Survey: The average American has less than half an hour of free time per week

When it comes to balancing time, Americans are currently putting off an average of 14 things on their to-do lists.

Andrey Grushnikov / Pexels

According to a survey conducted on 2,000 individuals by Onepoll on behalf of H&R Block, 59% of Americans find it extremely difficult to balance work and their personal schedules.

In fact, the average participant claimed to be so busy they only get about 26 minutes of free time a week. This leads to one and five US workers disregarding their non-professional objectives.


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When it comes to balancing the respondents of the survey disclosed that they are currently putting off 14 things on their to-do lists. More grimly, roughly one and four bemoaned being too preoccupied with work to make regular doctor appointments and about half of those that file their own taxes outed their hectic schedule as the reason they won’t this year.

The greater majority of the individuals surveyed admitted to ignoring more intimate and less crucial everyday tasks. The most popular life administrative tasks that are collectively being put off by Americans are as follows:

  1. Cleaning: 47.86%
  2. Household maintenance/repairs: 39.55%
  3. Laundry: 38.32%
  4. Shopping: 32.72%
  5. Going to the gym: 31.67%
  6. Making appointments (doctor, etc.): 27.03%
  7. Cook: 25.98%
  8. Car maintenance: 25.63%
  9. Going to the bank: 22.92%
  10. Paying bills: 18.20%

Ladders has reported on the pervasive obsession with overwork that’s plaguing America on several occasions, in addition to the fiscal and productivity benefits of enjoying time off within in reason.

Psychology.com reports that of the meager 45% of Americans that actually utilize their paid vacation days, 41% of them spend a good chunk of that time checking into work while they are away.

As Joe Robison of Work to Live states: “Humans are energy machines. We expend energy over the course of the workday and work year in our body and brains (which use up 20% of the body’s calories), and then we have to replace it, or fatigue sets in, stress and exhaustion build, and productivity plummets.”

This policy of self-care can be enacted in the immediate even if you aren’t currently eligible for a paid extended retreat. Even the simple act of viewing your weekend like a mini vacation has been shown to boosts mood and productivity immensely.

One important task that many Americans also feel they don’t have enough time for is doing their taxes. Over 50% of respondents answered yes to the following: question “I feel like I don’t have time to do my taxes this year” compared to 33% of people who disagreed.

People were then asked about what leisure items or “treats” they intend on buying with any tax refund money. Some of the more interesting responses included:

  • Motorcycle tires
  • PlayStation 4
  • Trip to casino
  • Niagara Falls trip
  • A party
  • Lawnmower
  • Freedom from credit card companies
  • Pizza
  • Scooter
  • Scuba gear

Check out the infographic below for more findings from the survey.


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CW Headley|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at cheadley@theladders.com.