You’re probably not as busy as you say you are

“Sorry, I’ve just been so busy.”

“I’ve been too swamped to get around to it.”

“I don’t even have a minute to breathe.”

“There’s just not enough time in the day.”

We hear — and most of us use — exasperated claims like this every day. But in general, it’s a fiction. Most of us are not “too busy”; few of us have the “full plate” we think or say we have. These are excuses we make either because we genuinely have ourselves convinced that we don’t have time or we simply don’t want to do something.

Most people make the time for what they want to do, even at the expense of time needed for what they have to do, and there’s plenty of data to support that assertion. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ exhaustive American Time Use Survey is the authoritative repository of such data, and other sources, including Pew Research and the Mendelsohn Affluent Survey, further corroborate.

Our time use has been studied and broken down in every conceivable way. But a salient conclusion is that — irrespective of education or income — as a population we aren’t as consumed with work as we might have ourselves and others believe. We have plenty of discretionary time: We spend a quarter to a third of our waking hours on non-work related activities, and that doesn’t include time spent doing personal stuff while at work. (Come on, you know you do.) Just a few interesting tidbits from the latest stats:


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