"I lie to myself all the time. But I never believe me."
September 5, 2014 1:54 PM   Subscribe

You're not as busy as you say you are. "According to sociologist John Robinson, or better known as “Father Time” to his colleagues, most people have around 40 hours of free time per week."

Also: "In the latest ATUS released a few weeks ago, the findings showed the average American sleeps 8.75 hours per day--much more than we work, which is an average of 7.55 hours per day. The hours of sleep we get every night has been steadily going up in the past few years, but the average person is still claiming to be exhausted."
posted by craniac (102 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
 
3. Women feel more rushed than men.
4. Women are still doing more housework compared to men.


gosh

I wonder
posted by kagredon at 1:57 PM on September 5, 2014 [59 favorites]


Frankly 90% of my "I'm busy"s are a polite way of saying "I really don't want to put up with your shit, I want to sit in my home and luxuriate in not putting up with anyone's bullshit like a cat rolling around on clothes fresh out of the dryer."
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 2:00 PM on September 5, 2014 [196 favorites]


40 hours of free time a week? That's a whole extra work week! No wonder the economy is in a shambles - it's because of all you slackers!

I am a workaholic and I work six hours every hour, I haven't slept since I was nine. I do coding or finance or whatever, I'm actually super-important and the work I do has made a lasting and visible impact on the quality of people's lives, I'd love to talk to you more about it but I need to take this phone call, laterz!
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:00 PM on September 5, 2014 [87 favorites]


8.75 hours of sleep? Really? I do that when I'm sick, or hungover. Six or seven works for me, and I spend the other 1-2 hours running most days.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:01 PM on September 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Personally, I'd like to know what he means by free time. Because, while reading my book, playing video games, and going for walks aren't scheduled things in my life, if I don't get them in I feel miserable.

Especially the reading.
posted by teleri025 at 2:03 PM on September 5, 2014 [31 favorites]


I wonder how tight the distribution is. If the "average" is over a fairly widely spread distribution, this may not be as groundbreaking as it sounds. Also, I wonder what would happen to those figures if you accounted for socio-economic status.
posted by Aleyn at 2:03 PM on September 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


I think the key word there is "average".

Meaning: some people sleep 8.75 hours per day - but some sleep more, and some sleep less. Maybe way less. And some people may work 7.55 hours a day - but some may work less, and some may work much, much, much more.

So maybe the people saying that they're exhausted are the people who aren't getting enough sleep.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:03 PM on September 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


the findings showed the average American sleeps 8.75 hours per day

Are they including the retired, the unemployed and children? Because those are the only folks I know getting that much sleep on the regular.
posted by emjaybee at 2:04 PM on September 5, 2014 [46 favorites]


Once again, one of my all-time favorite comments:
I mean, you're at work right now right? Are you working?
posted by Greg Nog at 2:05 PM on September 5, 2014 [24 favorites]


It is argued here that the movement of the labor force into more service occupations and other occupations in which work schedules are becoming more irregular (with not time clock to punch as a vivid reminder), workers have fewer benchmarks to use in estimating the number of hours in their workweek.

Does this take into account that people are expected to do work "off the clock"? My work thankfully doesn't do this, but people at my wife's work get scheduled shifts and wind up staying up to an hour later, quite frequently, just to finish up paperwork or other tasks that really should be considered work. She'll also sit in front of the computer at home at night going through work emails. Even I will check work emails and respond from time to time from my phone outside work hours. I find this kind of hard to believe.
posted by Hoopo at 2:06 PM on September 5, 2014 [8 favorites]


I actually sleep about 8.25 hours a night. Feels good man.
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:07 PM on September 5, 2014 [8 favorites]



Are they including the retired, the unemployed and children? Because those are the only folks I know getting that much sleep on the regular.

Or freelancers! I get spooky without at least 8.
posted by The Whelk at 2:10 PM on September 5, 2014 [7 favorites]


She'll also sit in front of the computer at home at night going through work emails. Even I will check work emails and respond from time to time from my phone outside work hours

I can't access my work email from home without a security device. I haven't requested one yet for pretty much this reason.
posted by knapah at 2:11 PM on September 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


Less than 8 hours of sleep, I get paranoid and shout-y. I WISH I only slept 6 hours a night, but it is just not possible.
posted by Malla at 2:13 PM on September 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


"Free time" also does not the imply the cognitive, physical or emotional energy required to do something other than blankly stare at a screen.
posted by MillMan at 2:14 PM on September 5, 2014 [31 favorites]


the findings showed the average American sleeps 8.75 hours per day

I fully refuse to believe that half of Americans get nine or more hours of sleep every day. Fully. Refuse.
posted by psoas at 2:15 PM on September 5, 2014 [26 favorites]


The American Time Use Survey is a really cool thing, and is one of the data integration projects I support at the Minnesota Population Center.

