Skip to main content

Apparently This Matters: The worst time of day for work

What time is it? Must be 2:55 p.m., which a study finds to be the least productive time of day at work.
What time is it? Must be 2:55 p.m., which a study finds to be the least productive time of day at work.
  • Study says 2:55 p.m. is the most unproductive time of the day
  • Conversely, it finds 10:26 a.m. is the best time to get work done
  • None of this matters because you're probably looking at cat videos now

Editor's note: Each week in "Apparently This Matters," CNN's Jarrett Bellini applies his warped sensibilities to trending topics in social media and random items of interest on the Web.

(CNN) -- A lot of people don't know this, but for every 30 minutes of legitimate work, all employees must be allowed one full hour of Internet cat videos.

That's the law.

Granted, it's not specifically noted on the Department of Labor poster hanging in the break room, but I'm 7% positive it's an actual rule. Just like the obscure federal mandate that ensures every workplace is completely pants optional.

(My fourth warning from HR begs to differ.)

"Apparently This Matters" is Jarrett Bellini's weekly (and somewhat random) look at social-media trends.

Despite the fact that all of our computers are directly wired to a delicious wasteland of kitties, when it comes to real productivity, I'm fairly organized and efficient.

Moderately severe OCD means that, not only are the coasters on my coffee table always in the exact same spot -- move them even a centimeter, and I'll murder you in your sleep -- I also tend to get things done quickly and with a certain level of precision.

So I don't completely hate myself when I turn off my brain to zone out for a bit. Instead, I save the self-loathing for when I get home to my bachelor pad and nuke another Lean Pocket.

"Meatballs and mozzarella, you're my only friend."

For me, there's not really one specific point in the afternoon when I'm generally at my most useless. However, a new trending study by says that, quite precisely, 2:55 p.m. is the most unproductive time of day at work.

And that sounds about right.

For starters, 2:55 p.m. is just enough time for my huge belly finally to communicate to my tiny brain that the burrito we inhaled for lunch was (A) larger than a Buick and (B) possibly filled with horse tranquilizer.

On top of that, at least in America, 2:55 p.m. is right about the hour when weekday European soccer matches kick off. At CNN we all have TVs at our desks, so when the perfect storm of food and footy collide, you'll be lucky to get a complete sentence out of me.

"Hey, man, how did your meeting go this morning?"

"Can't ... speak ... brain ... no work ... burrito ... Tottenham ... carne asada ... cats. ... "

To be fair, I'm also fairly inarticulate at 10:26 a.m., which the study cites as the most productive time of day.

It's unclear how, exactly, this survey of more than 400 individuals nailed down 10:26 a.m. as office productivity's super happy go-time, but I guess the theory is that, in a 9-to-5 world, you show up to work, grab coffee for half an hour, spend the next 30 minutes browsing Reddit and then take 20 more to lose yourself on Facebook staring at photos of your friends' kids graduating from preschool.

Those other remaining six minutes are for immediately going back to Reddit to make sure nothing new made it to the front page while you were away. Because, clearly, that would be the worst thing that's ever happened to anyone ever.

"Whew. I thought I might've missed a new meme."

But by 10:26 a.m., you're primed. You're ready. Your brain is humming.

And that's when you finally hit your e-mail inbox.

Which is kind of like revving the engine in your Porsche so you can gently roll down to the end of your driveway to grab the paper.

"Morning, Dave!"

"It's Mike. We've been neighbors for 12 years."

But eventually the e-mail gets cleaned out and, thus, by lunch, your net accomplishment is having deleted 784 LinkedIn requests.

Fortunately, the study claims there's a second most productive part of the day, at 4:16 p.m. In other words: "panic time," when reality finally sets in that none of these damn cats have finished your reports.

So you finally buckle down to crank out the bulk of the day's work. Well, at least for the next 26 minutes.

You see, the study also claims that workers start mentally checking out about 18 minutes before the end of the workday. (Assuming your workday ends at 5.) What's even more interesting is that, despite our brains turning off around 4:42 p.m., three-quarters of the study's subjects said they actually stay about 10 minutes late.

This likely has everything to do with not wanting to be the one who Fred Flintstones out the door right as the clock hits 5.

So you watch a few more cat videos while making busy grunting sounds as though finishing these reports is really messing with your evening plans.

Which for me is nothing more than basking in the warm, processed glow of another Lean Pocket.

"Meatballs and mozzarella, you're my only friend."

Part of complete coverage on
Apparently This Matters...
updated 6:14 PM EDT, Fri October 10, 2014
I vaguely recall Pizza Hut's Book It elementary school reading incentive program. Though, to be fair, I vaguely remember what I had for breakfast.
updated 7:37 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
It took a lot of effort for Leo Bonten to turn his amputated leg into a fully functional lamp. For starters, he had to break the damn thing in a freak kiddie pool accident.
updated 8:22 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
If you asked me -- and God knows nobody has -- I would have to guess that never in the history of humankind has anyone ever actually slipped on a banana peel.
updated 6:23 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
I'm a napper.
updated 8:44 AM EDT, Mon September 8, 2014
Since the beginning of time, man has looked up into the cosmos at those shiny, twinkling stars and thought, "I wonder if lizards would do each other up there?"
updated 11:28 AM EDT, Sat August 23, 2014
We all have weird, irrational concerns.
updated 10:25 PM EDT, Sun August 17, 2014
"What does this thing do?"
updated 1:48 PM EDT, Fri August 8, 2014
Despite all the political tension in Crimea, it's nice to know things are still safe enough at the zoo for a zebra to get it on with a donkey.
updated 9:41 PM EDT, Fri August 1, 2014
Justin Sylvester's wife is pregnant. With a baby.
updated 8:10 PM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
There's a famous scene in the movie "Titanic" where Rose turns to Jack and says, "I want you to draw me like one of your French girls."
updated 4:15 PM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
For several months in 2003, I did the whole European backpacker thing. Which is to say I've seen nearly every cathedral within 1,000 square miles of the Danube.
updated 3:17 PM EDT, Fri July 11, 2014
The other day I saw a death metal band hanging out by their tour van in the parking lot behind a club. They were all dressed in black, and may or may not have been working on lyrics to a new song about fire and lamb meat.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
There are two good reasons to own a giant trampoline.
updated 6:51 PM EDT, Fri June 13, 2014
I would love to say my dog is intellectually qualified to be a service animal. But he's not. There's barely enough brainpower there to be a lamp.
updated 11:23 AM EDT, Sun June 8, 2014
I've never really needed an extra ear.
updated 4:32 PM EDT, Wed June 4, 2014
I never actually caught a glimpse of the Tooth Fairy when I was young, but she was definitely real and in cahoots with my mom. This, due to the fact that I never woke up to find a Nintendo.
updated 3:57 PM EDT, Fri May 23, 2014
Have you ever seen a man running in a marathon, bleeding from his nipples?
updated 3:52 PM EDT, Fri May 16, 2014
Brace yourselves, because this week's story is about sperm and poop.