Study: 2.5 hours of free time a day is optimal

Originally published at:


I can only speak for myself here, but if I had more than 2.5 hours a day of free time I would easily use them up. In fact if I didn’t have to work at all I would still be busy at least 8 hours a day working on projects I love doing


2.5 hours seems insufficient.


24, I like 24.
Or, 25, is there somewhere I could get 25?


I think they really need to define “free” time.

Like, I’m going to go home from work today, hit the gym, make dinner, do laundry, and a few other tasks. Does any of that count as “free”? I could totally skip out on all of those - noone but myself is making me do them - but I’d never count it as being free time because I know that they are things that will need to be done eventually.

Meanwhile, I just got off a weekend where I plowed thru all of Umbrella Academy and otherwise did absolutely Nothing Of Value™. How much of that would be “free time”?

Or do I literally just have to sit and stare off into space for it to count?


Says humans.



“Executive time.”


It so happens today’s SMBC was digging into this topic.

Bit too long for a BBS thread, alas.


OK so help me with the math:

8.5 for sleep
2.5 for fun
13 hours of work Work WORK!

This is optimal?


I got to that line “Christ on crack” in a trench in Viet Nam and had to think to myself; “Do I care about these characters?”
No, what it came down to was that my 24 hours of free time didn’t have any of that for characters who engage in such pointless historical inaccuracies, even in a story that involves time travel.

2.5 hours of free time a day is optimal

When I hit my retirement, I’ll have 24/7 free time, until that, I must work…


From the paper.

We analyzed the data of 13,639 working Americans who participated in the National Study of the Changing Workforce (NSCW) between 1992 and 2008 …Amidst the survey’s many questions, participants reported the amount of discretionary time they had (“On average, on days when you’re working, about how many hours [minutes] do you spend on your own free-time activities?”)

1 Like

I almost read the whole thing - oh look, wine.


Anyone who thinks less than 8 hrs of “free time” is OK has clearly been brainwashed by the “American work ethic” crowd. Ask the few remaining non-agriculture tribes how much time per day they have to work at anything.


Yeah, in a country where many seem to be working two jobs/shifts to survive 2,5h seems about right.
Admitting you want 4 hours leisure time would be like demanding communism.


This sounds like a study only a manager could love, so my response can only be, fuck that.

(It also sounds like a study highly dependent on context and at the end of the day kinda only referential to an extreme capitalist mindset/your cognitive dissonance is showing)


I need more. It often takes 5+ hours just to deal with BoingBoing most days.


There’s the rub.

I’m still not sure what that means. Commuting presumably doesn’t count. Cooking? Watching tv? Reading the newspaper? Actually sitting down to focus on a particular - active, not passive - activity, like a hobby or craft? Was it better defined than that, or did people have leeway to define it themselves? (Because I suspect I’d define “hours spent on my own free-time activities” differently than someone else.)

I fear what management will get out of this is, “Cool, apparently it’s ‘optimal’ to have our workers work 13.5 hours a day! It’s science!”


I have to wonder if the “more than 2.5 hours and people feel lazy and unproductive” is putting the cart before the horse… sounds like a cultural thing based on the fact that people have been conditioned to hustle to make ends meet. If so you have to question if that’s a good thing…


Right, question hardly in isolation, whole unlikely to have been multivariate to select 34,000-ish interviewees who are ‘living their lives like the Stainless Steel Rat character.’ Or people who choose the number of free time hours that they have, at one stage or another (for that coveted differentiable control.) Or people whose amount of free time was directly determined by Windows Update someplace.