We’ve all had our share of those days where we’ve felt like we couldn’t get everything accomplished that we needed to; much less have any free time. However, research suggests that we actually have gained about five hours of free time per week as compared to the 1960’s (Robinson & Godbey, 1997). It is interesting that even though the amount of free time we have has increased, most Americans state that they feel more rushed and they think they actually have less free time. So, what makes up free time? Most researchers would consider things like watching TV, listening to music, reading, hobbies, socializing, recreational activities, sports, adult education, and even religious activities as free time. Essentially, things you do in your free time involve maximum choice on your part. Think of free time activities as being activities that are not essential to your life or survival. Things you might do that would not be considered free time would include sleeping, eating, grooming, taking care of your kids, housework, and working at a job that pays you wages. Contrary to what some might believe, checking your friend’s status on Face book and watching TV are not essential to survival. Robinson & Godbey also state that 1) middle aged, college educated, married parents, where both spouses work have the least amount of free time, 2) that people in urban areas have about one hour more per week of free time compared to those in rural areas, and 3) we have nearly 40 hours of free time per week (5 hours each weekday, 6 hours on Saturday, and over 7 hours on Sunday). Most people overestimate how much time they spend at work and underestimate how much free time they have. It’s not uncommon for someone to say that they are very busy and that they don’t have time for things like exercise, yet they will watch 3 or 4 hours of TV a day!
Robinson J & Godbey G: Time for Life: The Surprising ways Americans use Their Time (1997), The Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, PA.