The average full-time worker spent 8 hours 44 minutes a day on employment-related activities. But we’re getting pretty much the same amount of sleep – about 8½ hours on average for both men and women.
Caution, however, is needed in interpreting these new results. The data was collected from 2,000 households between November 2020 and July 2021. So the times reported reflect the COVID-19 pandemic, with closed borders, restrictions and lockdowns. These were not ‘normal’ times.
Comparisons with the past data (from 2006, 1997, 1992 and the 1987 pilot study) are further complicated by the bureau warning the new figures “are not fully comparable with previous collections due to changes in methodology”.
With this in mind, let’s take a look.
How we use our time
Necessary activities are things like sleeping, eating and personal care.
Contracted activities are things such as paid work and education. Committed activities cover unpaid domestic chores, child care, adult care and voluntary work. Free time means exactly that.
These times add up to over 24 hours. This is because many people spend part of their day doing two things at once. For example, while at work or driving or having breakfast (what the bureau terms a “primary” activity), they may be listening to the radio (a “secondary” activity).
When we’re working
Most of us who work do so during standard office or trading hours. But about a tenth of all workers were working between 8 pm and 10 pm at the time of the survey – either because they were shift workers or due to (paid or unpaid) overtime.
Time on domestic chores
On average women spent 3 hours 22 minutes a day on domestic responsibilities, compared with 2 hours 19 minutes for men. (Child-care responsibilities were on top of this – an average of 1 hour 26 minutes for women, 40 minutes for men.)
The percentage of men reporting doing any domestic activities was 84%, compared with 94% of women. Participation differences were particularly pronounced in housework (72% of women compared with 44% of men) and cooking (77% of women compared with 56% of men).
How we use our leisure time
In its 2006 survey the ABS reported five main categories for how people spent their leisure time: sport and other outdoor activities; games, hobbies, arts and crafts; talking, writing or reading correspondence; using audiovisual media; and “other” activities.
This survey has updated procedures to ensure greater clarity around our burgeoning consumption of various types of media – recording times for listening to music and podcasts; games and puzzles; video games; and general internet and device use.
Feeling under pressure
Are gender differences narrowing?
However, with comparisons with earlier years being muddied by the pandemic and changes to coding procedures, we will have to wait for the next time-use survey for a clearer picture.
Hopefully it won’t be 15 years.