Leisure time refers to time spent doing something we choose to do rather than something we must do. Throughout our lives the amount of leisure time available to us varies depending on our individual responsibilities. But in general, the very young and very old have more leisure time than working-age adults. Even so, work is not the only factor affecting the quantity and quality of our leisure time.
For the average adult, working to earn a living takes up a significant portion of our day, about 7.5 hours on average. When adding in additional tasks, such as commuting, networking and fielding calls and emails, we realize that there really isn't much time left over. It's no surprise then that retired adults over the age of 75 report the most leisure time of any American demographic group, and adults aged 35 to 44 report the least.
Household and child care responsibilities further deduct from our leisure time pursuits. Both men and women report spending two or more hours on household chores daily. This includes activities, such as cleaning, preparing meals, lawn care and other household maintenance chores. Households with children under six years of age estimate an additional two hours daily in child care tasks.
Across the spectrum of working Americans, leisure time varies even when circumstances are strikingly similar. Some individuals and families simply manage their time better to accommodate more leisure time. Efficient time managers know how to plan, prioritize and work together to get necessary tasks accomplished. Most importantly, they avoid taking on nonessential tasks by learning to say no to others to get their much-needed leisure time.
Closely tied to work, finances play a critical role not only in the amount of leisure time we spend, but also in the choice of activities. Even with days off of work, engaging in most leisure activities requires some amount of disposable income. Not surprisingly then, the most popular pastimes also are the cheapest and include TV watching, socializing, reading and using the computer. The number of Americans taking vacations decreases each year.
- Kraig Scarbinsky/Digital Vision/Getty Images