The FPP study itself is going to illicit tons of snark here and elsewhere (wtf? free time?? LOL), but it's damn cool that we have these kind of data available for study. I find it especially interesting to track trends over years and decades.

My own personal axe to grind on time use trends is finding out whether all of this increased productivity we hear about in the economy translates into a) higher wages b) increased leisure time or c) both

sadly I believe the answer is d) none of the above
posted by mcstayinskool at 2:16 PM on September 5, 2014 [10 favorites]


admittedly the sleep variable is somewhat skewed by the significant number of coma patients, cryogenically imprisoned supercriminals, neonates, tree sloths, and Rips van Winkle in the sample
posted by theodolite at 2:22 PM on September 5, 2014 [79 favorites]


Try giving up social media and find out how much time you really have. I discovered this when I gave up Facebook about 4 years ago. So much time spent just clicking on nothingness.
posted by Fizz at 2:24 PM on September 5, 2014 [11 favorites]


Sleepies Georg is an outlier adn
posted by Greg Nog at 2:24 PM on September 5, 2014 [11 favorites]


Try giving up social mediaMetafilter and find out how much time you really have.
posted by shivohum at 2:26 PM on September 5, 2014 [15 favorites]


I can't access my work email from home without a security device. I haven't requested one yet for pretty much this reason.

I am definitely going to mention this very very casually to our hilariously ill-informed but feverishly data-security-paranoid CFO and see what happens.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:27 PM on September 5, 2014 [9 favorites]


WAIT NO then i can't "work from home" anymore

curses
posted by poffin boffin at 2:27 PM on September 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


I sleep 8 hours a night, easily and happily. But I don't have kids. I'm wondering what the average is for people with children living at home vs. everyone else.
posted by something something at 2:28 PM on September 5, 2014


For people living beneath former probable roid rage maniacs who have year old babbies now that number is approx 10h/wk.

im mad about it
posted by poffin boffin at 2:29 PM on September 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


In summary, people are a land of contrasts.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:30 PM on September 5, 2014 [19 favorites]


I don't know. I ran my numbers, and I'm pretty sure the "40 hours of free time per week" estimate is way off once you put any children and/or personal interests/pursuits that involve making a commitment to others in the mix. Just by my super quick and not particularly exhaustive estimate:

Assuming 168 hours available in a seven day week (and a lot of these are minimums for me):

Time at work: 40
time in traffic for work: 1.5 per day X 5 = 7.5
Time sleeping: 40
Time eating/prepping meals: 14
Time pooping/peeing: 3
Time putting kids to bed: 8
Time reading/playing/coaching kids: 14
Time bathing/dressing kids: 3
Time paying bills/mandatory administration: 2

...And that alone already brings my potential free time down to 36.5 hours per week. Meanwhile, I have a novel and my wife and I have an album we're preparing to release, and my wife is involved with all sorts of online and IRL groups that require us to go do things with and for other people all the time, so I really doubt we have anywhere close to a full 40 hours--I'd be surprised if we even had a full day's worth of negotiable personal time in a given week.

So I'm skeptical of his numbers and their applicability to people in my situation already.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:30 PM on September 5, 2014 [7 favorites]


The hours of sleep we get every night has been steadily going up in the past few years, but the average person is still claiming to be exhausted

There was an economic crash. People are unemployed or working less. As far as what the "average person" "claims," I'd be inclined to take them at their word. Obviously "I'm exhausted!" is sometimes a socially acceptable way to say, "I don't want to do that stupid thing," but I'm inclined to believe people over shoddy "averages" on something so subjective.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:31 PM on September 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't believe those sleep hours at all (actually I believe them but I think they are being misconstrued).

