.

I'm surprised by the responses here. I didn't think it was as prevalent as comments suggest. At the beginning of my career it was probably around 50%, though after spending two years at a consulting company, it's dropped to 5-10% maximum. I find that reducing interruption and having music going keeps me engaged.

Days at the office mean meetings and socializing. Its not really working but hey I get paid.

Working from home is getting things done.

90%, not including lunch.

The other 10% is making tea and drinking some, usually looking out the window or chatting with someone.

These days less than 10%. I take lunch and a coffee break or two though.

I used to read reddit and hn to saturation on many days before getting into consulting; these days, i hardly read anything until before or after my core hours, not because i can't but because there is more interesting work to do

At least 90%. If I'm at work and not working, I'm usually working on one of my own projects.

Not counting lunch break, I'd say I probably spend ~90-95% working.

When I worked for other companies I would say I worked around 70% of the time I was "working". When working for myself I think I am putting 60-80 hours of real work in a week.

I only spend around 5-15% of my time at work, not working.

Work in my context is time spent on things I planned to do and want to do, including the small breaks I take to recharge and socialize.

I believe I'm productive for about 70% of the time. I'm most distracted when I'm swiching to other project. I need to re-focus again.

100% of the time, because I do what I love.

My number are all over the place but according to WakaTime about 152 hours last month was spent in the IDE.

aderall keeps me going anyways. probably 2-4 hours depending on the day.

0%. I work as a upwork freelancer. More precisely by hourly rate and upwork desktop app takes screenshots at random times, so i can't really browse HN and other sites. But I will tell you honestly, i don't want to go back to normal work. I get shit done( there is also that "gambler" feeling, when you see how much money you earn each week ) and in good quality( I get reviews from my clients, so i can't code bad either ).

So yeah, a hour paid is a hour worked.

If I have to go to the office: maybe 2 hours a day of actual productive work.

If I work from home: usually 4-6 hours of productive work.

Going to the office adds up to a ten-hour day, with the commute. Working from home is usually a 6-7 hour day, and I get to stay in my pajamas, take the dog for a walk, take a break to do some housework, and be in a comfortable environment.

I don't work from home enough anymore.

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