How many hours do your neighbors spend watching TV? How many hours do they spend actually working? Now you can know! Well, sort of. Each year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases a chart that reveals how the average American citizen uses their time. The most recent table (from 2013) can be found here. The next data roundup is set to be released this coming June.
The data is broken down into national averages and further divided into averages for those who engaged in a particular activity. Some of the figures hold true to common assumption. For example, people sleep around 8 hours a day and spend a little over an hour each day eating (cooking and cleaning are counted separately). Yet, other statistics jumped right off the page.
On average, Americans work 3.5 hours a day. Before you balk, this number is low because the study is an average of how those 15 and older spend their day. So while most people who do work average 7.5 hours/day, the national average is brought down primarily by students, retirees, and those not in the work force.
On other fronts, the national average for exercise was 18 minutes and, as according to the data collected for the chart, only 19% of the population participates daily in sports or exercise. For those who did exercise, they averaged about 90 minutes a day, so that’s good. But, as a nation, we spend more time purchasing goods (1 hour and 45 minutes) than exercising and 5 hours engaged in leisure-related activities. At least according to the averages, despite how much many of us struggle to find time to exercise, it sounds like the 81% of non-exercises could find 25-30 minutes to get a workout in.
There were also differences between how men and women spend their time. Women spent more time on food preparation, childcare, shopping, and almost twice as much time on housework. Men, on the other hand, spent more time on lawn and garden care, home repair, relaxing, and about twice as much time in work-related activities and exercise.
Here’s a challenge: try making your own table for a week. Keep track of everything you do. Are you spending more time watching TV than you thought? Are there ways you could spend your time better? Having a sense of how you really spend your time can help you reassess where you are and create a plan to reach your goals.