A SURVEY said yesterday that the average motorist spent 30 hours in gridlock last year, so bad have traffic jams become.

The truth is, there's no shortage of pointless things eager to waste your time. Here are a few shining examples:

l In the cinema: The trailers for other films you have to fidget through before your own film starts. (Six hours a year)

Loading article content

l In the office: The emails that zip into your inbox, wrecking your concentration. (15 hours a year)

l Having to delete unread emails from your inbox. (127 hours a year)

l Writing tactful messages to their senders to say their emails have no bearing on your working interests. Yesterday, a colleague was bemused to receive a press release extolling the virtues of concrete - "the refurbishment engineers' friend". (Six hours a year)

l Having to read heartfelt apologies from the people responsible for the unread emails, and feeling bad for contacting them. (Two hours a year)

l Being unable to resist the press release on concrete and actually finding it quite interesting. Did you know that 'concrete' comes from the Latin 'concretus', which means 'compact'? (10 minutes)

l The declaration on your Twitter feed that you have 11 new tweets. One seems worth checking out. You click on the link. Before you know it, your concentration has disappeared down the rabbit hole. Again. (28 hours a year)

l Gazing out of the window in search of inspiration for so long that you eventually forget why you were looking for inspiration in the first place. My old French teacher called this "wool-gathering". (18 hours a year)

An office colleague volunteers sport as most people's definition of the epitome of time-consuming, pointless tasks. That, he said, and any aspect of car-cleaning.

A third (female) colleague cites: waiting at the hairdresser's while you get your hair dyed; hair masks that have to be left on for 20 pointless minutes; and the ages you spend waiting for nail-polish to dry - "you can't do anything with your hands in that time as you might smudge it".

I have to take her word on these things but can sympathise with her last suggestion: the time it takes for a shop assistant to help you at the self check-out once you hear the fateful words, "Unidentified item in bagging area".

Lots of food for thought here, then. And apologies in advance if I've managed to waste your time.