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What are We Doing with Our Lives?

This was the title of a recent Time magazine article – more of an infographic, really.

The infographic spans the gamut from whether we use all our vacation days each year to how much time we spend checking email at home each night.

There are statistics for whether men or women watch more television daily (men), how much student debt the average graduate carries (far too much, IMO), whether we rent or own, and what we do with each 24-hour allotment.

There is also a preceding four-part infographic that attempts to summarize how SAT scores, education level, age of death, smoking, sex life, and drug use correlate with income earning potential.

Reading through this, I discovered I may have multiple personalities.

By which I mean, according to my SAT scores and level of higher education, among other aspects, I should be in a different class of folks than where I am income-wise.

Interesting. I guess.

By far the most actually interesting part of these infographics is the section labeled “time use.”

Here (in order of time spent) is how we – regardless of SAT scores, income level, drugs/cigarettes and vape mods/sex/etc. – use our time each day:

  • Working
  • Sleeping
  • Leisure activities (sports, etc.)
  • Caring for others
  • Eating/drinking
  • Household activities
  • Other

While I’m not sure which category this falls into (other? household activities? leisure activities?), we only spent one-quarter hour per day making phone calls, checking (non-work, I assume) email, and sorting through our mail.

We spend three-quarters of an hour daily on the computer, which includes playing video games.

We watch just under three hours of television each day (guilty as charged).

And we leave an average of four vacation days unused annually (totaling 577,212,000 unused vacation days nationwide).

Finally – despite our so-called “workaholic” culture, average daily reported work hours hover between just 7.73 and 8.34 hours per day, which hardly gives us a nationwide case of burning the midnight oil.

I’ve revisited these statistics a few times now over a period of a few weeks.

What strikes me again and again is how much less extreme the numbers actually are than what much of the media likes to report.

Our “real” friendships and relationships are not being swallowed up by the internet – not at a daily rate of 15 minutes’ worth of checking email, anyway.

Our work and personal time is really rather balanced, overall (8.8 hours working, 7.7 hours sleeping, and the rest devoted to non-work activities).

After feeling so ab-normal for so many years in terms of lifestyle, income level, leisure activities, relationship status, and just about everything else, I am now finding I feel much more relaxed about each and all of these things.

I am also discovering I just no longer really care.

It is just stuff. Just statistics. It is an average – a bell curve – made up of either-end extremes as well as median-huggers.

It occurs to me, after reading through the five pages of infographics for the umpteenth time, that it is finally time to depart from my worries about what I am doing with my life, if I am where I am “supposed to be” for my age, education, IQ, gender, nationality, etc., etc., etc.


This too is just stuff. It is just statistics. It can be interesting for a moment – the way watching a 30-second commercial for an upcoming episode of “The Real Housewives of Wherever” is interesting for a moment – and then it becomes oh-so-uninteresting again as it fades away in favor of my ever-changing, always-unfolding real life.

Today’s Takeaway: Where do you fit in with these statistics? Do you care? Are you at all curious? If so, why do you think you are curious? If not, why? Does reading through comparison-type statistics such as these offer you any practical help or life guidance – why or why not?

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