Jawbone recently published some sleep data based on its users. While their users are obviously going to skew to a different demographic, I think the data is telling.

http://inthecapital.streetwise.co/2014/08/18/dc-average-nights-sleep-jawbone-data/

Of all the U.S. cities the report looked at, Orlando, Florida, came out on top nationally (and just behind Melbourne's six hours and 58 minutes) with six hours and 56 minutes of sleep per night. Other cities beating out D.C. for more minutes included Austin, Dallas, Denver and San Diego. Las Vegas and New York City, meanwhile, proved to be far more sleep-deprived with nightly averages of six hours and 32 minutes and and six hours and 47 minutes, respectively.

posted by bottlebrushtree at 2:33 PM on September 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


When I was unemployed, I was depressed and sleeping like 11 hours every day. I wonder if that sort of thing is spiking the numbers. "Americans are sleeping more than ever before!" Well...
posted by naju at 2:34 PM on September 5, 2014 [21 favorites]


I have 168 hours of free time per week. As part of my leisure activities, I like to sleep, eat, work, and do various other "hobbies".
posted by blue_beetle at 2:36 PM on September 5, 2014 [7 favorites]


Time pooping/peeing: 3

If you aren't pooping on the clock, you're doing it wrong.
posted by empath at 2:37 PM on September 5, 2014 [31 favorites]


If you aren't pooping on the clock

I usually aim for the inside of the toilet bowl but I celebrate our differences
posted by Greg Nog at 2:39 PM on September 5, 2014 [167 favorites]


Or you are in a job without the luxury to do that every day.
posted by soelo at 2:39 PM on September 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Or you would prefer not to share the trials and tribulations of your body's excretory system with all of your coworkers.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:41 PM on September 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


Las Vegas and New York City, meanwhile, proved to be far more sleep-deprived with nightly averages of six hours and 32 minutes and and six hours and 47 minutes, respectively.

♪ I wanna wake up in the City that never sleeps sleeps significantly less than the national average. . . . ♪

Nope. Not feeling it.
posted by The Bellman at 2:42 PM on September 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


If you aren't pooping on the clock, you're doing it wrong.

But the toilet paper at my office is terrible. Seriously, this is the only reason. Well that and my poop schedule (SHUT UP THIS IS A NORMAL THING TO HAVE) does not align with my workday.
posted by yasaman at 2:44 PM on September 5, 2014 [7 favorites]


I have no idea how much free time I have per week. Around 2 hours are devoted to tv shows or movies. Maybe 8-10 hours on video games. Time spent with friends is usually a night or two a week. Another hour or two on making music. I'm honestly not clear on where the rest of it goes. I think a frightening amount of my free time is spent dicking around online - which is sort of liminal space, isn't it? It doesn't feel as relaxing as true free time. I'm thinking more and more like I just need to log off of all spaces and see what happens.
posted by naju at 2:46 PM on September 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Time reading/playing/coaching kids

If you don't consider that free time you might need to revisit your assumptions.
posted by aspo at 2:47 PM on September 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


SHUT UP THIS IS A NORMAL THING TO HAVE

Are you kidding me, it's a fucking glorious perfect thing to which all of humanity should aspire and a thing that you take horribly for granted until ONE DREADFUL DAY A Bad Thing happens to steal it all away to leave you bereft and confused.

There was that askme a week or so ago about "what is the best part of your day" and I was frankly astonished not to see 500 answers saying POOPIN NORMALLY.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:50 PM on September 5, 2014 [11 favorites]


If you aren't pooping on the clock, you're doing it wrong.

Some of my coworkers effectively give themselves a ten percent raise this way.
posted by Dip Flash at 2:51 PM on September 5, 2014 [9 favorites]


My poop schedule looks a lot like "the first cup of coffee in the morning."
posted by gottabefunky at 2:52 PM on September 5, 2014 [14 favorites]


Either you make terrible coffee or you should see a doctor.
posted by maryr at 2:55 PM on September 5, 2014 [36 favorites]


The article didn't mention anything about commute time. Does that count as "free time"? Because I spend a total of about 40-55 minutes on my way to and from work every day and consider that as part of my "workday." It's not a particularly stressful drive or anything, at least not by LA standards, but it's still the kind of thing that adds to the pile of stuff that can make me feel exhausted. When my commute was more in the 2-2.5 hours a day range, it definitely made me feel like I had a lot less free time. Add shuttling family members to and from school and work, and you can easily lose hours of supposed "free time."
posted by yasaman at 2:57 PM on September 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


I have plenty of free time as long as you count my mothering/housewifery as not-work. Otherwise, I have two full-time jobs that involve people not respecting my boundaries, and one of them pays really crappy wages.

And I've averaged around 4 hours a sleep a night for the last decade.

And I'm really fucking crabby. And I don't like the author.
posted by bibliowench at 3:00 PM on September 5, 2014 [35 favorites]


bibliowench, I was about to write that EXACT comment! Except not decade because I have one kid and she's a year old. Sooooo reckon I have at least another decade or so to look forward to of feeling like I might keel over and die of exhaustion any day?

8.75 hours of sleep oh my god. I am not sure I've gotten that much in a single night in the past year.

