Special Report

This Is How Americans Spend Their Time

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What do Americans do with their time? Occasionally, we all find ourselves getting into bed at night and wondering where the day went. It didn’t feel like a lazy day — but what really got accomplished? (Some people manage to do more than others, of course. These are the laziest cities in the U.S.)

To identify how we spend our days in this country, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics regarding the average hours those over the age of 15 devoted to various activities between May and December 2020, as well as the percent of the population engaging in each activity over the same period. (Only major activities were counted; other activities done simultaneously were not included, nor was any travel time associated with the main activity.)  

Not surprisingly, it turns out that much of what we do all day is just basic maintenance, like eating, sleeping, doing chores, and working. 

We also find time for pursuits like volunteering, attending classes, and watching TV, though. And for many of us, lockdowns and other limitations imposed by the coronavirus crisis in 2020 gave us the opportunity to learn how to do new things or improve our skills at things like gardening, cooking, and exercising. Some of us even learned how to bring in a little additional income besides doing our regular jobs from home. Here are 28 smart ways to make extra money.

Click here to see what Americans spend their time doing

Volunteering (organizational and civic activities)
> Avg hours spent per day, all people: 5 minutes
> Change from 2019: 3 fewer minutes
> Avg hours spent per day, people who volunteer: 2 hours 6 minutes — #7 highest out of 22 activities
> Avg share of people who engage in activity per day: 4% — #21 highest out of 22 activities

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Professional and personal care services
> Avg hours spent per day, all people: 5 minutes
> Change from 2019: No change
> Avg hours spent per day, people who use professional and personal care services: 1 hour 22 minutes — #14 highest out of 22 activities
> Avg share of people who engage in activity per day: 6.3% — #19 highest out of 22 activities

Religious and spiritual activities
> Avg hours spent per day, all people: 5 minutes
> Change from 2019: 3 fewer minutes
> Avg hours spent per day, people who engage in religious and spiritual activities: 1 hour 22 minutes — #13 highest out of 22 activities
> Avg share of people who engage in activity per day: 6.9% — #18 highest out of 22 activities

Household management
> Avg hours spent per day, all people: 8 minutes
> Change from 2019: No change
> Avg hours spent per day, people who engage in household management: 52 minutes — #20 highest out of 22 activities
> Avg share of people who engage in activity per day: 15.2% — #15 highest out of 22 activities

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Caring for and helping non household members
> Avg hours spent per day, all people: 8 minutes
> Change from 2019: No change
> Avg hours spent per day, people who Caring for and helping non household members: 1 hour 53 minutes — #10 highest out of 22 activities
> Avg share of people who engage in activity per day: 7.5% — #17 highest out of 22 activities

Attending class
> Avg hours spent per day, all people: 11 minutes
> Change from 2019: No change
> Avg hours spent per day, people who attend class: 4 hours 39 minutes — #3 highest out of 22 activities
> Avg share of people who engage in activity per day: 3.8% — #22 highest out of 22 activities

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Homework and research
> Avg hours spent per day, all people: 11 minutes
> Change from 2019: No change
> Avg hours spent per day, people who do homework and research: 3 hours 24 minutes — #5 highest out of 22 activities
> Avg share of people who engage in activity per day: 5.6% — #20 highest out of 22 activities

Other activities, not elsewhere classified
> Avg hours spent per day, all people: 11 minutes
> Change from 2019: 2 fewer minutes
> Avg hours spent per day, people who engage in other activities, not elsewhere classified: 1 hour 7 minutes — #16 highest out of 22 activities
> Avg share of people who engage in activity per day: 17% — #14 highest out of 22 activities

Telephone calls, mail, and e-mail
> Avg hours spent per day, all people: 13 minutes
> Change from 2019: 4 more minutes
> Avg hours spent per day, people who use telephone calls, mail, and e-mail: 1 hour 2 minutes — #19 highest out of 22 activities
> Avg share of people who engage in activity per day: 21.1% — #12 highest out of 22 activities

