The Top Cyberloafing Activities of a Distracted Office Worker

March Madness, social media and online shopping are all too tempting.

A team looking at a laptop screen enthusiastically.
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In January, you turned over a new leaf and resolved to be a more efficient worker. You started arriving at work on time. You were early and fully prepared for meetings. You've been responsive and attentive to the demands of clients and colleagues. You became a well-oiled working machine.

Then March Madness hit and it all went to pot.

Now, you're an attention-deficit-ridden cubicle cog, just going through the face-time motions at your desk as you stream college hoops and tweet your bracket frustrations. You're not working—come on, you're barely blinking. And you're hardly alone. A recent Kansas State University study published in the "Computers in Human Behavior" journal reveals that between 60 and 80 percent of an employee's time on the Internet is spent doing something other than work. The phenomenon of surfing the Web on the company dime has become so prevalent that it's inspired its own term: cyberloafing.

[See: 25 Career Mistakes to Banish for 2013.]

So what are some of the top cyberloafing activities in an office?

Checking personal email. This one might seem innocuous—in fact, many employees keep their personal email account open all day—but personal email is often the gateway distraction into other forms for cyberloafing. Opening up a daily emailed newsletter leads to catching up with rarely seen buddies and solidifying happy hour plans, and before you know it, you've neglected correspondence on your professional email account. Plus a lot of personal mail accounts host some form of instant messaging, which can either be efficient for interoffice communication, or inefficient for out-of-office chit chat.

Social media. In 2012, released a shaming infographic detailing how websites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are sapping our productivity: Facebook is the most popular time-wasting site; workers are interrupted once every 10.5 minutes by tweets and IMs; it takes approximately 23 minutes for workers to regroup after using a social media website; and each user is costing his or her company nearly $4,500 every year.

Playing games. Scrolling down a Facebook newsfeed or updating your status only takes a few seconds. It's some of Facebook's other capabilities—like Candy Crush Saga and Bejeweled Blitz—that truly eke into corporate time. According to, 25 percent of Facebook's active users each month are playing games, which is a whopping number of people for a site that has more than 1 billion members.

Watching videos. The possibilities are endless. From Keyboard Cat to "Gangnam Style" and even KONY 2012, YouTube houses a trove of time-sucking videos, and it has a few imaging cousins that are also pulling in pageviews from those who should be working. Many major news outlets offer online streaming, particularly for important live events. Netflix, Hulu and HBO Go also offer streaming options for those hoping to keep up with their favorite movies and shows. and provide online coverage of sporting events like March Madness, the Olympic Games or the World Cup. In fact, the firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. predicted that approximately 3 million employees would spend up to three hours per day streaming the NCAA basketball games this March, translating to at least $134 million in "lost wages" for the first two days of the tournament.

Shopping. Online shopping is one of the more common cyberloafing activities of office workers. Take, for instance, the Monday after Thanksgiving 2012, Cyber Monday, a workday for many and a date that Reuters reports Internet sales spiked 30.3 percent from the Cyber Monday in 2011. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 16 percent of workers in the United States were planning to catch some Cyber Monday sales in 2012, while 49 percent expected to do a little online holiday shopping in the office sometime in November and December.

[Read: 7 Productivity Traps for Overachievers to Avoid.]

Wedding planning. A 2012 survey by and determined that 1 in 3 brides begin planning more than 12 months before their big day, and all surveyed brides spent an average of 11 hours a week working on nuptial details in the last three months before getting married. Not all of those hours are personal time, however. A more recent survey conducted by wedding dress retailer David's Bridal, "What's on Brides' Minds," found that 77 percent of engaged women admit to using work hours to wedding plan.