How People Spend Their Time (And How to Make Each Activity More Productive)

How the average person spends their time is depressing.

So let’s try to improve it! 🙂

I’ll give the numbers for each activity (from the American Time Use Survey – 2016 Results) and one quick tip increase its productivity. Note that some of the numbers seem weird because the average includes different ages and weekends. (And travel is included in each main activity)

Sleep: 8 hours 47 minutes 

ProductivityTip: Get to sleep and wake up at roughly the same time. After a few days you’ll come into a rhythm and naturally get tired and wake up. It also improves your sleep quality, which makes you more able to focus during the day.   

Watching TV: 2 hours 44 minutes

ProductivityTip: Eliminate TV watching completely, and you’ll add almost 10 years to your life. There are much more productive ways to relax, such as reading books, engaging in a hobby and taking a walk.

Attending class: 16 minutes 

ProductivityTip: Start doing homework before the teacher starts and when you know what he is talking about. If that adds up to 5 minutes every class, that’s 100 min less homework/week (assuming you have 4 classes x 5 days).

Homework: 11 minutes

ProductivityTip: Use spaced repetition to learn more effectively. Simply put, make a couple flashcards of concepts or vocab, then schedule to review the material in spaced intervals (for example 1, 3, 7 and 30 days). This requires less practice time even though you’ll remember the material better and longer.

Volunteering: 8 minutes 

ProductivityTip: Research which charities are most effective, because there could be a hundredfold difference between the average and most effective charities.. You can see charity evaluations at websites such as GiveWell, AnimalCharityEvaulators and GivingWhatWeCan.

Religious and spiritual activities: 10 minutes 

ProductivityTip: Add meditation to your spiritual activities. It’s proven to increase your focus, your health and your mood.

Calls and mail: 10 minutes 

ProductivityTip: Schedule to tackle email/calls at set times every day, so they don’t become constant interruptions.

Exercise: 20 minutes  

ProductivityTip: Start using a standing desk. It’s proven to increase longevity, and there’s preliminary evidence that it also improves productivity and happiness. 

Food preparation and cleanup: 35 minutes 

ProductivityTip: Batch-cook. Prepare all the meals on one day a week, and freeze the food so you can just take it out and eat. (Also makes it easier to eat healthy) 

Working: 3 hours 17 minutes 

ProductivityTip: Create a list of all work-related tasks you do. Select the ones that brings the most benefit and eliminate everything else to the greatest extent possible. There’s almost always 1-3 activities that stands for most of the productivity.

ProductivityTip: Disable all notifications on your phone, so you don’t get disturbed. Interrupting your flow can destroy your productivity, both when reading and working.


Was I the only one who thought these numbers were extremely interesting?

I hope you’ve found this article useful. Have a great day 🙂