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