Signed, a person who was just informed by a coworker that she forgot her laptop on a shelf in the ladies' room and remembers distinctly thinking as she placed it on the shelf, "I am going to feel like such a maroon if I forget this laptop on this shelf again"
posted by town of cats at 3:08 PM on September 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


I wish I got 8.75 hours of sleep a day. Good God, that would make me a better human being. I am typing this knowing I am going to have to get up at 6.20am to do a 12 hour day tomorrow (its 23.08 now), which is thankfully not a common occurrence any more.
posted by biffa at 3:09 PM on September 5, 2014


Why Seven Hours of Sleep Might Be Better Than Eight (WSJ online, July 21, 2014)
Seven hours sleep is the recipe for health (The Telegraph, 01 Jul 2010)
posted by filthy light thief at 3:09 PM on September 5, 2014


Those are my 40 hours and no, corporate buttheads, you can't have them.
posted by Annika Cicada at 3:12 PM on September 5, 2014 [8 favorites]


And here's a fun little graph in a detailed article: productivity and hourly compensation both trended up evenly until the 1970s, where productivity continued to climb but hourly compensation of wobbled around.

This is why I revel in not working at work. Fuck pay inequality, I'm gonna enjoy myself.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:13 PM on September 5, 2014 [11 favorites]


Lifestyle articles here can often feel like 6 degrees of poopin' on the clock.
posted by Carillon at 3:14 PM on September 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't have time for this.

...

Seriously, double income-no kids means I have quite a lot of free time. No car, live in a condo as well.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 3:15 PM on September 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


When I was unemployed, I was depressed and sleeping like 11 hours every day.

Yes, this happened to me when I was employed as well.
posted by todayandtomorrow at 3:23 PM on September 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


Sooooo reckon I have at least another decade or so to look forward to of feeling like I might keel over and die of exhaustion any day?

Nah. Eventually it become the new, highly irritable, sort of manic normal. But then, I've had insomnia since I was in preschool - I used to get spanked because I was unable to nap (which helped tons, I'm sure).

So maybe I should consider 11pm-3am my free time.
posted by bibliowench at 3:24 PM on September 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


“There’s greater equality in doing housework and childbearing now, but it probably won’t be 50% for awhile.”

Even if they really did mean to say that, I don't think the problem with childbearing is that it's a timesink.

But I am trying to tangle out how people report squishy caregiving activities like reading to and playing with kids. I know some women who have almost no time actually to themselves, but who regularly participate in leisure activities with their kids like watching children's shows and reading childrens' books, plus constant low-level interactions throughout the day. Is watching your kids on a playground work or leisure?

I think there's a pretty big difference between that sort of thing and actually having leisure time to spend doing activities you'd choose for yourself.
posted by ernielundquist at 3:25 PM on September 5, 2014 [10 favorites]


A friend of mine figured that if you cut one minute from your commute (two minutes round trip), you save the equivalent of one vacation day a year.
posted by exogenous at 3:26 PM on September 5, 2014 [8 favorites]


I would rather have the vacation day.
posted by maryr at 3:27 PM on September 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


So maybe I should consider 11pm-3am my free time.

INSOMNIA FOR THE WIN!!!
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess at 3:28 PM on September 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Time spent minimally attending to and educating your kids is an obligation of parenting--a social duty--not free time. You can be charged with neglect under the law if you don't do it enough. Not to mention running the risk of just being a crappy person.
posted by saulgoodman at 3:36 PM on September 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


I probably average about 8 hours of sleep, but the distribution is extremely bimodal. Functional-but-overworked mode = 4-5 hours; burnt-out-and-depressed-mode = sleeps all day.

But on average I'm doin' great.
posted by pemberkins at 3:39 PM on September 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I don't really get those sleep hours I used in my estimate either. I carve out probably 16 to 18 hours per week for creative projects and relaxing by staying up until 1:30ish most weeknights and later on weekends. But I was trying to use minimal numbers required for being healthy/sane.
posted by saulgoodman at 3:39 PM on September 5, 2014


There was that askme a week or so ago about "what is the best part of your day"

Can someone link this? It sounds interesting but I can't find it.
posted by threeants at 3:39 PM on September 5, 2014


Here's a nice rebuttal to Robinson by Bridget Schulte, especially as his work relates to women. Among other things, he counts waiting for a tow truck as leisure time.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 3:43 PM on September 5, 2014 [7 favorites]


DO YOU PEOPLE KNOW WHAT AVERAGE MEANS

FUCK
posted by blue t-shirt at 3:52 PM on September 5, 2014 [15 favorites]


here's a hint: it means "not you, specifically"
posted by blue t-shirt at 3:52 PM on September 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


Coworker of mine came to me on Wednesday and said, "I'm trying out this new thing. We built a home office so I'm probably going to be leaving between 5:30 and 6 every day. I'm still going to be getting in at the same time but I'm leaving early. If you need to reach me after that I'll probably be at home and might be eating dinner or something, but now with the home office I'll be able to check back in between 9 and 10."

