The Lawyer’s Well-Being Brief

What does the average human do with the 24 hours in the day?

Marc W. Crayton
3 min readSep 14


“If you are always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be.”- Maya Angelou

McGill University researchers studied how human beings spend their time on an average day and the findings were a bit surprising. We all have 24 hours in a day. Across the global population of 8 billion people, this adds up to approximately 190 billion human hours per day.

How those hours are spent determines the impacts we have on our surroundings as well as how we experience life. To find out how people around the world use their time, a research team led by McGill University gathered and analyzed information about both economic and non-economic activities in order to estimate, for the first time, what a day in the life of the world looks like.

“We wanted to know — what does the time allocation of humanity look like, averaged over all people and across all countries?” adds William Fajzel, a Ph.D. student in Earth System Science at McGill University and the first author on the study. “In other words, if the world were a single average person, what would their day look like?”

To conduct this study, the research team analyzed national surveys, providing them with a snapshot of an average day for 60 percent of the global population. Every aspect of individual behavior was carefully scrutinized, from mundane tasks like cleaning dirty surfaces to complex ones like petroleum processing.

The research team looked at time use and labor data gathered for the period from 2000–2019 (to avoid any impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic) from over 140 countries (representing 87% of the world’s population).

The researchers categorized all the things people do in a waking day, including both work and non-work activities, according to what the purpose of the activity was. They used 24 categories that fall into three broad groups:

  • Intended to alter the external world (including the provision or modification of food, energy, buildings, the maintenance of surroundings, etc.)
  • Focussed directly on human minds or bodies (including caring for the cleanliness, appearance, mood, and health of self and…



Marc W. Crayton

I help newer, younger lawyers make better well-being decisions so that they can thrive personally and professionally. Forward, always!