Those of you who have been following the conversation recently, particularly the one discussing square feet per person, probably heard my intention to track space usage in my own home. Basically, I said that use justifies space, and I was curious as to how my own lifestyle justified the space in which my wife and I live. Fortunately, my wife is accustomed to my crazy ideas, and over the last week we have tracked the exact time we spent in each room of our house.
Beginning last Tuesday my wife and I began tracking our use of each room in our home with a sign in/out system. Each room had its own sheet of paper where we would write the time we entered and exited the room (not including time spent sleeping or in my case . . . trying to sleep). The sign in sheets ended up looking like this:
We divided our home into six spaces based on use. These included kitchen/dining, living room, bedroom, bathroom, art studio and patio. The change of weather and our lack of a heating option outdoors led us to eliminate the patio from the experiment, but in warmer months we spend a good deal of time out there.
These numbers are total “people minutes” meaning the cumulative time Marie and I spent in each room. So if we both spent an hour in a room it would receive 120 minutes.
Kitchen/Dining Room: 1,325 minutes – 46.7% of waking time
Living Room: 50 minutes – 1.7% of waking time
Art Studio: 325 minutes – 11.4% of waking time (just Marie)
Bedroom: 810 minutes – 28.5%
Bathroom: 325 minutes – 11.4%
Total: 2,835 minutes or 47.25 hours
What I Learned:
I learned several things from this experiment.
1. I spend too little time at home. Out of the total 336 hours (168 hours each) that comprised the duration of our experiment, we were only awake and at home for roughly 47.25 hours or 14% of the time, and my wife was there more than me. Granted, we were out of town for one night and the Phillies had us out on the town a bit more than usual, but this is still pretty low.
2. The design of our home greatly effects the way we use it. The front living room area is far more comfortable than the dining/kitchen area and yet we rarely spend time there. The break in the house caused by the stairway seems to corral us into one side. Also, the stair makes it impossible for someone in the living room to interact with someone in the kitchen. Since we are home so little, a good percentage of that time involves at least one of us cooking, cleaning or eating. The other wants to be close, and is thus sitting at the dining room table.
3. We could live in even less space than we do but it would be interesting to see how that effects are ability to entertain. I think the next time we have guests I will make the front room off limits and see how that effects our interaction.
4. Not having a television greatly effects the way we use space. I think our living room would have gotten more use if we had a TV. Instead, we watch Netflix movies on a laptop and head out on the town for sporting events.
5. You might be jumping to some strange conclusions about the large percentage of waking time spent in the bedroom. Go ahead and jump . . . but if you want the real story, it is largely due to the movie watching and the fact that I spend quite a bit of time reading in bed. I am starting to wonder if this is making my insomnia worse.
6. Marie, my wife, gets cranky when she only has 325 minutes in her studio, and if she wasn’t an artist, we never would have used that room. That said, the studio is also useful for housing guests when we have them.
7. I could spend a little less time in the bathroom.
I would be interested to see how an experiment like this would work for someone else. I’ll admit it is a bit of a pain to undertake, but if anyone wants to try it I would love to see the results.
Are there any conclusions, other than the ones above, that we can draw from this? Are we typical of a certain demographic, or are my wife and I an anomaly? Do you have any questions about the experiment or the results?
Let’s get into those comments.
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