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Lawn and garden care
> Avg hours spent per day, all people: 16 minutes
> Change from 2019: 4 more minutes
> Avg hours spent per day, people who engage in lawn and garden care: 2 hours 2 minutes — #8 highest out of 22 activities
> Avg share of people who engage in activity per day: 13% — #16 highest out of 22 activities

Consumer goods purchases
> Avg hours spent per day, all people: 16 minutes
> Change from 2019: 6 fewer minutes
> Avg hours spent per day, people who make consumer goods purchases: 50 minutes — #21 highest out of 22 activities
> Avg share of people who engage in activity per day: 33.5% — #9 highest out of 22 activities

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Participating in sports, exercise, and recreation
> Avg hours spent per day, all people: 22 minutes
> Change from 2019: 3 more minutes
> Avg hours spent per day, people who participate in sports, exercise, and recreation: 1 hour 34 minutes — #12 highest out of 22 activities
> Avg share of people who engage in activity per day: 23.4% — #11 highest out of 22 activities

Caring for and helping household members
> Avg hours spent per day, all people: 26 minutes
> Change from 2019: 1 more minute
> Avg hours spent per day, people caring for and helping household members: 2 hours 10 minutes — #6 highest out of 22 activities
> Avg share of people who engage in activity per day: 19.6% — #13 highest out of 22 activities

Socializing and communicating
> Avg hours spent per day, all people: 32 minutes
> Change from 2019: 8 fewer minutes
> Avg hours spent per day, people who engage in socializing and communicating: 1 hour 59 minutes — #9 highest out of 22 activities
> Avg share of people who engage in activity per day: 27.1% — #10 highest out of 22 activities

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Housework
> Avg hours spent per day, all people: 36 minutes
> Change from 2019: 4 more minutes
> Avg hours spent per day, people who do housework: 1 hour 44 minutes — #11 highest out of 22 activities
> Avg share of people who engage in activity per day: 34.4% — #8 highest out of 22 activities

Grooming
> Avg hours spent per day, all people: 36 minutes
> Change from 2019: 5 fewer minutes
> Avg hours spent per day, people who engage in grooming: 50 minutes — #22 highest out of 22 activities
> Avg share of people who engage in activity per day: 73.7% — #4 highest out of 22 activities

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Food preparation and cleanup
> Avg hours spent per day, all people: 40 minutes
> Change from 2019: 3 more minutes
> Avg hours spent per day, people who engage in food preparation and cleanup: 1 hour 7 minutes — #17 highest out of 22 activities
> Avg share of people who engage in activity per day: 59.8% — #6 highest out of 22 activities

Travel
> Avg hours spent per day, all people: 47 minutes
> Change from 2019: 26 fewer minutes
> Avg hours spent per day, people who travel: 1 hour 10 minutes — #15 highest out of 22 activities
> Avg share of people who engage in activity per day: 67.1% — #5 highest out of 22 activities

Eating and drinking
> Avg hours spent per day, all people: 1 hour 4 minutes
> Change from 2019: No change
> Avg hours spent per day, people who spend time eating and drinking: 1 hour 7 minutes — #17 highest out of 22 activities
> Avg share of people who engage in activity per day: 96% — #2 highest out of 22 activities

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Working and work-related activities
> Avg hours spent per day, all people: 3 hours 1 minute
> Change from 2019: 18 fewer minutes
> Avg hours spent per day, people who engage in working and work-related activities: 7 hours 29 minutes — #2 highest out of 22 activities
> Avg share of people who engage in activity per day: 40.4% — #7 highest out of 22 activities

Watching television
> Avg hours spent per day, all people: 3 hours 3 minutes
> Change from 2019: 19 more minutes
> Avg hours spent per day, people who watch television: 3 hours 53 minutes — #4 highest out of 22 activities
> Avg share of people who engage in activity per day: 78.8% — #3 highest out of 22 activities

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Sleeping (including naps and periods of sleeplessness)
> Avg hours spent per day, all people: 9 hours 1 minute
> Change from 2019: 11 more minutes
> Avg hours spent per day, people who engage in sleeping: 9 hours 1 minute — #1 highest out of 22 activities
> Avg share of people who engage in activity per day: 99.9% — #1 highest out of 22 activities

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