Now let me tell you a few things:
-our office hours are 8am to 5pm
-never once since we've worked together have I tried to contact her before 8 or after 5
-she gets in between 7 and 7:30 most mornings (not that I would know this from practical experience, but I have been told)

She came to me this morning and was like, "you know? I think this new chill schedule is really working for me. I have so much free time now! I know I'm kind of slacking off, but I just feel so much better about life, you know?"
posted by phunniemee at 3:54 PM on September 5, 2014


For us over-50's (or okay, for me, at least), time isn't the problem; it's energy.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:08 PM on September 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


A friend of mine figured that if you cut one minute from your commute (two minutes round trip), you save the equivalent of one vacation day a year.

I would rather have the vacation day.


I would rather have vacation days I can actually take—or more money. I'm allotted like 20 vacation days per year, plus up to five days carried over from the previous year. I'm never able to use more than half of them in a given year.

Now that I'm home from work, I've eaten, and my sick husband is asleep, I'm going to go visit my sick father in the hospital. Forty hours of free time in a week my ass.
posted by limeonaire at 4:21 PM on September 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


here's a hint: it means "not you, specifically"

I'm sorry--I took the point to be that this person supposedly has some kind of general advice for people that actually exist other than as an incidental byproduct of a mathematical operation. If his advice wasn't meant for me, I guess I'll just disregard it. Thanks for saving me some time!
posted by saulgoodman at 4:29 PM on September 5, 2014 [9 favorites]


here's a hint: it means "not you, specifically"

Well, duh. I'm not average, I'm exceptional!
posted by phatkitten at 4:36 PM on September 5, 2014


The Jawbone data linked above is damning. This may be one of those instances where the population is telling the researcher what they want to hear combined with what they perceive, rather than what they experience.

As an insomniac, I set an alarm. If I get up when the alarm goes off, internally, I assume I had a full nights sleep. If I need to hit the snooze button and give myself 15 minutes to shower, dress and break the fast, then I assume I had a hard night of it. It's just something I believe, even though I now know, thanks to various sleep apps and a careful reconsideration of my own behavior, it's just not true. I didn't pay attention to when I went to bed, or discounted the time laying in bed awake.

A sleep diary is always going to be colored by assumptions made by the diary keeper. Fitbit and my android app isn't smart enough to make assumptions, it just records what is.

Another consideration is the amount of recuperation the brain needs after a lot of cogitation - even factory work requires the worker to be aware of what's going on, learn and improve on what they're doing. "Knowledge workers", well, moreso. This work requires energy, neuroscience tells us, and the devious devil of it is that even when we're daydreaming while filling out or time-cards and doing other rote cognitive tasks, the rote, dull stuff is still eating up energy required by the brain.

So, we think more, we need to veg out. More than ever, we have to have time to space out. We believe in the modern day that "doing nothing" is accomplishing nothing, when our poor neurons know better.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:44 PM on September 5, 2014 [22 favorites]


Is watching your kids on a playground work or leisure?

Work. Definitely. Even when I take a book and try to read, I get about half a page in and then "No! Don't jump off the top of the slide!" A few more sentences and it's time to take a look at a scraped knee and assure the kid that it is not going to kill her or re-tie a shoe after it fell off at the merry-go-round. I'll be lucky to finish a chapter by the time everyone is ready to go home.

Other things I count as work, rather than leisure (which would spending my time as I choose, in an activity pleasurable for me): reading the same darn picture book for the 30th time this week, playing Candy Land, listening to my second-grader do her assigned "read aloud for 20 minutes" every night
posted by belladonna at 4:57 PM on September 5, 2014 [11 favorites]


I would be a lot more interested in a study that tracked both time and affect. Like, how did you spend your time, did you feel like it was a good use of your time, did you feel that it was compulsory or your own choice, and was it enjoyable or fulfilling or neither? I mean, by this study's metric a trip to the DMV or a night watching over a violently puking child is "leisure," but I bet most people do not find these activities as restorative as something where they got to choose what to do out of more than a sense of being obliged.
posted by en forme de poire at 5:12 PM on September 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


The other thing is that I think variance matters quite a lot for sleep hygeine and perception of tiredness. If you average 8 hours as a college student but swing between 3 and 12 any given day, my understanding is that on average you would be a lot more tired than someone who keeps themselves out of sleep debt altogether.
posted by en forme de poire at 5:23 PM on September 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Is reading the blue and commenting on articles considered "free time?"

