The Bureau of Labor Statistics issues an annual report called the American Time Use Survey that relies on self-reporting from a pool of respondents as to where all their time goes.

Compared to 2007, we are now reading even less, watching more TV and playing more video games.

US Leisure Time 2007

And now? Although we have even more leisure time than ever, we read less and play video games more. What will do you do with your time?

US Leisure Time 2010

According to a recent HealthyWomen’s survey of 1000 women, conducted by Harris Interactive, women’s daily time-crunched “pain points” are very much in line with what I discovered in my own research for The Power of Slow. Although I didn’t separate men and women’s time demands, this survey’s findings show our specific time challenges. Give it a read and let me know if you agree or not. Your voice counts!

The survey revealed that women’s busiest hours are in the early morning and early evening — very closely connected to the work day.  The survey also found that the number one activity that takes time away from women is domestic chores. As I traipse up and down three flights of stairs to hang, fold, iron and put away laundry, I couldn’t agree more!

These findings affirm that, despite women taking on greater responsibilities outside the home, they are still very much constrained by household roles. Fortunately, they are also finding novel strategies to cope.

I had a brief phone chat with HealthyWomen’s executive director, Beth Battaglino Cahill, a nurse and expert on women’s health and lifestyle issues. She spoke about authenticity in the workplace and how important it is to show your human side. “We have to reprogram ourselves to shut dow the computer and focus on one thing at a time.” She advises women to utilize the time in the car to actually talk to your kids instead of tuning into your handheld device. She also suggests taking the all-elusive ‘me time’. “Taking care of yourself makes you a better person,” she said.

Similar to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual American Time Use Survey, the HealthyWomen survey revealed how women are spending their time…and how they wish they could:

~Women are doing more than ever.  They are working outside the home, yet are still spending significant time on domestic chores (49%) and paying bills or running errands (47%). Almost a quarter of women (23%) said that their time-draining activities included personal communications chores such as making phone calls, texting and emailing.

~Younger women (ages 18-34) have different time burdens.  They were more likely than those over 35 to cite communicating with others through phone calls, texts and email as an activity that keeps them from doing what they want to do.  Younger women also are much more likely to say that personal hygiene takes up too much time.

~Women would rather be spending their time on leisure pursuits or with friends and family.  When asked what they would do if they had more time, the majority of women (65%) would use it for entertainment, such as reading, watching TV and using the Internet. More than half of the women surveyed said they would spend time with friends or family (54%).  Younger women wanted more “me time” and were more likely to say that they would spend time ‘doing nothing’ or sleeping.

One thing the survey highlighted was the notion of ‘saving time by multitasking,” something I found to be misleading. Women need to be honest with themselves that they can’t be, do and react to all things at all times. However, prioritizing, asking for help and delegating are powerful solutions to the increasing demands on our time.

~To get through their to-do list, women are doing chores during commercial breaks and taking public transportation so they can use their commute time to catch up on reading.  Many women find it difficult to prioritize their own needs – but some are finding success by setting personal boundaries, limiting their time on the phone or asking friends for help running errands.  A little bit of support goes a long way in saving time!

 

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