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Interesting.  I'm not sure.  How much I actually get done depends on the demands on my desk.  I always feel like I do less at home, but when I stop to think about it - I do as much or more.

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i've heard some studies say we do as little as 3 hours of work per day in an office job environment. i think that's a little low, but i would be surprised if i do more than five, maybe five and a half hours' work in an eight hour day. i certainly notice my concentration going down at about that point.

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It depends very much on the nature of the job I’m doing, and even more on whether I think it’s interesting or not. If it’s interesting I will forget to eat, drink, or pee for hours and hours at a stretch.

If I’m working with my hands I remember to take breaks a bit better, say after only three hours, because my hands start to ache, but I still lose my sense of time.

If I’m bored I will dedicate no fucks to the task, and will fidget and stare into space and finish it whenever. 

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Back at my last job (which was a decent one, although somewhat entry level), we were expected to be working pretty much 100% of the time except for a 30min unpaid lunch (most people ate at their desks in their cubicles) and I think we got one or two 15-20min breaks. I would guess I could have gotten away with being "off task" maybe 5-10 minutes total in a day every once in awhile but it was pretty strictly monitored and they could tell when you weren't either on the phone or doing claims work in the computer system. And when you took a break or lunch or whatever, you had to instant message your supervisor that you would be "offline" for your scheduled break/lunch/whatever and then they would see you come back online later so I don't think we had to message when we "returned". Obviously supervisors and managers had more "freedom" but they usually looked like they were working harder and longer hours than we were.

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It's really hard to tell.  Back when things were "normal" (pre-March 2020) I would typically get to the office at 07h30, have a 30 min lunch break and leave at 16h00.  I work for a university and depending on where we are in the annual academic calendar, I could be head down, skipping lunch and slogging through til after 16h00.  In easier periods it would probably add up to about 6.5 to 7 hours out of 8 - that's a random guess though, as I am trying to factor in conversations with colleagues and that kind of thing.

My country has been in lockdown since March last year, and as it is possible for me to work entirely from home, that's where I've been since.  My working hours here have radically changed, and not for the better. 

Since my workspace is now my kitchen table, and I no longer have to worry about rush hour traffic, my days start at 7am.  I sit down and deal with emails, have a shower and get dressed at 8am, then continue through to 12 when I usually pop out for groceries or a quick break.  My days end whenever... there is this expectation that because people know I am at home, they can contact me whenever they like, which delays things I'm trying to prioritise and my working day can easily drag on to after 6pm.  It is also now very rare for me not to spend at least one day a weekend working. So out of an "8 hour" day I am spending 10+ hours at the computer (that includes online meetings).  My pdoc keeps telling me that I'm heading for a breakdown, but I don't know what else to do.  I feel beholden to the fact that I am lucky enough to have a job which is safe, in a period in which many have lost theirs.

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Before I retired, I had a regular 8 to 4:30 job with a half-hour lunch break expected. As a rule, I would be at my desk for 12 to 14 hours on average, and always ate lunch at my desk while I worked. There was seldom time not to be working on some aspect of something because out agency had been instructed to “do more with less” until we were trying to “do anything from nothing”. There were times when I would end up getting caught up in Internet eddies (like here) but never to the extent of watching cat videos on YouTube - there just wasn’t time. So, yeah, 8 at least.

 It nearly killed me, of course.

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So it seems that the answer might be that there isn't a standard answer and it varies a lot.  Which I guess I should have expected.  But it's good to hear the variation. 

Maybe tdoc is right and my expectations are unrealistic. 

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i'm assuming that you're expecting yourself to do more work than what might be reasonable?

i had this problem chronically during my degree, and i worked with my pdoc at the time constantly on it. his advice for me was that the human attention span is quite limited and doesn't tend to last more than an hour or so before a break is required. the schedule we worked out together was 45-60 minutes on task, then a ten-fifteen minute break in which i was required to walk around, eat a small snack or drink water, and if possible, talk to a roommate briefly (isolating was a big problem for me at the time). then after a few of these blocks, i had to take a big break, like half an hour at least, and do something fun/relaxing (also hard for me at the time).

take this with a grain of salt, because i was a student, not an employee, and i needed strict guidelines like this to prevent me from barreling into the breakdown i was aiming myself at.

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I would say working from home I work the full time and eat at the computer. But I avoid unpaid overtime—and since I don’t get paid for it, that’s any OT. Also I’m on deadlines so don’t have much opportunity to not work. 

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On 1/18/2021 at 8:49 PM, echolocation said:

i've heard some studies say we do as little as 3 hours of work per day in an office job environment. i think that's a little low, but i would be surprised if i do more than five, maybe five and a half hours' work in an eight hour day. i certainly notice my concentration going down at about that point.

Interesting. The three hour average honestly sounds about right for me, admittedly. I often want to be more productive, but it's a lot easier said than done unfortunately. I thought it was just me. I work from home and set my own schedule since I'm self employed, which makes it even harder to avoid procrastinating unfortunately.

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@Steve223 i worked a job where it was more like three hours (or less) as well. here's a link to a decent article that talks about the study i was thinking of. https://ourcommunitynow.com/lifestyle/in-an-8-hour-day-the-average-worker-is-productive-for-this-many-hours 

tl;dr a 2018 study of 2000 office workers suggests that people actually work for about three hours in an eight hour workday. the study isn't really scientific (basically just a poll by UK website vouchercloud), so take it as you will. the article links to some more robust research around office work productivity.

the responses to this thread suggest that there are definitely factors that force you to be more productive (whether you are monitored, what the tone from your superiors is, the flexibility of your hours, etc).

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