Time Use in the UK: March 2023
About the study
Over the past three 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.
Time use in March 2023 versus March 2020
In March 2023, after sleep and rest, adults in the UK spent an average of 3 hours and 44 minutes each day on entertainment, socialising, and other free time activities. This included 2 hours and 16 minutes watching television and 33 minutes spending time with other people. This was less than the average of 4 hours and 30 minutes in March 2020, around the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since March 2020, there have been significant increases in the average daily time spent travelling (from 17 minutes to 61 minutes in March 2023) as well as working away from home (from 1 hour and 36 minutes to 2 hours and 7 minutes). Despite the formal end of the pandemic and moves back towards office working, the average time spent working from home in March 2023 (49 minutes) was similar to the level seen in March 2020 (47 minutes).
The average daily time spent doing unpaid household work was slightly higher in March 2023 (2 hours and 38 minutes) compared with the average time in March 2020 (2 hours and 27 minutes), whilst time spent doing "Do It Yourself" (DIY) tasks and gardening has fallen from 39 minutes in March 2020 to just 10 minutes in March 2023.
Time use among adults who were economically inactive
Adults of working age who were economically inactive spent more time doing unpaid household work on average than those in employment. Among those who were retired, the largest group within the economically inactive population, most time was spent doing unpaid work (3 hours and 51 minutes), entertainment and leisure activities (3 hours and 16 minutes) and watching television (3 hours and 1 minute). On average, 35 minutes were spent doing unpaid childcare or adult care.
Fieldwork for this study was conducted using the random-probability NatCen Panel. The NatCen 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 11th and 21st March 2023. In total 7,000 adults aged 18 years and over were sampled (5,000 across the UK plus an additional 2,000 in Scotland), resulting in 14,000 diary days being issued. Of these, 5,600 (40%) 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.