ONS Time Use Study
About the study
The ONS Time Use Study is a study which aims to find out how different people across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland spend their time. Understanding how people spend their time can help to improve services and guide policies that affect people like you.
The ONS Time Use Study (OTUS) is run by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to measure how people feel, and how they use their time. Knowing how people feel makes it possible for life to be improved in many ways. That could mean better services, better health initiatives or more action on loneliness or other issues of public concern.
Taking part in the study is a great opportunity to show the reality of life and how that varies across different groups of people. Don’t worry, your data will be kept anonymous and secure.
Measurement of what matters most to people is hard to keep up with and for that reason the survey is designed to capture life in detail. To reduce the time it takes you to complete the study, ONS are requesting information about just two of your days.
This type of study is called a “time-use study” and has been already carried out in the past. This new study will be looking at how things such as leisure time, childcare, work or time spent in retirement are changing, as well as how people are being impacted by the cost-of-living increases.
Update your contact details
It is important we have the correct details for you so that we can keep in touch.
Why take part?
Help us help others. By answering our questions you could make a difference in the real world. Government departments and other policy groups will use the information you provide to make sure they make the right decisions. The results of this study could mean better services or more action on loneliness or other issues that are of concern in the community.
A token of our appreciation. As a token of our appreciation, we will give you a shopping voucher for completing the study.
You. Everyone we have invited to take part has been carefully selected to provide a truly representative picture of people living in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We want to represent people of all walks of life and a full range of experiences across society.
Get your views heard. By taking part, you’ll be ensuring your daily experiences are included in the picture of today’s society in the UK ensuring that your experiences, and the experiences of people like you, are represented.
The ONS Time Use Study is going live on Saturday 9 March. If you have been invited to take part online and you would like to record your time for one of your allocated diary days, please click the link below to log in and take part:
If you have been invited, your unique login code to access the online website will be shared with you a couple of days before your first allocated diary day.
Remembering your activities
As it’s quite difficult to remember all the activities we do in a day, we encourage you to take notes on 2 days which we’ll allocate to you (one weekday and one weekend day).
Collecting the data
You will be asked to log in to a secure website designed specifically for recording time-use data and record your answers there. Don’t worry – you don’t need to tell us anything you don’t want to.
No need to prepare
There’s no need to prepare. There cannot be any right or wrong answers – it is just about how you spend your time over 24 hours. You might want to use the paper support materials we sent to you to help you keep track of your time. Didn’t receive the support materials? You can download it now. See below.
Paper diary booklet & activities list leaflet
Haven’t received the diary booklet and activities list leaflet yet?
We are sorry about that - a letter with further instructions on the study and a paper diary enclosed to help you take notes of your activities should be on its way!
Why have I been invited to take part?
When you previously took part in either the British Social Attitudes, Scottish Social Attitudes or the Consumer Protection Study you were asked if it would be okay to contact you about research in the future. At the time you provided us with some contact details.
We are now inviting NatCen Opinion Panel members on behalf of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to take part in the Time Use Study. The aim is to find out how people in the UK spend their time and how they feel.
Everyone we have invited to take part has been carefully selected to provide a truly representative picture of people living in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We want to represent people of all walks of life and a full range of daily life experiences. By taking part you will make sure the experiences of people like you are represented.
Who are ONS?
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) are the UK’s largest independent producer of official statistics and its recognised national statistical institute. They are responsible for collecting and publishing statistics related to the economy, population and society at national, regional and local levels. They also conduct the census in England and Wales every 10 years.
What UK adults spend time on
Thanks to the data collected via the NatCen Panel, the ONS has been able to see how UK adults spend their time on various activities.
Between 23 September and 1 October 2023, apart from sleeping and working, adults in the UK spent most of their daily time, on average, watching television (2 hours and 17 minutes), eating (1 hour and 7 minutes), washing, dressing, using the bathroom and self-grooming (53 minutes), making food and drinks (46 minutes) and socialising with people (32 minutes).
UK adults spent an average of 3 hours and 39 minutes each day on entertainment, socialising and other free time activities – down from 4 hours and 2 minutes seen in November 2022. The average daily time spent sleeping and resting, meanwhile, was 9 hours and 3 minutes, which was higher than the 8 hours and 54 minutes recorded last year.
Women spent an average of 3 hours and 37 minutes per day doing unpaid work activities including housework, caring for others and volunteering between 23 September and 1 October 2023; this was 54 minutes more than the average among men at 2 hours and 43 minutes. The gap in time spent between women and men was 10 minutes smaller compared to that seen in November 2022. Despite the formal end of the pandemic and moves back towards office working, the average time spent working from home in September 2023 (52 minutes) was similar to the level recorded in November 2022, slightly increased since March 2020 (47 minutes).
Frequently asked questions
In this privacy notice, we explain the legal basis for data processing, who will have access to your personal data, how your data will be used, stored and deleted, and who you can contact with a query or a complaint.