Time Use in the UK: Autumn 2023

The latest sweep looked at how things such as leisure time, childcare, work or time spent in retirement are changing.

About the study

Over the past four years NatCen have worked with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on a UK-wide study which aims to find out what day-to-day life is really like. The latest sweep of the study looked at how things such as leisure time, childcare, work or time spent in retirement are changing.


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.                                    

The average time spent working from home, 52 minutes, remained at the same level as recorded in November 2022. Those living in London, the South East and South West, those aged 25-34 and those among the highest earning households (over £3,300 monthly household income after tax) were the most likely to be working from home – with time spent working at home representing over 30% of their total average daily time spent working.


Fieldwork for this study was conducted using the random-probability NatCen Opinion Panel. The NatCen Opinion Panel is a panel of people recruited from high-quality, random probability surveys such as the British Social Attitudes survey. Those agreeing to join the Panel are then invited to take part in additional short surveys covering a range of different topics either online or over the phone.

As part of the study, participants were issued with two pre-allocated diary days (one weekday and one weekend day) and asked to record the activities that they undertook during the whole 24-hour periods in an online diary tool. This included their main activities (in 10-minute periods) and up to five secondary activities (in 5-minute periods). The above estimates are based on reported main activities only.                

The survey was conducted between 23 September and 1 October 2023. In total 5,000 adults aged 18 years and over were sampled, resulting in 10,000 diary days being issued. Of these, 3,659 (37%) were completed with 23 hours or more of activities recorded and passed quality checks. Weighting was applied such that diary data was made representative of how the UK adult population spends time over the course of a week.