American Daily Routine

Sleep. Work. Play. Rinse and repeat. This is the gist of most people’s daily routine, but the amount of time varies as more responsibilities kick in. Some people spend more time taking care of others in the house, some don’t have a paying job, and of course, the weekday schedule is usually different from the weekend’s.

The chart below shows a picture of the American daily routine and how it changes for different groups. Each bar represents an activity, and they sort by the time of day that most people are engaged in an activity. Color indicates the percentage of people during a given time frame.

So reading from top to bottom you get a sense of a schedule.

As a parent of two, I’m always interested in the balance between work and taking care of kids. So it’s interesting to see “caring for household members” shift up and down when you toggle between male and female. The percentages are always low for males.

Or, if you toggle between employed and unemployed, you see a routine of sleep, work, commute, and relax for the former. You see dark colors in fewer bars. But when you switch to unemployed, the color range looks more sparse and the schedule shifts to the right for later wake-up times.

Maybe the most important thing I learned is that schedule of the male not in the labor force (“not looking” above) on a weekend looks pretty sweet. That’s the dream right there.

Time useA Day in the Life of Americans

I simulated an average day for 1,000 Americans.


  • This is based on 2015 and 2016 data from the American Time Use Survey. I used the IPUMS time use extract builder to download the data, which is much easier than sifting through the government FTP.
  • I used Python to aggregate the data, R to analyze and play around with the aggregates, and d3.js to visualize here.

Become a member. Support an independent site. Make great charts.

See What You Get

Learn to Visualize Data See All →

How to Make Variable Width Bar Charts in R

The code to create these bar chart variations is almost the same as if you were to make a standard bar chart. But make sure you get the math right.

How to Make Ternary Plots in R, with ggplot2

When you want to compare between three parts of your data, ternary plots might be a good option. Here is how to make them.

How to Make Dot Density Maps in R

Choropleth maps are useful to show values for areas on a map, but they can be limited. In contrast, dot density maps are sometimes better for showing distributions within regions.

Introducing a Course for Mapping in R

Mapping geographic data in R can be tricky, because there …


One Dataset, Visualized 25 Ways

“Let the data speak” they say. But what happens when the data rambles on and on?

Where Bars Outnumber Grocery Stores

A closer look at the age old question of where there are more bars than grocery stores, and vice versa.

10 Best Data Visualization Projects of 2015

These are my picks for the best of 2015. As usual, they could easily appear in a different order on a different day, and there are projects not on the list that were also excellent.

Divorce and Occupation

Some jobs tend towards higher divorce rates. Some towards lower. Salary also probably plays a role.