I've always wondered growing up - what makes adults so busy? Sure, you're working a 40 hour a week job but the rest should just be fun and games, right? I have vivid memories of my childhood perpetually repeating "I'm bored" like a broken cassette player. Surely adults were doing something wrong if they were never bored. How hard could being an adult be? I only realized when I became one.

Picture Credit: CollegeHumor
  1. Have Money Being financially independent is the only real prerequisite of being a true adult. Having a skill important enough to be given money for it is not easy. Not all skills are made equal, and the job market can be ruthless. The first 20-something years of your life are typically primarily dedicated to a financially independent future. I don't believe you can begin to call yourself an adult unless the only funds you are using are your own. Making this money is a primary use of your time, and a normal full-time job is 40 - 60 hours a week.
  2. Cooking Sure, you can eat out and order in and if you're lucky you have food at work too. I wouldn't call this the norm. The average adult cooks for themselves. The very primal skill of being able to take somewhat raw ingredients and turn them into something edible is both time-consuming and, well, hard. Assuming that you cook each meal in half an hour, three meals a day, 7 days a week comes out to 10.5 hours a week. This isn't even inclusive of groceries.
  3. Laundry Washing, folding and dry-cleaning clothes. Yet another chore children take for granted. This can take up to 2 hours a week.
  4. Cleaning The occasional 'clean your room' is a paltry excuse for cleaning in real life. In real life, this means scrubbing the toilets, wiping up the nasty crevices, and vacuuming every square inch of carpet. Hygienically, I'd say with throwing out boxes you get in the mail, doing dishes, organizing things and deep cleaning, it's half an hour a day and then 2 hours on one day of the week for a deep clean. That's 5 hours a week.
  5. Buying Stuff As a kid, you'd have thought buying stuff was a lot of fun. Not when you have to have budget your own money. And definitely not when you have to buy everything. Trash bags, trash containers, soap, dish-washing liquid, toothpaste, cutlery, pottery, lights, beds, sofas, TVs, sound systems, shelves, bookcases, clothes, suitcases, batteries, everything! Everything in your house. Everything in your bathroom. Everything in your bedroom. Everything you wear. Everything you use for entertainment. Little small things like paper towels, window spray, and insecticides. You'll inevitable forget one thing or the other. One day you'll realize your shoes are too worn out or your shirts don't excite you anymore. Sometimes you'll just want general upgrades. Buying things is a conservative 2 hours a week (you also have to research things before you purchase).
  6. Bills, Bills, Bills Internet bill. Phone bill. Electricity Bill. Rent. Credit Card Bill. Gym membership bill. The list goes on and on and on. Tracking and paying these takes maybe an hour a week.
  7. Small Errands Checking your mail. Sending a mail. Checking your email. Calling the front-desk because the water's not running. Complaining about how your money transfer didn't go through. Calling to ask what this extra charge on account is. These things usually pile up completely out of the blue and I'd say they add up to an hour a week.
  8. Transport Subway passes. Uber receipts. Buying a car. Getting a driver's license. Paying an overdue ticket. Fixing a dent in your car. Actually using desired method of transport to get from point A to point B, be it work, food, groceries or something else. I'd say most adults spend about an hour a day in commute or dealing with commute related things, so that's 7 hours a week.
  9. Staying Healthy Adults have to make sure they're eating the right foods. With many adults working sedentary jobs, they have to allocate time to fitness as well. At an hour a day, that's 7 hours a week.
  10. Finances Anybody who has money needs to manage it. This means keeping that dreaded excel sheet of your checks and balances. It means figuring out how much money do you want to save for retirement. Do you have a 401(k)? How will you invest your money? Do you need an investment advisor? Should you buy or rent? Do you have financial dependents? How many credit cards do you have? Can you manage your rent or your mortgage? Have you paid the monthly car payment and health insurance payment? What's your credit score? What's happening to the stock market? Although this differs from country to country, the basics remain the same. Any child will have noticed half the "adult" words this paragraph had alone, although it'd be second nature to an adult. This almost necessitates having to keep with news, and all combined half an hour a day would yield about 3.5 hours a week.
  11. Taxes They're so dreadful that they're a separate point. Although it's amortized 0 hours a week, taxes aren't fun.
  12. Responsibility for Yourself As an adult, if you're short on a credit card payment, it's your problem. If you're caught for doing something illegal, you are punishable and there's no excuses. If you have to pay a parking ticket, it's all your problem. When you're a kid in school and you get into trouble, your parents will get you out of it. Teachers ask to speak your parents. Your parents will handle the consequences. As an adult, you do. Although this just adds stress and not hours per week, it's hard to understand unless you face the burden.
  13. Responsibility for your dependents Be it your siblings or your parents or at worst your kids, this can take up a lot of time. If kids, the hours per week are indefinite. It could take forever. All the other points build up for your kids - shopping, finances, transport, errands, etc. As a young adult, it's typically siblings and parents. You have to allot time to speak to your family. You may or may not have to send them money. You may have to go meet them from time to time. Buy them gifts. Although these things should come naturally, they do add on to your hours. I'd say 2 hours a week is a reasonable estimate for your responsibilities for others as a young adult.
  14. Being Sick Adults take care of themselves when sick. This means going to the doctor, getting a prescription, following said prescription, resting, recovering and putting all your other responsibilities on hold until you're better. Hopefully, most people don't fall sick enough to warrant a weekly time allotment.
  15. One time errands Buying a car. Buying a house. Setting up the house. Moving. Setting up internet. Buying a phone. Making sure everything that needs to have your address has your address.
  16. Long term planning How long do I want to keep this job? Do I want to go to graduate school? Perhaps business school? Should I be moving? When is my next vacation and where? Should I be looking to get married soon? What about having kids?

And then there's those things you did before you were an adult too but you need to do more of:

  1. Attire and Grooming One doesn't just get up and put on anything like we did when we were kids. Most professionals have to look sharp for their jobs. They need to have ironed shirts and matching ties set up for the day. They need to groom themselves. As everybody does, they need to shower. They need to shave. They need to make sure their hair looks sharp. And run all other bodily errands. They need to take our daily medication. They need to polish our shoes. All combined, I'd say we spend maybe one and half hours a day on this, and about 10.5 hours a week.
  2. Sleeping Sometimes it's worse and sometimes it's better but adults could use their 8 hours of sleep a night. That's 56 hours a week.
  3. Eating At half an hour per meal, 3 meals a day, that's 10.5 hours a week.

So how much free time does that really leave us? 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is 168 hours a week. Minus 40 for work. 10.5 for cooking. 2 for laundry. 5 for cleaning. 2 for buying things. 1 for paying bills. 1 for small errands. 7 for transport. 7 for fitness. 3.5 for finances. 2 for your dependents, 10.5 for attire and grooming, 10.5 for eating and 56 for sleeping. That's 10 hours left of free time to catch a breath and do fun things like make friends, have hobbies, watch Netflix and be active on social media. For those who work 60 hour weeks, they're 10 hours short of time in a week to do anything at all!

I know what you're thinking. Some people don't cook. Some people use a service to clean. There's no way you take 3.5 hours a week to do finances. You've counted some things twice. Yes, I know. I know. There's no one size fits all. Some people spend more time with some things, and some people less. I tried to generalize with reasonable estimates. The point of it all is: being an adult is mind-bogglingly exhausting and can be very stressful. If you're still not a fully functioning adult and you meet one, give them a cookie. It's not easy. Most of them don't even have time to list out all the things that consume their time.

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