Wasting time is an art form. Unfortunately, my generation lags behind both in hours frittered away and general creativity in dodging actual work.
This will surprise my dad, who often praised me - perhaps "praise" is too strong a word for the tone of his comments - on my ability to disappear at the merest hint of labor.
Yet there it is. In a survey conducted by America Online and Salary.com, the average worker admits to unauthorized activities for 2.09 hours of every eight-hour work day, not including lunch and scheduled breaks.
But my gang, people born between 1950 and 1959, manage to waste only 0.68 hours a day.
Meanwhile, human resources managers calculate that employees - not being machines - will waste 0.94 hours a day. They just underestimated the average worker's stamina for lethargy.
But my age group worked right through the time the company expected us to goof off. No wonder I'm tired.
It's the group born after 1980 who have the skill set to run the numbers up to two hours.
Well, I am confident that with concentrated effort and sticktoitivness, we workers "of a certain age" will accomplish a comeback and NOT work our fair share of the day for corporate America. It's only right.
How do we do that? Let's look at the survey's top 10 time-wasting activities for hints:
Surfing Internet for personal use, 44.7 percent of total time wasted;
Socializing with co-workers, 23.4 percent;
Conducting personal business, 6.8 percent;
Spacing out, 3.9 percent;
Running errands off-premises, 3.1 percent;
Personal phone calls, 2.3 percent;
Applying for other jobs, 1.3 percent;
Planning personal events, 1.0 percent;
Arriving late / leaving early, 1.0 percent;
Other, 12.5 percent.
This is why my group is so deficient in shirking our duties - fewer options. We had neither cell phones nor the Internet. I do remember getting carried away sometimes with the dinosaur races in the parking lot at lunchtime, and the shadow on the sundial grew a little long before we clomped back to our stone tablets and chisels. But other than that, there just weren't that many ways to waste time.
(By the way, you may think a triceratops, as stubby as he looks, would be a little slow up against your average brontosaurus. You'd be surprised. Wasting time back then was educational.)
I calculate that the main reason we "of a certain age" aren't that great at wasting time is we have less to waste. Face it, we're in the third quarter, possibly the fourth, of our careers and if we're ever going to get that Humphrey account finished or the Johnston report off our desks, we better get cracking.
Once I clear my desk, though, I'm grabbing my surf board and heading to the Internet to find out what "other" means in wasting time. Would that be shooting rubber bands at co-workers, or does that fall under "socializing"?
Perhaps I better lean back and contemplate this for a while. As research. For work. Because the kids are too far ahead in not working.
--- Wake Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.