24 hours in a day!

24 hours in a day!

I am quite sure I am not on my own when I ask the question – where did the last 24 hours go?

It is not uncommon to find life and time becoming a blur. Work, family and personal commitments all take time but have you ever wondered exactly how much?

What about when we retire? How does the way people spend their time in retirement differ? Is there more time to enjoy life?

I did a little digging to see if I could find some factual evidence. Using the wonderful world of Google I came across a fairly comprehensive report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics – How Australians Use Their Time 2006.

The report divided the day into four main categories:

  1. Necessary time – describing activities that are performed for personal survival, such as sleeping, eating and personal hygiene.
  2. Contracted time – describing activities such as paid work, where there are explicit contracts which control the periods of time in which the activities are performed.
  3. Committed time – describing activities to which a person has committed themselves such as household duties, shopping, volunteering, child care, etc.
  4. Free time –the time left over after the allocation of the previous three types of time. In other words, recreation and leisure.

On average, across all age groups and gender, Australians spend 46% of their time on ‘necessary time’ activities, with women spending an extra 11 minutes a day on personal hygiene – this could explain the extra time required in a bathroom.

The interesting statistic for me was the average time spent sleeping. Across both sexes, it was a very similar eight and a half hours – I must admit I cannot remember the last time I had that much sleep in one night. The champion age group in the category of sleeping is – no surprise – 15 – 24 year olds with a total of nine hours and two minutes.

Overall, the amount of ‘necessary time’ increases as we age, especially for those over the age of 65. This reflects a growing demand for more health care and a reduction in the need for ‘contracted time’ activities such as work.

A good reflection of this is if we look at the amount of time men spend working. This drops from a peak of six hours and 18 minutes for the age group 25 – 34, to three hours and 53 minutes for 55 and 64 year olds, to just 21 minutes for men over the age of 75.

Unfortunately, domestic duties are still mainly performed by women. In most age groups, women spend twice as much time on domestic duties as men, even past the age of 75. In this category, men spend, on average, two hours and 47 minutes on domestic duties in comparison to women, who spend three hours and 33 minutes. Obviously for men, old habits, even in retirement, are hard to break.

So where are men over the age of 75 spending that extra hour? Recreation and leisure, of course! Accounting for a total of six hours and 26 minutes, with fifty percent of this time in front of the television, no doubt watching sport.

An interesting statistic was the time a male spent with a partner. This peaked at a massive 118 hours and 15 minutes per week between the ages of 65 and 74, jumping by 30 hours a week from the ages of 45 to 54. This increase in hours no doubt adds to the list of adjustments a person needs to make in retirement.

For women the amount of time spent with a partner grew less as they grew older, falling away sharply to just 56 hours and 36 minutes over the age of 75 – a reflection of their longer life expectancy. This statistic is also reflected in the time women over the age of 75 spent alone – 76 hours – in comparison to men at just 31 hours per week.

I am not sure, that the Australian Bureau of Statistics has answered my original question – where did the last 24 hours go? However, it has given me a better understanding of where we spend our time and how our usage of time changes as we transition from a working life to a retired life.


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