Or is it just our time?
posted by Chuffy at 5:24 PM on September 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I plan my wakeup schedule based around my alarm going off 30 minutes to an hour before when I need to start preparing for the day. I like having my sleep distracted by periodic alarms before actually waking up. I believe that makes me the antichrist.
posted by halifix at 5:39 PM on September 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


he counts waiting for a tow truck as leisure time.

So he's this guy.
posted by arcticseal at 5:56 PM on September 5, 2014


I teach a Saturday morning class, both to give myself a weekday "off" and because I'm not really fully awake before 10, so by the time I start measuring the day, I'm already a third of the way through the class.

I think the solution is to redefine work as something we do in our sleep.
posted by bibliowench at 5:56 PM on September 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Work. Definitely. Even when I take a book and try to read, I get about half a page in and then "No! Don't jump off the top of the slide!" A few more sentences and it's time to take a look at a scraped knee and assure the kid that it is not going to kill her or re-tie a shoe after it fell off at the merry-go-round. I'll be lucky to finish a chapter by the time everyone is ready to go home.

In case you missed Ralston McTodd's post up there, don't miss the explanation of "contaminated time," which falls exactly in line with what you're saying, and with a lot of what I've seen happening to women I know. Even basic body functions and simple tasks can be interrupted multiple times, stretching five minute things out to twenty minutes multiple times a day; and somehow, even the punk rockest mom ever ends up spending her 'leisure time' on smarmy children's media. They make the best of it, sure, but that's not what they'd be doing if they were really at leisure to choose.

So either every mom I know is a total outlier, or those studies are measuring funny.
posted by ernielundquist at 6:20 PM on September 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


Among other things, he counts waiting for a tow truck as leisure time.

...but if your kid is with you while you wait, then it's child care.

This Robinson dude appears to think activities can only fit in one of several categories, and that since it's his study, he can define the categories. Sure, I'll give him that, it's his prerogative, just as it is mine to look at his findings and go "Whoa, Robinson dude, this is inherently flawed since time definition is subjective."

Whoa, Robinson dude, this is inherently flawed since time definition is subjective.


Oh, and fuck him for considering parenting time to be "contaminated". Surely a better adjective could have been found.
posted by Spatch at 6:21 PM on September 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


pofffin boffin: Or you would prefer not to share the trials and tribulations of your body's excretory system with all of your coworkers.

Amen to that. If I walk into the men's room and it sounds like a crocodile with its head caught in a bucket, I'm walking right the hell out.
posted by dr_dank at 6:37 PM on September 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


Metafilter: Sounds like a crocodile with its head caught in a bucket.
posted by Kitteh at 6:42 PM on September 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


fuck him for considering parenting time to be "contaminated"

I was actually just coming back here to say, after reading that article, I think the term "contaminated time" is right on. I'm not a parent, but I am a "mother" to two sick men right now, and man...

I don't know whether you read the linked article, but that wasn't Robinson's term, by the way; it sounds like Robinson is indeed full of it, but the one critiquing him is Brigid Schulte, and she's the one who uses that term, which comes from sociology. No one's saying devoted "parenting time" is "contaminated"; they're saying that time when you would otherwise be doing a leisure activity (like reading), but during which you're also forced to be parenting (or, to give a recent example from my life, listening to someone retch repeatedly and getting interrupted regularly to administer care) would fall under the definition of "contaminated time."
posted by limeonaire at 7:29 PM on September 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh my god Christ I never before felt so strongly that I don't want kids. That's too much work. And I'd have to work the full fucking fourty to support them instead of getting by freelancing 15 hours a week.
posted by floam at 7:40 PM on September 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I often wish that I could get more than 8 hours in a night. I'm happy, and shocked, to hear that the average American comes out at 8.75 in any study. It seems to go against the general, reported trends of the last two decades (at least). The Jawbone data is closer to most of the reading I've done on this subject.

Even when I really need the sleep, I usually can't get more than about 6 - 7 hours in a night. Even on the weekend, when I am theoretically free to sleep in a bit, I'm usually up at "work time." I often stay up later, but rarely get up any later to make up for it. As I get older, I find that I'm not anywhere near as resilient in terms of absorbing those lost hours of sleep, so I have to be more mindful of getting to bed at a decent hour.

