13+ Alarming Time Management Statistics
Updated · May 20, 2023
The average human lifespan in the developed world is about 79 years. That means you’ll spend 28,835 days on Earth, or approximately 692,040 hours.
It sounds like a lot, but it isn’t—especially when you consider that you’ll use up a third of that time sleeping. Worse yet, failing to organize your tasks and activities well can lead to a waste of several hours a day.
Today, we’ve collected a bunch of startling time management statistics that are sure to stir you up. It doesn’t matter if you’re a kid at school or an adult at work—we all misspend our time but rarely even think about it.
This is the perfect chance to change that!
Time Management Statistics for 2022 (Editor’s Choice)
- 41% of the stress people experience is due to unduly workloads
- We spend 80% of the workday on tasks of little value.
- 87% of students believe better time management would get them better grades.
- 82% of people don’t manage their time successfully.
- Ten minutes of planning a day can reduce wasted time by up to two hours.
- About 70% of people track their most-important tasks on a to-do list.
- Only 5% of people use to-do lists for non-crucial tasks.
Time-Tested Facts About Time Management
We don’t fully understand the concept of time.
We do, however, understand the concept of time management well. The flow of time is convoluted, but the organization of our time during the day needn’t be.
Alas, most people fail to put it in order.
Let’s see why.
1. Our free-time lifespan is only 17.5 years.
(Source: A Life of Productivity)
There are plenty of statistics about time and, specifically, about how we spend it.
However, here’s one way of looking at our lifespans that you may not have thought of—by subtracting all obligatory tasks from the equation.
Sleep is one of them. Work is another. Household chores, cooking, eating, and even going to the restroom—all take time.
In the end, you’re left with less than three hours of free time a day. In other words, about 17.5 years in total.
2. 20% of adults are chronic procrastinators.
(Source: American Psychological Association)
Procrastination statistics indicate that continuously postponing tasks has become something of a societal norm. Go on any social media, and you’ll see plenty of people joking around, making TikTok videos with the explicit purpose of informing the world that they’re dallying at that very moment.
Psychologists aren’t as jovial about it—they say that nearly 20% of adults suffer from chronic procrastination. Back in the 1970s, only 5% did.
Fun fact: About 25% of the population has turned the otherwise unkind epithet of “procrastinator” into a personality trait. Little wonder it’s trending on social media, then.
3. 70% of people use to-do lists for essential tasks.
Poor time management in the workplace is among the most significant problems plaguing both businesses and workers.
While the most blatant con from employers’ point of view is that if their employees aren’t efficient, they’re losing money—but that’s just one side of the coin.
For an employee, poor time management isn’t great, either. It can lead you to feel overwhelmed because you’re at a loss of when to do what, not to mention that it makes it harder to do your best and rise up the corporate ladder.
As a feeble attempt to counteract how much time is wasted at work, 70% of workers use to-do lists, though they only do so for their have-to-do tasks. In other words, anything that’s not unquestionably vital gets overlooked.
The remaining 30%, we won’t even discuss.
4. Only 5% of people write their bucket list.
If you thought struggling with time management was a phenomenon mostly confined to the workplace, think again.
It’s not even that bad there—seeing as, you know, you kind of have to do your job at least half-decently to get paid.
When it comes to non-work-related and non-essential tasks (aka the things that you simply want to do), 95% of people don’t even bother about keeping track of those.
5. 73% of to-do list keepers report they have a calming effect.
There are many styles of time management, though the most popular one by far is the simple to-do list. Even if most people only use it when they must.
Regardless, 73% of those who keep to-do lists claim that one of the main reasons they do so is because they see them as a stress management tool.
This has its scientific explanation—we humans are highly visual creatures. It’s only natural then that being able to see all of our tasks on a piece of paper (or a screen) in front of us makes it much easier to tackle our responsibilities for the day.
6. 20% of men believe their brains are the best to-do list.
As with any other thing, improving your time management skills requires that you first recognize the need for improvement.
It appears that men are less likely to do so—20% believe they don’t need a to-do list, saying that they can take care of everything in their heads. For comparison, only 9% of women share this view.
Furthermore, there’s a difference between how men and women go about to-do lists. Men tend to see lists as a way to keep personal goals (37%) and professional aspirations (32%) in check.
Women, on the other hand, use them to keep track of the most important (85%) and least enjoyable (56%) tasks so they can tackle those first.
The Importance of Time Management in Business
Your boss probably doesn’t care much about how you spend your free time. However, they most certainly do mind if you’re wasting precious minutes (let alone hours) in the workplace.
Time management statistics often overlook working adults entirely—naively assuming that grown-ups surely know how to manage their time—and choose instead to focus on college-goers’ lack of discipline.
Well, not us.
Here are some stats that are sure to make your boss sigh with disappointment.
7. People in the US spend 1,767 hours a year working.
There are countries known for their rigid work cultures, such as Japan and South Korea—and people there do work a lot.
Although, you may be happy—or unhappy, depending on your point of view—to learn that statistics on time spent at work rank the US quite high, too.
People in the US are among the most workaholics people in the world, spending an average of 1,767 hours in the office every year. That’s about 35 hours a week!
