None of us works anything like as hard as we think we do. According to studies in the US and elsewhere, people routinely overestimate their working hours by at least 10 per cent ”“ when you compare how hard people say they work to diary entries, the two don’t tally.
In itself that isn’t terribly surprising. We are all famously useless at estimating how long we spend doing anything. Time-use studies show we wildly overestimate the amount of housework and underestimate sleep ”“ ask an insomniac how much she slept last night, and she’ll say two hours, when it was actually closer to five.
What is unusual about the work estimates is that the longer people actually work the more they overestimate it. Those who work 37 hours estimate that they work 40. But people who work 50 hours bump up the estimate by a whacking 25 hours and claim to work 75.