How do we spend our days?

People who are nearing retirement either dream of or fret about the time when they will have eight extra hours a day to take it easy.  A friend just sent me a recent report that should dishearten the dreamers and tranquilize the fretters.  “How retirees spend their days,” an analysis of the June Bureau of Labor Statistics report American Time Use Survey, says “Americans between ages of 65 and 74 spend only about 1.7 more hours per day on leisure activities than the population as a whole.”  “Leisure time activities” are defined as “reading and relaxing, socializing and exercising.”

So what do we oldsters do on a typical day if we’re not taking part in the activities above?  Apparently we sleep an average of 12 minutes longer than the rest of you, watch way too much TV (3.8 hours per weekday), linger longer over meals (by about 10 minutes), dedicate more time to keeping our houses clean, shop longer than the average 15-19 year old (or perhaps just spend more time searching out bargains), and devote about 10 minutes more per day to “organizational, civic and religious activities.”  I was surprised to learn that we do not engage in educational activities.  Whatever happened to lifelong learning?

Of course, all these averages make more sense when talking about our weekly or monthly lives and not our daily lives, but a phenomenon I’ve experienced in my first year off work is having less time than I expected each day to fit in everything I’d like to do.  Most days I manage to work in my extra 1.7 hours for play and relaxation.  It’s the other things that retirees do — household chores, clipping coupons, and “helping people who live outside their houses,” or don’t do — educational activities — that still haven’t found a home in my schedule.  Guess I’ll go watch TV now and think about how to solve this problem.

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About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness.
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4 Responses to How do we spend our days?

  1. Jackie Smith says:

    Okay, so here’s the deal: I get up earlier just to get everything – those extra minutes of volunteer stuff, fun stuff (writing) and needed stuff (exercise and housekeeping) done. I stay up later because I can’t fit everything into the day that goes far too fast. . .I need to retire from retirement!

  2. I agree with Jackie. I’ve surprised myself by getting up much earlier than I predicted before retirement (although I sometimes indulge in a small sleep-in). Most days I’m up with the sun and ready to go. So much to do! Today I’ve already managed two loads of laundry, read a back-copy of the New York Times, took a shower and cleaned the bathroom, put in about two hours of work for the Network, another hour of unpacking and organizing moving boxes, and now I’m off to lunch with friends. And yes, I find I also stay up much later because, between Netflix and books and crosswords, there’s are too many entertaining activities to bother with sleep! Oh, did I mention those little afternoon naps?

  3. webmaster says:

    I don’t know how either of you do it. I don’t sleep well at night, so sleep in in the morning, do almost no housework, and go to bed at the same time I always did. I linger with the cat on my lap while reading the morning paper. I need to learn your secrets.

  4. Dick Clark says:

    My fellow residents at Emerald Heights clearly didn’t get the message. Other than possibly lingering more over their meals (because the food is very good) they are much more active than the report Ann has shared. More physical fitness, games, study sessions, side-trips to local events, etc.

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