Still, Mexicans come in the first place, at 2,124 hours yearly. European countries, on the other hand, mostly hover under 1,500 hours per year (or less than 30 hours per week).
8. Meetings fill up 31 work hours each month.
Time management stats point out that one of the most time-consuming activities at work are meetings.
Alright, you probably knew that already, but we had to say it.
Dealing with hundreds of emails a day is annoying, but meetings really do add up. Not to mention that remote work made them even more common—though not necessarily shorter.
As of 2022, you’re probably spending over an hour every day putting your video conference software to good use.
9. Doing 100% of a given amount of work usually takes 180% time.
Time management issues are nothing new. People have struggled to meet deadlines for as long as there have been deadlines.
Tom Cargill of Bell Labs proposed the ninety-ninety rule, which maintains that the first 90% of the code accounts for the first 90% of the development time, while the remaining 10% of the code accounts for the other 90% of the development time.
So, in total, you need 180% of the time.
And, speaking from experience, we at Web Tribunal have to agree. We’ll also add that the rule applies to professions that have nothing to do with software development, too. There are plenty of poor time management examples in every field of work.
Fun fact: Hofstadter’s Law similarly suggests that whatever you’re doing, it always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law. Now, that’s self-awareness, right there.
10. 80% of people procrastinate for at least one hour daily.
(Source: Darius Foroux)
Time management surveys are a regular part of any study on the habits of the workforce—and for good reason. It turns out that almost everybody (88%) procrastinates daily.
Furthermore, 31.9% said they procrastinate between two and three hours a day, whereas 17% admit they waste up to four hours daily due to repeatedly putting off tasks.
Entrepreneurs follow a similar pattern, with 85% of them admitting they procrastinate for at least an hour a day.
Fun fact: Most project management software nowadays comes with time-tracking tools so you can beat the clock.
Why Time Management Skills Matter for Students
Now, let’s face it—students’ reputation for procrastination is hardly unwarranted.
The numbers speak for themselves, and they show that procrastination is substantially more prevalent among young people.
But when we say that most of them are bad at meeting deadlines, how bad are we talking?
11. Up to 95% of students procrastinate.
(Source: Solving Procrastination)
It seems like college students and time management simply don’t go hand in hand.
It’s not only that virtually everyone does it, but that they are very much cognizant of the fact—70% of students straight-up consider themselves ‘procrastinators’ and 87% of them admit they would likely be getting better grades if they didn’t waste so much time.
How much time, exactly, is “so much”?
Well, for 21.6% of students, it’s five or more hours per day.
12. Every other student delays writing papers.
(Source: American Psychological Association)
For students, time management problems materialize in many ways.
One common theme is that they’ll generally try to put off more laborious tasks as far back in time as possible. For instance, writing term papers is probably the single most onerous responsibility they have, and so it’s also the one they delay the most.
Case in point, time management stats suggest that 46% of students procrastinate when faced with a term paper, and an additional 30% try to avoid reading assignments, too.
On the other hand, administrative tasks and general school activities, which are typically easier to do and less impactful in case of failure, don’t seem to scare students as much—only 10% say they procrastinate in those cases.
13. Ten minutes of planning a day can reduce wasted time by up to two hours.
(Source: The Law of Planning by Brian Tracy)
A time management trend that’s become increasingly popular online says that a couple of minutes of planning can save you hours of futile work.
Specifically, you save about ten minutes for every minute of planning, which means an investment of about 10–12 minutes is all it takes to cut back on time-wasting by up to two hours.
Any more than that, and you’ll likely find yourself in the realm of diminishing returns. After all, procrastinating while planning to optimize your time would be wonderfully ironic.
Now, we aren’t saying your life will be all roses if you follow this trend—circumstances outside of your control still exist, but at least you’ll know any time wasted isn’t due to bad time management on your part.
14. Sending a postcard can take three minutes… or four hours.
(Source: The Economist)
Parkinson’s Law, first defined in 1955, dictates that work expands to fill the time allocated for it.
Mr. Parkinson provides an example of an elderly lady who takes several hours to send a postcard by taking ages in actually procuring the postcard, looking up the address, messing around with the composition, etc.
Normally, the task could take as little as three minutes.
Lack of time management is undoubtedly one thing to fault for the intumescence of the time necessary, but there’s another factor, too—that the lady simply had little else to do.
In other words, you might look into taking up several tasks at once. Even if you don’t complete all of them on time, you’ll have certainly done more than send one postcard (or email, if we’re using modern terminology).
We imagine time to be linear, like an arrow, although scientists have been unable to confirm that conclusively.
Nevertheless, organizing one’s time should be fairly linear. The whole point of time management trends is to help you organize your tasks, deciding what’s most critical and how much time you should allot to each activity, and then picking an appropriate time slot for it.
It’s a way to make sense of time, which we otherwise struggle to comprehend.
It’s also a way to make the best use of our time, which, if you recall, is rather limited.
If nothing else, we hope our collection of time management statistics reminded you that you only actually get three hours of free time a day. Make them count!
A wayfarer by heart, Jordan fancies journeying into foreign lands with a camera in hand almost as much as he enjoys roving the online world. He spends his time poking at letters and pixels, trying to transmogrify them into something cool.