In the provocatively-titled article How Everything We Tell Ourselves About How Busy We Are Is A Lie, the writer interviews the director of the Americans’ Use of Time Project and takes data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics American Time Use Survey (ATUS). Here is my condensed version:
- The average American works an average of 7.55 hours per day.
- When comparing detailed time diaries with just asking people for a number, people tended to overestimate their work hours by 5% to 10%.
- The average American sleeps an average of 8.75 hours per day.
- On an average day, women spend 2 hours and 10 minutes doing housework, while men spend 1 hour and 17 minutes. That’s roughly a 60/40 ratio.
- Most people have over 40 hours of free time per week.
- Watching television takes up 50% of that free time.
Basically, we may feel more busy, but actually have more free time than folks from 40 years ago. Half that free time is used to watch TV.
I suppose the takeaway here is that our perceptions may differ from reality. If we tracked our activities in a time diary, we’d might discover some new things about our own schedules and habits. Perhaps we should all try to carve out an hour each day to work for ourselves.
Alternatively, I’d like to figure out how to really enjoy my free time without half my mind worrying about other stuff. So far, playing sports and swimming with my babies has been the most effective.