New research suggests that 2.5 hours a day is the perfect amount of free time. More or less than that makes us unhappy.
Most of us spend most of our time doing things we need (but probably don't want) to do. Working, say, or commuting or housekeeping or sleeping. But having limited leisure time might not be such a bad thing, according to a new study.
Researchers asked 35,000 Americans how much time each day they spent doing whatever they wanted, and how satisfied they were with their lives. It turned out that employed people were happiest when they had just 2.5 hours free each day. (Unemployed people required a bit more free time for peak happiness; 4 hours and 45 minutes.)
These finding could become more important if predictions of a robot-driven, leisure-filled future come to be. For years, some people have been arguing that technology will soon be able to replace most human labour, both the paid kind (think robot doctors, teachers and builders) and the unpaid kind (robots who clean our homes, do our paperwork and send flowers to our Aunt Bethel on her birthday).
A popular idea is that the wealth created from robot workers could be shared out amongst us in the form of a Universal Basic Income, so everyone gets a decent amount of money without having to work. But if having too much spare time really does bums us out, perhaps even this work-free, money-rich future wouldn't be as great as it sounds.
It’s not just about what you do, it’s where you do it. Workplaces can create and cut jobs, borrow money and interact with the financial market, and buy and sell products from other workplaces, affecting their financial situations. There’s also the question of whether our workplaces should be taking care of us, or whether that’s the government’s job…