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August 2020
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What we spend our time on: We encourage more laughing, less clothes washing

Much has been made of late regarding how we’ve spent our time during this year’s quarantine. 

Prior to shelter-at-home orders a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics American Time Use Survey showed that on an average day, 96 percent of those age 15 and over engaged in some sort of leisure activity, such as watching TV, socializing or exercising. 

For those lucky enough to be 75 or over, they spent an average of 7.8 hours engaged in leisure activities everyday - more than any other age group. Unfortunately for the 25 to 44-year-olds, they spent just a  little over 4.0 hours in leisure and sports activities per day, a figure less than any other age group. 

With people laid off work and stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic and  the stay-at-home orders that came with it, it’s likely more of us in the younger-than-75 age bracket got to spend a lot more time participating in those “leisure” activities for the first time since before kindergarten.

And quarantine has prompted many of us to find new and interesting ways to pass the time: Do-it-yourself projects around the house, baking sourdough bread, gardening, watching more television than normal, reading more books, or watching more birds. Basically, the quarantine forced us to return to a simpler life, similar to how people in the early 1900s must have lived. 

We may still have access to our cellphones and social media, but with places of social gathering shut down, the bulk of our days were spent in our homes with our families. This slower pace of life has given us all a chance to catch our breath and have the time to pay closer attention to those around us, take an evening stroll, or just hang out with the dog. 

According to the American Time Use Survey, watching TV was the activity that occupied most of our time (2.8 hours per day), in 2018. With the pandemic, that number has likely skyrocketed. Netflix subscriptions alone have soared during the pandemic, reaching  182.8 million subscribers with its streaming service, according to an April 21st article by The New York Times.

But aside from TV what have we really done with all this extra time? We sadly haven’t been watching sports.

The average lifespan is 75 years. Of that we spend 26 years sleeping and another 11 years watching TV, according to MSN News (Seems like a lot? But it runs up when you watch every episode of Game of Thrones in one month before that HBO trial subscription expires). Unfortunately, the folks at Newstrategist Research found we also spend three entire years of our life washing clothes.

Three years washing clothes? Twenty-six years sleeping?

To top that, we only spend 115 days out of our lives - a mere six minutes a day - laughing. And, according to a poll by Hilary Blinds, people spend five months of their lives complaining (that’s about eight minutes every day complaining about bad service). 

To make things seem even worse, when we were commuting to work we spent 38 hours annually in traffic, according to a study by Texas A&M. 

It’s estimated people spend 10 years total of their lives working (40 hours a week between the ages of 20 and 65). We spend another 4.4 years eating (or around 38,000 hours), another five years surfing the internet and one year just deciding what to wear.

Women spend 1.5 years of their life styling their hair.

A 2013 study found that on average, a US gamer over the age of 13 spends 6.3 hours a week playing video games. Imagine how that figure has likely skyrocketed during the quarantine.

Possibly the worst figure - aside from our lack of laughter - is the fact that the US Environmental Protection Agency found in a study that 93 percent of Americans’ lives are spent indoors, either inside a building or a car.

So whatever you’ve done during the quarantine and however you’ve spent your time, perhaps these figures will encourage you to:

A: Laugh more

B: Spend less time on your hair

C: Get off Netflix and spend some time outside. We live in the South and have the best opportunity to spend more of our time most of the year outdoors. Let’s do it.