Time map: How does your day stack up against the av­er­age Amer­i­can’s?

The Washington Post Sunday - - BUSINESS - BY CHRISTO­PHER IN­GRA­HAM christo­pher.in­gra­ham@wash­post.com

This is your life, Amer­ica: hour by hour, minute by minute. The latest Amer­i­can Time Use Sur­vey from the Bureau of La­bor Sta­tis­tics tracks where the sands in your hour­glass go.

I’ve plot­ted the av­er­age Amer­i­can weekday and week­end day ac­cord­ing to these num­bers. “Av­er­age” is the cru­cial word here. No­body ac­tu­ally works 4.5 hours ev­ery weekday and 1.3 hours ev­ery week­end day, for in­stance. But when you ask 11,000 cit­i­zens age 15 and up what they did in a given day, as the BLS did, and av­er­age their re­sponses, this is what you end up with.

Let’s start with sleep. You may be shocked to find that the av­er­age Amer­i­can gets 8 hours and 32 min­utes of sleep on a typ­i­cal work­day. Wait, what? If you’re like a lot of peo­ple, the eight-hour sleep sched­ule sounds like a far-off dreamy ideal. Bear in mind that these num­bers in­clude re­sponses from se­niors and teens, peo­ple who typ­i­cally get a lot more sleep than the rest of us. And as a BLS economist ex­plained to me last year, these fig­ures also in­clude naps, as well as a num­ber of “non-sleep ac­tiv­i­ties” — read­ing, toss­ing and turn­ing, and some, ahem, other things — that typ­i­cally hap­pen in bed. And on week­ends, we sleep nearly an hour longer on av­er­age.

We spend a lit­tle more than three hours on house­hold chores and ac­tiv­i­ties on week­days and week­ends. These num­bers in­clude mak­ing food, clean­ing up, car­ing for oth­ers and per­form­ing ba­sic per­sonal groom­ing.

The big­gest dif­fer­ence be­tween week­days and week­ends shows up in work time — 4 hours and 32 min­utes of it dur­ing the week, 1 hour and 23 min­utes on the week­end. Keep in mind: The num­bers in­clude peo­ple who are em­ployed part­time, as well as re­tirees and those not work­ing. Among just the peo­ple who do work on week­days, 8.6 hours was the norm once com­mut­ing time was fac­tored in.

We watch a lot more TV on the week­ends — 3 hours and 21 min­utes on av­er­age, com­pared with 2 hours and 36 min­utes dur­ing the week.

Not sur­pris­ingly we also spend more time so­cial­iz­ing and do­ing other leisure ac­tiv­i­ties, like play­ing sports and games, on the week­ends. And we also spend a lit­tle bit more time buy­ing things — at the gro­cery store, for in­stance.

Over­all, this year’s Time Use Sur­vey shows that, para­dox­i­cally, both hours worked and time spent watch­ing TV have in­creased in the past year. As the Wall Street Jour­nal notes, the rise in work hours is partly ex­plained by the re­cov­er­ing econ­omy — if more peo­ple are work­ing, that av­er­age num­ber is go­ing to in­crease. With that ex­tra work, per­haps, comes a greater need to re­lax and veg out at the end of the day.

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