How Do You Spend Your Time?

The average American spends 8.6 hours sleeping and 7.6 hours working.

The annual American Time Use Survey from the Bureau of Labor statistics looks at how Americans age 15 and older spend their time. In 2008, the average employed person worked longer on weekdays (7.9 hours versus 5.6 hours on weekends). Full-time employed men work slightly longer hours than women (8.3 versus 7.7 hours).

If you often find yourself doing work outside of the office, you aren’t alone. More than one-fifth of employed persons take work home with them (or work at home all the time) on the days they work. Doing work at home is especially common among self-employed workers (55% versus 17% of wage and salary workers). It’s also more common among those 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher (35%).

Household Chores

While men work more hours, women spend more time on household activities (2.6 hours versus 2.0 hours for men). On an average day, 83% of women and 64% of men spent some time doing household activities (including housework, cooking, lawn care, or financial and other household management), according to the data.

The gender gap is even wider when it comes to housework. On an average day, 20% of men did housework, such as cleaning or doing laundry, compared to 50% of women. Furthermore, on an average day, more women than men do food preparation or cleanup (65% versus 38%).

What Do We Do for Fun?

It probably won’t surprise you that adults without children engage in more leisure activity than adults with children. Employed adults living in households with no children under 18 engaged in leisure activities for 4.5 hours per day, nearly an hour more than employed adults living with a child under age 6, according to the American Time Use Survey.

On an average day, almost all Americans 15 and older (96%) find some time for leisure, such as watching TV, socializing, or exercising. Men spend more time doing these activities (5.7 hours) than did women (5.1 hours).

Television is the leisure activity of choice by far; it accounts for about half of leisure time. Socializing is the next most common leisure activity, accounting for an average of 45 minutes per day.

Computers don’t come close to rivaling TV for our leisurely attention, but this varies widely by age. For instance, on a weekend day, you would find the average 20- to 24-year-old spending 0.7 hours playing around online, while someone 55 to 64 would only spend 15 minutes. Both will park in front of the television for more than three hours (nearing four hours for 55 to 64-year-olds).

Overall, the average American spends .21 hours checking e-mail each day. However, for those who check their e-mal every day, the average person spends .67 hours.

The New York Times
offers an interesting graphic breaking down how different groups of Americans spend there time.