Time Well Spent

Clock time
My clock in real time. Took photo for the post at that exact time.

In my bimonthly series, Leisurely Thursdays, I introduce concepts about leisure. This post is about a dreaded, four-letter word: TIME.

As we begin to study recreation and leisure and as we examine the underpinnings of leisure and its history, we must identify what leisure is. One definition says that leisure is rest from work so that we can have respite and recuperation in order to return to work. Another defines leisure as a state of mind and is time for contemplation.

Leisure scholars state that leisure is commonly defined as free time; that is, time free from work and other obligations. This is leisure that is quantifiable and measurable. They suggest that “leisure time” is used as a substitute for “free time.” Now we have to define what is “free.” Is leisure freedom “from” something, freedom to “do something,” or a means to increase freedom?

Our time can be segmented into categories to best define leisure. A fellow blogger, Thoughts of a Woman in Sports, who also happens to be a windsurfer like me, writes about time.

For example, there are 168 hours in a week. Work, vocation, or school, which is obligated time bound by commitment and restraints, takes about 40 hours. Sleeping uses up 56 hours a week (if we’re lucky). That leaves 72 hours for leisure and personal care. Her blog post emphasizes that we should be able to find three hours a week for fitness.

Personal care refers to time devoted to the maintenance of an individual’s well-being (eating, grooming, bathing, etc.) while leisure can be characterized by activities performed during free time for enjoyment, also for our well-being.

Brushing Teeth
image by clariant.masterbatches.com

Personal care refers to basic necessities of life that must be met even before one can experience work or leisure. The personal care aspect is very important in clearly defining leisure. Another leisure scholar says that leisure is also essential to one’s well-being, therefore time spent in personal care interferes and sometimes replaces our leisure time. This is where we must make our choices daily, although I personally view a spa day as leisure!

As we apply these various notions of time, think about how we view mechanical time. Our days are spent trying to “beat the clock,” and trying to add some leisure time to a 24-hour day, or a 168 hour week.

Lop off a few hours for driving to and from work, grocery shopping, cleaning and laundering, maintaining our yards, cooking, eating, (although some forms of cooking and eating have been valued as leisure pursuits), and we are left with a couple of hours of “free” time for leisure!

soccer game

We now have to choose, using this “free” time to …travel? Read? Watch TV? Are the choices positive? Who determines our free time and the quality of that time? Do not forget that we have to drive the kids to their soccer game or walk our dogs. We have become so desperate to find leisure in our multi-tasking world, that many of these “personal care” activities have become our leisure.

Middle class Americans just spent their home budget on all of the above, so when there is the choice of watching TV or going to a movie (and probably spending $12 per person, plus popcorn), we default to watching TV. Do not tell the neighbors that we are sitting in front of the TV, lest they think we are lazy. Whew…what a battle just to get some quality leisure time!

Is time on your side? If you sit down and budget your time what will you come up with? If you find some “time” for leisure, what will you do with it?

14 thoughts on “Time Well Spent

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  5. LifestyleswithLia

    Your post really got me thinking about the hours I spend in the day… I feel that cooking dinner and going to the gym aren’t always leisure activities for me because they’ve become a necessity… I love to dance so I suppose that the times when I’m on the dance floor are those in which I’m really having fun and just doing it for me and not out of any necessity or duty….
    Thanks for always shedding light on how we need to take more time for ourselves!

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  6. Truly enjoyed your post because it certainly reinforces my decision to free up time in my life from just working to having a life. Leisure is not what I call having a life, although it’s also included here. It’s about including all there activities that make our lives more fulfilling,

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  7. Now that we are retired, my husband and I definitely allow more time for leisure… meaning “active” leisure. We both like to move and look for opportunities to get outdoors. In fact, I’m going to check out the Mission Trails hike that Martha mentioned. Maybe we’ll see each other on the trail!

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  8. onehundredtwentythreedays

    Time, a commodity we never get back. I love to read and think about things that I read. I find a rarely have time for this. Most of my leisure time is spent sitting with my husband…wathcing TV! Not my first choice, but I can nurse my baby off to sleep while watching whereas it gets difficult to read with a baby trying to grab my book all the while.

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  9. I think it depends on people’s habits and priorities. I was always astonished when I was hiking at Mission Trails Regional Park that I was often THE ONLY PERSON in that landscape once I was 1/2 mile from parking lots. If I parked on the Clairmont Mesa entrance (which I liked very much when I was running) I drove home on the 15. For an hour or more hiking (6 to 8 miles, usually) I saw no one. Then, driving home, I saw parking lots packed with cars in front of Fryes, Ralphs, PetSmart, Walmart, whatever. It was a pretty clear choice — leisure, for me, was open air and motion. For many others it was shopping. Later, when I was teaching “Critical Thinking through Nature Writing” I realized that the choice people make is often based on familiarity. Most of my students had never been in any natural place except the beach and for most of them, the beach was a place for tanning and picnics, not swimming, surfing or boogie boarding.

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    1. That is such a good point, Martha, and good for you on all that hiking. I’ve gone with my brother to Cowles Mountain–that is a BUSY hike. In my classes, I am constantly amazed that so many students have never been to Yosemite! Sacramento is only 4 hours away! I appreciate your comments as always 🙂


      1. Cowles Mountain — Yeah. Not my favorite. I did it four times in one day, up the front way twice and the two “back” ways once each, carrying a video camera. That was the first time Mission Trails Regional Park Volunteers did trail repair and maintenance and I wanted to record it. We were “new” then. I think that day did more to damage my knee than the original injury! That camera was heavy and to manage the whole thing I had to run a lot — the crew was working from 9 to noon. I spent most of my hiking life on the other side of Father Serra Trail. I loved it. I was there almost every day in all weather for more than a decade. 🙂

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