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Claims of ‘no time to boat’ are doubtful

If we want to do it, we’ll make time for it . . . even at the expense of time needed to get things done we should get done! That’s what we could conclude from the 2010 American Time Use Survey, published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Face it, we’ve all spoken these words -- “I’ve just been too busy” or “I’m up to here and can’t get to it” or “Not enough hours in a day!” -- to explain why we didn’t do something. But, according to the ATUS, it’s not that we don’t have the time. Rather, it’s really just explaining away why we don’t want to do it in the first place. Most of us are not too busy to do what we want to do.

The ATUS data covers the average amount of time per day that individuals work, do household activities and engage in leisure and sports activities. For example, employed persons work an average of 7.5 hours on the days they work. Most people work on weekdays: 82 percent of employed persons work on an average weekday, compared with 35 percent on an average weekend day. So, for the vast majority of workers, weekends are available for other activities.

Next, consider necessary household activities. We all have them. In fact, ATUS reveals, on an average day, 84 percent of women and 67 percent of men put in some time doing household activities like housework, yard maintenance, finances, etc. But, on the days household duties are performed, women spend an average of 2.6 hours while men spend 2.1 hours on such activities. That leaves plenty of hours for other things.

Finally, ATUS tells us leisure and sports activities get more hours than we might realize. First, for example, on an average day nearly everyone age 15 and over engages in some form of leisure activity. Men spend 5.8 hours in these activities and women 5.1 hours. That’s almost as much time as the average workday and more than double the household activities hours.

Sadly, couch potato TV watching is the leisure activity (if you can call it an activity and keep a straight face) that occupies the most time at 2.7 hours per day and accounts for nearly half of daily leisure time. On a more positive note, however, socializing, such as visiting with friends or attending or hosting social events, was the next most common leisure activity. Moreover, men were more likely than women to participate in sports, exercise, or recreation on any given day - 22 percent compared with 16 percent. On the days that they did participate, men spent more time in these activities than women -1.9 hours compared with 1.3 hours.

The fact is, people aren't as consumed with work as they might want others, or even themselves, to believe. We all spend upwards of a third of our waking hours on activities that have nothing to do with work. Accordingly, those selling boats should recognize a “no-time” objection by prospects and customers is more perceived than real. It’s important to establish that boating fits well with the time for leisure activities that the ATUS shows most families actually have. But there’s more good news.

Looking at government statistics, the 2011 Ipsos Mendelsohn Affluent Survey focused solely on the top 20 percent of U.S. households (44 million) with incomes of $100,000 and up. This group accounts for more than half the U.S. household income and spends nearly $1 trillion a year. Not surprising, they are, on average, 2.0 times more likely to buy discretionary goods and spend 3.2 times more than the rest of the population. Moreover, the survey showed affluent heads of households participate widely and frequently in sporting activities, spending disproportionately more time on their chosen sport (except for backpacking) and are most likely to powerboat, sail, play tennis, ski or golf.

It's hard to make a no-time-for-boating objection stick if you’re armed with these facts. So get them off the couch and welcome them to the water!

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