Things you've probably done this summer instead of work

Summary:Those deeply ingrained school year patterns of summers off aren't easily forgotten once you work all year round. Fact is, everyone slacks off a little in the summer, and this one had more distractions than ever.

Found yourself a little distracted this summer? You weren't alone.
The seasonal patterns we learn as kids--fall, winter and spring are for school, summer equals freedom--tend to stay internalized even as we grow up and join the work worlds (and are doubly reinforced if you have children) all adding up to one little fact that likely drives your boss batty: Everyone slacks off a little in the summer.

Though fewer people are around, making it harder to get work done even if you wished to be a go-getter, it is all the more likely that the nice weather has gotten you daydreaming at your desk about taking long beach weekends, you taking long beach weekends and your own vacations.

Before you get "back to school" next week, here are some of this summer's greatest distractions:

  • Watched the Olympics: NBC proclaimed this week that Olympic Games were the most-watched TV event in history, with an estimated 214 million viewing at least a portion of the Summer Olympics over the 17 days.Two billion people watched the opening ceremonies alone--or nearly a third of the earth's population, and one in ten said outright they'd be doing so from their desks. Odds are, you were one of them.
  • Worked longer hours, but didn't get more done: According to the Bureau of Economic Research, in 1983 the lowest-paid workers were more likely to work long hours. 20 years later, the trend reversed itself and now the most highly paid workers are twice more likely to work long hours. But you don't need statistics to tell you that you're likely working more hours than ever before, and getting less from them. More hours at the office do not always mean more productivity, and in many cases it is the opposite, where worn-out employees are not performing at their peak. They're also not as healthy, as it can be almost impossible for workers to maintain a healthy lifestyle when work and commuting might consume 60 or more hours a week. It's no surprise that 45 percent of workers in a May Career Builder survey said they'd gained weight at their current jobs.
  • Took a staycation: "Staycation" is the buzzword du jour this summer as rising airfares, fees for such "luxuries" as blankets and pillows, surging (but now leveling off) gasoline prices and more delays than ever on our nation's runways has convinced many-an-already-exhausted worker that they needn't leave the comforts of their lounge chairs, patio grills, and backyard sprinklers to take a vacation this summer. In fact, 51 percent of the respondents in one poll said they plan to take one or more staycations this summer, that is, once they had the term explained to them—including 24 percent who are changing their traditional summer vacations to include a staycation this year.
  • Tried, but maybe not succeeded in finding a new job: A Career Builder survey released in July found evidence of a malcontent IT work force, with 38 percent describing their workloads as too heavy, and nearly a quarter (23 percent) saying they weren't satisfied with their work life balance. Yet even those quietly plotting their escape might not have gotten far this summer, as the employment market struggled this summer, in part due to seasonal trends but to a larger degree due to the softening economy. Monster's Employment Index slipped 157 points in July, and its year-over-year index had fallen 14.2 percent. This wasn't the only index that suggested that job-seekers might have had a hard time finding new work this summer. July's BLS report found that employment in the information industry declined by 13,000 in July and by 44,000 over the past 12 month, just weeks after Gartner found that fewer IT organizations planned to increase their staff levels in 2008 than did in 2007.
  • Hopefully didn't live out your last moments at your desk: All jokes about "postal" IT workers aside, the Bureau of Labor statistics released today some sobering statistics about workplace murders, which increased by 13 percent to 610 homicides in 2007. However, overall fatalities on the job dropped six percent from 2006, with the largest number of work-related fatalities coming in the expected category of trucking but in the surprising inclusion of sales workers. Close call, huh?

So how about you? What distracted you from work this summer?

Topics: IT Employment

About

Deb Perelman is a journalist in New York City with a focus on tech and the daily grind. Previously she was a reporter for eWEEK, leading the magazine and Web site's coverage of the issue and trends that affect IT workers.

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