How we spend our time

We all have the same 24 hours in a day but we do not spend them the same way. Some prioritise working to make money. Others cherish family time, seeing friends or a good night’s sleep.

Every time we look at the clock to check the time, it probably leads to a conscious decision whether we want to do something or not. Our daily pattern is formed by this series of conscious decisions.

Of course, work and sleep take up the majority of our time. Among the other activities, there are some we don’t enjoy as much such as homework, domestic chores, schooling and paid work. On the other hand, there are leisure activities such as sports, concerts, games, seeing friends and family and hobbies that we enjoy much more.

Have you ever looked into how you are spending your time? Let us share some data from our dipstick desktop research with you.

A global survey finds that people in Japan, China and Mexico work the longest hours, more than double the average hours for people in Italy. Companies in European countries are implementing shorter work weeks, which will further widen the difference in number of work hours between countries.

South Koreans sleep the least – averaging 7 hours and 51 minutes every day whereas in India, China and the US, people sleep an hour more on average.

In China, work and sleep already account for 60 per cent of people’s time. This may explain why they could only spend less than four hours a day on leisure activities, one of the lowest among all countries in the world. In Norway, people are engaged in more than six hours of leisure activities every day.

People in France, Greece, Italy and Spain report spending more time eating than people in most other European countries. The country where people spend the least time eating and drinking is the US (63 minutes a day). The data align with the typical perceptions of local food cultures and meals being social activities in some countries.

As for leisure activities, people in Austria and Denmark see their friends more. In the US, people spend almost two and half hours every day watching TV and listening to the radio. People in The Philippines and Nigeria spend more than four hours every day connected to social media while the average Japanese internet user is logged in only for less than an hour.

The time Europeans spend on shopping and personal services (like visiting a doctor or a hairdresser) ranges from 17 minutes per day in Romania to 35 minutes in Germany. With most things being made possible to be done online now, you may think that people are spending less time on shopping. Not necessarily! A survey shows that Americans on average spend nearly two hours every day shopping online, and many do it during their work hours.

Parents in the UK, Denmark, Italy and Spain are spending the most time with their children while in Mexico and Portugal people spend the most time on housework, up to three hours a day.

How we spend our time speak to how much we care about our physical and mental well-being.

So, how do you spend your time?


Esteban Ortiz-Ospina, Charlie Giattino and Max Roser (2020) - "Time Use". Published online at Retrieved from: '' [Online Resource]

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