The Vanishing Personal Life

Americans are spending more hours connected to work and missing out on their personal lives to not be any more productive, according to the results of a survey from Enterprise scheduling technology Doodle.

Feeling pressure to work overtime is not uncommon, a quarter of all respondents think it’s critical to advance their careers.

Doodle has released the findings recently from its Work-Life survey of full-time executives at Fortune 500 companies.

It found that forty-four percent of executives surveyed now work an average of 52 hours a week and that number increases to 58 among senior-level staff, 65% of who report working overtime.

And it’s no surprise when you consider over a quarter of employees surveyed admit that they’ve spent 20 hours or more in meetings in a single week. These extra hours don’t necessarily take place in the office either – they’re intruding on personal lives:

  • Almost every senior executive surveyed (99%) joined a meeting on PTO, 85% for non-senior staff.
  • Over half of senior executives (53%) took a meeting on an observed holiday.
  • For executives outside the senior level, 57% participated in a meeting during a personal appointment and 40% dialed-in while on a vacation.
  • Executives cancel personal plans an average of twice a month, for 20% of senior executives that skyrockets to five or more per month.

While plans with friends and family can be rescheduled and vacations can resume after a call has ended, there are certain milestones and once-in-a-lifetime events that can’t stop for work.

Doodle’s survey revealed:

  • More than a quarter (28%) of respondents have missed a family member or close friend’s wedding.
  • Almost a third (29%) surveyed indicate they’ve missed a graduation.
  • Skipping out on birthday celebrations was the most common (45%).
  • The most heartbreaking finding was the 26% who missed their child’s first words while working overtime.

Particularly frustrating for those folks passing up personal plans is that often the meetings they join are poorly managed and didn’t accomplish anything (59%) – or even ones they didn’t need to be in at all (60%).

Poorly run meetings lead to disengaged employees and participants turn to other activities to fill the time, including:

  • Watching videos
  • Taking selfies
  • Falling asleep
  • Sending texts
  • Leaving the room to take another call
  • Working on other tasks

It’s unfair to put the blame on meetings themselves – some of the greatest innovations, ideas and companies of our time all started with a meeting. We’re misusing meetings and engaging in them without clear parameters and objectives.

For companies experimenting with the four-day work week, productivity actually increased because people had to be much more efficient with their time; big gains were made by capping meeting times, limiting participants and having a clear agenda and purpose.

For tips on how to run better meetings and give employees their time back, check out Doodle’s blog. To download the full report findings visit:

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