I love sleep. I would sleep 11 hours a day if I could. I've struggled with insomnia for most of my life, so sleep has always been this incredibly precious, wonderful thing that is slightly out of reach. Despite my love for sleep, I wish I could use that time in some other way. I've lost a lot of nights to Mefi. I never regret it when I'm in the midst, but the next day is never good.

Present drklahn is future drklahn's greatest nemesis.

For anyone who is interested in the physiology of sleep and its importance to health, I highly, highly recommend this Google Tech Talk on healthy sleep and optimal performance by Dr. William Dement, one of the world's foremost sleep researchers and the founder of the world's first sleep laboratory. Dr. Dement used to give this talk at Google every year, and it was one of the most highly attended and appreciated lectures at the company. It is, in my opinion, absolutely worth an hour of your time if you have any interest at all in the importance of sleep in terms of optimizing health, happiness, and general performance.
posted by drklahn at 9:21 PM on September 5, 2014 [7 favorites]


Wow, that article is really badly written. Reads like something from a college newspaper. A bad college newspaper.

The closing paragraph: "When looking back later, you may find, as Robinson has found with his collected diaries, what you think you’re doing and what you’re actually doing may be two very different scenarios."
posted by signal at 9:41 PM on September 5, 2014


And I'd have to work the full fucking fourty to support them instead of getting by freelancing 15 hours a week.

For a bare minimum of 18 years as well.

basically it is a prison sentence where your cellmate sometimes throws up on you and cries a lot
posted by poffin boffin at 9:52 PM on September 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


It is, in my opinion, absolutely worth an hour of your time if you have any interest at all in the importance of sleep in terms of optimizing health, happiness, and general performance.

There's also an interactive transcript if you want to skip the lighter fare and get right to the meat.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:53 PM on September 5, 2014


I just can't deal with all of the bullshit. And Ghostride The Whip took the thread straight off.
posted by sfts2 at 10:58 PM on September 5, 2014


The 8.75 hours of sleep is the average, but actually I am doing All The Sleeping. I am doing so much sleeping that the rest of you, with your four hours a night, are still averaging out to 8.75 hours all because of me. I sleep so you don't have to. You can thank me later.

Or maybe just by helping me with next week's ask metafilter question about how to get up in the morning thanks.
posted by lollusc at 11:02 PM on September 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


basically it is a prison sentence where your cellmate sometimes throws up on you and cries a lot

Aren't you supposed to be the warden?
The long-suffering, eye-rolling but patient as a saint character rewarded with sad trombone - or a single, long-resonating bass drum beat to punctuate the end of their scenes.

Fade to dotage...
posted by Pudhoho at 12:44 AM on September 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


it is a prison sentence where your cellmate sometimes throws up on you

In prison you'd shiv someone for pulling that shit.
posted by ryanrs at 2:07 AM on September 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


The Jawbone data linked above is d***ing. This may be one of those instances where the population is telling the researcher what they want to hear combined with what they perceive, rather than what they experience.

I believe the Jawbone device measures the actual time users spend not moving at night, then wirelessly syncs that information with the Jawbone servers. That fact alone makes it a little more interesting and possibly reliable than sleep diaries, but I Am Not A Social Scientist.
posted by craniac at 3:41 AM on September 6, 2014


There's a guy who works at a few offices down the hall from me - he's Perter Principle personified. Totally inadequate for his role - we call his word documents christmas decorations because of the amount of red and green underlines. He once gave me a document which had a new word - "pacifically" - as in "This pacifically relates to..."

But this guy works. He's in at 8 and leaves the office at 8, and he's in every weekend. He makes useless processes that no one follows. He multiple meetings a day which no one attends.

One evening I was working late and left the office - his light was still on so I checked in to see what he was up to. It was about eight -

What are you up to Rick?

Oh, I'm really not happy with the terms in our telephony contract - I might see if we can have them altered.

Oh OK, what in particular?

Seems that they aren't spelling out their SLAs (SLA being recently regurgitated from some recent training), and we might be "exposed"

Oh - so you think Telstra (Australia's eqiv of Bell) are going to change their contract for us (a business with a three million dollar turn over)?

Hmm, maybe not. maybe I'll talk to the solicitors tomorrow.

WTF - who gives a shit?

He's like this - he just can't do nothing. Like he doesn't do anything anyway - but to go to some pointless file, a telephony contact at 6PM and give it a good old read until 8PM - and I know he would have contacted the firms solicitors who would have ignored him. It's like he's scared of being alone with himself, or that if he does nothing he'll be exposed as a fraud - like everyone knows he's a fraud anyway. It must be hell.

