The Years We Have Wasted in Useless Internet Activities

A study quoted by the specialized newspaper The Economist, which was developed by professors from the Maryland and Delaware Enterprise University Partnership (MADEUP), analyzed the number of minutes people spend each day on inconsequential digital tasks, calculating the total weighted uselessness rate and estimating the years lost in useless tasks [1].

How Much Time Do We Waste on Unimportant Tasks on the Internet?

By Gabriel E. Levy B.

Using the total potential time of the average person’s working life as a benchmark, the study determined that we waste the equivalent of a decade scrolling through our cell phones, an average of 145 days logging into our digital accounts, 4 months deciding what to watch on Netflix, five months waiting for our computer to react or perform a task, and at least 3 months trying to recover our forgotten passwords [2].

Formatting Word and Excel files occupies the top ranking in terms of time wasted. According to the study, we let life go by while we are in the task of defining margins, fonts, text formatting or font size. Close behind, in the ranking, is the text corrector with its “false positives” when checking our writing, both on the mobile and on the PC.

Correction of so-called typographical errors averages about 20 minutes per day.

The study defined a special section for the so-called “digital dramas”, i.e., time lost due to running out of battery, accidentally deleted files or unexpected and untimely computer crashes.

Regarding emails, the research concluded that the average employee spends more than 14 hours a week reading and answering emails, most of which are recurring or unnecessary. Deleting e-mails takes up about six weeks of our lives.

Downloading “unsolicited” messages, or “deleting notifications on the screen” also consumes several days of our working life.

The creation of digital documents represents 13 hours per week on average, and the search for information on the network, about 10 hours per week. On the other hand, the so-called “order of documents and files” actions demand more than 4 months of our lives.

An item we rarely think about, but which is no less important, is the adaptation to new technologies and their continuous updates, generally in mobile devices and applications, tasks in which we invest almost one day a year.

Repeated sending of unanswered e-mails and text messages is another category we overlooked.

Solutions Offered by the Digital Industry

This issue is not only of concern to researchers at the University of Maryland, it has also been widely discussed by the design and development teams of major technology companies, which have been working for years on solutions to reduce time loss and improve the user experience.

File and text auto-saving systems are perhaps one of the first experiences that the software industry had to face in the face of the extremely high rate of lost documents and work in the 1990s. This was followed by the improvement of text correction systems and, undoubtedly, at present, the greatest challenge lies in authentication systems, forgetting and password recovery.

Eradicating Passwords

On May 5, 2022, Google, Apple and Microsoft jointly announced that they will implement plans to expand support for a common passwordless login standard, which has been mandated to the FIDO Alliance and the World Wide Web consortium.[3].

“The new capability will enable websites and apps to deliver consistent, secure and easy password-free logins to consumers across all devices and platforms,” joint statement from the three companies.”

Password-only authentication is one of the biggest security problems on the web and, as the above-mentioned study identified, it is one of the biggest time wasters for users, as managing so many passwords is cumbersome for consumers.

Users often reuse the same passwords on all the websites they visit. Clearly, this represents a huge security risk, because in the event of a data breach, not only will your identity be stolen, but your entire digital life will be exposed to hackers.

While password managers and legacy forms of two-factor authentication have substantially improved security on various websites, there is consensus from Google, Apple and Microsoft to create a more convenient and secure login technology.

Therefore, it is expected that by 2023, extended standards-based capabilities will give websites and applications the ability to offer an end-to-end password less option, saving a tremendous amount of time throughout the authentication process.

In conclusion, without realizing it, one of the most negative consequences that the arrival of digital devices and platforms has brought us, is the amount of time we lose per day for unimportant tasks that have been incorporated into our daily routine, which is why, for years, the industry has been working to make easier the process of use and consumption of these technologies.

[1] The Economist. (16 de junio de 2022). Work, the wasted years. Disponible en

[2] Ibíd.

[3] See organization information at