Study: You’re Wrong About How Much You Work

Whether it’s fatigue or a fib, a new government report says many people exaggerate how hard they work.


A new Department of Labor study says most people exaggerate how many hours a week they work by around 10 percent. And the people who actually do work longer weeks exaggerate the most. Why?

This difference in the accuracy of estimates between people who work more hours and those who work fewer hours may be due to those estimating longer workweeks (and the [work] diaries confirm that they do work longer hours than those giving lower estimates) feeling overworked during hours when other workers are enjoying their time off from work.

Most people who claim to work 40 hours actually work around 37, the study says. So they are off by three hours, which sounds reasonable. But people who claimed to work 75 hours actually only worked around 50 – so they overestimated their work week by half of what it actually is.

The study also says our estimates of how much time we spend on housework are twice as bad as our guesses about work.

Stacy Johnson

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