We Weary Slackers

We all know that just because we're at work doesn't mean we're actually working. And it turns out we're slacking off even more than our bosses realize, according to a recent survey by Salary.com and America Online.

Human resources officers guessed that workers wasted about an hour a day; workers reported being off-task twice that.

The top time waster? Surfing the Internet, with 44.7 percent of those surveyed reporting that they spend time in the office reading Web sites not related to work. About 23 percent wasted time by socializing with co-workers. Nearly 4 percent reported "spacing out" completely.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, said Deborah Brown-Volkman, a career coach in East Moriches, N.Y. "People are tired," she said. "They're coming in earlier and staying later."

She said her clients often ask for help in becoming more productive, even as they have crammed activity into every minute. She tells them they need more breaks, not fewer.

"Workers are not machines," she said. "But even a machine gets taken down part of the day to be oiled and put back on track."

-- Mary Ellen Slayter