What daily activity do Americans look forward to most in their day?

Even after 30 years, watching TV remains the top daily activity Americans look forward to most in their day.  But our recent data also shows how access to the internet and mobile technology is changing our daily lives and in turn impacting the activities we look forward to most in our day.

  • Today, one of the top five activities Americans look forward to most in their day is checking and receiving personal emails or text messages.
  • Roughly four in ten Americans look forward to checking Facebook or other social media sites (39{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) or going online to check and read the latest news (41{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}).

The table below shows a comparison of the top five daily activities Americans look forward to most from 1983 to 2013.  We have color coded the table to show those activities in common.

table 1

Looking across all of the daily activities we tested…

Since 1983 there are some significant double-digit drops in this data which are of interest:

  • Having the telephone ring dropped from 38{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} in 1983 to 9{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} today (-29).
  • Checking to see what you get in the mail dropped from 64{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} in 1983 to 44{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} today (-20).
  • Having your doorbell ring dropped from 24{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} in 1983 to 5{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} today (-19).

In addition to these significant double-digit drops, there were some modest decreases:

  • Getting in the house once your day is over – 50{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} in 1983 to 42{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} today (-8).
  • Having a break during work – 34{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} in 1983 to 26{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} today (-8).
  • Meeting friends after work – 31{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} in 1983 to 23{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} today (-8).
  • Getting up in the morning – 39{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} in 1983 to 32{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} today (-7).
  • Taking a shower or bath – 60{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} in 1983 to 54{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} today (-6).

There were a few modest increases in the data from 1983 to today:

  • Cooking dinner increased from 22{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} in 1983 to 31{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} today (+9).
  • Going out to shop for food increased from 21{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} in 1983 to 28{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} today (+7).
  • Having time to spend on a special interest/hobby increased from 54{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} in 1983 to 58{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} today (+4).

The remaining activities tested in both 1983 and 2013 were either consistent or shifted only a point or two.

To see the full list of daily activities and data please click here.

Methodology Note:

Public Opinion Strategies conducted a national survey among 1,000 adults September 11-16, 2013.  Respondents were presented with a list of 23 daily activities and asked the following question:  We all have activities and responsibilities that make up our daily lives.  We look forward to some of them, others we don’t look forward to at all.  Please select the activities, if any, that you usually enjoy or look forward to during a day.  This question replicated one that was previously asked by the Roper Organization in December 1983 among 2,000 adults nationally.* Given the introduction of the internet, email, social media and mobile technology since 1983, we added a few new punches that were not offered on Roper’s list of activities:

1) Checking and receiving personal emails or text messages; 2) Going online to check and read the latest news; and, 3) Checking Facebook or other social media sites.

* Poll conducted by Roper Organization, December 3 – December 10, 1983 and based on 2,000 personal interviews.  Sample: National adult.  Acknowledgement:  The survey results reported here were obtained from searches of the iPOLL Databank and other resources provided by the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, University of Connecticut.  Formal Citation: Roper Report 84-1, Dec, 1983. Retrieved Oct-9-2013 from the iPOLL Databank, The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, University of Connecticut. http://www.ropercenter.uconn.edu/data_access/ipoll/ipoll.html

Public Opinion Strategies