Weird guy - we have him pegged as the dude most likely to come in with a gun. He has a family, three young kids - like man - aren't you needed at home?
posted by mattoxic at 4:07 AM on September 6, 2014 [9 favorites]


Jawbone recently published some sleep data based on its users. While their users are obviously going to skew to a different demographic, I think the data is telling.

So the ATUS study says young people, old people, and unemployed people sleep more than the average. Jawbone says people who are happy to spend a hundred bucks or more on an electronic device for a "holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle" sleep less than the average. I don't see any contradiction here.
posted by effbot at 5:32 AM on September 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


If you're feeling tired all the time, try removing caffeine from your diet. It's a drug, and it has the same kind of withdrawal effects as any other drug: namely, it requires more to achieve effect and makes you tired when you don't get it. Most people are making themselves tired by having several cups of coffee or sodas a day. Ditching caffeine can be tough at first (headaches being the worst thing) but that doesn't last too long and you'll suddenly start feeling better. In fact, after a while, you'll find that if you are legit tired because of something else, a cup of coffee or tea will actually now do its job of perking you up instead of barely keeping you going.

Same goes for sugar, incidentally.
posted by Legomancer at 6:45 AM on September 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Time reading/playing/coaching kids

If you don't consider that free time you might need to revisit your assumptions.


I'm the main caretaker for my kids, and I love it. It's great. It's also a ton of work. You can enjoy all or part what you're doing, and it still be work.

The idea that it isn't work picking them up from school, or getting the ready to go to the park, or shepherding them through a museum, or whatever REALLY minimizes my contribution to the household, and the contributions of others who are the main care givers in their family. Please stop it.
posted by Gygesringtone at 6:50 AM on September 6, 2014 [15 favorites]


Jeez, talk about hyperbole! A prison sentence! You realize, the way you look at things greatly shapes the experience of the things. Parenting is no more a prison sentence than the college philosophy course I took where the professor pointed out that economic necessity forced many of us to be in his class in order to weed out the less committed students. Metaphors can be useful and instructive, but picking the most depressing ones through which to view activities that are vitally necessary for the continuing existence of humanity seems like a dumb way to go (dumm gelaufen) if we don't want to make ourselves miserable for no good reason. The way we look at things changes the experience, and I don't want to be in prison, nor do I feel like I'm in prison, so I reject this frame as nasty and pointlessly self-pitying.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:56 AM on September 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


If you're feeling tired all the time, try removing caffeine from your diet.

Or, as per the Dement video linked above, you can try repaying your sleep debt. Basically you allow yourself to "oversleep" as much as you can for as long as you can; eventually you hit a plateau of sleep time and at this point a lot of people report feeling way better (less daytime sleepiness, no "dip" after lunch, better glucose control, better athletic performance, etc., etc.). But you can't just skip to the plateau and get the same benefits.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:09 AM on September 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yer, so much of this is contingent on circumstances and what people are actually doing during their allocated time and leisure time and how tiring it is. Plus, how much of work time is now spent actually working (using your brain, interacting etc) compared with the past, when you dictated a letter to your secretary then had a full tumbler of whiskey then went off to your three martini lunch and it was work?

I know I don't slack off when working, I don't read any websites that aren't related to my job, etc - but I am also a contracted home worker so have all my travel time for field visits (no commute) counted as work time. I will also put my kid to bed then think 'oh, I'll just send this email' then two hours later I'm still working, so my actual hours of work are far greater than when I had to travel to an office but I am working the entire time and there's no chatting with colleagues or reading websites. However, I can also have a nap when I feel like it and often do, so that's a trade off I am very happy to live with.

But then, I have an extremely rambunctious preschooler and while I love the flexibility of my job it is hard emotionally, mentally and physically. My leisure time is often spent on the sofa, reading the internet and watching TV because my body and mind *literally can't handle anything else*. If I was a middle class, office working man up to the 90s (and probably beyond) my work time was pretty leisurely most of the time, and I had few responsibilities outside that. As a middle-class, professional mother in the 2010s I am fucking knackered no matter how much sleep I get.
posted by goo at 6:34 PM on September 6, 2014


I want to add-- people who didn't want children are a different case, of course. If it was an accidental or otherwise unintentional child, I can see why having children might truly be like a prison in those circumstances, but I still don't think it helps anyone to look at it that way when they still have to do the job either way, if they can.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:46 PM on September 6, 2014


I fully refuse to believe that half of Americans get nine or more hours of sleep every day. Fully. Refuse.

I think the numbers work if you factor in dead people.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:33 PM on September 9, 2014


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