We are all too busy. At least this is what we proudly tell ourselves and others. I wrote about this before– everyone seems to be so crazy busy that busyness is now seen as a virtue, a symbol of status. If you are busy and unavailable you surely must be living an important life. But I am reading a fascinating book, Overwhelmed, that offers a different perspective to the hysterical condition of our busy lives. Washington Post reporter Brigid Schulte has investigated the cultural epidemic of “overwhelm” to write the book and one of the points raised is that we exaggerate how busy we are. In the book, sociologist John Robinson argues that women have 30 hours of leisure time per week. He says:
“[Women] have at least thirty hours of leisure every week. It’s not as much as men, but women have more leisure time now than they did in the 1960, even though more women are working outside the home.”
I’m only in the second chapter, but I’m finding this argument quite implausible. So, I decided to do a time diary. A typical day for me includes:
1.30 minutes of breakfast, lunchboxes getting ready to school
1 hour of school drop off/pickup
1.30 minutes preparing/eating dinner
1.30 min hour for homework/reading/afterschool activities
30 minutes preparing kids to bed
30 minutes shower, brushing teeth, getting ready to bed
30 minutes of housework
1 hour of exercise/gym
8 hours of work
7 hours of sleep
According to my calculations I can easily account for 23 hours of my day. And this does not include a phone call to a friend, checking personal emails, meditation, walk the dog, a bit of social media here and there or writing or reading. I can’t see where I would fit 4.2 hours per day of leisure time (30 hours per week), unless I cut back on sleep.
I think the time sheet above is pretty common to most working parents. So the question is, are we really too busy? Do we really need to cut back on sleep to squeeze in more leisure time? I can’t wait to move on to the next chapters to find out more, but looks like I’ll either have to sleep less tonight or wait until the next weekend. In the meantime I’d love to hear your thoughts.