IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


New IOE book reveals we feel less ‘rushed’ than previous generations

27 June 2019

A new book by IOE academics exploring how we spend our time and how this compares to previous generations has been published today (27 June).

Clock in Canary Wharf. Image: 'Time' by Laurence Edmondson via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

‘What We Really Do All Day: Insights from the Centre for Time Use Research’ written by IOE professors Jonathan Gershuny and Oriel Sullivan has revealed that our time does not appear to be ‘speeding up’ as people’s perception of ‘feeling always rushed’ decreased from 2000 to 2015. However, there are consistent differences by gender; women consistently report feeling ‘always rushed’ to a much greater extent than men.

The book examines data from across 55 years to explore what changes have come about and how the social and economic structure of the world has altered. 

The Centre for Time Use Research (CTUR), based at the IOE, specialises in collecting and analysing time use diary data to investigate issues of social life, paid work patterns, work-life balance, family, gender, and socio-economic structure.

Other findings in the book reveal that our working hours have become more dispersed through the week in keeping with the growth of Sunday shopping, increasing shift work and precarious employment. Between two-thirds and three-quarters of respondents report at least some unsocial hours during the week of their work schedule (such as the weekend, before 8am, or after 6pm). There appears to be a class effect in unsocial work hours: men and women at the bottom of the National Statistics Socio-economic classification (NS-SEC) are much more likely to work unsocial hours than those at the top.

How we spend our leisure time

‘What We Really Do All Day: Insights from the Centre for Time Use Research’ also analyses time spent outside of work. It notes that there has been an overall decline in family time between 2000 and 2015 which is primarily due to families spending less time doing domestic chores and watching TV together. The decline in TV-watching together is also the consequence of the rise in smartphones and other related ICT devices; evening family time in front of TV has been replaced by more solitary activities, such as using computers in bedrooms.

Eating is one of the most enjoyed activities, and what brings the greatest immediate enjoyment is having meals in the company of others and eating out. By contrast, solitary eating is enjoyed the least. However, people in the professional/managerial classes report less enjoyment of eating than those classified as working class. Meals eaten together with family are more common among the managerial/professional classes.

Among the changes though, there are some activities that appear constant over time. Housework chores are the least enjoyed, and relaxing at home, sleeping and out of home leisure are the most enjoyed. 

‘What We Really Do All Day: Insights from the Centre for Time Use Research’ was published by Pelican Books.

Media contact

Rowan Walker, UCL Media Relations 
T: +44 (0)20 3108 8515 / +44 (0)7769 141 006
E: rowan.walker@ucl.ac.uk



'Time' by Laurence Edmondson via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)