This is your life, America: hour by hour, minute by minute. The latest American Time Use Survey from the Bureau of Labor statistics tracks, in exhaustive detail, where the sands in your hourglass go. In the chart below, 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 out all of 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 8-hour sleep schedule sounds like a far-off dreamy ideal. But 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 during the day, as well as as a number of "non-sleep activities" -- reading, tossing and turning, 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 3 hours on household chores and activities on weekdays and weekends. These numbers include making food, cleaning up, taking care of others, and 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 part-time, as well as retirees and those not working at all, which is why the weekday average isn't close to the standard 8-hour workday. Among just the people who do work on weekdays, 8.6 hours was the norm once you factored in commuting time.
There aren't huge differences in how much time we spend eating and drinking on weekends and week days. But we do watch a lot more TV on the weekends -- 3 hours and 21 minutes on average, compared to 2 hours and 36 minutes during the week. If these numbers seem ridiculously high to you, consider this: when you exclude people who don't watch TV at all, the average TV viewer spends a whopping 4 hours in front of the tube on weekend days, and 3 and a half hours a day during the work 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 -- like making trips to 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 -- hence the boost in TV watching.
And there's a corresponding decrease in the daily amount of time people spent doing education-related activities. Again, during the recession many people opted to go back to school and get another degree while they waited for the job market to improve. Now that many of them are re-entering the workforce, you'd expect the average education number to fall.