Since time is the one immaterial object which we cannot influence — neither speed up nor slow down, add to nor diminish — it is an imponderably valuable gift.”  -Maya Angelou


As you might have noticed, the concept of time is a pretty central part of this blog, so that being the case, it is only natural that we start delving into the interdisciplinary field of Time Use Research.  I did a little snooping around and finally made my way over to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, where I found an absolute ton of information on how people use their time.  Some of it actually surprised me, in a good way, but most of it was what you might expect… even if you expected the worse.

The Time Use Study

The study that I paid most attention to was done between 2005-2009 on married mothers and married fathers.  I chose this study because I think that the largest part of my audience falls into those demographics.  I won’t get into the methodology of it here, because that doesn’t really matter to make the point I’m trying to make.  Besides, I really do recommend that you go check out this study (here’s the link), and spend a little time checking out others that are listed on the website.

A Good Night’s Sleep

Now, I don’t know who they talked to, but I am really surprised by the amount of sleep people claimed to get.  The numbers came out with married fathers hitting the high and the low, with employed fathers only getting 8.05 hours and unemployed fathers getting a full 9.06 hours of sleep!  I’m not really sure what to make of this, perhaps I’m just hopelessly un-rested, but I generally only get between 6 1/2-7 1/2 hours of sleep each night.  This could be due to the fact that I’m so unstoppable, or it might mean that I’m actually robbing myself of some much needed rest that would help my productivity.  (Do I smell an experiment and subsequent blog post coming on?? Hmm)

He Works Hard For The Money

According to this study, employed fathers work an average of 6.05 hours per day.  At first this number kind of threw me me off, because that was the number listed for “full time” employed people, but then it occurred to me that it averages in all days, not just work days.  That brings the average amount of time worked to 42 hours, which is about what you’d expect.  For unemployed mothers the number is .03 hours, but of course we know they are busy with the kids.

It’s Called a “Leisure Suit” For a Reason…

And that’s because dad is NOT messing around when it comes to his leisure and sports activities.  The study says that unemployed fathers spend a full 6.30 hours per day engaged in leisure and sports activities.  That is insane to me.  I am hoping that most of that sample was retired and not just employed and screwing off.  If that isn’t the case, then I dare say that there is a better use of their time.  Working mothers had the least amount of time for these activities, but still more than I would have expected, 2.93 hours.

Who’s Raising the Children?

Ok, this statistic actually shocked me.  I understand that a lot of these kids might be in school for a large chunk of the day, but working dads spent just .85 hours, that’s right 85% of ONE hour caring for their children, and unemployed mothers spent only 2.49 hours caring for their children.  So I ask again, who is raising these kids?  I am beginning to see some numbers that point to the causes of some of our societies issues.

The Idiot Box

This statistic makes me want to cancel cable and sell all of our television sets, particularly when paired with the last one.  Unemployed men spent a total of 3.76 hours watching TV each day, and lets not forget that this is time that was separate from their “sports and leisure” time.  Employed women spent the least amount of time watching TV, at 1.54 hours each day.  That’s only about 20% more time than those same mothers spent caring for their children, so I guess it’s not SO bad.

Why Are We All So Fat?

Unemployed mothers spend an average of .16 hours per day performing sports, exercise, and recreation.  That is about 10 minutes per day on average.  Unemployed men do the most exercise, at about 20 minutes per day, or .34 hours.  This one surprised me, but I don’t really know why.  You only have to look around the next time you are in public to realize that people are not getting enough exercise.  I don’t honestly think that there is a level of exercise that is “enough.”  I don’t think we are built to live these sedentary lives that we’ve created for ourselves.

So What Are You Doing With Your Time?

You might have read through this and thought, “thank god I’m not like these people,” but the truth is, you are.  This is the average of the study, done by people who are paid to come up with averages.  Chances are, you aren’t an outlier.  The real and honest truth is that we all have room for vast amounts of improvement.  Myself included, of course.  Please don’t think I’m standing on my pedestal claiming that I’m superior and that I’ve surpassed all of this crap, I haven’t.  This blog is as much about reminding myself what to do as it is about helping you guys.  In light of that, I’m going to challenge you to be honest and track your time this next week.  You can read up on the way they did the study on the website, or you can just wing it and write it all down in a note book or use your fancypants smart phone.  I encourage you to share it in the comments as that might help you stay more accountable for your actions this coming week.  I plan to be doing the same thing and I’ll share the results with you next week.  I plan to track from tomorrow, Tuesday the 17th-Monday the 23rd and I will post the results on Tuesday the 24th.  If you want to see how I do, JOIN US next week!